Atlanta Hawks’ rising star targeted by East upstart at trade deadline

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks may be facing changes this offseason but they weren’t ready to shake things up this past season.

“Indiana explored…the concept of sending Chris Duarte plus draft capital to Atlanta for De’Andre Hunter during February’s trade deadline,” wrote Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports on June 15 citing the Pacers’ long-running search for a power forward earlier in the report.

They were a team Fischer linked to Hunter’s teammate John Collins in December.

“Another team to keep an eye on as a Collins destination is Indiana.” Fischer wrote of the interest in the Hawks’ longest-tenured player. “Sources said the Pacers have told inquiring teams they’re searching for a power forward to join their rebuild that features a blooming backcourt of Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin.”

Collins – coming off arguably the worst season of his career averaging 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 29.2% from deep – has been a staple in trade rumors for three years.

Hunter has not.

The last impression of Hunter, who is the highest-drafted player on the team, was that he is among the “core” and believed to be off-limits in trade talks. His four-year, $90 million extension came with a message from general manager Landry Fields about Hunter’s future.

Of course, those kinds of extensions have been a veritable kiss of death for Hawks players.

The last two Hawks draftees to receive big money deals – Collins and Kevin Huerter – have either been mired in trade speculation or, in the case of Huerter, surprisingly traded in a move aimed at ducking the luxury tax.

Ironically, the Hawks traded away the team’s best three-point shooter only to struggle with shooting and spacing this past season.

They ranked 21st in attempts but only 28th in attempts and have turned the keys of the team over to new head coach Quin Snyder whose Utah Jazz squad led the NBA in offensive rating and three-point attempt rate in his final season. The Hawks ranked 26th in threes during the regular season after Snyder took over.

However, they made a substantial adjustment and ranked sixth among the 16 playoff teams.

Hunter – 15.4/4.2/1.4 on .461/.350/.826 this past season – is still just 25 years old, is the team’s best perimeter defender, and has flashed a tantalizing floor game.

It makes sense the Hawks would not want to give Hunter up for Chris Duarte, 26, who is older, smaller, and found himself in a diminished role this past season. Hunter’s usage rate dipped slightly for the second consecutive season.

But he posted the second-best true shooting mark of his career at 56.3%.

Atlanta Hawks host 2x conference Player of the Year

The Hawks continued their pre-draft workouts on Friday, per the team, with a list of projected late-round and undrafted prospects, the highest-ranking of which is UCLA guard Amari Bailey who earned Pac-12 All-Freshman and Tournament honors this past season after averaging 11.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists while shooting 38.9% from beyond the arc.

Bailey is projected to be a second-round pick with The Ringer slotting him 39th overall to the division-rival Charlotte Hornets.

The most-decorated prospect in the group is fifth-year Furman forward Jalen Slawson, a two-time Player of the Year in the Southern Conference. Slawson averaged 15.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.2 assists this past season, canning 39.4% of his triples as well.

San Jose State wing Omari Moore won Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference on top of winning All-Conference honors this past season. He did not shoot the ball like the previous prospects on the list but he stands 6-foot-6 and averaged 17.4 points, 4.8 assists, and 4.7 rebounds in 2022-23.

Western Kentucky wing Emmanuel Akot is a veteran of three programs but is listed at 6-foot-8 and averaged 10.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists this past season.

He earned All-Moutain West Conference Tourney honors this year.

Next. 10 NBA draft prospects that should be available for the Hawks. dark

Rounding out the group are DePaul big man Nick Ongenda, a 6-foot-11 center (12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds), and 6-foot-8 international prospect Marcio Santos.