The NBA trading deadline is Feb. 8. The Hawks will be looking to acquire assets to bolster the rebuild (draft picks and/or young prospects) while avoiding taking on players with contracts that hinder that effort.
Which Hawks player has the most trade value? Dennis Schroder is their most talented player. He’s still only 24-years old and his salary is mid-pack among starting point guards on non-rookie contracts. Schroder is a very poor defender and still not an efficient scorer at the basket, but the Hawks probably could get a pretty good return for Schroder.
But what I mean by trade value is: Which Hawks player are the Hawks willing to part with for a modest return, and who would be a logical target for a contending team looking to bolster the back end of the roster? I’m talking about an easy, no-fuss deal for a healthy and productive player with a team-friendly contract and positional value.
My subjective choice: power forward Ersan Ilyasova, whose contract expires after this season. (I excluded those Hawks players on rookie-scale contracts: DeAndre’ Bembry, John Collins and Taurean Prince.)
Regular Hawks watchers probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Ilyasova leads the team in net rating (-3.3) among the six players with at least 900 minutes played. That’s impressive for a guy who’s played 816 of his 1,009 minutes alongside Schroder, who drags down everyone’s defensive rating.
Ilyasova’s 53.2 effective field goal percentage this season is his best since he posted a 53.9 eFG% during the 2014-15 season with the Bucks. He’s strictly a catch-and-shoot scorer—Ilyasova’s efficiency plummets on pull-ups and drives--but his size allows him to get off 3-pointers against tight defense and still make them at a good percentage.
Ilyasova also is a good team defender. He’s efficient when guarding isolations and post-ups because of his strong frame and knack for positioning (those are also reasons he can function as a small-ball center). A great rebounder early in his career, Ilyasova still is solid on the boards.
Dan Favale, writing at Bleacher Report, cites Marco Belinelli and Dewayne Dedmon as the Hawks with the most trade value for contenders. But, for different reasons, I don’t think either player has as much value as Ilyasova.
Belinelli is a defensive liability and high-usage offensive player. He’s best deployed in small doses as a spot-up shooter and play-maker off the bench. Belinelli is shooting 36.5 percent on 3-pointers but his 50.3 effective-field goal percentage this season is well below the league average (52.0).
Dedmon is a legitimate rotation big who gobbles us rebounds and the early results are good on his 3-point shooting (though it’s premature to declare him a stretch big). But Dedmon’s $6.3 million player option for next season is risky for a team that wants him for a short-term rental. Most likely Dedmon will opt for free agency this summer but his new team would have to consider the possibility that he’d be on the books next season.
Ilyasova doesn’t come with the potential downsides of Belinelli (defense and inefficient scoring) or Dedmon (contract). It’s true that Ilyasova looked bad while playing four of the first five games of the season. Then a knee injury sent him to the injured list for most of three weeks, a worrying sign after he played a career-high 2,142 minutes last season.
But once Ilyasova returned to the lineup it didn’t take long for him to show that, in his 10th NBA season, he’s still a legit shooting big who is solid at everything else. Surely some contending teams have a short-term need for a veteran stretch four who won’t be a weak link defensively.
The Hawks probably can’t expect to get more than a second-round pick or a fringe prospect for Ilyasova. Remember, he was a free agent last summer and had to settle for a one-year, $6 million deal from the Hawks.
Ilyasova has been a good fit for the Hawks as they rebuild. He’s a solid veteran player with good work habits and play is a big reason the Hawks have been competitive most nights. The Hawks have gotten what they needed from Ilyasova this season so it would be a win if they can send him on his way and get a cheap young prospects in return.
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