One reason the Hawks traded Cam Reddish, according to Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk, is that Reddish himself had asked for an opportunity to go elsewhere.
Reddish was seeking a bigger role, and it wasn’t likely to happen with the Hawks, given the team’s crowded wing rotation.
“Cam had come to us during the offseason and expressed the desire to maybe get to a situation where he could have a little bigger role,” Schlenk said. “He’s certainly not the first player that’s done that. He went about it the right way, there was no public proclamation. He showed up, went to work every day. But we told him, listen, if there’s something that makes sense for us, we’ll certainly take a look at it. So that was a part of it. We did our best.”
Schlenk met with media members Friday to discuss Thursday’s trade, which sent Reddish to the Knicks in a deal that gives the Hawks a protected first-round 2022 pick (via the Hornets) and Kevin Knox, with the Knicks also receiving Solomon Hill and a 2025 second-round pick (via Brooklyn).
Although Schlenk wanted to accommodate Reddish, if possible, getting that first-round pick was a huge draw since they’re universally desired around the NBA.
“My job, when I told the team yesterday about the trade, my job when a player comes to you and says that, we want players that want to be here, we want players that are happy to be here, right, but it’s also my job to do what’s best for the Atlanta Hawks, not necessarily that player. I don’t know if New York’s going to be the perfect spot for Cam or not, but my job is to get the best value I can for Cam Reddish, and we certainly canvassed the league and had conversations, in-depth conversations with a lot of different teams.
“And we feel like this pick from Charlotte, even though it does have protections, I think my analytics group said there’s a 90% chance over the next four years we get this pick, so we think it’s a real first-round draft pick, it’s not a fake first-round draft pick. And the one thing I’ll say about draft picks, everybody values draft picks. Every team might not value a player, but 29 other teams will value a real first-round draft pick.”
Of course, that implies another move could be coming, since the Hawks now have another asset to flip.
Schlenk addressed that, too, with the Feb. 10 trade deadline approaching. The timing of this trade was intentionally a few weeks before that deadline, giving the Hawks time to see if it can help them turn things around.
“One of the reasons why we wanted to do this trade a little bit earlier, I’ve seen some people say why wouldn’t they wait, we wanted to see if just a little tweak would have an impact,” Schlenk said. “This gives us two, three weeks before the trade deadline to see if a small tweak does kind of change the trajectory of the season. So, by doing this early, it gives us that little runway to evaluate. And, you know, again, our hope is that this will sort of change the course of the season for us.”
Coming off a thrilling Eastern Conference finals run, the Hawks’ 17-23 start to the season is a major letdown. The team has been out-of-sync for most of the year and has massively struggled on defense, particularly on the perimeter and in transition.
Reddish flashed defensive prowess in his first two seasons with the Hawks, and they certainly could have used a boost, but he regressed on that end this season. Although his shot selection was still choppy, Reddish is incredibly long and athletic, and clearly still has ample potential.
That was part of the challenge in trading him, per Schlenk, but overall fit had to be taken into account. Schlenk also mentioned the challenge of the Hawks having several similar players on the roster, and with everyone wanting to play, it makes distributing minutes tough on a coach, trying to keep guys happy.
“That’s the hard part anytime you’re talking about a 22-year-old player that has played less than 150 games in the league, I think,” Schlenk said of Reddish’s potential. “He’s super high-talent. We all see that. He’s got great length, he’s got great size, he’s got great skill level. But we’re trying to blend the team together, as well. So we have to take all that stuff into consideration. He could certainly go on and have an All-Star caliber career, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all by that. But he also wouldn’t be the first player that didn’t have that All-Star caliber career with the team that drafted him, either.
“Sometimes, for whatever the situation, things don’t click. I completely understand where New York’s coming from, if I was New York and I had three first-round draft picks the way they did, and you look at Cam Reddish’s potential, I get that. So I wish nothing but the best from Cam. I don’t have any ill will toward him at all. We just try to make the best decisions we can and we move forward.”