Al Horford is any Hawks fan’s ideal hero. Spending his entire career in Atlanta, the 3-time all-star is one of the best draft picks that the Hawks franchise has made since drafting Bob Pettit in 1954. He has carried the Hawks through many tough battles and has always emerged as a natural leader. However, with the Hawks starting to lean towards youth, is his career with Atlanta in jeopardy?
Al Horford currently takes up $12 million in cap space, and will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2015/16 season. If he hits free agency, his price will be high. During the current free agency the standards of pricing was set at an extraordinary level. By looking at the deals made this summer, Horford’s personality and talent shows that his price range can be anywhere from 16-20 million annually during his free agent period. Young teams like the Jazz, Nuggets, Hornets, and Celtics would easily offer 20 million dollars annually or over to secure the Florida product. As of recent, the Hawks have not been known as spenders. Al Horford is the team’s highest paid player. On some teams, he wouldn’t crack the top 4 highest players. With the recent acquisitions of centers Tiago Splitter and Walter “Edy” Tavares, and Mike Muscala proving his potential in last year’s playoffs, it is highly unlikely that the Hawks will offer Horford a reasonable price for his value. Paul Millsap has made it public that he is open to playing the small forward position to move Horford to the power forward, and balance time with the two newly acquired centers; however, with wings Lamar Patterson and Terran Petteway both earning contracts after a breakout summer league, Millsap’s change of position seems unlikely. This leads the front office to a biting question. Should the hawks trade Al Horford?
Many benefits can occur by putting the 8 year veteran on the market. While Mike Budenholzer and Wes Wilcox might be able to pull off a blockbuster deal and receive a superstar in return for Horford and other pieces, it just simply isn’t in the nature of the Hawks to do so. The last “blockbuster” deal made by them was dumping Joe Johnson’s contract to start fresh new system of handling contracts. The most likely scenario is that Horford and other small assets are traded to a poor preforming team and receive draft picks and cheap players in return. This is much more reasonable because the franchise’s new approach is to build on potential. Receiving draft picks and young, cheap talent in return gives Atlanta pieces for future transactions, more cap space, and untapped potential between the current and future drafted players. Clearing Horfords contract, which eats up fair chunk in the salary cap, could pave way to signing a high market player in the future. Below are a few possible scenarios:
|Team||Hawks trade||Hawks receive**|
|1. Boston Celtics||Al Horford, Mike Muscala, 2nd round draft pick||2016 1st round draft pick, cash considerations, Evan Turner, Marcus Smart, Perry Jones and James Young|
|2. Denver Nuggets||Al Horford, 2018 1st round pick||2016 1st round draft pick, Jusuf Nurkic, Randy Foye, Kostas Papanikolaou|
|3. Minnesota Timberwolves||Al Horford||Kevin Martin, Adreian Payne|
|4. Detroit Pistons||Al Horford, Jeff Teague||2016 1st round draft pick, Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova,|
|5. Indiana Pacers||Al Horford, Mike Muscala||2016 1st round draft pick, Chase Budinger, Ian Mahinmi, Solomon Hill|
**all trades proven valid via calculations
Why these trade make sense:
Trade 1- This trade helps clear cap space while giving the Hawks wing depth and a projected lottery pick. Trading Muscala along with Horford gives more minutes for Tavares and Splitter.
Trade 2- This trade will benefit the Hawks by clearing cap space, receiving a projected lottery pick, and bringing highly considered potential. Jusuf Nurkic and Kostas Papanikolaou are top prospects for the league.
Trade 3- This trade doesn’t clear cap space as much (Kevin Matin 7+ million annual salary), but it provides the Hawks with a prospect with potential that they themselves drafted. It also brings one of the most underrated and efficient scoring shooting guards in the league. Kevin Martin averages 18 points per game for his career. During the 12 year span the veteran has made nearly 40% of the three pointers he has attempted and has proven to be a big shot taker and maker. He could be valuable considering Kyle Korver being in the late stages of his career, and coming off of 3 offseason surgeries.
Trade 4- This is the most useful trade. Not only do the Hawks receive a draft pick, but this trade gives them freedom to start Dennis Schroder. By starting Dennis, Brandon Jennings would be the best 6th man the hawks have had since Jamal Crawford. Ersan Ilyasova probably would be bought out, however.
Trade 5- This trade is similar to trades 1 and 2. It clears space, gives Atlanta a draft pick, and the Hawks receive very young and talented pieces.
These are just a few possible trade options.
In the coming months, the Hawks new front office will be put to the test with decisions surrounding Al Horford and the future of the Franchise. Time is going by fast, and moves might need to be made for the better of the franchise.