The Atlanta Hawks’ season has not gone as they had hoped despite making some significant changes in how they both look on paper and the court.
Their disappointing start comes amid the resurgence of trade rumors from this past offseason.
Shams Charania of The Athletic listed the Hawks as one of three teams to monitor in regards to Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam. The Hawks pursued Siakam this summer but, despite several rumored offers, the two-time All-NBA selection and All-Star remains a Raptor. Things could be heating back up, though.
“If I were capping the race for Siakam, based on my understanding, the Hawks would be a slight favorite,” wrote Matt Moore of Action Network on December 12. (around +125 if the Raptors trade Siakam).”
That would be a big “if” given both Siakam’s rumored stance on not signing a contract extension with any team but the Raptors and Toronto’s history of shrewd negotiations.
The Hawks are also limited in assets after trading for Dejounte Murray ahead of last season.
They offered forwards De’Andre Hunter and AJ Griffin plus draft capital to Toronto for Siakam, per Charania in August. Atlanta also rebuffed Toronto’s request for rookie Kobe Bufkin, the No. 15 overall pick in this year’s draft whom the Raptors were high on. Perhaps their slide has them open to upping their offer, which could take some creativity.
“The Hawks would look to move Capela,” Moore continued. “But he's no longer the asset he once was.”
Capela’s value continues to be more evident for the Hawks than it would be for other teams. A Hawks team that can often fluctuate in its play often leans on Capela’s steadiness in the middle of the floor.
But the Hawks were rumored to have explored trade options for the veteran this past summer.
The Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, and New Orleans Pelicans have all been linked to Capela in a potential trade. And a team like the Memphis Grizzlies, who lost Steven Adams for the season, could use what Capela brings. But Dallas and Houston have seen promising early returns on youngsters Dereck Lively II and Alperen Sengun, respectively.
New Orleans is still a possibility. It might be better to hold off until it’s clear what is happening with Zion Williamson in that case, though.
Jalen Johnson’s Most Improved Player campaign interrupted
Talk of trading for Siakam hit a nadir when Jalen Johnson was healthy, even as the Hawks continued to struggle to post wins. The third-year forward was averaging 14.1 points on 67.3% true shooting when he suffered a fractured wrist.
Johnson, along with Bogdan Bogdanovic in the Sixth Man of the Year race, are the Hawks’ best chances for individual awards at season’s end. Trae Young numbers should have him in consideration for some as well. But after failing to make an All-Star team in two of the past three seasons, anything is possible.
Assuming things remain far from imminent, it will be interesting to see if the Siakam trade talk will die back down with Johnson’s return. He is still at least another two weeks away.