The Atlanta Hawks are in something of a rebuilding mode and, even if the front office doesn’t like to use that phrase to describe it, the organization’s plan likely includes taking something of a step back for the 2017-2018 season with an eye on the future. However, the Hawks did bring in one new face, Dewayne Dedmon, and one familiar face, Ersan Ilyasova, to bolster the frontcourt from a veteran perspective and both players were introduced to the media on Friday afternoon.
“This offseason was crazy,” Ilyasova said. “As far as just trades did happen and, obviously, a lot of big-name players got moved from teams. It's a business. I learned the hard way being traded the last two years. Seeing them moving in a different direction is normal because it's part of the NBA. We have to look forward to what we've got and what we can bring to the table. We have a lot of young guys, a lot of talented guys and we have to sacrifice and do what's necessary to win."
The 30-year-old forward spent the final 26 regular season games, as well as the postseason run, in Atlanta and had the opportunity to see things up close under Mike Budenholzer. When prompted about the potential similarities between the rebuild of the Philadelphia 76ers (where Ilyasova played before Atlanta) and the Hawks, Ilyasova pushed back on the comparison, citing Atlanta’s playoff streak and the fact that Philly was in a much longer, more drastic mode.
From Dedmon’s perspective, his previous role with the San Antonio Spurs might include a bigger transition in some ways, given that Gregg Popovich and company are a staple at the top of the Western Conference. Still, he found similarities when it came time to decide between the Hawks and other opportunities.
“I came from San Antonio,” Dedmon said. “Atlanta is kind of like the baby San Antonio. A lot of people that were working under Pop are here now. It was a lot of the same philosophies and a lot of the same thing.”
The 27-year-old center was also quite complimentary of the talent in place, referencing the group that includes Taurean Prince, Dennis Schröder and John Collins as the main reason Dedmon chose Atlanta. “The young core,” Dedmon said when asked what drew him to the Hawks. “Just trying to build and try to get better with the young group. It's just a great opportunity to come in and get better.”
While Ilyasova chuckled when referencing his status as the oldest player currently under contract with the team, neither shied away from a potential leadership role on the roster. Dedmon indicated that he would “be ready for it” if asked to mentor the youngsters and repeatedly emphasized that his goal is improve on a daily basis, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
Neither the re-signing of Ersan Ilyasova or the acquisition of Dewayne Dedmon will be earth-shattering for the Hawks from a perspective of moving the needle. Still, both players are solid, competent frontcourt options at the disposal of Mike Budenholzer and both bring skills (floor-spacing from Ilyasova, rim protection from Dedmon) that were sorely needed prior to their arrival.
It is hard to ignore the focus on what amounts to a rebuilding effort in Atlanta based on the tenor of the press availability from both Ilyasova and Dedmon. In the same breath, both appear excited to hit the ground running and it will be intriguing to see how Budenholzer and his staff integrate their talents in the immediate future.