This isn’t to suggest the Hawks have a done deal with Ray Allen, another wing player or a big man in hopes of strengthening themselves for the postseason. But teams don’t do what they did Tuesday without a reason.
If you missed it, the Hawks dealt power forward/center Adreian Payne, their first-round pick last year, to Minnesota for a lottery-protected first-round pick. Coach and interim general manager Mike Budenholzer called the deal a “win-win” for both teams. The truth is, there’s no way of knowing that until we see what kind of player Payne turns into.
But there’s no question the Hawks are planning for something. Budenholzer says he likes his team and he doesn’t feel compelled to make a move before the Feb. 19 trade deadline. But there is zero reason for them to make this trade now, other than to open a roster spot for a potential imminent player acquisition. Here are the two possibilities:
— Ray Allen, the free agent who has been somewhere between retirement and an extended rest this season. He is expected to finalize a decision during the All-Star break about whether he will remain retired or, if he plays, which team he will sign with. The Hawks are among the bidders, along with Cleveland, Washington, Miami, Golden State, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Clippers. Allen makes sense for the Hawks on several levels, especially with Thabo Sefolosha out with a calf stain. Allen would give the team another legitimate outside threat for when teams look to double Kyle Korver in certain situations in the postseason.
— Another wing or a big man potentially acquired before the trade deadline. When I spoke to Budenholzer last week, he denied the team needed more size up front, saying, “I can’t find a way to play all of our bigs now. I know some perceive we don’t have rim protection or a 7-footer. I’m either naive or stubborn or both, but I’ll go to war with these guys.”
That sounds good. But if Al Horford gets into foul trouble, the Hawks are in trouble. Teams need a guy to bring in off the bench when play gets physical. I’ll say it again: Jason Collins was a non-factor most of the season a few years ago, but his play against Dwight Howard was a major reason the Hawks upset Orlando in the playoffs.
We’ll find out in the next week if the Hawks make a move. But it’s not just a coincidence that they traded Payne now.
•Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Kyle Shanahan, the coach’s son, has absorbed a lot of jabs — AJC: Greg Hardy skates (and is he worth the risk for Falcons)? — MyAJC: Hawks’ deadline move wouldn’t hurt chemistry — AJC: Tech doing just fine, recruiting rankings notwithstanding — MyAJC: Dan Quinn’s ascent to top job was years in making — AJC: Forget trade talk — Dan Quinn wants Julio Jones on his team — AJC: Falcons need players but Dan Quinn is a good start — MyAJC: Tom Brady takes the air out of critics in Super Bowl — AJC: Short takes: Brady rallies Pats but Seahawks bungle ending — AJC: Another possible embarrassment for Falcons: Fake crowd noise — MyAJC: There’s no confusion about pecking order on Super Bowl teams — AJC: Dan Quinn could have final day on 53-man roster — MyAJC: Blank speaks but remains vague on Falcons’ restructuring — MyAJC: Tiger Woods’ problems aren’t just physical anymore — AJC: Is it Tiger time … or is Tiger Woods’ time over? — MyAJC: LeGarrette Blount walked out on team — and straight to Super Bowl — AJC: Georgia’s Lockette playing for third straight Super Bowl team — MyAJC: Dan Quinn says he’s ready for next challenge (with Falcons) — AJC: Lynch goes into interview Beast Mode again (surprise!) — MyAJC: Great or not, Patriots’ legacy is forever tarnished — AJC: Seattle players say Quinn will be ‘great head coach’ for Falcons — AJC: Brady says ‘feelings got hurt’ by accusations (really?) — MyAJC: Hawks are closest team to rare Atlanta sports title