Hawks named as potential trade 'suitor' for $67 million former Most Improved Player

A new batch of insider intel revealed the Atlanta Hawks' interest in trading for a former Most Improved Player on a sizeable contract.
Atlanta Hawks v Toronto Raptors
Atlanta Hawks v Toronto Raptors / Andrew Lahodynskyj/GettyImages

It is trade rumor season and, once again, the Hawks' record has them among the teams most often mentioned in this batch of chatter. Their pursuit of Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam is ongoing.

But the Hawks are also said to have a Plan B trade target in mind: Utah Jazz star Lauri Markkanen.

“League personnel believe three teams in particular value the Finnish forward at this preliminary stage of trade conversations,” wrote Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports on December 15. “Two of those apparent suitors, Sacramento and Atlanta, make sense, considering the Kings’ and Hawks’ respective approaches for Siakam.”

Shams Charania of The Athletic listed the Hawks as one of three players in pursuit of a trade for Siakam, who dropped an efficient 33-7-7 game against them on December 13 and gets another shot to put up solid numbers on December 15.

He is in the final year of a four-year, $136.9 million contract.

Siakam’s situation is complicated by his stance on not signing a contract extension with his new team if traded. That is as much a business decision as it is a push to control the landing spot. He stands to make substantially more if he tests free agency following a potential trade.

Markkanen is three years younger than Siakam and is in Year 3 of a four-year, $67.4 million contract that is partially guaranteed in the final year.

Fischer also noted the Oklahoma City Thunder as a potential suitor for Markkanen.

The sweet-shooting 7-footer, Markkanen, is averaging 23.7 points on 62.9% true shooting, knocking down 39% of his 8.5 threes with 8.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.0 assists this season.

“Do I expect Utah to trade Lauri? No,” an anonymous general manager said, per Fischer. “But they are saying they’re willing to listen. They are willing to listen to calls on everyone, but it’s a matter of meeting their price like Minnesota did for Rudy [Gobert].”

Minnesota sent out a bevy of picks and players to acquire Gobert before last season. The results have not been what they had hoped, and the cost to acquire him was so high it forced a market reset with the aid of Bradley Beal’s no-trade clause.

Markkanen should be cheaper, albeit not by much. But the risk is some lessened by his age and offensive skill set. 

He would also be the tallest player on the Hawks’ roster.

Proposed Trade Sends Jazz's Lauri Markkanen to Hawks

The Hawks are rumored to have offered forward De’Andre Hunter and AJ Griffin for Siakam but were rebuffed. They also rejected the Raptors’ request to include rookie Kobe Bufkin – whom they were high on pre-draft – in the deal.

Perhaps they can get further sending their initial offer to the Jazz that they did with the Raptors.

Lauri Markkanen for Hunter/Griffin

If not, perhaps Markkanen’s advantages over Siakam – age, team control, offense/shooting – make potentially ponying up to acquire him a worthwhile endeavor.

It’s also fair to wonder how much Jalen Johnson’s eventual return is impacting their decisions.