The Atlanta Hawks reportedly are coming to grips with the fact that an NBA title could be out of reach this season, and that could spell good news for teams interested in their keyÂ players.
The Hawks are engaged in “serious internal discussions” about what direction they want to take the team ahead of the Feb. 18 trade deadline, specifically as it relates to core players Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver, ESPN.com’s Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst reported Tuesday, citing sources.
Atlanta owns the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference at 30-24 but has lost five of its last eight games and is debating blowing things up unless the team believes it can turn things around fast.
“Sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking say that Hawks management and ownership have conceded internally that unless Atlanta can recapture the magic of last season’s run — when it went 60-22 and claimed the East’s top seed — this season’s team is a fringe contender,” Arnovitz and Windhorst wrote.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic have been “the most aggressive” in seeking a “veteran difference-maker” and likely would be in the mix for Horford if the Hawks decided to put him on the market.
The Celtics reportedly inquired about Horford and TeagueÂ in recent weeks. Horford, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, turns 30 on June 3 but is a three-time All-Star and could make a significant impact in Boston’s frontcourt.
In an ESPNÂ Insider piece Tuesday, NBA analyst Chad Ford proposed a potential Boston-Atlanta trade that would involving the Celtics trading forwards Kelly Olynyk and David Lee, the Dallas Mavericks’ 2016 first-round pick (top 7 protected) and their own 2016 first-round pick for Horford, sharpshooter Kyle Korver and big man Mike Muscala.
The Hawks still haven’t openly committed to trading any of their stars, but if they do decide to shop the likes of Horford or Teague, the C’s could be very interested in pulling the trigger on a trade that could take them to the next level.
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