State of the Union
The Atlanta Hawks are coming off of a 20-47 Covid shortened season which was good for 4th worst in the league. They were 28th in the league in Defensive Rating and 25th in Offensive Rating, with a net rating of -7.4, good for 28th in the league. The Hawks are led by franchise cornerstone Trae Young and newly acquired center Clint Capela, surrounded by some promising young talent that has yet to flourish. The team has a lack of veteran guards/wings that bring actual value on the court. The Hawks are a team without a defensive identity, common for teams with a lot of young rotation players, as they gave up the most points in the paint per game last season. The team should be better in this regard with the addition of Clint Capela into the starting lineup, and he should also provide value on the offensive side as he gives Trae Young a real rim running lob threat in the pick and roll. This offseason is critical for the Hawks, as they are one of the few teams with major cap space. If they want to be a real playoff contender next year, they should be looking to bringing in some veterans that can play both sides of the ball and can bring some depth.
Salary Cap Analysis
-Current Cap Room: ($8,075,591)
-Projected Cap Room: $36,087,494 – Assuming they renounce rights to all free agents except Treveon Graham and Deandre Bembry.
-Max Cap Room: $43,378,494 – Assuming all free agents rights are renounced and non-guaranteed contracts waived.
-Path to a Max: Easy, the Hawks currently have max cap room
-Best Contract on the Books: Trae Young. The Hawks are one of the lucky teams where their best player under contract is under a rookie scale deal. They should take advantage and try to surround Trae with veteran talent under long term deals while he is still cheap.
-Worst Contract on the Books: With Jeff Teague coming off the books, the Hawks do not have a bad contract of the bunch. However, with the trade for Clint Capela, the addition of Dewayne Dedmon is a bit of a head scratcher and redundant. If he performs similar to how he did in Sacramento and not to his previous stop in Atlanta, his contract could become a clear negative.
-Team Needs: Veterans, Defense, Backup Point Guard, Depth
-Potential Offseason Targets: Brandon Ingram, Demar Derozan, DJ Augustin, Kris Dunn, Paul Millsap
The Big Question
What do the Hawks do with all that cap space? As one of the few teams with real cap space this summer, the Hawks need to make the most of it. I think they are done being a dumping grounds for bad contracts and picks and choose this summer to really make some splashes. One direction the Hawks can go with it is trying to sign an established star like Brandon Ingram or Demar Derozan. While Ingram would be a better fit for the team’s timeline, it is likely that New Orleans will match any offer sheet thrown his way. However, should Demar Derozan turn down his player option in search of securing one multi-year, big money deal, the Hawks could be a willing match. They have the cap space and the need. Derozan would immediately provide a veteran presence, and would give Trae Young an established off the dribble scorer at the two that would help him out immensely. I could see the Hawks signing Derozan somewhere in the 2-3 years, $20-$25 million-dollar range annually. This would leave enough money to bring in a backup veteran point guard like DJ Augustin or Kris Dunn, and also a backup four like Paul Millsap who could be brought in to mentor John Collins.
Nick Thoreson is a young professional working in finance who is passionate about the NBA and especially all things salary cap related.