February 6, 2020, 9:11 pm
After dipping into the trade market to pick up a new starting center, the Hawks went back to the well to reunite with old pal Dewayne Dedmon, whose disgruntlement led to a public trade request out of Sacramento.
Dedmon more or less made his name in Atlanta, where a strong two-year run coaxed a three-year, $40 million contract out of the Kings last summer. It made for an ugly marriage, as the veteran fell out of the rotation and was only recently able to emerge from the doghouse because of simultaneous injuries to Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes.
The hope was that Dedmon’s shooting ability and rim protection would fit nicely next to Bagley, keeping the youngster from moving to full-time center while also spacing the court to open up driving lanes for De’Aaron Fox without cramping Bagley’s paint-based style.
It’s easy to see where the Kings were coming from, even if that commitment was reasonable but a bit rich for a 30-year-old. Dedmon is among the centers who reinvented their game to keep pace with the times. After just one 3-point attempt through his first 224 games, Dedmon burst onto the scene as a .355 3-point shooter in 2017-18, his first with the Hawks as well as his first as a full-time starter. He improved to .382 from deep on increased volume last season, profiling as a solid 3-and-D center option when accounting for his career 0.9 blocks per game in 18.1 minutes per game across 384 contests.
Things have gone sideways this season, with Dedmon plummeting to an ugly 19.7 percent from deep. He’s looked largely unplayable on offense and was unable to mesh with the Kings, and the emergence of Holmes gave Dedmon slim chances of regaining a role commensurate with his contract.
The Hawks must be hoping that a return to familiar, and more successful, surroundings can snap Dedmon back into his old form. Though he was never a big minute-muncher in Atlanta, averaging about 25 minutes per night, Dedmon’s role shrunk to 15.9 minutes per game with the Kings, and the Hawks might be comfortable betting on that drop stemming from a small sample and lack of rhythm rather than a deterioration of skills.
Dedmon is returning to a very different version of the Hawks, however. There will be no timeshare situation as Clint Capela should be looking at a full workload when he’s healthy enough to return to the floor. Dedmon may be sticking around that 16-minute range. Although the Hawks are spending quite a bit on their clear backup center, much like the Capela transaction, this move gives them a sense of stability at what was a position of dire need just 48 hours ago.
If Dedmon’s game truly has eroded, the Hawks may end up using this as a tire-kicking window and then look to move him again in the future and allocate their financial resources differently. Only $1 million is guaranteed in the final year of his contract, which might make him an appealing option for certain teams next year.
If not, the Hawks find a player who should be a quality backup, with a track record of success playing alongside the team’s young core. His spacing gives John Collins more opportunity to work in the paint than he’ll receive playing next to Capela, and his rim protection should also help Collins play a more natural role on defense. Dedmon also gives the Hawks better rebounding than Alex Len did, and ideally gives them general competence at the center spot for all 48 minutes a night – Lloyd Pierce won’t have to ride the ups and downs of the Damian Jones and Bruno Fernando experience if he doesn’t want to.
Atlanta gave up Len, who will go UFA at the end of the year, and Jabari Parker, who has a player option worth $6.5 million for next season. Dedmon is a better fit for the current Hawks roster and they still have tons of cap space to work with this summer, which helps ease some concern about adding his salary.
They’ll also receive two second-round picks, a 2020 selection from Houston and a 2021 pick from Miami. They’re likely going to be bottom-10 picks, but the Hawks were without second-rounders in those drafts, so it’s better than nothing.
Atlanta is hoping to get a rejuvenated version of Dedmon, even if he never gets back to the form that earned him his bloated deal in the first place. As a secondary piece he provides a nice fit in certain lineup configurations and will surely be happy to be out of Sacramento. The question here, aside from whether Dedmon’s shots start dropping again, is whether the Hawks are properly allocating their money by adding a backup on the pricier side of things just a day after acquiring a new starter. Much like the Capela trade, the first-glance problems don’t seem like things that Atlanta will have to fret about in the near future. If they do it will mean that they team has surged past expectations.