Grade the trade: 2 Hawks proposals to land polarizing $221 million star

These proposed trades offer two potential paths for the Atlanta Hawks to land a big-monied star coming off a rough stretch.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Hawks have not made a blockbuster trade since sending John Collins to the Utah Jazz ahead of last season. Even that deserves a caveat given what they received in return – Rudy Gay, who they quickly traded, and a conditional second-round pick.

Other significant returns include a lottery-protected first-round pick from the Sacramento Kings in the trade that sent Kevin Huerter to the West. 

That pick is now only protected for the top 12 in 2025 (and the top 10 in 2026) after not conveying this season. It turns into two second-round picks (one each in 2026 and 2027) if it does not convey by 2026.

The return in a potential trade for either Trae Young or Dejounte Murray must be better.

Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey offered a pair of deals for Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns that illustrate the kind of returns the Hawks should target.

Towns is coming off a rough postseason that saw him suffer through a shooting slump in the Western Conference Finals. But he remains one of the more uniquely talented bigs in the NBA. And at 28 years old (he turns 29 in November), he is still in his early prime.

Karl-Anthony Towns is the caliber of star the Hawks should target if they trade Trae Young

Trae for KAT 6.2.24

“For Atlanta, this deal could bring help with draft assets, since Trae is three years younger than Towns, and since quarterbacks typically have a little more value than receivers. And again, it restores a little balance to the starting five,” Bailey wrote on May 31. “Murray and Towns could be the basis of a solid inside-out attack.”

Bailey notes three potential keys to making this trade work on the court.

The Hawks could need to trade one of Clint Capela or Onyeka Okongwu or they will face a similar cap crunch as the Timberwolves, who are slated to pay upwards of $107 million in salaries to Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Sixth Man of the Year Naz Reid next season. 

Okongwu’s defensive versatility makes him an ideal complement to Towns in this scenario, though Capela would not fit with Gobert, making a third team potentially necessary.

Bailey also notes the need to put proper shooting around Towns and Murray.

They would do that in his scenario with Bogdan Bogdanovic (37.4% 3P in 2023-24) and De’Andre Hunter (38.5%) while Jalen Johnson shot better than his season average (35.5%) for most of the campaign.

Lastly, Bailey notes, the defense would need time come together.

The Hawks put forth their worst defense season in the last several seasons in 2023-24, with Head Coach Quin Snyder’s three-point-heavy offense putting a natural strain on the defense.

Moving Towns back to his natural center position could also help, with the near 7-footer having some of what makes him special sapped by playing out of position alongside Gobert. He still isn’t a rim protector.

But the hope would be that the Hawks could keep attackers off him better in this scenario.

Grade – B+: Getting swaps rather than outright draft picks is the only thing keeping this deal from being an A, especially since there’s a chance the Timberwolves are better in both years.