The Atlanta Hawks have been the topic of many trade rumors early during this NBA offseason, and the buzz isn’t slowing down with free agency set to kick off on Thursday evening. Free agency officially kicks off at 6 pm ET on June 30, and the Hawks may be in line to make big changes in the coming days. Let’s dive into all of the details leading into the madness.
Hawks Free Agents
The following players are free agents for Atlanta: Delon Wright, Gorgui Dieng, Lou Williams, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Kevin Knox II, Sharife Cooper and Skylar Mays. The Hawks have bird rights on Wright and Williams, and early bird rights on Mays.
Little to no money
The Hawks are well over the cap, even if they slash Danilo Gallinari ($5M buyout for his $21.5M 2022-23 contract) before free agency kicks off. Gallinari’s contract is supposed to be guaranteed if he’s not cut by midnight on Wednesday, but the team and the player may work out something and push that date back a bit, bumping up the buyout a bit for Gallinari in the process.
If they trade for someone like Dejounte Murray, they’ll need to do some additional maneuvering to get below the luxury tax, much less the cap. Even with the 10% cap spike, Atlanta will likely be relying on it’s $6.5 million tax mid level exception for any free agent additions.
The NBA's salary cap for the 2022-23 season is projected to come in at roughly $123.6 million, sources told ESPN. That is an $11.6 million increase from last year's salary cap figure of $112 million.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 29, 2022
The easiest path to the Hawks improving next season would be to trade for someone like Murray while also re-signing Wright (via his bird rights) and potentially Luwawu-Cabarrot and/or Dieng as depth. Atlanta would then be able to attempt shed the contract of Bogdan Bogdanovic (or Kevin Huerter if that proves too difficult) with Murray and Wright in the fold.
The lack of financial wiggle room could also be one of the key motivating factors in the apparent shopping of forward John Collins. While Collins has been a productive player, he makes quite a bit of money and could potentially net a package of cheaper and younger pieces. The reports are all over there with Collins, but multiple league insiders have suggested a trade is more likely than not at this point for the forward.
De’Andre Hunter is also eligible for his rookie extension, so that could be another factor in the club’s long-term planning this offseason. There are many moving pieces for Atlanta this offseason, with potentially anyone on the roster outside of Trae Young and Hunter being suggested as available during various points of the offseason.
Obviously the Hawks are in the news for making a run at Murray via trade with the San Antonio Spurs, but their free agent targets will need to be at a more modest price point. Arguably, their No. 1 goal in free agency should be to sign Wright to long-term deal since they have bird rights and can go over the cap to retain him. Beyond that, Atlanta will be scouring the market for veteran pieces who fit well with Young & Co.
Tyus Jones, Patty Mills, Avery Bradley and Austin Rivers could be targets to replace Wright if he elects to go elsewhere in free agency, though some if not all of those guys are likely to have plenty of offers from other teams with contender aspirations.
On the wing, Josh Okogie, Rodney Hood and other bargain targets may make some sense to provide depth at that position. Okogie is a defensive minded, physical wing and a Georgia Tech product. Hood is more of an offensive player who is 6’8 and shoots it well from a bunch of spots on the floor. If the Hawks move on from Collins and/or Gallinari, they will need to plunge into the bargain power forward market likely as well.
The Hawks have also been rumored to have interest in Western Conference centers Deandre Ayton and Rudy Gobert, but until there’s more smoke that the Hawks are actually looking to move off the Clint Capela-Onyeka Okongwu pairing, it’s tough to see Atlanta trading in a bunch of assets for either one of those centers out west.
Reshuffling the deck
Atlanta appears to be on the verge of substantial changes after a disappointing 2021-22 season. The Hawks are currently long-shots at +6500 to win the 2022-23 title per Draft Kings, so it will be interesting to see how their moves in trades and free agency impact their title odds heading into training camp. After losing to the Miami Heat in 5 games during the 2022 postseason, the Atlanta front office appears motivated to retool things around their All-NBA guard.