The Oklahoma City Thunder are trading Vit Krejci to the Atlanta Hawks for Moe Harkless and a second-round pick, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. The trade will have little impact on what either team does on the floor but could prove meaningful to Atlanta for financial purposes.
The Thunder lost No. 2 overall pick, Chet Holmgren, to a season-ending injury during an offseason pro-am game. As such, they were able to apply for a disabled player exception worth half of his salary. They were granted that exception last week and are using it to absorb Harkless' $4.5 million salary onto their books and getting a second-round pick in the process. By getting off of that contract, the Hawks have moved below the luxury tax line.
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In the grand scheme of things, doing so could save the Hawks quite a bit of money. While Atlanta is below the line now, they are almost certain to jump above it in the near future when players like De'Andre Hunter, DeJounte Murray and Onyeka Okongwu earn market-value contracts. By staying below the tax line this season, the Hawks have delayed the possibility of the repeater tax by another year.
For the Thunder, the motivation here was obvious: they were already far enough below the tax line to absorb a player like Harkless, so for them, this trade amounts to buying a second-round pick for the cash cost of the difference in salary between Harkless and Krejci, which comes out to around $3 million. Krejci played 30 games in Oklahoma City last season and averaged 6.2 points, but on a team with so much young talent, there simply wasn't a path to consistent playing time for him on the Thunder. Maybe the Hawks can give him more of an opportunity, but even if they don't, this deal is worth it for them on savings alone.