In 2014-2015 the Atlanta Hawks won 60 games and went to the Eastern Conference Finals, the farthest the franchise has been since the team was called the St. Louis Hawks, and went to the NBA Finals four times in five season. (Shout out to the 1950s NBA fans still kicking around.) Head coach Mike Budenholzer led this team to a #6 ORTG and #6 DRTG season that absolutely dominated the league before the All-Star Break. Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Al Horford, Kent Bazemore, Dennis Schroder, and Pero Antic took care of business on the court.
And now here we are just two seasons later, a 43 win Hawks team was bounced out of the first round - a team that has only three of those top eight rotation players on the squad. Carroll is with the Toronto Raptors. Teague is with the Indiana Pacers. Korver is with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Horford is with the Boston Celtics. And those four East playoff teams are all stronger for it. Antic is playing for Fenerbahce in Europe right now, and they’re also a stronger team for him being on it.
The Hawks, a team I only want success for, seems to have flown too close to the sun too early, and now are falling down to the earth, in a heap of feathers and disappointment.
Schroder and Bazemore are legit NBA players and Paul Millsap is an All-NBA talent. But I just don’t know how far those three can carry Tim Hardaway Jr., Taurean Prince, Dwight Howard, Ersan Ilyasova, and Mike Muscala. Howard is, flatly, a cancer. Those other guys (aside from daywalker Ilyasova) are 24, 22, and 25.
They have a number of big contacts on the books for next season, Howard ($23.5), Millsap ($21.5 with a Player’s Option), Bazemore ($16.9), Dennis Schroder ($15.5) and Mike Dunleavy Jr. ($5.2 partially guaranteed). But that is all just a sideshow compared to what is happening right now in their front office. Let’s just go over some of the fires right now that our bros over at Peachtree Hoops has had to write about today (JUST TODAY!):
The Atlanta Hawks had a confusing season https://t.co/RTV6MZL9LX— Peachtree Hoops (@peachtreehoops) May 3, 2017
Atlanta Hawks Salary Cap Primer, Pre-Draft Edition https://t.co/4FJ9VPbKlN— Peachtree Hoops (@peachtreehoops) May 3, 2017
Report: Mike Budenholzer discussing reduced role with Hawks https://t.co/gmKI8pnB9v— Peachtree Hoops (@peachtreehoops) May 3, 2017
Details emerge in potential front office shakeup for Atlanta Hawks https://t.co/Xnb0OROQKb— Peachtree Hoops (@peachtreehoops) May 4, 2017
This is just an obscene amount of things to go over in one cross post. But, right before the NBA Draft and two months before free agency, there are SOME shake-ups happening. Atlanta could have a new General Manager and a new President of BBALL Ops. If there’s anything we know about management is that the new guy wants to bring in his own guys, and get rid of all the old guys. We don’t yet know what the ultimate fates will be of current President Budenholzer and current GM Wilcox. But this is a level of current instability that has occurred very shortly from what looked like a golden period for the franchise.
And the players should, **ahem**, #TakeNote of this.
These two teams have grown closer over the years and are making deals together. They have a long history of making deals, as Utah Jazz draft pick Dominique Wilkins was sold to Atlanta and became the face of their franchise back in 1982. (Not that I’m bitter about that or anything.)
Last season, in fact 11 months ago, these two teams made a big trade as well that gave the Hawks a lotto pick, and the Jazz a staring point guard. (A three-teamer with the Indiana Pacers.)
It’s unfair to speculate on a future trade, especially in order to act like a pack of jackals and take away their best players. But we are kind of forced to do so here. Especially because it’s no secret that we (fans) and the front office both love Paul Millsap. I’m not going to sully my hands anymore in this, but if can go to the trade machine yourself and figure out how this could be done.
The Jazz need to unload Alec Burks’ contract, and there are a number of bigmen on the team who are cheaper than Sap that could fit in with a Dwight Howard team.
Go for it. Be a fan.
And breaking kayfabe here, I love the guys who cover the Hawks. They are all good follows online, and check out Kris, Brad, Jeff and the rest’s work over at PeachTreeHoops.com . And I want the Hawks to be a stable franchise that wins. Screw those bigger markets. I hope everything works out in the end.