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Hawks have needs as trade deadline approaches

Atlanta’s Pero Antic has been a mediocre substitute at center since two-time All-Star Al Horford was forced to sit out to have surgery to repair a torn right pectoral muscle. (Reuters)

Atlanta’s Pero Antic has been a mediocre substitute at center since two-time All-Star Al Horford was forced to sit out to have surgery to repair a torn right pectoral muscle. (Reuters)

ATLANTA — The NBA trade deadline is today, and the Hawks continue to look for ways to improve a roster hit with two season-ending injuries. Whether general manager Danny Ferry pulls off a major deal before the deadline remains to be seen, but there could be some tinkering to the current group.

The Hawks could use help at center, shooting guard and small forward.

“As we continue to build our identity, we will look to be strategic as we examine our roster and the potential ways we can build greater depth within our system,” Ferry said. “This time of year, everybody is having conversations. Ultimately, any move we would consider would have to effectively benefit our short and long term interests.”

The Hawks, on a six-game losing streak entering Wednesday’s game vs. Washington, are 9-13 since the loss of two-time All-Star center Al Horford following surgery to repair a torn right pectoral muscle. They have slipped from third to fifth in the Eastern Conference standings with 29 games remaining in the regular season.

The Hawks seemed to have found a short-term fix with the play of Pero Antic at center. However, he has missed the past three weeks with a stress fracture of the right ankle. He is getting close to a return but there is still no timetable for when he might suit up again. The third option at starting center, Gustavo Ayon, hasn’t played a fourth-quarter minute in four of the past five games.

The Hawks also lost guard John Jenkins to lower back surgery. The 2012 first-round pick played sparingly this season due to the injury. Jenkins’ loss leaves the Hawks with a shooting guard spot available. The Hawks have brought guard Jared Cunningham up from the NBA Development League for short stints four times this season. His future may be as a point guard as that is where he has been playing with the Bakersfield (Calif.) Jam. Cunningham, obtained in a draft-day trade last year, is likely not in the Hawks’ long-term plans after they declined to pick up his third-year option.

There is also a decision to be made at small forward with Cartier Martin. His second 10-day contract expires today. Per NBA rules, the Hawks are not allowed to sign Martin to another 10-day contract. If they wish to retain him at the conclusion of his current contract they’d have to sign him for at least the rest of the season. The Hawks waived Martin after 25 games to start the season before his contract became guaranteed. His absence would create a need for another wing defender.

Without Martin, the Hawks would have 12 players.

The Hawks do have draft picks that could be part of a trade. This year’s first-round pick includes the right to swap it with the Nets should their pick end up being higher. The 2014 NBA draft is considered to have several impact players available. The same scenario exists for 2015.

Last season Ferry made two moves at the trade deadline. The Hawks acquired Dahntay Jones from the Mavericks for Anthony Morrow. They also acquired Jeremy Tyler from the Warriors for future draft considerations. Neither remain on the roster.