The 2017-2018 NBA season is rapidly approaching, even if it feels far away at this juncture. The Atlanta Hawks may not be a title contender but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any intrigue surrounding the team and, before training camp gets underway, our Peachtree Hoops staff came together to address ten topics about the squad.
We are making our way toward the end of the line (we promise) but there are two topics remaining. The first one arrives with a report card on Atlanta’s offseason and we answer in the following way.
Brad Rowland: I’ll go with a B-. The Dwight Howard trade, from a value perspective, was brutal in that taking on Miles Plumlee’s contract is unsightly. However, having Howard around for a rebuild was untenable and the overarching choice to rebuild was the right one in my view. Frankly, I would’ve probably gone further into the tank in avoiding deals for Dedmon and Ilyasova that make the team better on the floor this year but, in the same breath, both deals provided value (as did the one for Luke Babbitt) and it is tough to argue firmly against them. The on-court product will be worse from a win-loss perspective but the direction is one I support and the John Collins pick looks wise.
Graham Chapple: Depends from which angle you look at it from. If you wanted the team to go in a new direction, you’d rate this summer pretty highly. If not, you’d obviously rate it a D or an F. Personally, I’ll say B. The Hawks made the right decision to trade Dwight Howard (even if the return wasn’t fantastic) and kept themselves flexible for the future by not signing Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the deals that they ultimately received from the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks (good Lord) respectively. They’ve made smart signings (Ersan Ilyasova, Dewayne Dedmon Mike Muscala and Luke Babbitt) on team friendly deals and have kept their cap space open next summer. Drafting John Collins at 19 looks like it’s going to be a steal, but it’s still early days. If Schlenk manages to trade one of his two terrible contracts (Bazemore or Plumlee) I’d probably change my answer to an A- in a heartbeat.
Greg Willis: The Hawks have earned a grade of “Incomplete”. This offseason was about adding young talent and creating roster flexibility. This offseason is only as good as the decisions Travis Schlenk and the front office make with the roster flexibility they have created. The next one to two offseasons will determine the grade they earn for this summer.
Glen Willis: It depends upon when you consider the off-season to have started. If it includes the organizational adjustment to bring in Travis Schlenk as the GM and rescope Coach Bud’s role I would give them at the lowest an A-. If Schlenk and Bud can work together for the next 5 years or more that is going to be one of the most fruitful developments for which anyone could have hoped. The Dwight trade has been criticized but I think when evaluating it from a qualitative perspective instead of a quantitative one that it was a borderline no brainer. They did well in the draft and gave Bud enough experienced, competent players on short term contracts that they should be able to avoid their head coach having a completely miserable season, which is critical in my opinion. I think some of the optics around the Millsap situation(which multiplies the mishandling of the Al Horford situation last summer) might have done some short-term damage to the organization’s reputation among players around the league. So I will go with a B+. They have the roster flexibility to chase a reasonably competent season or to chase a high lottery draft pick depending upon how the first 30 games or so of the season goes. B+
Jeff Siegel: This offseason, finally, was about building for the future by jettisoning most of the older players in favor of picking up draft picks and young players Budenholzer and his staff can mold. Letting Millsap walk was a long-term positive and picking up a first-round pick in exchange for picking up the bill on Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone was a very good move. Their free agent signings weren’t splashy, but they’ll help the team develop without putting up enough wins to take them out of the top five in next year’s draft. Excising Howard was a necessary evil, though it certainly would have been better to pay the man his money to stay home rather than take on the final three years of Miles Plumlee’s awful contract. All in all, the important thing was to hit the reset button on the team, which they’ve done to a large extent, with just two bad contracts on the books in Plumlee and Kent Bazemore. By the time they’re really ready to compete, those guys won’t be on the team anymore, but in the meantime, it would certainly be nice for the Hawks to have some cap space to take on more dead salary in addition to future picks, much like Brooklyn has done this offseason. I’ll go with a C+. It’s hard to give Atlanta a positive grade with the Howard trade; they got absolutely fleeced in that deal and just one wrong step plummets their grade.
RedRev: The incomplete 2016 grade is now solidified as a D- that is only salvaged due to the promise of drafting Prince and Bembry. When assessing the Howard deal primarily as the completion of a bad summer of 2016, the rest of the offseason gets a B+. I am not grading based on what I would have done but at Schlenk accomplishing his task. The roster is now flexible and only the inherited Plumlee contract keep the grade from being an A. If Budenholzer can develop John Collins on both ends of the floor as he has similarly skilled and high-motored veterans, then none of the other decisions will even matter. Otherwise, a lot of solid moves that allow Atlanta to hit the reset button with a nice core of young talent--but no obvious star.