On the latest episode of the HoopsHype podcast, Michael Scotto discusses the offseason for the Atlanta Hawks with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Scotto and Kirschner discuss the futures of coach Lloyd Pierce, who has pressure to win after the team spent a lot of money to upgrade the roster this offseason, and John Collins, who is eligible for an extension. The scribes also examine the roles for free-agent additions Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rajon Rondo, and Kris Dunn. Listen to the podcast above or check out some snippets of the conversation in a transcribed version below.
1:40 Are the Hawks a playoff team in the East? Is it fair to have those expectations?
Kirschner: They kind of have to be the expectation just because ownership and Lloyd Pierce made it clear since March, and this was well before the Hawks overhauled their roster.
6:10 Lloyd Pierce’s future
Scotto: Travis Schlenk did what he was supposed to do. On paper, this guy made the team substantially better. Now, the onus falls on Lloyd Pierce, who has been a guy that is similar to Brett Brown when he was in Philly, went through lean rebuilding years to get to this point to try and be able to show what you can do as a coach. He had a lot of young guys that were developing players and nurturing them, and giving them minutes. Now, you’re going to get a chance to see, in my opinion, what type of coach Pierce is. With that in mind, with ownership not looking to be in the lottery again for the foreseeable future and all the money they spent and moves that Travis made as the GM, now it’s on Lloyd. I think Lloyd embraces that. I definitely get that sense that he’s excited to coach this team. With that in mind, is it if Lloyd doesn’t have this team in playoff contention, he’s on the hot seat?
Kirschner: Yeah. I do think so. It’s kind of a shame because when you look at the roster in his first two seasons, it wasn’t built to win. They went into last year with Evan Turner as their backup point guard option. This guy was expected to get heavy minutes last year before the start of the season, and obviously, that didn’t go well. He had Damian Jones as his center, who is softer than a lamb. These were the options that were presented towards him these past two seasons. No coach, I don’t care if Red Auerbach was coaching the Hawks in these past two seasons, you’re not going to win many games. It’s kind of unfortunate for Lloyd that he’s entering now his first true chance to really prove that he is the right man for the job because there’s going to be heavy expectations on this team. Lloyd is a part of this. He’s doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on saying this team is going to be a playoff team this upcoming season. If the Hawks are not a playoff team, people are going to hold those comments over his head. I think it’s interesting too that Travis himself has not come out and said, ‘This is a playoff team.’
12:45 Danilo Gallinari’s role
16:47 Where extension talks stand with John Collins
Scotto: The question I think a lot of people are monitoring around the league is where are those extension talks with John Collins and the Hawks? John is a guy that I know other teams around the league have monitored closely because they are enamored with his talent. If a guy like that became available, he would command a lot in trade talks… I think that it makes sense for them to get a deal done. I don’t know if he’s going to get the full max, but I still think from my sense, both sides want it. John Collins has said it publicly, and he’s said it on the HoopsHype podcast. He wants to get it done.
Kirschner: I do know that both sides would like to get something done. That’s been expressed both publicly and privately. I remember talking with John at the start of last season in training camp, and he was telling me that he loves Atlanta and wants to be here. He wants to be a building block alongside Trae Young. The issue is that he might come across if he remains adamant about being a max player, and he’s not a max player. He’s a very good player. He’s someone who can possibly get around $100 million, and that’s obviously life-changing money and can set up his family for the rest of eternity. But, if he remains adamant that he wants a deal that’s around Bam Adebayo’s contract, he’s going to be waiting until next summer possibly, because it’s not happening this year. It’s just not.
21:53 Bogdan Bogdanovic’s role
25:55 How Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn fit with Trae Young
Scotto: They bring in Rajon Rondo, who’s a proven champion, a leader, and a clutch playoff performer. He’s a guy that’s going to mentor Trae Young. He’s also a guy down the line I can see becoming a coach. I’ve heard some whispers that’s something he’d like to do down the line.
31:49 Atlanta’s outlook for this season
35:50 What do these moves mean for Trae Young’s long-term happiness and growth as a player?
Kirschner: I think that now that he has a roster around him that’s talented enough to make it to the playoffs, I think, for one, he’s happy with the moves, I do know that. He is excited to get this season underway and really show that he can win. This team has won 29 games in his first season and then 20 this past year. He wants to erase that narrative and label on him that he can’t win and his style of play can’t win.