The Atlanta Hawks don’t appear to have decided if they will move their two biggest trade assets yet, which could have some unintended consequences for the rest of the league.
The Hawks have been considering whether or not to move some of their core players at the NBA trade deadline, including Jeff Teague and Al Horford, according to a report by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst.
Horford is in the final year of his deal and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. A team that trades for him would be getting a rental but would also have his bird rights. That franchise could sign him to a longer deal for more money than anyone else. Teague is under contract for next season, and his $8 million salary is extremely reasonable for an All-Star-caliber point guard.
Both players are extremely tempting pieces for teams looking to improve at the deadline. Sending off either one, however, would be a big decision that would affect the outlook for the franchise.
As Arnovitz tweeted Wednesday night, the Hawks are not going to rush to make such a big move:
Hawks are brooding hard. They know what they do over next 18 hrs will dictate the culture, budget, and schemes of their future.— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) February 18, 2016
If the Hawks decide to move Horford, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com reports the Celtics are one of the teams favored to get him. However, the deal likely wouldn’t get done until just before the deadline:
Boston has a number of assets it could use in a trade, including Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and a wealth of draft picks. Zach Lowe at ESPN says the Hawks are asking teams to “wow” them, however, so the asking price may be too much for the Celtics to accept.
The Toronto Raptors have also been mentioned as a possible destination for Horford. Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun reports that the Raptors “would have to part with a significant portion of their depth and even then throw in draft picks” to make the deal happen.
Horford could push the Raptors closer to Cleveland for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. But again, the price to get him may be prohibitive, and Paul Taylor at Tip of the Tower, the Raptors FanSided site, writes the move wouldn’t be worth it:
Windhorst and ESPN’s Marc Stein report that the Knicks “strongly covet” Teague. But they may lack the assets to make a trade happen. Lowe also mentioned Milwaukee, Utah and Brooklyn as teams that could try to put together a deal for Teague.
The Philadelphia 76ers could also try to make a late push for Teague or his backup, Dennis Schroder, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Like with Horford, though, the Hawks would want a significant asset in return for one of their point guards.
“The problem is that the Sixers would have to at least offer (Jahlil) Okafor or Nerlens Noel to make that deal work,” Pompey writes.
A byproduct of Atlanta’s deliberate approach to this decision is that it’s holding up what other teams want to do.
Chris Mannix at Yahoo Sports tweeted Wednesday night that other teams are holding off on making any deals while they wait for Atlanta to make a decision:
Two GM's replying to, 'What's going on out there' texts: "Waiting on Atlanta." Lot of interest in how serious Hawks are about AH/JT deals.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) February 18, 2016
A lot of buyers are interested in what the Hawks can offer, and those teams may not make any trades until they know whether they can make one with Atlanta. Likewise, that makes it harder for other teams to move players as potential trade partners hold out for a deal with Atlanta.
So now everyone is waiting on the Hawks. And when Atlanta finally makes its decision, that’s when the real deadline madness will ensue.