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Sunday, October 1, 2023

1 way-too-early to pull off in 2023-24 NBA season

The Atlanta Hawks finally bid adieu to John Collins after seven seasons of him being in the trade block, marking an end to the seemingly never-ending trade carousel involving the high-flying forward. Collins’ value, however, tanked to the point where the Hawks received a mere second-round pick for someone who averaged 20 and 10 in just his third season β€” a tragic return.

Alas, something had to give given how much the former Hawks power forward’s production has dipped. But in trading away Collins, the team will now have to figure out their situation at the four, which, at the moment, doesn’t exactly look too promising.

The Hawks, given their current roster construction, will be entering the 2023-24 season with Saddiq Bey or Jalen Johnson likely to start for the team in the frontcourt alongside Clint Capela. Johnson has his appeal as a rangy defender who’s shown that he’s capable of blocking shots from the weakside, while Bey looms as the more offensively-inclined option to help space the floor for the Hawks’ All-Star backcourt.

But Capela may end up being too overtaxed on the boards and on defense in this setup; the Hawks, simply put, will need to pursue a reinforcement at the four if they were to improve upon last season’s mediocre display.

Failing to acquire an upgrade at PF hasn’t been for a lack of trying from the Hawks. But they will have to try harder as the season progresses.

Here is one trade the Hawks must revisit during the 2022-23 season.

Spicy P heads to The Big Peach

Hawks finally pull the trigger on Pascal Siakam trade, send De’Andre Hunter, Kobe Bufkin, AJ Griffin, Patty Mills, 2024 SAC first-round pick and 2030 ATL first-round pick to the Toronto Raptors

The Hawks haven’t made their interest in Pascal Siakam this offseason a secret at all. There have been plenty of reports linking Spicy P to a team-up with Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, forming an All-Star trio in Atlanta.

However, the Raptors haven’t exactly decided yet on a direction for the franchise moving forward. There’s still pondering on whether it’s the best course of action for the franchise to ride out their current core, which includes keeping Siakam, or whether it’s time for them to blow it up and build around Scottie Barnes.

Only time will tell which direction the Raptors end up taking, as their results in the early goings of the 2023-24 season should go a long way towards affecting their thought process. But on the Hawks’ side of the equation, they must focus on controlling the part of the discussions that are in their hands, which means offering their best possible trade package that doesn’t necessarily compromise the future of the franchise.

And that package must involve rookie Kobe Bufkin, the guard out of Michigan whom the Hawks took with the 15th overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft. Bufkin drew rave reviews from talent evaluators throughout the draft process thanks to his incredible athleticism, all-around game, shot-creation potential, and having the β€œit” factor. Only 19 years old, the Hawks have high hopes for Bufkin, as is the case for every team with their recent first-round selection.

Be that as it may, given where the Hawks roster’s strength lies, is it the best idea for them to hold onto Bufkin if they can acquire an All-Star caliber player in his prime, like Pascal Siakam? That is certainly debatable, although it’s not quite clear at the moment how Bufkin would figure into a future in which Trae Young and Dejounte Murray remain fixtures in the Hawks’ backcourt.

Bufkin is 6’4, so it’s not like he has a future at the three for the team. With Young and Murray locked into long-term deals, Bufkin may top out as a high-level sixth man for the team β€” a solid piece, but pales in comparison to the impact Siakam could have for the roster.

According to recent reports, however, the Hawks are refusing to include Kobe Bufkin in trade talks for Pascal Siakam. That should change soon if the Hawks are serious about adding another dangerous weapon to their core.

De’Andre Hunter’s inclusion won’t exactly be a sweet pill to swallow for the Hawks, as he is a quality defender on the wing who has showed up in the postseason in the past. But the Hawks still have Saddiq Bey and Bogdan Bogdanovic as more than capable pieces at the three even if his hypothetical trade comes to life.

Trading away two first-rounders won’t be easy for the Hawks, especially when they’re still out a few picks due to the Dejounte Murray trade. But that is the price of adding an All-Star player who’s still at the height of his powers; Siakam is worth that price, as he could help elevate the Hawks into at least a top-four team in the Eastern Conference.

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