No one has been signed with said open roster spot yet. That flexibility could be maintained in the future should the Cs pursue a different means of acquiring new talent.
Such as a trade.
We’re just over a month away from the NBA trade deadline on February 10th. Before that comes around, the Cs will have five weeks to get back into the Eastern Conference postseason picture. Their last-second loss to the New York Knicks at MSG this past Thursday knocked them into the #11 seed.
If they don’t fall too far out of striking distance of the #10 seed or don’t go on a 17-game win-streak before then, this trade could utilize the C’s extra roster spot if it goes unfilled:
Why the Boston Celtics do it
Al Horford was an Atlanta Hawks staple that anchored the defense during the most successful years of the franchise of any era since the turn of the century. The Hawks returned to the Eastern Conference finals last June for the first time since Horford and co. got trounced by LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 and could use a steadying veteran force amidst a year of struggles.
Facilitating a reunion more than works out for the Cs if they can get a player of Bogdan Bogdanovic’s worth in return. Bogdanovic is the team’s starter when available, but an ankle sprain and a stint in NBA’s Health and Safety protocols have derailed his chance of improving his 2021-22 numbers thus far, currently his career-worst from a scoring, facilitating, and efficiency standpoint.
His consistent presence could be what the doctor ordered in the ATL, but if in the next few weeks it proves not to be the remedy, Boston should try nabbing the Serbian sharpshooter. Replacing Horford with Bogdanovic in the starting five would add legitimate floor-spacing (Horford has shot just 28% from beyond the arc this season) all along the wing.
Delon Wright would be far more than a throw-in, providing the team with a big defending point guard whose facilitating numbers align with Dennis Schroder’s when given similar minutes. His presence would allow Stevens to pursue a separate deal with a contender for the German floor general.
Why the Atlanta Hawks do it
This move is all about future financial flexibility for the Atlanta Hawks. Al Horford’s non-guaranteed deal would allow the team to waive him this offseason and open up a significant amount of cap space.
If they could find a taker for the final year of Danilo Gallinari and one more role player holding trade value (Clint Capela, Kevin Huerter), they could be players in free agency.
That’d be the best way to placate Trae Young after what could end up being a serious step back in 2021-22 from 2020-21.
Who knows? Maybe Horford runs back the clock and ends up being a perfect second unit frontcourt running mate to Onyeka Okongwu and the Hawks end up with a future lottery-protected pick.