Raptors and Hawks Make a Trade: Free Agency Implications

Two Eastern Conference playoff teams made a trade last night. The Hawks sent streaky scorer Lou Williams and Brazilian big man Lucas Nogueira to the Raptors for John Salmons. It’s a classic NBA trade, really. It’s essentially a ‘contributor for cap space’ deal. The Raptors acquire another piece that they think will help them reach the next step in the Eastern Conference, and the Hawks receive John Salmons, whose contract has a team option that the Hawks will promptly decline. The deal will give the Hawks around $4.5 million extra cap space this summer, since waiving Salmons’ contract has a $1 million buyout. Lou Williams had his worst season in over five years, coming off his ACL tear from the previous season. He didn’t ever make an impact in Atlanta, like he had in Philadelphia, where he finished second in the 6th man of the year award voting in 2012. He was second only to James Harden, one of the best players in the league. The bigger loss, in the Hawks’ eyes, is last year’s first round pick Lucas Nogueira, a 21 year old project big man from Brazil. With REALLY COOL HAIR.

What the Hawks are doing

The Hawks made this move in the name of flexibility. They hope that they’ll be able to attract some big-name free agents–probably not LeBron or Carmelo–to add to the Teague-Korver-Milsap-Horford nucleus. They gave the Pacers more trouble than anyone ever would have guessed last year in the first round of the playoffs, taking the series to seven games. And that was without arguably their best player, Horford, playing. Is it worth giving up essentially a first round pick in Nogueira, and a good contributor off the bench in Lou Williams, just for the chance at signing a second-tier free agent? This could give them the money to make a run at several restricted free agents like Gordon Hayward, Eric Bledsoe, or Lance Stepehenson, but those players’ teams would most likely match any offer made to them. And some of the unrestricted free agents like Marcin Gortat and Luol Deng might not be worth that type of money, nor would they bring the Hawks to the next level. They’d most likely merely leave the Hawks in second round no man’s land in the East. Atlanta might not be that bad of a destination for a player looking to win now, but the Hawks don’t exactly have a sterling history of attracting big-name free agents.

Williams adds a scoring punch off the bench for the Raptors.

Williams adds a scoring punch off the bench for the Raptors.

 

What the Raptors are doing

Trading basically nothing for Lou Williams and Lucas Nogueira is a huge win for Toronto. They get ANOTHER Brazilian project, and who knows, Nogueira could be good in a couple of years. More importantly though, they get a legitimate scorer on the wing off the bench in Williams. The Raptors’ top offseason priority is re-signing point guard Kyle Lowry, and improving the quality of their roster will only help accomplish that. Williams strengthens Toronto’s bench that could lose key contributing point guard Greivis Vasquez this summer. Williams is by no means even close to the level of Demar Derozan, but acquiring Williams could make Derozan expendable. Now would be the time to sell high on the first-time All-Star Derozan, who averaged 24 points in the playoffs, off just 39% shooting. Moving Derozan is extremely unlikely. What’s most important is the Raptors seizing on an Atlanta team desperate to make a splash this summer. Toronto has a chance to sneakily jump ahead of Indiana in the East, especially if the Pacers lose Lance Stephenson in free agency. This is a great move for the Raptors, both in the short-term and in the long-term.

8 responses

  1. No chance of a demar move. a Terrence Ross move is actually viable – especially if it nets them a high quality piece. Ross has value – although a little streaky in scoring ( as to be expected in his development curve his defence has been spectacular What Williams really is is a Bolton for what John Salmons brought to the team – only a bit better by his down year standards last year – and much more upside if he returns to form.

    Ross and Landry Fields 1 year remaining contract would like get a name brand powerhouse 3 that would allow Derozan to slide back to 2 which is what he is.

    • Here is the big question…. Cleveland wants to win it all now. What would you give up for Wiggins?…..Valanciunas and Amir?

      • They probably wouldn’t give up Wiggins unless they got a bonafide superstar back. Even then, they may not trade Wiggins to get someone like Love.

      • But the ball is in your court ( for this scenario ) you’re the Raps New gm. You get a call from Cleveland. They offer Wiggins for Derozan and Valanciunas…. They add some bench players to fulfil salary restrictions. Inconsequential players. Would you take the deal?

      • No, probably not. If I’m the Raptors I finally became a solid playoff team again with good pieces. Not going to tear that up for a player who might be very good, but is unproven.

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