The Hawks played three confusing games this week, turning in somewhat baffling performances in contests against the LA Clippers, Chicago Bulls, and Washington Wizards. The team stayed in essentially the same position relative to the rest of the East though, leaving playoff prospects mostly unchanged. While all this was going on, announcements about the team’s future in the D-League and a possible reunion with a former player emerged as well.
Looking back on the games this week, it seems fairly apparent that Atlanta didn’t play extremely well. Home losses to the Wizards and Clippers aren’t necessarily awful, but LA is much less formidable without Blake Griffin, and Washington completely destroyed the Hawks on Friday night. Even the lone win — Wednesday against Chicago — wasn’t terribly impressive either. The Bulls led until late in the game, essentially throwing the contest away late.
The good news for Atlanta is that nothing this week changed the team’s playoff chances much. The Hawks still sit in fourth place in the East, sandwiched between the Celtics and Wizards. It’s possible that Friday’s loss to Washington could affect playoff tiebreakers in April, but Atlanta still holds possession of the fourth seed in the conference at the moment.
However, these three games weren’t all that happened this week. On Monday, news broke that the Hawks will operate their own D-League team next season, taking control of the Erie Bayhawks. This shouldn’t affect the upcoming D-League team in College Park, and will allow Atlanta to take advantage of another player development tool even sooner. The location (Pennsylvania) is hardly ideal, but this is a bit of nice news for the Hawks.
Given some of the details in the new CBA, having a D-League team at this early date is a huge win for Atlanta. Teams will be able to have “two-way” contracts, which essentially expands them to own the rights to D-League players who aren’t on the NBA roster. This pretty obviously gives the D-League even more importance than it already had, and it’s easy to see why the Hawks’ front office would want to exercise this new ability as soon as possible.
The Hawks also appear close to offering Lamar Patterson a 10-day contract (which may even be live by the time this article is posted). Reuniting with a former player would offer several benefits to the team, giving Mike Budenholzer a familiar face who could ostensibly play immediately. This isn’t a move that changes Atlanta’s playoff chances, but seems to be a decent use of the 15th roster spot for the time being.
It’s a little concerning that the Hawks looked flat for much of their three-game slate this week, but none of these contests had much of an effect on the standings. The impending arrival of a D-League team is encouraging news for the franchise though, giving the Hawks another way to expand their fantastic player development. With Lamar Patterson potentially returning as well, there is plenty to talk about this over the past in Atlanta.
This week, Atlanta has four games, with three of them falling on the road. After a home game against New York, the team will head to Miami on Wednesday, Houston on Thursday, and Orlando on Saturday.