Hawks Acquire Skal Labissière from Portland

Ben Ladner

The Hawks acquired Skal Labissière from the Trail Blazers Thursday afternoon, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Atlanta will send back a late second-round pick and Portland will also give up $1.9 million in cash in the deal, per John Hollinger. Atlanta has now traded for three big men in the last three days, and with this deal, has filled all 17 spots on its roster. 

The Hawks are Labissière's third team in his four-year NBA career. A first-round pick in 2016, the Haitian native began his career in Sacramento before being traded to the Blazers in 2019. He averaged 5.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and nearly one block per game on over 55 percent shooting in 33 games with Portland this season. A source told The Athletic's Chris Kirschner that the Hawks plan on keeping Labissière, Damian Jones, and Bruno Fernando on the roster (in addition to Dewayne Dedmon and Clint Capela). 

It's unclear how large a role Labissière will play in Atlanta, but if he is part of the rotation it will likely be at backup power forward. Though he can play center, Labissière isn't going to supplant newly-acquired centers Capela or Dedmon in the rotation. After sending Jabari Parker to the Kings int he Dedmon deal, the Hawks don't have a true backup power forward; perhaps they view Labissière as a higher-upside upgrade over Vince Carter. 

It's equally possible Atlanta simply did this deal for the cash and plans to continue using Carter, John Collins, and De'Andre Hunter at power forward. If the Hawks still plan on periodically using Collins as a backup center, it wouldn't make much sense to have Labissière soaking up frontcourt minutes. 

Still, this isn't a terrible gamble for the Hawks to take. Labissière is only 23 years old, with solid physical tools and gradually developing defensive awareness. He makes just $2.3 million this season and will be a restricted free agent in the summer; he likely won't cost much to bring back if Atlanta wants to keep him around. Given how little the organization has invested in him, it would be just as easy for the two sides to simply walk away if it doesn't work out. 

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