The NBA draft is three weeks away, which means it’s the height of trade rumor season, which coincidentally often correlates with the height of, “Watch me plant this doozy” season in the offices of several general managers and agents. So with that caveat, we bring you this . . .
Jeff Teague for Nerlens Noel. Interesting.
“The Vertical,” Yahoo sports’ basketball-focused website, is reporting that the Hawks “recently” discussed a trade with Philadelphia that would send Teague, their starting point guard, to the Sixers for Nerlens Noel, the two-year center/power forward out of Kentucky. There are a few things about this alleged proposed deal that make sense:
• The Hawks aren’t likely to bring back both of their point guards, Teague and Dennis Schroder, and seem more likely to move Teague, who has one year left on his contract. This won’t be the last of many rumors you will read or hear involving both players. It behooves the Hawks to have as much chatter as possible out there in hopes of bettering the trade market for both players.
• The Sixers have a mandate to contend for a playoff berth next season, which would be quite a leap for a team that finished 10-72 this season. That likely means acquiring a veteran player or two to go with all of their youth. Noel (11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 blocks) and Jahlil Oakafor (17.5, 7.0, 1.1) are the most likely suspects, as Philly reportedly was not thrilled with how well the two played together last season. Philly also is expected to draft LSU forward Ben Simmons and has 7-footer Joel Embiid (who has yet to play because of multiple foot surgeries), so there’s a log-jam of front line players.
Here’s the part of the deal that doesn’t completely make sense. If the Hawks intend to acquire Noel, it’s obviously with the intent of starting him. If we operate on the assumption that free agent Al Horford re-signs with the team — and I still believe that’s the safe assumption — the deal would set up a front line of Noel, Horford and Paul Millsap. I’m having some difficulty picturing Millsap starting at small forward, even though he has played there some.
Could Noel be an insurance move if Horford doesn’t want to come back? Sure. In that case, a sign-and-trade involving Horford becomes a realistic scenario because it would allow Horford to get his max deal and the Hawks to get assets in return.
But I still believe Horford will be back — and I also think Teague is going to be somewhere else.
EARLIER: We knew Braves’ young pitchers would have growing pains, but did they make it harder for Aaron Blair? Link here.
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