2016 NBA Off Season Preview: Atlanta Hawks


Atlanta Hawks

2015-2016 Record: 48-34
Projected Maximum Cap Space: $28,251,011

Players under contract for 2016-2017

PF Paul Millsap ($20,072,033)
C Tiago Splitter ($8,250,000)
PG Jeff Teague ($8,000,000)
SG/SF Kyle Korver ($5,239,437)
SG/SF Thabo Sefolosha ($4,000,000)
PG Dennis Schroder ($2,708,582)
SG Tim Hardaway Jr. ($2,281,605)
C Walter Tavares ($1,000,000)
SF Lamar Patterson ($874,636)

Team Option

C Mike Muscala ($1,015,696)

Unrestricted Free Agents

C Al Horford
PG Kirk Hinrich
SG Kent Bazemore
PF Kris Humphries


2015-2016 Recap

For the second straight year the Hawks advanced past the first round of the playoffs. Despite the same roster (minus DeMarre Carroll), the team was 12 wins off the 60 win performance of 2014-2015. The nucleus was another year older, and was run off the court by the Cavaliers for the second year in a row. Mike Budenholzer has established a strong defensive identity in Atlanta, but this team may lack the horses necessary to win come playoff time.

Players Under Contract

The Hawks remained remarkably healthy, and trotted out the same rotation for virtually every game. Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Thabo Sefolosha and Dennis Schroder all remain under contract for 2015-2016.

Millsap played in 81 games, and produced his usual mix of scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. A true five category performer, it is easy to forget that he was a rebounding specailist drafted by the Jazz in the second round a decade ago. Millsap is a true All Star performer that makes the Hawks go.

Teague and Schroder form one of the better point guard dous in the NBA. Teague has devolped into one of the better mid teir point guards in the league, right there with the Mike Conley's and Goran Dragic's of the association. While his play slipped ever so slightly from his 2014-2015 All Star season, Schroder was there to pick up the slack. He might be the best backup point guard in the league, and is the clear future at the position. Not much of a shooter, he is a slasher on offense and a pesky headache on defense.

Korver, Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore gathered the majority of the wing minutes. Korver still shot the ball very well, but his three point percentage dipped below 40% for the first time in seven years. That is the extent of his production. Sefolosha is on the opposite end of the spectrum, and he is used primarily for defense.

The rest of the bench was a disappointment. Splitter played in only 36 games during his first season away from San Antonio, and had his worst year since he was a rookie. At 31 years old with countless miles on his tires, injuries may be taking too much of a toll.

The Hawks traded what was originally a lottery pick for Tim Hardaway Jr. Hardaway's stats predictably tailed off since he was a part of a deep rotation and not a lost cause like the Knicks. Hardaway will likely cap out as an 8th or 9th man.

Free Agents

Al Horford will be one of the most sought after free agents this off season. Since teams know they will probably not land LeBron James or Kevin Durant, nearly every team will likely turn it's attention to Horford. Horford was stunningly consistent, posting nearly identical numbers as 2014-2015, while playing in all 82 games. The Hawks can offer Horford an extra year and more money, but will likely have to bid against at least half of the league for his services.

Kent Bazemore has gone from an undrafted free agent filling out a tanking Warriors roster to a solid rotation piece, and he is in line for a nice raise. In his prime at 26 years old, he offers strong shooting and solid defense, something every team will be looking for.

Kris Humphries and Kirk Hinrich are two players who are well past their prime, and will hope to squeeze a one year contract out of some team this off season.

Free Agent Targets

Atlanta has never been a prime destination for free agents. If Atlanta wants to keep fighting for playoff spots, the best bet would be to resign Al Horford. That will likely cost the team at least $20 million per year, which would sap most of the cap space. Unless Horford bolts, expect this team to return basically the same roster next year, while signing a big man such as Roy Hibbert or Joakim Noah to a short term, "prove it" deal.

Trade Proposal

Atlanta Hawks traded G Jeff Teague to Milwaukee Bucks for G Michael Carter-Williams, G Tyler Ennis and 2016 first round pick

The best way for the Hawks to gain much needed bench pieces could be to move Jeff Teague. Teague is thought to be available thanks to the emergence of Dennis Schroder. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of teams with big holes at point guard, which made finding a landing spot tricky.

Michael Carter-Williams might have some value as a backup guard, but this trade would be for the tenth overall pick. The Hawks could draft a ready made player such as Denzel Valentine or one of many intriguing freshman, or move this pick for another veteran or two.

This is not an ideal trade for the Hawks, who might as well keep Teague if this is the best they will get.

NBA Draft

The Hawks own the 21st overall pick in the 2016 draft. Atlanta could be looking to replace Kent Bazemore at the small forward position. Two players who make a lot of sense for playoff teams are Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry. Prince can play defense and knock down the three, and Bembry is a good ball handler, scorer and rebounder.

In Summary

The Hawks have an important decision to face with Al Horford. If they cannot retain him, this becomes a team that will have to fight for a playoff spot. With Horford, they have shown they are as good as any team in the East other than the Cavaliers. It will likely take a long term deal to resign Horford, which would mean the team would have to tweak the roster other than overhaul it.
If Horford does walk, expect Atlanta to make one more go at it before Teague, Millsap and Korver all become free agents following the 2017 season. At that point, it will be up to the front office to decide if this is a team that should rebuild through the draft or sign a few 30 something players to long term extensions.

Jonathan Carrano

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

No comments: