February 7, 2020, 1:57 am
The Blazers and Hawks linked up for a minor trade right at the end of trade season on Thursday afternoon, with Portland sending big man Skal Labissiere and $1.9 million in cash considerations to Atlanta in exchange for a second-round pick.
That pick is for 2024 and is top-55 protected.
In other words, it’s unlikely to travel across the country, if draft picks could do such a thing.
For the Blazers, as some of their other moves have been lately, this one is about the books. Portland created a $2.4 million trade exception out of this and trimmed another $3.8 million of their luxury tax bill. The cash considerations cover Skal’s salary for the rest of the season, so Labissiere will be essentially paid by the Blazers despite suiting up for the Hawks from here on out.
It had been rumored that Portland would try and move Hassan Whiteside’s massive expiring deal to really cut costs, but he has been playing too well of late and Damian Lillard’s effort are enough to keep the Blazers from going into full sell mode.
Labissiere’s injury may have played into this – he’s out indefinitely with left knee inflammation – but it’s still a mild surprise that Portland would move him rather than someone like Mario Hezonja given their respective contributions this season.
In turn, that gives the Hawks a risk-free window to look at Labissiere, whose intriguing skillset has yet to be fully unlocked after a few seasons in Sacramento seemed to mess with his development. In 17.5 minutes per game this season, the fourth-year forward is averaging 5.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.9 blocks.
The Hawks figure to try him as a rotational depth player, backing up John Collins and taking some of the more traditional matchup minutes from Vince Carter.
Although this is one of the more minor deals of deadline day, the motivations and benefits are clear. The Blazers weren’t expected to move too many players, though they have been working diligently to clean up their finances and the loss of Labissiere shouldn’t make or break their playoff chase. Atlanta gets to try and turn a toolsy player into a longer-term contributor on someone else’s dime.