SB Nation's Tom Ziller breaks down how the new proposed CBA affects each NBA team and classifies them into seven different groups. The Atlanta Hawks are placed in "The Institutional Laggards" group along with Memphis, Milwaukee, Indiana, Charlotte, New Orleans, Minnesota and Sacramento.
Here is how Ziller describes the group:
These teams are not luxury tax spenders, in some cases because their owners actually cannot afford it and in some cases because their owners don't have the stomach to spend it. These teams are in small markets or Atlanta, which is the littlest big market in the professional sports world. These teams either currently suck or have recently sucked, and the recent past was an awful time for NBA teams to suck, given rising salaries, shrinking attendance and ever-growing revenue imbalance due to local TV deals.
On Atlanta specifically, Ziller says that all this team needs is an owner with deep pockets:
The Atlanta Hawks need very rich owners. Then this team can be normal, and that's all it needs. Where is Atlanta's Josh Harris or Tom Gores? Someone get Gucci Mane on the phone now.
Perhaps in the Hawks rebuilding they did miss their opportunity to go all in because of their ownership situation refusing to go into the tax threshold. Going into the tax doesn't necessarily guarantee a championship but if you look back even teams like San Antonio have payed the penalty and were willing to do so when the time was right. It is a little mind boggling to see the big Atlanta market listed below what Ziller describes as the middle class with places like Detroit, Houston, Washington and Toronto. The Pistons and the Rockets have past championships but the Wizards and the Raptors haven't had nearly the success on the court recently that Atlanta has enjoyed.
The potential sale to Alex Meruelo generated quite a bit of excitement into the Hawks fan base only to see that ultimately fall through. Do the Hawks need that kind of change to generate excitement and support for the team? The Atlanta Spirit have been long ridiculed for infighting and questionable decisions and that was before they sold the Thrashers and the failed sale of the Hawks.
How high up the ladder could the Hawks move if fans understood or believed that ownership was really willing to go all in to win a championship?