The NBA regular season is less than one week away and, although teams like the Atlanta Hawks still have preseason games to play, some are already thinking about potential shakeups and trades.
Atlanta was one of those teams mired in trade speculation until all of their rumored interests hit snags and they made it rather clear they weren’t going to overpay in a deal.
But they are still ripe for the picking in the eyes of some.
“The Grizzlies haven’t abandoned hope in [Ziaire] Williams … but their return on investment has been nonexistent. He played a lot as a rookie and a lot less as a sophomore, and he wasn’t particularly productive or efficient in either season,” wrote Zach Buckley on October 19. “At some point, Memphis might prefer more stability in that spot.”
Griffin averaged 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists last season. Even with him ending the season in a bit of a slump, he also slashed .465/.390/.894 making him the first and only rookie in NBA history to produce such a line while also making at least 70 appearances, per Stathead.
He also did just enough to allay some of the concerns about his defense and athleticism that followed him during the pre-draft process.
That could have teams like the up-and-coming Grizzlies to take note and an interest.
“Williams could eventually become the better player, but his ceiling is theoretical and will remain that way until he actually starts taking steps toward it,” Buckley wrote. “Griffin seems likelier to deliver a better 2023-24 season, and that could matter to a Memphis team that could be in championship contention as soon as Ja Morant gets back from his 25-game suspension.”
For all of those reasons and more – team chemistry and playing style under head coach Quin Snyder – Griffin is just as valuable to the Hawks as he would be to the Grizzlies, if not more so after the resources Atlanta invested in him with the initial draft pick and then time coaching him.
It seems unlikely, then, that they would have any interest in swapping him out for another team’s reclamation project.
That’s not to say Williams cannot or will not improve.
But the Hawks are looking to compete in a stacked Eastern Conference. On top of them being the team to send out additional compensation in the form of draft capital, this would do more to hurt those chances than enhance them. It goes against everything that we’ve heard regarding their next possible move.
While the door is still open for a teardown, Griffin is more likely to be a piece they look to add around, not subtract.
Analyst urges Hawks to keep up pursuit of Raptors’ Pascal Siakam
A Griffin-Williams swap was not the only one Buckley floated, though the other one was more re-hashing the Hawks’ pursuit of Siakam. At last check, talks had come to a standstill as the Hawks were unwilling to part with rookie Kobe Bufkin to get the trade done.
And with the season bearing down, a deal seems even more unlikely right now.
But Buckley proposes they “keep trying” and suggests the previously rumored package headlined by Griffin, De’Andre Hunter, and a trio of picks (2024 lottery-protected first-round via SAC, 2025 second-round via MIN, 2027 second-round via MIN) to land Siakam and fellow veteran Otto Porter Jr.
Both Siakam and Porter would bring championship experience to a Hawks squad that wants to reach those heights but lacks the proper guide on the court or sideline.
Siakam is closer to what the Hawks should be targeting if they are open to moving Griffin. But the baked-in risk of Siakam leaving in free agency next offseason is at least enough of a cause for pause to wait it out just a little bit longer to see how the current roster fares out of the gates.
If they falter or show few signs of improving, they can always revisit Siakam or any other potential dealings before the February trade deadline.