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Less than an hour ago, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Oklahoma City Thunder are trading Vit Krejci to the Atlanta Hawks for Moe Harkless and a second-round draft pick.

Harkless is a veteran small forward who never played a game for the Hawks. The 29-year-old was part of the Kevin Huerter trade with the Sacramento Kings in July. 

On the other hand, Krejci is an exciting prospect. The 22-year-old is a 6'8" point guard from the Czech Republic. Krejci played in 30 games for the Thunder last year, including eight starts, averaging 6.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.

Hawks guard Trae Young is fouled by Thunder guard Vit Krejci.

Vit Krejci fouls Trae Young during a 2021-22 NBA season game.

Krejci was selected with the 37th overall pick by the Washington Wizards in the 2020 NBA draft and later traded to the Thunder in November 2020. After rehabilitating an ACL tear, Krejci signed a four-year, $6.31 million contract with the Thunder in September 2021.

Why It Matters

The biggest takeaway from this trade is that the Hawks will avoid paying the luxury tax. At Media Day, I asked general manager Landry Fields about the team being $1.8 million over the salary cap. Fields said it was a "day-to-day thing" and liked the flexibility entering training camp.

It makes sense that the Hawks prefer to get under the luxury tax. It gives the front office some flexibility, and they can avoid the repeater tax in the future. Plus, Harkless would have been an expensive second or third-string forward. The Thunder will pay the $4.56 million for the final year of Harkless' contract via the recently approved Chet Holmgren Disabled Player Exception.

Another side effect of this trade is that it could open up more playing time for Hawks' forwards - namely Jalen Johnson and AJ Griffin. Krejci's future with the Hawks is uncertain, but it certainly adds another level of intrigue to the preseason. According to Spotrac, his contract becomes fully guaranteed on January 10, 2023.

While this trade feels like a win for the Hawks, it further depletes their draft capital. (Of course, the Thunder wanted another draft pick). We are still waiting to find out the details of the draft pick.

Bottom Line

The Atlanta Hawks traded Moe Harkless and a second-round draft pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Vit Krejci. The Hawks are now under the salary cap and have roster flexibility entering the 2022-23 NBA season.

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