The Atlanta Hawks, coming off a surprising 60-22 season, are mired in a good-but-not-great campaign. At 30-24, they have failed to distance themselves from the Eastern Conference pack and could break up their core group of players, report ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst.
Further, the pair, citing sources, indicate the Orlando Magic may have interest in Al Horford and Jeff Teague, two former All-Stars who could be on the outs in Atlanta. "Sources inform ESPN that the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Magic have been the most aggressive in looking to acquire a veteran difference maker," they say, specifically regarding Horford.
Given Orlando's iffy start to 2016--the Magic are 4-15 since the calendar flipped--it's easy to understand why its braintrust may be eager to make a move for a proven, veteran contributor. It tried to do as much before the season began when it attempted to sign Hawks forward Paul Millsap via free agency, but Millsap ultimately elected to re-sign with Atlanta.
Horford, 29, is averaging 15.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.5 blocks in his ninth season. He has earned three All-Star selections despite playing out of position at center almost exclusively at the professional level. A more natural power forward, Horford won two national titles at the University of Florida.
Though a stellar player with proven character and leadership skills, Orlando's swinging a trade for Horford could prove risky. As Arnovitz and Windhorst note, the former Gator is in line for a maximum contract in the coming offseason. A new deal with a club other than Atlanta would cost $107 million over four seasons. He would turn 34 in the final year of that contract. Orlando, or any team wishing to trade for Horford, must weigh the long-term cost of a potential overpay against the short-term benefit of how he might improve the team.
Teague, meanwhile, is posting per-game averages of 15.1 points, 5.4 assists, and 1.3 steals. The dynamic point guard is just 27 and has another season on his contract, worth $8 million, following this one.
Teague presents an interesting trade target for the Magic, given that they have used lottery picks on Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton in the last three seasons. Until and unless Payton proves himself as a more capable outside shooter--and, in fairness, he's converted 36.8 percent of his three-pointers as an NBA sophomore--the Magic's offense will be at a disadvantage with him on the floor, as it's far too easy to simply play him for the drive and dare him to shoot. Perhaps situating him in a backup role to Teague would enable him to develop while also improving the team's immediate outlook.
The NBA trade deadline is Thursday, February 18th, at 3:00 PM Eastern. The rumors will only continue to heat up in the nine days leading up to it.