Ben Simmons Trade Rumors: Hawks Team to Watch for Nets Star After Deadline Interest

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 11, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - MARCH 10:  Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets warms up before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on March 10, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons was a trade-deadline target for the Atlanta Hawks, according to The Athletic's Chris Kirschner.

Should the Hawks look to be aggressive and chase a big name in a trade this summer, Kirschner described Simmons as someone to "keep an eye on."

Atlanta had to qualify for the playoffs through the play-in tournament and ultimately lost to the Miami Heat in five games in the first round. That was a disappointing outcome for a franchise that was on its way to the Eastern Conference Finals this time last year.

Improving the team's defense is a necessity for general manager Travis Schlenk. The Hawks finished 26th in defensive rating (113.7), per NBA.com.

Acquiring a 6'11" guard who can basically defend every position on the floor would make obvious sense toward addressing that concern.

But there's no guarantee when he returns to the floor or suits up with another team that Simmons will still be the player who made two All-Defensive teams and was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2020-21.

Brooklyn announced the 25-year-old underwent a microdiscectomy surgery for a lingering back injury. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported he may not be back to 100 percent until three or four months after the procedure.

Even that could be an optimistic timeline.

Denver Nuggets star Michael Porter Jr. had the same surgery when he was a freshman at Missouri. While he returned for two games with the Tigers late in the year, he was out for his entire rookie campaign because of a second back surgery. A third back surgery followed this past fall.

Before news of the back surgery surfaced, Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer spoke to a general manager who said Brooklyn might be stuck with Simmons because the three-time All-Star doesn't have "any real trade value."

For the Hawks, there's little reason to pursue a Simmons deal until he's healthy again.