Atlanta Hawks urged to ‘unload all’ assets for 2-time All-Star due massive payday

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

If the Atlanta Hawks want to take the next step into a perennial postseason contender and even NBA Finals hopeful, they made need to shake things up once again.

And, on the heel of last offseason’s blockbuster trade for Dejounte Murray, the target is clear.

“If we operate under the assumption that the Atlanta Hawks are married to the Trae Young-Dejounte Murray duo, they can then justify chasing substantial upgrades at every other position,” wrote Dan Favale of Bleacher Report on May 20. “Jaylen Brown impacts the game at both ends unlike any other player on the roster.”

Favale’s piece calls for the Hawks to “unload all the draft capital possible” to land the Brown, a Georgia native who got the base riled up by wearing an Atlanta Braves cap during his postgame media availability following Game 5 of the Celtics’ opening round series against the Hawks.

As far as player assets – the Hawks have to match the $31.8 million Brown is set to account for against the salary cap next season.

Of the six players that Favale names – Collins, AJ Griffin, De’Andre Hunter, Jalen Johnson, Onyeka Okongwu, and “even Murray” – a package of Collins, Johnson, and Griffin might make the most sense for Atlanta to put on the table.

They might be able to slip Saddiq Bey in instead of Griffin.

Rookie upside could also be interpreted as unproven on teams chasing titles. But Bey has already been in the league for five years and will need his contract addressed soon.

Atlanta would also have to convince Boston that Collins can regain his peak form from the 2019-20 season when he averaged 21.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and 1.2 assists while connecting on 40.1% of his 3.6 looks from deep per game. He averaged 13.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and shot 29.2% from deep this past season.

If the Hawks cannot include Collins, it gets more difficult to see a pathway to a deal given the Celtics’ likely intentions even in a post-Brown world. All of Atlanta’s other high-dollar pieces lack the upside of Collins or would be redundant on Boston’s roster — namely Hunter and Okongwu.

Dejounte Murray could be the swing piece for Atlanta Hawks

He and Brown will both be free agents after next season and are due for big paydays. Murray could earn up to and over $42 million in the first year of his next contract, per ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks.

Brown is eligible to sign a supermax contract worth up to $295 million over five years with the Celtics, per Front Office Sports.

That’s a lot of money for either player to just walk away from in free agency.

Brown averaged career-highs with 26.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, and hit 33.5% of his triples during the regular season, though he is a career %36.5% shooter from deep. Murray posted a 20.5/6.1/5.3 line on .464/.344/.832 efficiency and showed strong leadership in his first season alongside Young who pushed for the trade last summer.

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An about-face on the Murray trade would seem counterintuitive to the promise the pairing showed and the Hawks would be far better served trying to acquire the Celtics star by any other means.