The 2023 free agency period has thus far been a quiet one for the Atlanta Hawks.
Despite months of rumors swirling around everyone from the front office to newly minted head coach Quin Snyder, to two-time All-Star point guard Trae Young, the team hasn’t made any free agent signings so far, and their only two needle-moving offseason decisions have been drafting Kobe Bufkin and trading away John Collins for cap space.
However, a recent, since-deleted tweet from backup center Onyeka Okongwu is certainly going to have fans up in arms about what the coming days might hold in store for the franchise.
That’s right, everyone prepare yourselves for the Apocalypse. Okongwu tweeted “Lol.”
What does this mean for Atlanta?
The conclusion that most fans will likely jump to, considering the context of the time of year and the flawed state of the Hawks’ current roster, is that Okongwu has reason to suspect that his name may be included in a potential trade the team could make.
Perhaps the most obvious destination for the former USC center is the Toronto Raptors, who have been linked with the Hawks in trade talks for weeks now, primarily regarding power forward Pascal Siakam, who would provide an infinite boost in Atlanta’s current gap in the power forward spot left in Collins’ wake.
The Hawks currently have two starting-caliber centers on the roster in Okongwu and Clint Capela, so it certainly figures they would try to move one to shore up some of the more pressing needs on the roster.
Of course, most fans would agree that all things being equal, Okongwu would be the one they would rather have stick around. Not only is the 2020 draftee younger and on a much more team-friendly deal than Capela, but he also has a lot more offensive versatility and an infinitely better touch around the basket, even if his shot-blocking and rebounding prowess might not quite reach the impact of Capela.
Still, in today’s NBA, the center is arguably the least important position on the court (unless you have Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid on your team), and if Toronto demanded Okongwu as part of a trade for all-star Siakam, Atlanta should at the very least seriously consider the proposal.
Siakam averaged over 24 points per game last year along with nearly 8 rebounds and 6 assists, including a 52-point game in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. He also would instantly become Atlanta’s best defender, providing in reality the switchability and versatility that De’Andre Hunter should theoretically provide on paper.
If Atlanta were able to snag Siakam without having to give up Young (well, obviously they wouldn’t do that) or Dejounte Murray, the team would instantly become a lot more dangerous and move out of the thicket of Eastern conference mediocrity that defined them last year.
Onyeka Okongwu’s tweet could mean absolutely nothing for the Atlanta Hawks
This is the NBA offseason after all, and players have been known to have fun with fans by posting and deleting cryptic messages like this just to stir the pot and add to the anticipation, even if nothing actually comes to fruition.
It’s certainly worth noting that Okongwu appeared to delete the tweet just a couple of minutes after it went up.
In any case, one thing’s for sure: if Atlanta stands pat with the roster they have right now, they will have failed both their fanbase and their star point guard in Young. To turn an average team into a contender, risks need to be taken and sacrifices made.
We’ll see how big Atlanta is willing to swing.