The Atlanta Hawks will hold their media day on October 2 with training camp set to open the following day and the season looming large.
With those two key dates fast approaching, trade chatter has resumed to tie up loose ends.
“The Dallas Mavericks’ interest in Clint Capela has been no secret this summer,” wrote Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report on September 24. “Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving are two of the game’s best perimeter creators, and giving them a dynamic screen-and-roll partner … would make an already dangerous offense borderline unguardable.”
“For the Atlanta Hawks, they already have 22-year-old Onyeka Okongwu waiting in the wings to start at the 5. … Having Lively to back him up helps,” Bailey wrote. “The win-now element of this comes from Tim Hardaway Jr., though.”
Dallas has been linked to Capela despite trading for Lively on draft night and acquiring Richaun Holmes via the same method.
They also still have incumbent big man Dwight Powell on the roster but have been on Capela.
“Would the Mavs love for that opportunity to be presented? Yes, they would,” said Marc Stein on ‘The Saturday Stein Line’ on July 29. “They did not at the draft. They were not willing to package number 10 and Josh Green to get Clint Capela, they deemed the price too high at that time, but the interest has not gone away.”
Dallas’ interest aligns with a belief the Hawks would like to clear a path to more playing time for Okongwu. There was also some rumored interest in De’Andre Hunter on the Mavericks’ part, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
MacMahon did add they balked at having to pay out the $90 million Hunter is owed over the next four years.
Capela is starting a two-year, $46 million contract extension signed in 2021.
The Hawks have remade not only their roster but also the coaching staff since then creating the opening for Capela – who has been a trusted outlet for star point guard Trae Young for many of the same reasons the Mavericks are eyeing the big man – to be traded. Atlanta would have to be sure of Okongwu’s ceiling and, for that matter, Johnson’s.
Trading Jalen Johnson could be a risky proposition for Hawks
Previous iterations of this idea have seen the Hawks only have to part with Capela. This deal ups the ante and potentially considerably when factoring in the void left by John Collins at power forward.
They can and, perhaps, are most likely to try Hunter or Saddiq Bey at that spot with their ability to space the floor being a key positive.
But the rebounding will undoubtedly suffer.
Third-year forward Jalen Johnson is still raw but his potential is exponentially higher than Bey’s and his skill set is more diverse. Add in that Johnson has the bigger body and a team that ranked 10th in rebounding but 16th in rebounding percentage last season with Collins may want to keep its options open.
Of course, many of the same stipulations that apply to Capela apply to Johnson: the “new” front office regime was not in control when he was drafted and the new head coach, Quin Snyder, has relied heavily on three-point shooting in his system.
One area Johnson – a 28.2% career three-point shooter – can make some hay in training camp and the preseason, is showing that he can be a threat to knock down open shots.
But the Hawks should be very wary of including him in a trade, especially when the potential incoming package is a redundant rookie (i.e. creating a logjam), an aging, injury-prone retread, and a restricted future draft asset. The Hawks likely could and should hold out for more if they are serious about moving on from Johnson or Capela in this scenario.