The Atlanta Hawks, like every team in the NBA, would like to get into the Kevin Durant business.
This comes as no surprise given Durant's firmly established placement among the top five players in the league, but word broke on Tuesday that the Hawks are pursuing a sit-down with the Oklahoma City forward sometime on or after July 1. While it would be easy to write off Atlanta based on the fact that other high-profile entities (Golden State, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, etc.) are in the mix, the Hawks do provide some positives for a player in Durant's mold.
With that in mind, the Hawks have to have something to pitch to Durant's representatives in said meeting, and we tried to come up with a few ideas. Flame away.
For as much as a player on Kevin Durant's level may not care about the "easiest" path to success... it is undeniably easier to make waves in the East than it is in the West. Yes, the Cavaliers occupy the top spot in the conference and have since the moment LeBron James returned, but aside from Cleveland, there is no franchise better positioned to make a run at the title with Durant on board than the Hawks.
Celtics and Heat fans will certainly argue this point, but Atlanta was better on the court in 2015-2016 than either team. Also, Miami has a great deal of uncertainty with their salary cap situation (Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, etc.) and the looming cloud of Chris Bosh's health looming over things. Boston has their own set of problems, including a lack of a legitimate "number two" star on the level of Al Horford or Paul Millsap, and an impending roster crunch. There are positive arguments for all three teams (sorry, Knicks) but the Hawks win in the end.
A massive and emerging market
Kevin Durant doesn't necessarily seem like the kind of player who would weigh market over all else (even with the Knicks somehow securing a meeting), but it might matter. Atlanta provides an appealing market in many ways.
The Hawks have been largely unable to attract long-lasting fans, but this is an NBA-driven city. Atlanta routinely ranks among the top 10 markets in the country when it comes to television viewership, and with a legitimate superstar on board, the Hawks would be able to draw massive crowds on a regular basis.
Elsewhere, Atlanta is a market that NBA players often choose to live in during the off-season (whether those athletes play locally or not) and Durant could be the player that turns the city from an NBA town into a Hawks town. It's worth a shot.
Mike Budenholzer is good at his job.
For the first time in a long time, the Hawks have a legitimately appealing leader on the bench, and Budenholzer's recent Coach of the Year victory brings credibility. This extends to the front office as well, and while having Budenholzer in the decision-making chair could pose some problems down the line in terms of the dual role, there is stability in Atlanta's front office.
He may not be as "sexy" as Brad Stevens or quite the draw of Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, but hey, it might matter.
Elite-level training facilities
For the first time, this is a claim that the Hawks can make! The franchise recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art practice and training facility that partners with P3 to provide some of the best physical training available. Durant wouldn't have trouble finding this type of help with his body, but having it at his fingertips on a daily basis could be a nice sweetener for the Hawks.
An owner with deep pockets (?)
Before I say this, there is some level of uncertainty about this statement, simply because we haven't seen it.
Now, Tony Ressler and this ownership group seem poised and ready to spend when needed. The majority owner famously pronounced that he was not concerned with spending limitations upon arrival, and while Atlanta has not had to deal with the luxury tax at any point in the recent past, it could become a legitimate concern with big contracts for Durant and Al Horford on the books. Durant almost assuredly did not enjoy Oklahoma City's penny pinching when it came to James Harden, and Ressler could smooth that concern over with assurance that he will spend to keep a top-level core together long-term.
The Atlanta Hawks would be exceptionally good with Kevin Durant. Right away.
Imagine a frontcourt of Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Kevin Durant. In short, that would be the best trio in the NBA, regardless of moves that occurred elsewhere, and that brings immediate respect when it comes to winning a championship. To be fair, the backcourt is less stable with Dennis Schröder instead of Jeff Teague at the helm, but the Hawks invested heavily on the wing in the NBA Draft and there could be a bit of extra money to play with in the event that Atlanta moved on from Tiago Splitter, Mike Scott, Mike Muscala or Lamar Patterson to create space.
There is some debate about whether the Hawks would immediately become the favorite to claim the NBA title, but what isn't up for discussion is that Atlanta would be among the five best teams in the league immediately.
Should Kevin Durant come to Atlanta? Probably not. Golden State and San Antonio could provide better basketball situations, while Oklahoma City could make the same claim with relative confidence and give Durant the comfort level that he has achieved over nearly a decade of service. Still, the Hawks have a clearer path to greatness than any team in the West can offer, and with a city as vibrant as Atlanta, this particular situation would be highly appealing.
Durant and his camp won't read this, but it seems safe to assume that