Hawks try to block out trade deadline noise

The Hawks hear the noise.

Trade rumors are so prevalent this time of year that there is no escape.

Some players claim they don’t hear it or talk about it. They do. How they manage to block out such trade talk and focus on the task at hand – the final two months of the season – will be key for the players who remain after the NBA trade deadline Thursday at 3 p.m.

Al Horford and Jeff Teague have heard their names mentioned the most. Paul Millsap likely doesn’t have to worry about being moved but even he has had to insulate himself from the talk.

“As players, we hear it,” Millsap said. “We talk about it a little bit. It’s good to have teammates and friends who have your back. I’ve been in those situations when your name is heard. I still hear my name to this very day. It’s probably not going to stop. You have to be a professional about it. You take it day to day and try to win games.

“It’s just noise. It’s like me travelling today and hearing my two kids yelling the whole flight. You’ve have to tune it out. Put the headphones on and hopefully it will stop.”

It will stop Thursday afternoon. The Hawks had a full roster of 15 players, including the injured Tiago Splitter, at practice Wednesday in the first workout following the All-Star break. Who will remain following the deadline remains to be seen.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, who also wears the hat of president of basketball operations, again stated his feelings about the roster just 24 hours before the deadline.

“We’ll see,” Budenholzer said when asked if the roster will look different at 3:01 p.m. Thursday. “We are very happy with our group. We feel strongly about them. I’ve been protective of them and would expect to continue to be that. You never know what can happen.”

Budenholzer said he has not addressed the team concerning the myriad of trade rumors. He said the trade talk may help the team keep its focus.

As for Horford and Teague, each maintained they are happy in Atlanta and believe the roster is capable of more that it showed in the first 55 games of the seasons.

Said Horford: “I feel confident about our group. We haven’t played our best basketball yet. It’s encouraging. That only tells me that whether it’s a month from now, whether it’s when we get to the playoffs, we are going to really start clicking as a group. We are going to be all right.”

Said Teague: “I’m good. I’m chillin’. It’s part of the business. You just roll with the punches. … I love my teammates. I love playing here. I enjoy it. I think we have a really good team here. We are getting better every day. We have a really good group.”

The Hawks have not addressed the specifics of trade talk surrounding the team. Budenholzer offered some insight when asked whether recent news of the season-ending surgery for Splitter will change the team’s plans at the deadline.

“No, I don’t think so,” Budenholzer said. “We are always trying to find ways to put ourselves in the best position and put the best group out there. We’ll miss him and he’s a big part of us but I don’t think it’s had any impact on our approach.”

The Hawks (31-24) will resume their NBA schedule on Friday by hosting the Heat.

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