Well the hawks did make a night trade exchange. It just didn’t involve the player we’ve all been talking about for weeks (John Collins). It also didn’t benefit the Hawks in any way. In fact, the only one who benefited from the trade was Hawks owner Tony Ressler.
The Hawks’ big trade on Thursday night of the draft saw the team send the 44th pick to Golden State for $2 million in cash and pick No. 51. Let me be very clear about this deal: there’s no reason the Hawks made this trade. The $2 million doesn’t help the salary cap or help them avoid the luxury tax. It has no benefit in increasing your Hawks fandom in any way.
Here are the players drafted from picks 44-50: Ryan Rollins, Josh Minott, Ismael Kamagate, Vince Williams Jr., Kendall Brown, Isaiah Mobley and Matteo Spagnolo. If one of them becomes a top contributor for another team, you can thank Ressler for the Hawks not having a chance to draft him. Oh, and the pick they sold at No. 44 was the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, who frankly don’t care what it takes to possibly improve their team.
Of course, late-draft picks rarely pan out anyway (Nikola Jokic, the 41st pick and consecutive reigning MVP winner, is the exception, not the rule), but it’s actively hurting the franchise to drop seven pitches for no reason at all. UConn’s Tyrese Martin, who the Hawks picked at No. 51, might end up being a good player for Atlanta, but the trade is still awful and a move that can’t be sold to the fanbase as a take. smart basketball decision. It’s not president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk or future general manager Landry Fields. It’s only on Ressler.
The Hawks made a smart basketball move in the first round, however, taking AJ Griffin from Duke. No, it doesn’t immediately solve the franchise’s dire need for better defensemen; Griffin is pretty poor in that regard right now. However, he is 18 years old. The hope is that his nearly 7-foot wingspan will help him become a good defender at some point.
For the second year in a row, the Hawks landed a prospect they didn’t expect to see on the board when commissioner Adam Silver announced the pick. Last draft, Jalen Johnson did not work for the Hawks and had little communication with the franchise before hearing his name called by Atlanta. Prior to this draft, Griffin did not work for the Hawks and only had one meeting with the organization at the combine. When asked what he thought he could bring to the Hawks defensively, Griffin had a hilarious response that made me think he took acting lessons during his year at Duke.
“Being able to be part of an organization that takes pride in that will definitely be something I look forward to. Defense wins championships,” Griffin said.
He clearly hasn’t paid much attention to the Hawks in recent years. However, he is forgiven. That’s an admirable answer for a rookie. But improving defensively is a must for Atlanta this offseason, or the team’s cap will be limited again. Griffin isn’t helping the team to that end this season; it may not help at all how raw he is. As with Johnson in his rookie year, don’t expect Griffin to be in the rotation anytime this coming season. There’s also still the possibility that the Hawks could reach a deal in the coming weeks that could include Griffin. When asked if the Hawks plan to keep him, Fields said only this: “We picked AJ because we really like him. Our plan is to have it.
If you believe Atlanta’s publicly announced plans, you’ll also take Fields at face value when asked about the team’s plans involving Collins. Here’s what I asked about how the organization sees Collins as part of its future.
—Brad Rowland (@BTRowland) June 24, 2022
Is this supposed to inspire confidence that Collins is going to be a Hawk for much longer? Probably not. Before the draft started, I reached out to someone close to Collins who told me he felt 50-50 on the remaining power forward with the Hawks last Thursday night, but that “he won’t be a Hawk passed this summer”.
The truth is, no one in the league I’ve spoken to believes Collins will be on the Hawks’ opening night roster. The sad reality is that Collins and his family are left in limbo as they wait for what seems inevitable. It has become an all-too-familiar situation for Collins for several years now. With every trade deadline and every offseason, the question has always been, is this when Collins gets traded? Whether or not you believe Collins can be a big player in the Hawks’ title chase, it’s a little bittersweet that, for someone who’s always been clear about wanting to be in Atlanta, those feelings aren’t. reciprocal even after signing. a five-year, $125 million deal last offseason. Money is obviously nice, but feeling wanted and appreciated is just as important.
So now we’re all waiting for what happens with Collins. There’s still a chance he could move to San Antonio as part of a package for All-Star guard Dejounte Murray. There is always a chance that someone else in the league will suddenly become available. Brooklyn’s situation is worth watching. Kyrie Irving could leave, which could make Kevin Durant want to play elsewhere and perhaps the Nets would be forced to trade the two stars. The Hawks, of course, would have no interest in Irving but would obviously be interested in Durant. Durant doesn’t have a trade veto, and if the Nets have to press the reset button, the Hawks have several young players who could make a trade to Atlanta an attractive option for Brooklyn. It’s probably a pipe dream for the Hawks, but it’s not entirely unrealistic.
The Hawks could still pursue Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton in free agency. Sources say Athleticism that the Hawks’ interest in the 23-year-old would hinge on him getting him for less than a maximum contract. That may not be an option as the Pistons, who have the cap space for a max contract, should be aggressive in their pursuit of Ayton in free agency.
There was a sense of disappointment that the Hawks didn’t make spectacular moves on draft night, but it’s just one of many days this offseason. There’s still time for the Hawks to improve their roster. As Fields said, “We were mandated to improve, and we want to improve.”
It’s obvious the Hawks see one of their ways to improve by trading Collins. Everyone expects it.
“He ended up in Atlanta,” a source close to Collins said.
Now we await the Hawks’ next move. Let’s just hope for all of you that this exchange makes more sense than the one they pulled off on Thursday night. You deserve better than that.
(Photo of John Collins shooting San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray: Brett Davis/USA Today)