This is the sort of report that Danny Ainge has been preparing for over the last couple of years. It is easy to say "no star players are available," because they legitimately don't come on the market all that often. But there are exceptions and the key to taking advantage of those market fluctuations is to have the assets to move.
Reports are that they'll listen to offers for Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, and my personal favorite Al Horford.
The Hawks must decide whether to re-sign their big man to a hefty five-year deal, or try to move him now while they can get value. If the Hawks decide to test the market for Horford, numerous teams would potentially show interest. Sources inform ESPN that the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Magic have been the most aggressive in looking to acquire a veteran difference maker.
Note that this report doesn't say that the Celtics and Hawks have had any specific conversations. In fact, it doesn't even say that the Hawks have made up their mind about selling out. But if they are even considering it, you can bet that Ainge has been on the phone with them trying to set the stage for more substantial talks in the coming days.
"I think Boston -- Al Horford is a legitimate possibility for the Celtics," Mannix said on CSNNE. "I think that is the guy, one of the guys across the league that Danny Ainge is the most excited about. He is a 4-man that would fit right into what Boston is trying to do. It will cost a lot of money to re-sign him in the offseason, but I think Boston's willing to pay it because they haven't paid a lot of money for players in recent years."
With that said, I wouldn't expect this to get resolved any time soon. It is going to take some time to get all the potential bidders lined up and they will wait till closer to the deadline to increase the pressure to make a deal.
In talking with team sources, the amount and frequency of talks is picking up, but there is still a sense that getting something done before the February 18 3 p.m. EST deadline may come down to the final hours. Most teams are holding out that an offer will get better or that something new may surface and no one wants to trigger a deal today only to find themselves sitting out a bigger or better transaction closer to the deadline. As one executive said it best, "We don’t do things in the NBA until there is a deadline."
As further proof that deadline deals can come together quickly and at the last minute, here's a story about last year's deadline deal for Isaiah Thomas.
Just minutes before the deadline, the Suns called Boston and expressed interest in sending Thomas there for one of the numerous future first-round picks Boston owned. "I got a call from [Celtics GM] Danny [Ainge], probably 10 minutes before the deadline, and he said, 'It doesn't look like we're going to do anything,'" Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "I got a call eight minutes later that said, 'We've talked about [trading for Isaiah] real briefly, but what do you think?' It was, obviously, a unique, quick, last-minute thing."
In truth, I just wanted an excuse to share that story.
As for a potential Horford deal, it goes back to what we've discussed here in the past. It depends on the price.
He's a free agent that will be 30 this summer and is looking for a max deal. So the risk is that he'll either walk away this summer or that he will re-sign but decline quickly in the coming years.
The upside is that he's the perfect big man with the right kind of team-first attitude for this squad. He might even be able to recruit an additional free agent or two this summer.
Adding Korver to the deal would be even better since he's just the kind of floor spacing marksman that this team could use with great success. Teague isn't a great fit here but he could also be flipped elsewhere in a 3 team deal of some sort.
Go ahead and give us your best trade ideas in the comments.