Atlanta Hawks make ‘way too early’ list of suitors for former No. 1 pick
With changes expected for the Atlanta Hawks’ roster, the only question is: to what degree?
They only have two free agents – Trent Forrest and Aaron Holiday – neither of whom are must-keep players.
That does leave them with some contracts to try and work into a winning bid for an upgrade at virtually any position with the target of their choosing. And that target could be Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, per Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
“It’s too early to gauge the Ayton market (with the May 16 draft lottery gifting one franchise Victor Wembanyama). Still, that list of teams could include the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Pacers or Mavericks, among others.”
While far from a definitive list, it is one to keep an eye on with a pre-existing link.
“Ayton has been a popular rumored target for [former teams president Travis] Schlenk’s front office,” reported Jake Fischer for Bleacher Report in May of 2022.
Schlenk is no longer around, replaced by general manager Landry Fields with the final say on the roster (along with what many presume is a heavy influence from heady coach Quin Snyder) and Fischer did note the Hawks also had an interest in “several” wings.
They ultimately traded for Saddiq Bey at the trade deadline this past season.
But after Ayton’s lackluster effort in the Western Conference Semi-Finals, there is increasing belief that he might not be long for Phoenix.
Ayton, 24, averaged just 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds versus Denver but did post a 13.4-point, 9.7-board line in the postseason and averaged 18.0 points with 10.0 rebounds during the regular season.
He signed a four-year, $132.9 million contract last offseason after the Suns matched the offer sheet he received from the Indiana Pacers. But Ayton’s relationship with (now former) head coach Monty Williams was strained and Ayton has shown a disconnect from his teammates this postseason.
Getting Deandre Ayton to the Atlanta Hawks could be tricky
Assuming the Hawks are still interested in Ayton, landing him could be somewhat tricky, and it’s not just because of all the teams that could be vying for his services.
The Suns are said to have no interest in John Collins, who has been on the trade block for the last few seasons and whose $25 million salary in 2023-24 would be a nice starting point for cobbling together a suitable package.
Atlanta could offer Phoenix swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic and center Clint Capela.
It’s unclear just how much the Suns would be willing to invest in the position if they move Ayton and Capela, 28, is owed more than $42 million over the next two seasons. Meanwhile, Bogdanovic, 30, is signed through 2027 with more than $67 million owed to him, though there is a club option in the final season.
Both players also come with recent histories of leg injuries, and it gets even more difficult to envision a path to a deal from there.
Of course, trades can involve more than one team. But that only adds to the complexity and reduces the likelihood something gets done at all. For now, this is another source of smoke ahead of what could also be a surprisingly inactive offseason for the Hawks.