Hawks targeted athletic former 1st-round pick in trade talks

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks were looking for a specific type of player ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft.

“The Mavericks asked for Clint Capela,” reported ESPN NBA insider Tim MacMahon on the ‘Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective’ podcast on June 23. “My understanding is the Hawks asked for the Mavericks to throw in Josh Green or Jaden Hardy.”

According to MacMahon, Green and Hardy are considered a “no go” as players the Mavericks “really like”.

There were rumblings that the Hawks wanted to move up into the top 10 of the draft and Dallas at No. 10 was a team they were said to be in talks with. Atlanta was trying to push John Collins to Dallas but, as MacMahon noted, the Mavericks had other ideas and ultimately pivoted to trades for veteran big man Richaun Holmes and Duke center Dereck Lively II.

Green, 22, was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft out of Arizona. He’s coming off averaging a career-best 9.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while also knocking down 40.2% of his threes, albeit on just 2.8 attempts.

Hardy, 20, was a second-round pick (No. 37 overall) of the 2022 NBA Draft after taking the less conventional route of the G League Ignite.

He averaged 8.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.4 assists and shot 40.4% on 3.3 triples per game.

The Hawks were linked to Lively as a potential target had they traded up so MacMahon’s reporting would seem to track with how the Hawks actually drafted in the aftermath of the deal falling apart. Both Green and Hardy measure out very similarly to the player the Hawks selected with the No. 15 overall pick, Kobe Bufkin from the University of Michigan.

Hawks general manager Landry Fields was open about the team’s efforts in exploring a move up during his pre-draft press conference and even suggested a move back would be possible in what they thought was a deep draft class.

But he also predicted that they would be picking at their No. 15 overall slot noting they were comfortable either way adding that he believes Bufkin will see the floor early on.

Capela, 29, is starting a two-year, $46 million contract extension this season after averaging 12.0 points and 11.0 rebounds giving him his third straight season of averaging a double-double for the Hawks sixth straight overall. His name has popped up in more trade rumors this offseason as the Hawks stare down an $8-plus million luxury tax bill.

Collins, 26, has been a staple of trade rumors.

Just when it seemed like he could be a prime trade target as he entered the second year of a five-year, $125 million contract, he proceeded to have the worst season of his career as an established pro.

Collins averaged 13.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists while shooting just 29.2% from long distance.

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MacMahon’s reporting did not stop there as he also revealed the Hawks tried to offer up another one of their starters: De’Andre Hunter.

“I don’t know exactly what the discussions were with De’Andre Hunter as the player who would have been coming here,” MacMahon continued. “I do know that some people within the Mavs looked at said like the player but not at that money.”

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Hunter is starting a four-year, $90 million contract extension he signed last October that gives him a more than 50% raise over this past season, notable for the cap-strapped Hawks. Since he was given that extension, the Hawks have had their former president of basketball operations who draft Hunter and gave him that extension, Travis Schlenk, resign.

The Hawks also have a recent history of flipping players after paying them.

Collins’ ongoing situation notwithstanding, they gave Kevin Huerter a four-year, $65 million pact only to trade him to the Sacramento Kings less than one year later.

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Nothing came of all the smoke surrounding the Hawks pre-draft. But many of their rumored deals could still be revisited this offseason with much of the same end goal in mind – ducking the luxury tax.