The Atlanta Hawks’ 2018-19 season can most quickly be described with one word: hope. After a quick rebuild following the departure of Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta, having done great job of drafting exciting building blocks, is well-equipped to get right back into the playoff picture – and soon. Trae Young, even if he doesn’t win Rookie of the Year, has been one of the top first-year performers in the NBA. John Collins, averaging a near 20 and 10 stat line as a sophomore, is becoming one of the most consistently productive power forwards league-wide. And Kevin Huerter has all the makings of the Association’s next knockdown shooter at the 2-guard position.
When you combine that impressive young core with Atlanta’s excellent crop of assets, made up of extensive cap space, draft capital and tradable pieces, it becomes clear that general manager Travis Schlenk has done an outstanding job of rebuilding on the fly, and that the Hawks may not be all that far from taking the next step as a franchise.
GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Miles Plumlee: $12,400,000
Trae Young: $6,281,280
Alex Len: $4,160,000
Taurean Prince: $3,481,985
John Collins: $2,686,560
Kevin Huerter: $2,636,280
DeAndre Bembry: $2,603,981
Omari Spellman: $1,900,200
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Jaylen Adams: $1,416,852
Kent Bazemore: $19,269,663
Justin Anderson: Restricted
Alex Poythress: Restricted
Outside of the continued development of their young core, the Hawks need to acquire a legit veteran star, a rim-protector to cover for Collins’ defensive deficiencies and bench depth if they actually want to make noise next season. Thankfully for them, they have the assets necessary to make that happen, both in the form of cap space and trade chips (the Hawks own multiple first-round picks over the next two seasons), so seeing a big name join Young in Atlanta this summer is entirely possible.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENCY TARGETS
Jimmy Butler: The Hawks probably don’t have the standing league-wide to make a legit push for one of Top 5 free agents this summer, but a player on the second tier, like Butler, could be within their grasp. Especially if the Philadelphia 76ers, who have been up-and-down since trading for Butler, disappoint in the playoffs.
Tobias Harris: The 76ers could opt to re-sign Butler and let Harris walk instead, freeing up the talented wing to sign wherever he wants. Playing off of Young and Collins, Harris would be a force thanks to his off-ball shooting and iso skills.
Khris Middleton: The Milwaukee Bucks already owe over $87 million in salary next season without counting Middleton. Odds heavily favor Milwaukee re-signing the 2019 All-Star this summer, but if they choose not to, Atlanta could be a very interesting landing spot for the sharpshooting wing.
Marc Gasol: Atlanta needs big men and experienced players this offseason. Gasol fills both those voids. His shot-blocking and defense would fit nicely with Collins.
DeAndre Jordan: Same as Gasol, Jordan would fill a few important needs for the Hawks. He may be a better option, though, as he’s still more in his prime than Gasol (34) is.
Bojan Bogdanovic: The Hawks weren’t a great three-point shooting team this season. Bogdanovic, a 42.3 percent shooter from beyond the arc in 2018-19, would be a great addition to Atlanta’s starting lineup.
POTENTIAL TRADE TARGETS
Bradley Beal: On the off chance the Washington Wizards decide to blow things up this summer, Beal would be the perfect 2-guard to place in the backcourt with Young. Long shot, but it would be a coup for Atlanta if it happened.
Hassan Whiteside: If Whiteside opts into his deal for next season, the Miami Heat could be interested in moving him considering he’s been benched for the younger Bam Adebayo. It may not be as difficult for Miami to do so as it used to be, either, since the big man will be on the final year of his contract. Whiteside’s shot-blocking would give Atlanta’s defense a major boost.
2019 DRAFT ASSETS
Not only do the Hawks have their own first-round pick (lottery odds give them the highest chances of landing the No. 5 pick), they will also acquire the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-rounder if it falls between No. 11 to No. 30, and the Mavericks’ first-rounder if it falls between No. 6 to No. 30. As far as their second-round pick goes, Atlanta keeps it unless it falls between No. 56 and No. 60, which is almost certainly won’t. Apart from that, they also get the less favorable of either the Minnesota Timberwolves’ second-rounder and the Los Angeles Lakers’ second-rounder, as well as the Charlotte Hornets’ second-round pick.