Recapping the Hawks' Trade Deadline Moves

lou williams
Story by K.L. Chouinard (@KLChouinard)

The Hawks made a move before Thursday's trade deadline, but to understand it best, it is worth a moment to consider the trade deadline from two seasons ago.

Then, the Los Angeles Clippers made a move that sent Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers for a return centered on future draft picks. After the trade, the Clippers improved their winning percentage, going 18-8 to finish the regular season before a respectable first-round exit at the hands of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

In Harris' absence, Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams ended up being the top two scorers on a team that won 48 games, and they did yeoman's work at the line. Those Clippers topped the NBA in made free throws; Gallinari and Williams led the way both by volume and percentage. Together, they made an incredible 792 of 891 free throw attempts (88.9 percent).

The Hawks acquired Williams Thursday along with two second-round picks and cash considerations in exchange for guard Rajon Rondo, giving him a second stint with the Hawks and pairing him once again with Gallinari as part of the team's bench unit.

"He's a great pro, great player," Gallinari said. "He has been showing it for so many years. He's a great scorer. I'm looking forward to playing with him again. We had a lot of fun when we played together in LA."

Hawks President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Travis Schlenk hopes that the change will spark some bench scoring.

“One of the things we’re all aware of is that when Trae’s gone to the bench we’ve struggled a little offensively. The hope is that bringing in Williams, as everyone knows, he’s one of – if not the best – bench scorers in the history of the league, three-time Sixth Man of the Year, so we felt like that addressed one of the things we saw we could fix moving forward, and the icing on the cake was the draft picks.”

Specifically, the addition of Williams gives the bench a point guard who is more than comfortable running pick-and-roll plays. Last season, Trae Young led the NBA with 940 pick-and-roll possessions as a ballhandler (14.1 per game). Lou Williams, playing in a sixth-man reserve role, ranked 7th with 643 pick-and-rolls (9.9 per game).

"Having somebody that can come on the floor that can run pick-and-roll and score in pick-and-roll, I think, is going to be a big boost for us," Schlenk said.

For years, Williams had center Montrezl Harris as an elite rim-running partner before Harris crossed town to join the Lakers in the most recent offseason. In joining the Hawks, Williams should get the same from John Collins and Clint Capela. The Hawks rank 2nd in the NBA with 242 dunks in large part because of the rim-running of Collins and Capela.

To acquire Williams, the Hawks had to send Rondo to the Clippers. Head coach Nate McMillan, a man who in his playing days did for the 1980s and 1990s Seattle Supersonics what Rondo has done for his teams in this era, heaped high praise on his former point guard.

"He meant a lot. He did a lot for the organization. We basically were bringing him in to really mentor Trae and bring experience in to help this young team try to take this next step, and I thought he did a good job of leading the young group and being the coach in the locker room for us – and mentoring Trae to become a veteran point guard."

Swapping Rondo for Williams gives the Hawks a backup point guard whose on-court style more closely mirrors the style of Trae Young. That continuity should help the Hawks keep their offense rolling when Trae needs a rest.

"Lou is a guy that is from Atlanta and has played in Atlanta," forward Solomon Hill said. "When I look at Trae and Trae's ability to get to the free-throw line, it reminds me very much of what LouWill can do."

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