NBA Rumors: Should 76ers Shop Hawks Fire Sale?

Jan 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver (26) shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Strange twists in the NBA, at the crossroads of rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers and the playoff bound Atlanta Hawks trying to switch roles. Could a trade between the two teams fast track both teams?

NBA Rumors often tell the what and the who, but often not the when. Even moreso, never the why.  Right now, the Atlanta Hawks, a playoff team, is placing incredible talent on the trading block. Why?

Speculating? It comes down to the money right now.

The Atlanta Hawks are a playoff team, yes. But the window for their post-season opportunities appears to be closing rapidly.  The Hawks traded Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and in return received a 2019 first round pick (protected), Mike Dunleavy, and Mo Williams.  Cleveland got the better value but Korver is in his last year under contract. In addition, the Hawks had to take a salary cap hit in the deal.   Originally rumored to be seeking a third team to eat the excess salary of Dunleavy, the Hawks appear to be okay for now. They are not done dealing.

But it comes down to the million dollar question. Why would a solidly-on-track-for-the-playoffs-NBA-Team Hawks suddenly start dealing pieces? Seems simple enough. The team sees the wheels falling off the wagon.  Korver is in his last contract year with the team. At the end of the season, he won’t stay.  The team didn’t have enough cap space to offer him a meaningful contract next year.

But the team has more problems with money than that.  They actually took a salary cap HIT in the Cavaliers deal.  There is more happening in Atlanta.

Jan 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) boxes out San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in overtime at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 114-112 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Wheeling and Dealing

That means the team expects to shed more salary dollars.  You see, Paul Millsap has an option to remain with the Atlanta Hawks, an option he is declining:

And so, knowing this, the Hawks have decided to get something for nothing. That means that the Atlanta Hawks are on a fire sale.  They need pieces to quickly rebuild their team, while the Philadelphia 76ers need pieces to take them to the next level.  Is there some common ground here to explore?  If not, there should be.  Let’s gloss over the pieces on the trading block and discuss if any of the pieces would benefit the 76ers?

Jan 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) shows emotion against the San Antonio Spurs in overtime at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 114-112 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Hardaway Jr.

When NBA rumors detect blood in the water, the stories circle around the team like hungry sharks. Right now, the Atlanta Hawks are that team bleeding into the sea of possible trades. Like this one about Tim Hardaway Jr.:

Hardaway is a solid piece to any team. If he is truly on the market, he would most certainly be of interest to the Philadelphia 76ers right now.  Sixer Sense’s own Christopher Kline takes an in-depth look at the fit of Hardaway Jr. to the 76ers future. But Hardaway alone would complicate the back court structure of the Philadelphia 76ers if the team brought him to the team by way of picks.

Right now, the Atlanta Hawks cannot ignore the reality that this team is playoff bound. With Korver gone, the team  must now look at Mike Dunleavy or DeAndre’ Bembry to carry the load. One is too old and one is too young.  The 76ers can fix that by absorbing Dunleavy’s excessive contract, and bringing Hardaway this year. The Hawks get a 2017 2nd round pick and veteran Henderson through 2018 to help bring Bembry along.

76ers get Mike Dunleavy, Tim Hardaway Jr.

Hawks get

Jan 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) boxes out San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in overtime at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 114-112 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Millsap

Next on the fire sale is the Hawks gifted power forward Paul Millsap. After the dust settles, it was likely the unwillingness of Millsap to commit to the Hawks next season which persuaded the Hawks front office to blow it up. Without Millsap, few other players would consider staying. And so now the Hawks are trying to maximize a return for the power forward.

All after dealing Kyle Korver to their post season competition.

We looked at the possibility of Millsap when early reports linked the Philadelphia 76ers to the player.  Eventually, reports corrected the interest of the 76ers to that from the New Orleans Pelicans. But if the Atlanta Hawks are interested, here’s our speculative proposal:

76ers get Paul Millsap, Mike Dunleavy, 2018 1st rd Draft pick

Hawks get

Nov 30, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha (25) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the Hawks 109-107. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Other Pieces

It’s safe to conclude that the Atlanta Hawks have placed point guard Dennis Schroder on the untouchable list. It’s also curious that Schroder was the one player Sam Hinkie coveted on the Hawks roster.

But the Hawks have expiring contracts of small forward Thabo Sefolosha, power forward Kris Humphries, center Tiago Splitter (injured), and more.

The “feel” of the Hawks right now is “no reasonable offer will be refused”.  And so, what would it take to pry a player from the Hawks? And who?

Double Down On Defense

For my taste, I believe Thabo Sefolosha aligns perfectly with the team scheme of head coach Brett Brown.  Sefolosha is of that two-way player ilk that puts a twinkle in Brown’s eyes.  Never much of a scoring threat, he would be a perfect compliment to Robert Covington and Nik Stauskas, filling the role I had hoped to see Jerami Grant fill in the team at the small forward slot, for now.

While he is a 32 year old veteran in final year of his contract, his presence on the defensive side of the court helped the Hawks win games by the bucket-loads in the past.  Get him onto the team coached by Brett Brown, and he will recharge Brown’s passion once more.

Finally, Sefolosha could very well look to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers going forward. The team has a new training facility, great support for players, and has several of the NBA’s most exciting players going forward.

Once more, here is our speculative proposal:

76ers get Thabo Sefolosha

Hawks get Vasilje Micic, 2020 2nd round pick (via Knicks)

In the end, the Atlanta Hawks are leaping from perennial playoff team to rebuilding hopeful. If the Hawks cling too tightly to their playoff past, they could lose valuable time in rebuilding for tomorrow.

It’s never easy to rebuild. But the Atlanta Hawks are heading that way, like it or not. Dealing with the Philadelphia 76ers could speed them along on their way.

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