$37 million defensive star floated as 'top' trade target for Hawks

One NBA analyst has suggested an All-Defensive First-Teamer as a "top" trade target for the Atlanta Hawks.

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers
Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Hawks have continued to keep their antennae up regarding the situation around Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam. But that doesn’t have to be their only focus, and might not even be the best use of the resources. With the stalemate both sides have been at, changing the target could be beneficial.

And Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report has identified three potential “top” trade targets.

In addition to Siakam and Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant -- who have both been linked to the Hawks before -- Buckley also lists Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso.

“If the Hawks can't snag a star, they should look for a fix to their perennial defensive problems,” Buckley wrote on November 29. “Caruso, an All-Defensive first-teamer, is about as stingy as they come, though his offense is several tiers behind those of the other two targets.”

Caruso, 29, is averaging 9.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.4 steals this season. He is also shooting 46.4% from beyond the arc, the second-highest mark of his career. The former 2020 championship Los Angeles Laker also made a career-high 67 appearances last season which is notable given his injury history.

He is in the third year of a four-year, $36.9 million contract.

The Hawks boast the fifth-best offensive rating in the NBA. But their defensive rating ranks 25th and opponents are shooting the 10th-best mark from beyond the arc against them.

Caruso is versatile enough to play 1-through-4 for the Bulls and has drawn praise from opponents for his defense against them. He would bring an all-out style of play that would benefit the Hawks as long as they manage his minutes to keep him healthy.

Potential cost for Hawks to trade for Bulls’ Alex Caruso

“Alex Caruso holds significant trade interest around the league, but Chicago has yet to show a willingness to move the All-Defensive guard, wrote Michael Scotto of HoopsHype on November 29. Multiple executives told HoopsHype they believe the Bulls can get a first-round pick and a rotational player for Caruso but weren’t sure if they’d get two first-rounders.”

The Hawks cannot trade their first-round pick of their own outright before 2029.

They traded their 2024 and 2027 picks outright to the San Antonio Spurs for Dejounte Murray, also including a swap option for 2026.

Atlanta does own a 2024 first-rounder from the Sacramento Kings thanks to the Kevin Huerter trade. But that pick figures to be toward the back end of the round and is lottery-protected if it falls too low.

Perhaps the Hawks would be open to offering second-year wing AJ Griffin who showed some promise last season but has failed to lock down a consistent role this season. Trading Caruso would be a strong indicator the Bulls are looking to go young anyway and Griffin’s age and draft pedigree could lower the cost in terms of draft compensation.

The Hawks could include any of several players on lesser contracts to make the money work – namely Bruno Fernando, Wesley Matthews, or Patty Mills

But they would not have to.

They still have $23-plus million remaining from their $25.3 million traded player exception they generated by dealing away John Collins to the Utah Jazz. In other words, if Caruso appeals to the Hawks, several viable paths to it working on the books exist.

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