Finding a new General Manager is always challenging. This is a simple fact, but still one worth noting. So when the Atlanta Hawks announced that the search for a new GM is on after Wes Wilcox stepped down, this news quickly spread around the league.
Now, weeks later, there is still little information on who the new GM of the Hawks will be. There have been names and rumors, such as David Griffin or Joe Dumars, but little else. On the one hand, Wilcox and Mike Budenholzer are well-equipped to run things through the draft and free agency. On the other though, the sizable draft assets coming Atlanta’s way, as well as the critical free agency decisions, make this particular GM search vital to the team’s future.
Of course, before going any further, it’s important to address the fact that principal owner Tony Ressler has recently spoken at length on his decision making within the franchise. Ressler’s level of control over the team appears to be complete, and this makes the search for a new GM or President of Basketball Operations appear slightly superfluous. However, whoever eventually receives the job of Hawks GM will still play an important role in the organization, and still have (at least) influence in personnel decisions.
After the NBA lottery results were announced last night, my colleague Glen Willis broke down several of the potential draft trade scenarios for Atlanta. The Hawks have been active traders around draft night in the recent past, and have enough assets to do so again this year. Even if they don’t though, Atlanta has a considerable amount of draft choices.
In fact, the Hawks are richer with draft picks than most people realize. Per RealGM, Atlanta has all of its upcoming first-round choices, in addition to incoming picks from Cleveland and Minnesota over the next few seasons. This year’s draft also carries the Brooklyn Net’s second-round pick, a selection that is nearly as good as a first-round pick since it falls at number 31. This is an impressive array of assets, to say the least, and what the team decides to do with them will have a big impact on the future of the franchise.
There is more going on this summer than just the draft, though. Anyone who reads this site (or even follows the NBA) knows that the Hawks have decisions to make on Paul Millsap, Tim Hardaway Jr., Thabo Sefolosha, and Mike Muscala. These players all present interesting choices. Graham Chapple broke down the reasons for keeping Muscala in a piece that underscores the importance of this summer for multiple reasons.
None of this is new information, but it’s still important. Some of the most important duties of a GM are to make draft choices, sign free agents, and make trades. There are legitimate questions about how much power the incoming GM will have under Ressler’s ownership, but signing someone after these key decisions have been made seems like a poor decision at best. Would a well-qualified, expert candidate really want to take over a team that has already set its roster for the next five years, especially if this individual has a different vision for the future?
This was always going to be an interesting summer for Atlanta, without or without changes in the team’s organizational structure. With multiple upcoming draft picks and numerous expiring contracts, there are plenty of key decisions to be made. If the team is still committed to finding the right candidate before the summer begins, time is starting to run out.