The Hawks’ season just ended yesterday, meaning that the team has officially entered the offseason. That begs one question: what do the Hawks need to do to rebound for the 2015-16 season? What are the team’s weaknesses? Who is available for the Hawks to sign?
The way to answer those first two questions is with a status report of where the Hawks are right now. The following Hawks will be free agents this offseason:
Pero Antic (restricted)
Jenkins is likely gone and it appears as if Brand is preparing for retirement. Judging by his status in the Hawks’ rotation in games 3 and 4 of the series against the Cavs, Antic could be on his way out as well. Other factors to consider here are the recovery times for Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha, the play of Mike Scott in the playoffs, and Millsap’s own potential surgery in the offseason.
With all of that in mind, the Hawks will have money that needs to be spent addressing the wing and big positions. One thing that became abundantly clear in the playoffs is that there is no such thing as having too many shooters on the roster. Korver’s cold streak and subsequent absence was a major blow for the Hawks, and while Kent Bazemore made an admirable effort to step in, it was soon clear that the Hawks could use more shooting from the bench. Dennis Schröder is not a shooter (more shots than points in the playoffs) and Mike Scott became too streaky — in addition to his bad defense — to be a reliable option.
The other obvious weakness for the Hawks in the postseason was rebounding. Horford and a less-than-100% Millsap usually held their own, but the bench options of Antic and Scott were not the kind of guys that could remedy rebounding issues whenever the Hawks were in a rut. This issue was amplified upon Sefolosha’s injury, as he provided a rebounding boost from the small forward position when he was on the court. (8.2 rebounds per 36 minutes)
Of course, an important concept to remember here is how the Hawks play. Coach Mike Budenholzer preaches pace and space on offense, and activity, quick hands, and awareness on defense. The best fits for the Hawks are going to be players that exhibit most or all of these attributes.
Finally, something that sticks out heavily, is the salary cap. I will not go into all of the Hawks’ salary cap specifics here, but suffice to say, the Hawks will have money to spend in the offseason. Also important is the NBA’s new TV deal that will start with the 2016-17 season, which will likely send the salary cap soaring to at least $85 million. Because of these, teams may be willing to overpay for free agents this year, as they know those contracts will not be as large of a hit to their cap in the future. Combating that will be whether or not players desire long-term contracts, as they may opt for shorter contracts to take advantage of the future cap spike.
Taking all of that into consideration, I present my free agent targets for the Atlanta Hawks.
YOU PROBABLY WANT THESE GUYS BACK
Paul Millsap, F, Atlanta Hawks
Millsap averaged 16.7 points on 56.5% true-shooting, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on the season. He was named an All-Star for the second consecutive season and was one of the most important defenders on a team that finished sixth in defensive efficiency. Continue Reading…