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NBA insider says Atlanta Hawks open to ‘wholesale changes,’ in play for Deandre Ayton

Jason Burgos
atlanta hawks, deandre ayton
Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks are one team that could make some major changes in the 2022 offseason, and that could include acquiring Phoenix Suns star Deandre Ayton.

After surprising the basketball world and reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 2021, the Hawks regressed this season. After landing the fifth season in last year’s playoffs, Atlanta had to settle for reaching the playoffs by way of the play-in tournament. Once they were officially among the final eight teams in the conference, they were soundly dominated by the top-seeded Miami Heat and bounced from the NBA Playoffs in five games.

Despite bringing back much of the same group that helped the franchise reach the conference finals a year ago, there is now enough evidence to indicate that the current roster has hit a ceiling and may need to be overhauled.

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On Wednesday, Bleacher Report NBA Insider Jake Fischer revealed that the word around the league is the Hawks are expected to be one of the most active teams this offseason, and outside of superstar guard Trae Young, every player on the roster is available for trade.

Atlanta Hawks landing Deandre Ayton in a sign-and-trade makes sense

atlanta hawks, deandre ayton
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

What makes the Hawks a viable force in the offseason is that the team holds both of their first-round picks for the next two years and Charlotte’s first-rounder for 2023. The organization also has several players with value — Clint Capela, John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic — that might be worthwhile additions for teams open to the idea of a sign-and-trade swap.

One player, in particular, the Atlanta Hawks could target, to shake up the roster and forge a powerful one-two combo with Young, is Suns center Deandre Ayton. Fischer reports that the front office has long had an interest in Ayton, and there is a brewing belief that the Suns are not comfortable with offering the man they took first overall in the 2018 draft the max deal he will want as a restricted free agent this summer.

The growing rift between Ayton and the Suns since the team was surprisingly eliminated in the second round of the playoffs adds fuel to the possibility of him landing elsewhere, especially in Atlanta. Since Capela would be a strong replacement at the center and adding a couple of high-end draft picks could be an intriguing return for the Suns as opposed to being outbid and letting him walk with no return.