Posted: 11:19 am Monday, February 17th, 2014
By Mark Bradley
The NBA trading deadline arrives at 3 p.m. Thursday. Last week Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News tweeted word the Atlanta Hawks might be interested in Jeff Green, the 6-foot-9 forward who plays for the Boston Celtics, who have the league’s sixth-worst record and are looking to offload salary.
I suppose the Hawks could wind up trading for Green. I’d be surprised if they do. Green is the kind of player who’s not indispensable to the kind of team the Hawks want to be.
He was taken by Seattle, which would soon decamp for Oklahoma City, with the fifth overall pick in 2007. (Greg Oden was No. 1, Kevin Durant No. 2, Al Horford No. 3, Mike Conley No. 4.) The Thunder, who by then were no longer the SuperSonics, traded him to Boston in February 2011 for center Kendrick Perkins, who hasn’t had the desired effect with OKC. But the point remains: The Thunder went from up-and-coming to really good at about the time they decided Green wasn’t a must-keep talent.
For him to come to the Hawks, who are without Horford again and have slipped under .500 for the first time since Dec. 3 and have dropped to fifth in the NBA East, would mark the acquisition of a hefty salary — Green is earning $8.9 million this season and is due to make $9.4 million next season, which is almost exactly what Paul Millsap makes. (And Millsap, we note, just played in the All-Star Game.)
Another rumor that doesn’t make much sense: The Hawks swapping a first-round draft pick for Philadelphia wing Evan Turner, who’s having a good season on a terrible team but who can become a restricted free agent at season’s end. I don’t see Ferry parting with No. 1 picks for someone who might leave in July.
If the Hawks are apt to make a big move this week, I submit that it won’t be an addition. Danny Ferry, the general manager, worked too hard to clear cap space to clutter his books with a pricy player who might help the Hawks finish fifth in the East, as opposed to sixth. If the Hawks are to do something, I’m guessing they’ll subtract.
The other rumor regarding the Hawks has involved Jeff Teague. Wrote Zach Lowe of Grantland: “Sources around the NBA continue to insist Ferry is not in love with Jeff Teague’s four-year, $32 million deal.” That contract, remember, wasn’t one the Hawks negotiated; it was one Teague struck with Milwaukee and the Hawks then matched. (And the guess here is that Ferry doesn’t mind paying $8 million a season for a starting point guard; if there’s indeed an issue, it might rest with the length of the contract.)
Another guess: The Hawks couldn’t get anyone of difference-making consequence — not Kevin Durant, not James Harden, not Kyle Lowry — for Teague, who’s pretty good but not, say, a Kyle Lowry. If the Hawks were to trade Teague for picks or lesser players, it could be interpreted as a subtle move to try and backslide into the ballyhooed draft lottery of 2014.
But I don’t think that will happen, either. Having decided not to go the tanking route by signing Millsap and DeMarre Carroll and re-signing Kyle Korver and matching Teague’s offer, Ferry probably won’t change tactics now.
A year ago, Ferry chose not to trade Josh Smith, who would leave in July as a free agent, at the deadline. The GM had more reason to make a move then than now, and he didn’t then. I’m guessing he won’t make a move, at least not a major one, this time, either.