3. Atlanta Hawks
This is a tricky one.
Before we get to their assets, if they gave up what it took to get Giannis, he’d be going to the worst team in the league. Even if they were to sign a max player this summer (putting aside the fact that the Hawks notoriously have never even been able to get meetings with these guys), you’re still not looking at a contender. The ticking clock would be hanging over their heads the moment they completed the trade. They might just be the one team in the league that would eschew even a reasonable swap.
If they got involved, though? Atlanta might have enough to pull it off.
If Markelle Fultz is the biggest wild card in the NBA, Trae Young is in the top 3. John Collins just had the third best season of anyone from his rookie class after Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell and is now draining 3s. Taurean Prince has quietly been developing nicely and has turned himself into a legit starting wing. All three are on rookie contracts, not to mention Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman. Jeremy Lin and Dewayne Dedmon are both good players on expiring contracts. There’s a lot here to work with.
Oh, and they own two likely top-ten picks in the upcoming draft (their own and Dallas’, which is top-five protected). Once you factor in their cap sheet (close to the cleanest in the NBA), it’s easy to see why they’d be able to get in any discussion.
Really though, this is a two-team conversation between the organizations that have some experience battling for the top spot…