Proposed Hawks trade would take advantage of Knicks' move for Mikal Bridges

This proposed trade would see the Atlanta Hawks capitalize on the New York Knicks' trade for Mikal Bridges.
Atlanta Hawks, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
Atlanta Hawks, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Brooklyn Nets / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks have the No. 1 pick in hand and can still go in any number of directions with the pick. But the rest of the NBA is also active, and the New York Knicks might have just created an opportunity for their Eastern Conference rival.

New York swung a blockbuster trade for Mikal Bridges of the Brooklyn Nets, sending back a haul of picks that leans the latter firmly into a rebuild.

This is where the Hawks should look to take advantage.

The Nets could be inclined to move forward Cameron Johnson, Bridges’ friend and teammate since he entered the NBA. Atlanta can send a package like this to help the Nets clean up their books:

CC to BK 2

Compensation is tricky since the No. 1 pick is too rich for Johnson and the Hawks cannot trade another first-round pick until 2029. The Nets are interested in trading into the first round of the draft, so they could prefer to flip Johnson for a pick, which they almost certainly could get. 

He averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists last season. The 6-foot-8 wing can play both forward positions, offers versatile defense, and shot 39.1% in what was a down season from outside.

He is entering Year 2 of a four-year, $94.5 million contract. 

Johnson is also represented by CAA, who signed Hawks star Trae Young away from rival Klutch Sports this offseason.

The Nets have been linked to a potential trade for Young or Dejounte Murray. This trade likely sends them in the other direction, though. The Hawks could add Johnson, allowing them to fill the void left by Saddiq Bey who will still be recovering from a torn ACL even if he returns.

Bey is a restricted free agent this offseason.

Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer told Lauren Williams of the “Hawks Report” podcast that the sentiment in league circles is the Hawks would not put up much of a fight to retain him.

They would have the right to match any offer he gets if they extend the qualifying offer to him before free agency. That has not happened yet, though. They have until June 29 to make that decision among others.

Hawks could shed salary, fill need with proposed Nets trade

The Nets would be getting out from under the final two years and $68.8 million left on Johnson’s deal after 2024-25. Immediate draft capital would be the Hawks’ biggest threat.

Capela is going into the final year of a two-year, $46 million contract extension. He would give the Nets a replacement for free agent – and potential Hawks target – Nic Claxton. Capela has also drawn interest from several teams and could be rerouted for draft capital.

Griffin, the No. 16 overall pick in 2022, fell out of Hawks head coach Quin Snyder’s rotation in the playoffs in 2023 and battled personal issues last season.

A change of scenery could get him back to his rookie form when he shot 39% from three.

The Hawks could shave some money off their books now and could even keep De’Andre Hunter in the bench role he thrived in before rejoining the starting lineup last season. They are also expected to explore trade opportunities for Hunter.

Johnson would give them a more-than-capable replacement if Hunter stays or is traded and would fit in several different lineup iterations.