I agree with this approach
If you were Schlenk, what would you try to do with the sixth pick?
John Hollinger: Here’s the thing if you’re the Hawks: You don’t want to go so hard to get the eighth seed in the East that it ends up being all you ever get out of this core. I’ve seen too many other teams sabotage rebuilds in the name of pyrrhic short-term victories like this one. Making the playoffs will be great fun for a couple of days, then they’ll get their brains beat in the first round and have to figure out how to actually become good.
The player who will make a difference in a 2020-21 playoff pursuit probably isn’t available with the sixth pick in the draft, so it’s tempting to put the pick in play for short-term help. But this is also likely to be the best draft pick the Hawks will have for quite some time, especially if they make the right decisions the next few years. It would be organizational malpractice to waste their last good opportunity to draft a long-term difference-maker just to squeeze out 43 wins instead of 37.
So, in spite of the push for short-term results, I would have to be awfully tempted before I put that sixth overall pick in play. The Hawks have more free-agent money than any team in the league and still have several future picks they can put into play if they really need a draft asset to get a trade over the finish line.
But even in a weak-looking draft, the Hawks can’t be so delusional about short-term micro-goals that they punt on building a long-term winner.
Kirschner: I agree that they should look at the long-term picture over fighting for the eighth or seventh seed this upcoming season, but if they don’t make the playoffs for the fourth straight year, changes certainly could happen. It is crazy to say because of how deliberate the organization has been about taking its time in trying to build a strong young core, but it does seem like there’s some pressure now to get out of this growth-and-development phase it has been preaching for the past two years.
But are you saying you wouldn’t consider any trades down in the draft? In our beat writer mock draft last month, I offered our New York Knicks writer, Mike Vorkunov, No. 6 for Nos. 8 and 38 and Dennis Smith Jr., as someone who could fill the Brandon Goodwin spot as a third guard. I tried to get Frank Ntilikina, but no dice. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor proposed a deal of No. 6 to San Antonio for No. 11 and DeMar DeRozan. It’s not a move I would make, and honestly, it’s pretty bad and should be a non-starter for Atlanta. I’m sure there’s a way to have back-channel conversations with his agent if the Hawks truly wanted to target DeRozan in free agency.
Would you advise them to just stick at No. 6 and grab the best player available as opposed to moving back a few spots to add a player/additional draft compensation?
Hollinger: One random thought on the playoffs question: If we don’t have fans in seats next year, does that give Schlenk a mulligan on going all-in for this year? I presume part of the push for the playoffs is to make the Hawks relevant in this market, but if they can’t sell it, what’s the point?
Anyway, back to your question. I’m not fundamentally opposed to trading back in the draft, if the Hawks have a player or players targeted they think are roughly equivalent. It’s certainly much better than trading up to get a player who wasn’t any better than if they stayed put. (Too soon?)
In particular, one can see merit in doing something like this to acquire a young player, somebody who can still functionally act as a draft pick in terms of the timeline with Young and Collins but be in a better position to help immediately. (But please, not Smith. He’s terrible.) For instance, if the Phoenix Suns wanted to put Kelly Oubre Jr. on the table to move from No. 10 to No. 6, the Hawks absolutely should engage.
On the other hand, trading down to overpay DeRozan or some other random veteran for a year is completely nuts. His contract has negative value, and the Spurs should be paying Atlanta to take him, not the other way around.