The Hawks pulled the trigger on a major NBA draft day trade for the second year in a row.
The boldness turned into De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, a pair of athletic wings, and Bruno Fernando, a big man, that adds to a young core.
Armed with a trove of draft picks – six in all - the Hawks sent two first-round picks, Nos. 8 and 17, and their remaining second-round pick, No. 35, to the Pelicans for the No. 4 pick on Thursday, an hour before the start of the draft. They used the pick to select Hunter. The Hawks also sent the Pelicans the protected 2020 first-round pick they received from the Cavaliers. The Hawks will also receive Solomon Hill, the No. 57 pick and a future second-rounder. Hill will enter the final year of his contract and is owed $13.3 million.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution confirmed the pending deal, first reported by ESPN.
The deal cannot become official until after July 6. The Pelicans acquired that No. 4 selection from the Lakers in the agreed upon deal for Anthony Davis. That deal also cannot be completed until the start of the new NBA year. Also delaying the deal until at least July 6 is that the Hawks will not acquire the rights to the No. 17 pick until the trade with the Nets is official. Taurean Prince went to the Nets in that deal agreed upon earlier this month.
Hunter, the Virginia forward, won’t be able to participate in the start of Las Vegas Summer League, which begins July 5, until the deal is completed. General manager Travis Schlenk cannot speak about the specifics of the trade.
“We are really excited about our draft,” Schlenk said. “I think we will be more excited about it on July 6.”
Later, the Hawks traded two future second-round picks and the No. 57 pick obtained from the Pelicans to the 76ers to move up to No. 34. They selected Fernando, the former teammate of Kevin Huerter. Because the No. 57 pick was involved, the trade also cannot be official until July 6.
Hunter, 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, helped Virginia to the NCAA Tournament national championship this year. He can play multiple position. He has a 7-2 wingspan which helps him be an elite defender.
Hunter averaged 15.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists last season. He shot 52 percent from the field, including 43.8 percent from 3-point range.
Hunter only worked out for one team in advance of the draft – the Hawks.
Despite being officially selected by the Lakers, Hunter knew he would go to Atlanta.
“When I went there, they had a pretty strong feeling about me,” Hunter said. “I knew that was a place I wanted to me, that’s one of my destinations. I’m happy they traded up and got that pick.”
Hunter wore a picture of his deceased father, Aaron Hunter Sr, who died when Hunter was seven years old.
“He motivates me every day,” Hunter said of his father. “I just wanted him to be here with me. I wore him. He got drafted just like I got drafted. He is here watching over me.”
With the No. 10 pick, the final of the Hawks three first-rounders, they selected Reddish, the Duke small forward. Reddish, who many thought the Hawks would select had they kept the No. 8 pick, averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists as a freshman last season. The 6-8, 218 pounder shot 35.6 percent from the field, including 33.3 percent from 3-point range.
“He is a guy we identified early on in the process, all the way back to when he was in high school,” Schlenk said. “What we like about Cam is obvious, the length, the skill set, he can dribble, pass and shoot. He’s a good defensive player.”
Reddish visited the Hawks last week. He could not work out after core muscle surgery. He will miss summer league, according to Schlenk.
“I had a small idea but draft night is crazy,” Reddish said. “You never know what can happen. But I’m extremely blessed to be in this position and I’m excited to get to the ATL.”
That No. 10 pick was acquired last year with the Hawks made the bold move of trading Luka Doncic, who they drafted at No. 3, for Trae Young, whom the Mavericks drafted at No. 5. Both Young and Doncic are Rookie of the Year candidates.
Reddish was the third player from Duke to be selected in the top 10 after Zion Williamson (No. 1 to the Pelicans) and R.J. Barrett (No. 3 to the Knicks).
The Hawks have had their eye on Fernando for quite some time. He was the subject of a scouting trip by Schlenk last season when he identified Huerter. Fernando returned to school. He entered the draft again this year and had a pre-draft workout with the Hawks. The visit was extended with a lengthy video session with head coach Lloyd Pierce.
Fernando, 6-10, 240 pounds, averaged 13.6 points and 10.6 rebounds last season at Maryland.
Before the draft, the Hawks traded two of their three second-round picks. They traded the No. 41 pick to the Warriors for an unconditional 2024 second-round pick and cash considerations of $1.3 million on Thursday. They also traded the No. 44 pick to the Heat for an conditional 2024 second-round pick and cash considerations of $1.9 million on Wednesday. Those moves give the Hawks $3.2 million.
Hawks ownership and management, including Schlenk, stated the team would not add six rookies to its roster even with the trove of picks. Schlenk attempted to package the second-round picks and move up but was ultimately unsuccessful and settled for a future asset and case.
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