Grade the trade: Hawks deal AJ Griffin to Rockets, land polarizing prospect

The Atlanta Hawks were active on Day 2 of the draft, making a pair of moves that ultimately saw them trade former first-round pick AJ Griffin.
Atlanta Hawks, AJ Griffin
Atlanta Hawks, AJ Griffin / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Hawks got their draft day started early on June 27, agreeing to a deal sending 2022 first-round pick AJ Griffin to the Houston Rockets in exchange for the No. 44 overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft.  They were not done, though.

Atlanta then flipped the No. 44 pick along with cash considerations to the Miami Heat in exchange for No. 43. 

With that pick in hand, the Hawks selected Serbian wing Nikola Durisic, a polarizing prospect who helped himself with a strong combine. There is a significant financial component to this deal for the Hawks, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Spotrac’s Keith Smith.

“The Griffin trade to Houston puts Atlanta right at the $171M luxury tax,” Marks posted.  

“However, if Atlanta tenders Saddiq Bey a $8.5M Qualifying Offer, they would now go into the first apron.

“of note, it is helpful for a team trying to... avoid the tax... to have a second-round pick making the rookie minimum,” “Locked On Hawks” host Brad Rowland posted after the trade.

“(hawks did the same with mo gueye last year)”

The Hawks could have sold the pick. Instead, their deal with Miami will lock them in at the $189.5 million second luxury tax apron.

“Because they used cash in the trade-up with the Miami Heat, the Atlanta Hawks are now hard-capped at second apron,” Smith posted on X. “The Hawks are about $17.7M under the second apron. They should be fine, but something to keep an eye on a little bit.”

New league rules means this won’t just affect the Hawks before the NBA calendar rolls over.

“Typically, a team’s hard cap expires on June 30 when the current league year comes to an end, with the team getting a clean slate on July 1. However, beginning in the 2024 offseason, if a team engages in any of the trade-related transactions prohibited for first or second apron teams between the end of the regular season and June 30, the team will not be permitted to exceed that apron level during the following season,” Hoops Rumors’ Luke Adams wrote in December.

“If, for example, a team sends out cash in a trade in June of 2024 [like the Hawks just did], that team won’t be allowed to exceed the second tax apron during the 2024/25 league year. The inverse is also true — a team whose 2024/25 salary projects to be over the second apron won’t be able to trade cash in June.”

This probably has less of an impact for the Hawks’ desire to spend than it gives them further incentive to secure a trade for one of their more onerous contracts.

Grade – C+: The Hawks made some moves to work around the salary cap. But the uncertainty of Durisic, the cost of doing business, and hard-capping themselves drop the overall grade.