With free agency in the rearview mirror and training camp still a couple of months away, we decided it was a great time for a round table discussion involving the major storylines of the offseason along with the early outlook for the team next season.
What did you think of the Hawks' offseason?
(Kris Willis): Overall I was not a fan of the offseason. It started out well enough with the draft with the additions of Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry but I thought they took a step backwards with their free agency decisions. I said throughout last season that if the Hawks weren’t committed to bringing back Al Horord then a step back was probably the correct path. What they did keeps them relevant but lowers their ceiling. It is not that Dwight Howard won’t help. He will be a huge addition on the boards but Atlanta may very well regress both offensively and defensively, especially if they choose to make him the focal point of the offense. In addition, they paid Kent Bazemore like he is a pillar of the franchise going forward while I question whether or not he can duplicate or improve on last season.
I thought handing the keys at point guard to Dennis Schroder was the right move but they did little to provide a security blanket behind him if he is not ready. For me it just felt like the Hawks never really had a plan for this offseason and that they were never really prepared for the thought that they might lose Horford.
(Brad Rowland): I generally didn’t enjoy it. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this, but in terms of the options available, the Hawks took one of my least favorite paths. On the positive side, I really liked both draft picks, and the front office should be credited with that. Getting the No. 12 pick for Jeff Teague was a nice value, and I’m high on both Prince and Bembry as long-term pieces of an efficient and effective puzzle. Free agency, though, was a mess. Signing Horford and "running it back" would have been a preferable option, and beyond, letting him walk for nothing was about as disastrous as it gets. Inserting Howard into the mix keeps the team respectable, but I would have greatly preferred the "blow up" option of a quick rebuild to the current scenario, and if the Hawks were dead-set on signing Howard (yikes), keeping Horford and trading Millsap for assets would have been a more optimal approach. I could write 3,000 words on this, but let’s just say I disagreed with free agent choices and liked the draft. Done and done.
(Harry Lyles): I’m somewhat in the middle on the offseason. While I don’t like to see Al Horford leave, I see why it was done. I feel like the Hawks would have rather paid Dwight Howard for 3, and see how that goes before giving Horford a 5-year deal. I think the departure of Jeff Teague is fine, but seeing how Dennis Schroder does this season will be very telling of that. I was very happy that the Hawks drafted in the first round this year, and I’m excited to see how Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry turn out.
There was essentially nothing the Hawks could do this offseason that was going to immensely change their situation, and the one thing I wanted to see them do was draft, and they did that. That’s a good enough step for me in a time where it appears nobody is going to be able to overcome the Warriors or the Cavaliers anyways.
(Josh Lane): I was okay with the Jeff Teague trade but trying my best to talk myself into the Dwight signing. I guess the Hawks fanbase got the superstar name that they always wanted. Sadly we lost a better player in Horford in order to get that.
(Chris Herbert): Conflicted. The Hawks received good value back from the Jeff Teague trade in the 12th pick of the draft. Drafting two versatile forwards, Prince and Bembry, in the first round was smart. Both draft picks fit the team well. Resigning Kent Bazemore put a smile on Atlanta’s collective face as a productive off ball guard with possibly more improvement to come. Signing Dwight Howard was a notable move as well.
Despite all these savvy moves, the loss of Al Horford cannot be understated. Criminally underrated and perfectly suited for Coach Bud’s spread offense and aggressive defense, Horford’s departure leaves the Hawks switching to a more pick and roll offense and traditional defense. Horford’s precision from the midrange and three opened the floor whereas Howard shrinks it. My biggest concern with Al leaving is defending opposing lineups full of shooters. Howard, Splitter, and Tavares do not have the foot speed to consistently leave the paint to defend the perimeter. The Hawks will look like a very different team both offensively and defensively this year.
(Thomas Jenkins): The Hawks took some steps forward and some back this offseason, resulting in a mixed bag of offseason activity. Losing Horford hurts, but signing Howard is the kind of move that could easily energize the fan base, especially if he plays at a high level. Moving Teague for (the draft pick that became) Taurean Prince may hurt the team slightly in the short term, but was definitely the right move for Atlanta’s future. DeAndre’ Bembry seems like a solid draft pick as well, and resigning Kent Bazmore and Kris Humphries should set this team up well for the 2016-17 season. Ultimately, the Hawks have tried to field a competitive team while setting themselves up for future success, and it seems like they have succeeded at both objectives for now.
(Preston Mott): Some things I liked and some things I disliked. Signing Dwight Howard was great in itself, but inking him to a cost-friendly 3Y 70.5M deal was the icing on the cake. Supposedly being just 6M apart from re-signing Horford stings. I still find it hard to believe this was the only factor that led to Horford's departure. Having Millsap, Horford, and Howard would have given the Hawks a lot of flexibility. They could have committed to all three or shipped off Millsap (which was rumored to be in the works by Woj) to set themselves up for the future as well as the present. Overall, I am happy we are seeing some real changes versus having another vanilla offseason. The Hawks are 0-8 against Cleveland in the last two years when it matters most. That's our obstacle. If our staff, players, and organization as a whole are serious about being contenders then bringing back the same core wasn't an option.