Things could get interesting for the Atlanta Hawks this offseason.
They have already been named in several rumors regarding teams looking to get parts of their roster.
But now they find themselves in rumors for one of the most talented players in the NBA: New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson. Williamson and the Pelicans’ relationship is said to be non-existent, and the team is also rumored to be available in the right trade.
What that trade is is anybody’s guess. But the Hawks could be uniquely positioned to offer young enough pieces to entice the Pelicans into a deal. At least that is the idea behind this trade proposal from ESPN NBA reporter Dave McMenamin who would swap in Williamson for the Hawks forward most in need of a change of scenery.
Williamson, 22, averaged 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists this past season, though he only appeared in 29 games.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2019, he also missed the entirety of the 2021-22 campaign.
He has appeared in just 114 out of 308 possible games since he entered the league to plenty of fanfare. He has also been mired in countless rumors about his weight and, most recently, his family life.
Williamson could step in as the high-flying lob target for Trae Young, who would be the best point guard the Pels big man has ever had in the NBA.
He is entering the first year of a five-year, $194.3 million contract.
Big man Jaxson Hayes, 23, is a former No. 8 overall pick from that same 2019 class. He is coming off a down campaign averaging just 5.0 points and 2.8 rebounds and is a restricted free agent after finishing his rookie contract. The biggest question would be Williamson’s fit next to starting center Clint Capela.
Williamson, a 34.6% career shooter from deep, has never averaged even 1.0 threes per game over an entire season. And, while Capela would help make up for Williamson’s inconsistent rebounding, he is also paint-bound offensively.
Atlanta did have “preliminary” trade talks with the Pelicans regarding Collins at the deadline, per Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.
Would Atlanta Hawks give up on Onyeka Okongwu to move John Collins?
Collins, 25, has been the subject of trade rumors going back three offseasons as he heads into the third year of a five-year, $125 million contract. There has been interest in Collins around the league. But the size of his contract has combined with his production trending in the wrong direction to keep him in town.
He is the longest-tenured player on the roster.
Okongwu, 22, has long been viewed as the center of the future and is coming off averaging career highs with 9.9 points and 7.2 boards, adding 1.3 blocks and 1.0 assists for good measure.
However, the former No. 6 overall pick (2020) is also extension eligible this offseason, and the Hawks are into the luxury tax with a roster that finished last season eighth in the Eastern Conference.
Otherwise, there does not appear to be much reason to think the Hawks are looking to move him.
Durability has been an issue in the past for both Collins and Okongwu, though neither has seen their availability concerns raised to the level of Williamson’s. That has to weigh heavily into the thought process for any team looking to make a trade for the 6-foot-6, 284-pound Williamson, even when the reward can be so great.