The Atlanta Hawks made quite a splash during the first two days of the NBA’s free agency period. The dust has finally settled with Dwight Howard and Kent Bazemore landing in Atlanta while Al Horford is a new member of the Boston Celtics.
While the current version of the team doesn’t appear to be better than the old version, there is still work left to be done on the roster. The Hawks had about $3.8 million in salary cap space remaining entering Sunday and that was before they agreed to a two-year deal with Malcolm Delaney on Sunday. Terms of Delaney’s deal are unknown and it is possible the Hawks opt to use the room exception to acquire him.
Atlanta is now at the 15 player maximum on their roster. As of today, their projected starting lineup would look like this:
Dennis Schröder - PG
Kyle Korver - SG
Kent Bazemore - SF
Paul Millsap - PF
Dwight Howard - C
The bench includes:
Mike Scott - F
Thabo Sefolosha - G/F
Tiago Splitter - C
Tim Hardaway Jr - G
Mike Muscala - F/C
Lamar Patterson - G
Walter Tavares - C
Taurean Prince - F
DeAndre Bembry - G/F
Malcolm Delaney - G
Details of Delaney’s contract haven’t been reported but his addition eats into the $3.8 million they had left to spend. They do have a couple of options available to them where they could wrangle a bit more space. Mike Scott’s salary for the 2017 season is not guaranteed and waiving him would save roughly $3.3 million.
Lamar Patterson also has a non-guaranteed deal a little over $870,000 this season. If the Hawks need a roster spot, then waiving Patterson would be an easy way to get there but doing so doesn’t do much in terms of the financial picture.
The Hawks could also explore trade options with several players. Reserve center Tiago Splitter is an obvious place to start given his $8.5 million salary but questions about his health could limit trade partners. The Hawks might be forced to add an asset to Splitter in a trade just to offload him. The team did a similar thing when they included Lucas Noguiera in the Lou Williams trade with Toronto a few seasons back. It is also possible that the Hawks elect to keep Splitter as Howard’s backup rather than turn to Muscala or Tavares as regular options.
The Hawks have some depth on the wing and could float Thabo Sefolosha, Kyle Korver or Tim Hardaway Jr’s name out there but two of the players behind them are rookies in first round picks Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembrey. There would likely be some interest in Sefolosha or Korver but both appear to still be key parts of the team’s rotation.
Korver’s shooting becomes even more important with the addition of Howard. While Prince looks like he could grow into Sefolosha’s role quickly, it is a long shot to believe he will be ready to do so on opening night.
It seems critical that Atlanta find a veteran option for point guard to play behind Schröder. While he has made steady progress over the last two seasons, Schröder is still erratic at times and the Hawks would be well served to find a player that can act as a calming influence.
Atlanta may be scrambling for Plan B in wake of Horford’s sudden departure to Boston. Horford leaving allows the Hawks to keep Paul Millsap and that is a good thing, but there are some serious holes remaining on this roster and very little cap space with which to work with.