The Atlanta Hawks were mentioned along with the Sacramento Kings as a potential trade suitor for Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen.
The reigning Most Improved Player, Markkanen’s breakout has not made him untouchable.
“So what’s the line for an acceptable offer? My impression from talking to teams is that it’s something resembling the haul the Jazz received for Mitchell and Gobert,” wrote Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer on December 18. “Five-ish firsts and/or players of comparable value.”
That could certainly be a significant hurdle for the Hawks to overcome.
They are light on draft capital, currently unable to outright trade their own first-round pick until the 2029 draft after surrendering assets to acquire Dejounte Murray ahead of the 2022-23 season.
Atlanta does have the rights to the Sacramento Kings’ first-rounder the next time they make the postseason, which would be this season based on the standings on December 18.
They could send that pick, plus their pick in 2029 with swaps and player assets in an offer.
Markkanen is averaging 23.4 points on 63% true shooting with 8.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.0 steals per game this season, shooting 39% from beyond the arc to boot. He is in the third year of a four-year, $67.5 million contract.
Adding to the appeal of acquiring the 7-footer, Markkanen, his contract is only partially guaranteed for $6 million of the $18 million he is set to make in 2024-25.
Markkanen could be an asset on the floor or on the trade market if it didn’t work.
Proposed trade swaps Hawks’ former top pick for Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen
How far the Hawks are willing to go to land Markkanen will ultimately come down to his fit within the remaining pieces they’d have left after a deal. They are also interested in Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors, though, so they appear open to a variety of skill sets.
Since they are light on draft capital, they Hawks might have to come in heavy in terms of players included in the deal.
Fifth-year forward De’Andre Hunter could be the prime candidate.
Hunter, 25, was the No. 4 overall pick in 2018. With that came expectations that the solid if unspectacular Hunter was always going to have a hard time reaching. Perhaps he could follow in the path of former teammate John Collins.
“This is a lot for Markkanen,” O’Connor said of the potential asking price. “But his qualities seem like a fit for virtually any scenario you can imagine.”
The Hawks traded Collins to the Jazz after three years of trade speculation, getting back a modest return of a conditional second-round pick and veteran Rudy Gay (since waived).
Landing Marrkanen would be a significantly greater return.
It is unclear how willing the Jazz would be to go back down that path, however, amid reports that Collins is back on the trade block as he struggles to pick up the Jazz’s system on both ends of the floor.
Hunter doesn’t come with all of the question marks that Collins had. But he is on a hefty enough contract – four years, $90 million – and has a substantial enough injury history that moving him as the Hawks are rumored to have explored this offseason might prove tricky.
Paying the premium for a player like Markkanen, who would slot nicely as a floor spacer and self-creator alongside Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, could be a worthwhile endeavor.