Proposed trade ends Hawks' long-running pursuit of NBA champion

This proposed trade would see the Atlanta Hawks follow through on their pursuit of an NBA champion, which has dragged out since the offseason.
Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young
Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young / Andrew Lahodynskyj/GettyImages

Mired in a five-game losing streak following their 135-128 loss to the Toronto Raptors on December 13, the Atlanta Hawks are firmly in the crosshairs for trade speculation.

Shams Charania of The Athletic listed the Hawks among a trio of teams to watch regarding Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam. Matt Moore of Action Network thinks the Hawks are the favorites to land him if he is indeed traded.

The Hawks have targeted Siakam since the offseason, according to rumors. They got an up-close demonstration during the loss.

He dropped 33 points on 63.2% shooting including hitting five of six threes.

Siakam created offense for himself, defended well, and also came away with seven assists and seven rebounds, doing all of the things that make him an attractive trade target.

“It feels like the Atlanta Hawks and Pascal Siakam have been circling each other for months,” wrote Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report on December 14. “And it feels like both teams might now be desperate enough to do the deal.”

Bailey proposed a revised version of one of the rumored deals involving the two teams.

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“Siakam's utility for Atlanta would go beyond adding another reliable 20-point-per game scorer. He can also create a little,” Bailey argued. “This move also forces Quin Snyder to start Onyeka Okongwu and would give the team one of the league's more versatile and switchable 4-5 combos with him and Siakam.”

Okongwu has expanded his range this season, knocking down eight threes this season, including knocking down three of his five looks in the loss to Toronto.

Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter have been staples in trade rumors since this offseason. Both players are in the first year of new contract extensions, though both received those contracts from a previous iteration of the Hawks’ front office. 

The Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, and Houston Rockets have been linked to Capela.

De’Andre Hunter’s market has been less defined, though the Hawks had discussions with the Detroit Pistons while the Mavericks and Indiana Pacers were rumored to have interest. 

Hunter’s absence in the loss to Toronto was noticeable, mostly on the defensive end.

He and AJ Griffin were included in a rumored offer from the Hawks to the Raptors, which the latter rejected. Atlanta later declined to include rookie Kobe Bufkin, whom the Raptors like.

Griffin has gone from a promising start in his rookie season to largely an afterthought in the rotation this season. He has played in just one of the Hawks’ last six contests and has been inactive of DNP-CD for 11 of their 23 games this season.

The draft capital is far enough out to wonder if the Hawks would miss it by that point. 

As solid of an addition as Siakam would be, he is not a perfect player or even the cleanest fit on paper with what would be left of this group.

Hawks must be mindful of warts in Pascal Siakam’s game

“Siakam is a solid defender and playmaker,” Bailey wrote. “But he turns 30 in April and hasn't had an above-average true shooting percentage since 2018-19.”

He also wouldn’t do much to help their floor spacing despite his effort against the Hawks. 

Siakam is a 32.3% shooter from deep in his career. And his 25.3% mark of this season is the third-lowest of his career.

And then, of course, there is the elephant in the room of Siakam’s contract situation. He is intent on testing free agency if he is traded and will only sign a contract extension with Toronto. That is a significant investment for the Hawks to make with no guarantees beyond this season.

This is hardly an easy decision for the Hawks. But their five game losing streak and 9-14 record seem to suggest they have to do something.

Is that just waiting until Jalen Johnson or making a trade for a player like Siakam?