Assessing the Hawks' Trade Assets & Trade Rumors

The Atlanta Hawks are a team in the early stages of a rebuild, which could last years. In this article, we will assess the most attractive -- and most likely -- players the Hawks could look to move before the February 8th trade deadline.

With the NBA trade deadline nearly 48 hours away, the Atlanta Hawks, co-owners of the league’s worst record at 17-37, are looking to S-E-L-L, sell. But that’s to be expected. After all, the Hawks are in their first season of a rebuild, whether the front office would use that term or not. As a rebuilding team, we must evaluate whatever they do before 3pm on Thursday through that lens.

Let’s now consider the most attractive – and most likely – players the Hawks could look to move before the trade deadline.  

Kent Bazemore, SG/SF

Analysis: After posting a dud last season, Kent Bazemore has returned to form this year. Per game this season, Bazemore is averaging more points (13.2, a career high), rebounds (4.0), and steals (1.7, another career high) than last season. He is also shooting 38.9% on 4.3 attempts per game from three-point range – both career highs. Defensively, Bazemore ranks in the top 6 of the NBA among guards in total steals (87) and blocks (36). Arguably, he has been the most consistent all-around player for the Hawks this season, and also the de facto team leader.

Bazemore’s play could entice playoff-bound teams looking to fortify their benches. A veritable Swiss Army knife of a player, he can even serve as emergency ball-handling in addition to the skills already mentioned. The most likely obstacle to any deal, however, will be his contract – he has two more years remaining, with $18 million due next season and a player option for $19 million in 2019-2020.

Potential Return: Given Bazemore’s contract and the current trade market, a first-round pick seems out of the question. If the Hawks trade him, the most likely return will be a player with an equally unfavorable contract, a young prospect, a higher second-round pick, or some combination of the three options.  

Latest Rumor: Per a February 5th report from The Sporting News’s Sean Deveney, the Pelicans have shown interest in Bazemore. However, according to Deveney, there is little optimism that a deal would go through, given the Hawks’ demands and the Pelicans’ assets.

Marco Belinelli, SG

Analysis: This season, Marco Belinelli has produced similar results as the rest of his career: suitable scoring and suspect defense. In 23.3 minutes per game, he is averaging 11.4 points (second most of his career); on a per 36-minute basis, he would average 17.6 points per game, the highest total of his career. His three-point percentage (a respectable 37.2%) this season is only slightly lower than his career average (37.7%). 

Teams positioning for the playoffs may look to Belinelli for reliable bench production at a reasonable cost. His $6.6 million one-year contract expires this offseason, so this would be a minimal commitment for a decent short-term return.

Potential Return: A second-round draft pick is the most likely compensation for Belinelli.

Latest Rumor: On Tuesday night, Marc Stein reported that the Hawks expect to move Belinelli by Thursday.

Dewayne Dedmon, PF/C

Analysis: Dewayne Dedmon has been a reliable player on both sides of the floor for the Hawks. Averaging 23.3 minutes per game (a career high), he has set career highs in points (10.0, up from 5.1 last season, his previous high), assists (1.4), and rebounds (7.7 total – 1.9 offensive and 5.8 defensive) per game this season. Furthermore, he has added the three-pointer to his offensive repertoire – he is shooting 38.3% on 60 total attempts (1.8 per game), after only attempting one total three-pointer prior to this season. Defensively, Dedmon is posting a 0.5 plus/minus, making him one of the few Hawks’ players with a positive result in that category. Given how poor the Hawks are on defense, that is no small achievement.

Teams would likely consider Dedmon to strengthen their benches, but he could make a case to start, given the right situation. Dedmon could be a reasonable consolation prize for a team who cannot land DeAndre Jordan. He is on a two-year contract at a reasonable salary ($6 million this season, $6.3 million next season), but he may look to exercise his player option this summer.

Potential Return: Dedmon’s player option will limit whatever return they Hawks could get by trading him. The best-case scenario for the Hawks would be landing a young prospect and/or draft pick compensation (a second-round pick).

Latest Rumor: Again from The Sporting News’s February 5th report: The Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Philadelphia 76ers have shown interest in Dedmon. But with the Bucks acquiring Tyler Zeller from the Nets on Monday, Milwaukee is surely out of the Dedmon sweepstakes.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF

Analysis: As the Hawks’ starting power forward, Ersan Ilyasova has been a serviceable contributor on both sides of the floor. Offensively, he is averaging 10.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game. When considered alongside his 35.5% three-point shooting, Ilyasova’s season so far has been decent, but not great. He is not a great defender, but he can be a savvy one — he is currently 3rd in the league in charges drawn (20 total), after leading the league with 36 last season. 

Teams looking to make a playoff push would likely consider Ilyasova for a bench role. In him, they would receive a floor-spacing, three-point threat, a decent rebounder, and (to borrow a line from Moneyball) the Turkish god of drawing charges. Because he is on a 1-year, $6 million contract, the team trading for him would not have to worry about a long-term, big-money commitment.

Potential Return: Per Marc Stein’s newsletter: Ilyasova will likely only garner a second-round pick, assuming he consents to the trade (his Bird rights gives him the option).

Latest Rumor: The latest rumor concerning Ilyasova also comes from Stein: Ilyasova is not likely to consent to a trade, despite the Hawks’ desire to move him.

Dennis Schröder, PG

Analysis: Schröder is having a paradoxical career year for the Hawks: he is simultaneously their best, most consistent offensive player, and arguably their worst defender. Offensively, he is setting career marks with 19.5 points, 6.4 assists, and 1.1 steals in 31.5 minutes per game, while also reducing his turnovers to 2.7 per game (down from 3.3 per game last year). The three-point line, however, has always been a struggle for Schröder – he averages 32% for his career, and he is shooting a woeful 28.6% this season. 

Schröder would be the most enticing of the players mentioned for several reasons. He is a young, productive guard who has not yet hit his prime. This season, Schröder ranks 28th in the league for scoring and 11th for assists. He should only improve from here. Additionally, any team who trades for Schröder will have him under contract at $15.5 million until the summer of 2021. Given the NBA’s ballooning salary cap, $15.5 million for a quality starting point guard is a bargain!

Potential Return: Schröder would also bring the most significant return to the Hawks. Ideally, the Hawks could receive at least a first-round pick for Schröder, but it would likely be low and highly protected.

Latest Rumor: Although trading Schröder would be a surprising move, a February 1st report by Zach Lowe confirmed that the Hawks already have explored this possibility. The Milwaukee Bucks were interested, but those conversations ended when the Bucks acquired Eric Bledsoe from Phoenix.    

My Prediction

Before the trade deadline, I expect the Hawks will at least trade Dedmon and Belinelli, and will keep Bazemore and Schröder. Ersan Ilyasova is the wild-card in the equation. I will tentatively predict that the Hawks will find a way to trade him, too. Bazemore’s contract will prevent any deal. But this will be good news for the Hawks in the long-run, as Bazemore will have a positive influence on the team’s young players this year and beyond. If the Hawks look to move Schröder, it will happen in the offseason, not before the deadline.

Regardless of what happens before 3pm on Thursday, it will only serve as the preface to a new narrative of the Atlanta Hawks. The opening chapter will begin on the afternoon of June 22nd – the day of the 2018 NBA draft.

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