Standing pat: Hawks let deadline pass without major trade
Feb. 18, 2016
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks let the trade deadline pass without making any major deals.
All-Star center Al Horford and point guard Jeff Teague were the focus of much speculation heading into Thursday's deadline, but both stayed put. Coach Mike Budenholzer said the team never came close to dealing away one of its top players.
"We feel strongly and have a ton of confidence and a ton of belief in our group," he said.
Instead, the Hawks fine-tuned their roster with a minor, three-team deal, trading a pair of little-used players, guards Shelvin Mack and Justin Holiday, and acquiring veteran guard Kirk Hinrich from Chicago.
Mack went to the Utah Jazz and Holiday was shipped to Chicago. The Jazz also sent a second-round pick to the Bulls.
Keeping their core intact, the Hawks are focused on turning things around over the final 27 games of the regular season. Top seed in the East a year ago with a 60-22 record, Atlanta has been a bit of a disappointment at 31-24 through the All-Star break.
Budenholzer, who oversees Atlanta's basketball operations in addition to his coaching duties, is confident the Hawks can become a factor in the Eastern Conference race with the guys they already have.
"We very much like our group," he said. "We're fortunate to have really good players and a good team. I think continuity is something we value through the summer and through the season. We'd like to be better. We'd like to be more consistent. We'd like to play better. At the end of the day, we feel continuity is something that can help you achieve those things."
The 35-year-old Hinrich essentially replaces Mack on the bench, giving the Hawks an experienced player who can work at either the point or shooting guard, though he isn't likely to get a lot of minutes.
By also dealing Holiday, Atlanta gains a roster spot that it will likely use to seek out a player who can add depth in the front court now that backup center Tiago Splitter is out for the season. He announced this week that a lingering hip injury will require surgery and an eight-month rehab.
Guard Kent Bazemore said it would have been difficult to cope with a major move at this point in the season.
"When you bring in new guys, there's an awkward period trying to get them acclimated to the system, getting them acclimated to the city and new teammates," he said. "If you're trying to win at this time of year, that's the kind of things you want to try to avoid or keep it as small as possible."
Despite the up-and-down play, Bazemore talked boldly of the Hawks still being capable of a highly successful season. They are fourth in the East, far behind front-running Cleveland and Toronto, but only one game behind Boston in a tightly bunched pack.
"We want to redeem ourselves for the first half of the season," Bazemore said. "I feel like this team here is very talented. We have everything we need to make a big run in the playoffs."
Playing behind Teague and Dennis Schroder, Mack never cracked the rotation in his fourth season with the Hawks. The 25-year-old averaged 3.9 points in 24 games, but should get a chance for more playing time with the Jazz.
Holiday had hoped his career would blossom after signing with the Hawks last summer, but he remained buried on the bench most of the season. Playing in 26 games with one start, the 26-year-old averaged just 2.4 points. With the trade, the Hawks gained a bit of financial flexibility before a big spike in the salary cap this summer, since he was due to make just over $1 million next season.
Hinrich returns to the team he played with over 1 1-2 seasons in 2011 and '12. He got into 35 games with the Bulls this season, including seven starts, and averaged 3.8 points.