Hawks expected to stay on trade sidelines

The NBA trade deadline will come and go without the Hawks making any major moves, if you believe the bland words coming from the mouth of the team’s general manager, Rick Sund.

“What this team needs is for everybody to be healthy,” Sund told reporters on the eve of the trade deadline. “What we need is no more injuries. That’s what we need.”

But if you understand the way this business works, and the madness of March that the trade deadline usually produces, nothing is certain until that 3 p.m. ET deadline.

The Hawks won’t be able to take in the deadline on solid ground. They stayed overnight in Los Angeles after their 96-82 Wednesday night loss to the Clippers wrapped up their six-game road trip. So while the rest of the basketball world is caught up in the matrix that is the trade deadline, the Hawks will be at 30,000 feet headed home and wondering what, if anything, will change when they land.

Josh Smith’s trade request is expected to go unfulfilled. His camp asked, the Hawks listened and have kindly expressed to Smith’s camp that there is no way they move him, or any of their biggest names, right now.

Smith, Joe Johnson and/or Al Horford could all be on the trading block this summer, when teams are more likely to wheel and deal with the draft as leverage and without the confines of the deadline.

In the meantime, the Hawks will have to do like everyone else. They’ll have to ride out the trade deadline (at altitude) and see who is left standing when it’s over.

But remember, Sund likes this team as presently constructed.

“We’ve been happy with the way the season has progressed (considering) injuries,” he said. “We’ve had more injuries already than we had all last year. Every time we get hit, other guys step up, and that’s been a real plus. Defensively, we’ve been really good. With a little over 40 games played, we’re the fourth-best defensive team and we’ve allowed the least points in the fourth quarter.

“Zaza (Pachulia) and Joe and Josh (Smith) deserve a lot of credit for keeping us in the playoffs. Our bench, every night it’s someone else, which is what we wanted when we put it together.”

Atlanta finally returns home on Friday to host the Wizards.

NOTES, QUOTES

-Watching Mo Williams light them up from all over the court off the bench on Wednesday has to be painful for the Hawks, who know better than most what it’s like to have a flamethrower coming off of your bench.

Jamal Crawford served that role for the Hawks during his two seasons with the team and the subsequent transfer and now, hopefully, a transition from that stop to his next stop.

Being able to catch fire off the bench the way Williams did is a special weapon that few teams have.

Williams scored a game-high 25 points off the bench, shooting 9-for-18 from the floor and 3-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line.

-The Hawks were admittedly playing on fumes against the Clippers. Six games in 11 days, crisscrossing the country without so much as a few days rest to catch their breath.

They might not want to use it as an excuse, but the Hawks did look like their legs had given out before Wednesday night’s workout.

They’ll get a reprieve from the schedule if nothing else, at least for a day.

ROSTER REPORT

-F Josh Smith proved that even on a night when he doesn’t have it cooking the way he might want to, he can still be effective. His 18 points on 6-for-14 shooting was accompanied by six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

-G Kirk Hinrich could not dial up another monster performance against the Clippers. He dropped 22 points on the Nuggets but managed just four against the Clippers in what could have been his final game in a Hawks uniform.

-C Zaza Pachulia didn’t get a chance to try and redeem himself after missing the potential game-winning shot in Denver. The Hawks weren’t close enough at the end of this one for it to matter. But he did come through with a strong effort, collecting 12 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes of action against the Clippers.

QUOTE TO NOTE

“There were a bunch of guys in the All-Star Game that I wouldn’t trade for Josh, given what he brings not only to our team but to the community. He’s from Atlanta. He’s made terrific contributions to the community. It’s really hard, particularly in the middle of the season, to find that caliber player for Josh.” — Hawks part-owner Bruce Levenson on the Josh Smith trade rumors.