Resetting after the NBA Trade Deadline: Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks reinvent themselves

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NBA Trade Deadline Clint Capela

Atlanta Hawks Clint Capela (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Atlanta Hawks

What they did:

What it means

The Atlanta Hawks completely remade their frontcourt rotation by adding Clint Capela and Skal Labissiere and reacquiring Dewayne Dedmon. Capela provides a second prolific pick-and-roll partner for Trae Young while also freeing John Collins to play the 4, where he is much more — at least offensively — suited.

Dedmon returns to the team with which he had his two most productive seasons after a bad marriage with the Kings that prompted him to publicly ask for a trade (and pick up a $50,000 fine) shortly after the New Year.

The first-round pick they surrendered to the Timberwolves in the four-team swap was not their own, but rather the lottery-protected pick of the Brooklyn Nets acquired as part of the payment for taking on Allen Crabbe‘s expiring contract. With Brooklyn currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, that pick is on track to be conveyed this year.

That pick is lottery-protected through 2022 and becomes second-round picks in 2022 and 2024 if it doesn’t convey as a first-round pick. Atlanta did pick up the Rockets’ 2020 second-round pick in the Sacramento trade, one that is likely to convey because the Dallas Mavericks have the option to swap the pick to the Golden State Warriors (which won’t happen).

(As an aside, wouldn’t it be great if the NBA simplified the trading of draft picks to only allow each pick to be traded once? This gets somewhat convoluted with all the if/then language in these deals. It feels like my old days programming in BASIC, for crying out loud.)

Atlanta has put together two 10-game losing streaks this season as part of a 6-27 start, but have played marginally better since, going 8-11 over their last 19 games and will enter the post-deadline period with the second-worst record in the East at 14-38. They will play three of their next four on the road before the All-Star break.

The Hawks may not get to see a couple of their new additions right away; Capela missed Houston’s last three games as a lingering plantar fasciitis problem in his right foot flared up again. Capela has sat out seven games since Dec. 28 with the injury, appearing in 12 games in that span and averaging 14.1 points, 12.4 boards and 1.7 blocks in 31.1 minutes a game.

Labissiere last played on Dec. 28 and is scheduled to be re-evaluated within the next week for an articular cartilage lesion on his left knee. With the Blazers, he played in 33 games and averaged 5.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game, shooting 55.1 percent overall and making 3-of-13 from 3-point range.

Contract-wise, Capela is signed through the 2022-23 season as part of his five-year, $90 million deal he inked in July 2018 to remain with the Rockets as a restricted free agent. That deal has three years and $55.63 million remaining after this season. Labissiere is in the final year of his rookie deal and can be a restricted free agent in July, provided Atlanta extends a qualifying offer.

The prospect of Young picking-and-rolling teams into submission with both Capela and Collins is attractive, but it does leave a crowd on the wings with youngsters De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Kevin Huerter all jostling for minutes now that playing Hunter as a small 4 is off the table except as part of a secondary unit.

Outlook: Hawks were deadline winners

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