The Hawks made another exit from the NBA Playoffs in 2016. Again, it was to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Again, it only lasted four games. So what do the Hawks do? It’s apparent that what they’re doing now isn’t working and there needs to be some sort of shuffle to “reload” this team. It’s still a very good team, it’s just not a championship team. Should they keep Jeff Teague or Dennis Schroeder? Should they resign Al Horford? What about Kent Bazemore? Thabo Sefolosha is also a free agent, what are they to do with him? Rest easy, Hawks fans. I have the answers. All of them.
Teague or Shroeder?
This answer is so easy, that I can’t believe no one has even contemplated the correct answer: Neither. Get rid of them both. Both guards are incredibly inconsistent and I don’t theink anyone wants to see what will happen when Schroeder gets the keys to this offense. At least when he struggled, Teague was there to back him up and vice versa.
Both guards are valued on the market and I’m a firm believer that Coach Mike Budenholzer can bring in someone else to run this offense just as efficiently. Go ahead and ship Teague off to the Philadelphia 76ers for Nerlens Noel, a big time rim protector, and Nick Stauskas, a more athletic version of Kyle Korver, and be done with the deal. Next, trade Schroeder to a team with a need at the 1, which could also use some young star power (Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzllies and New York Knicks come to mind), or off to a team like the San Antonio Spurs, which have an aging point guard in Tony Parker. The difficult part would be finding an appropriate trade package for Schroeder with those teams, as Schroeder should be highly valued.
Maybe the Hawks could trade Schroeder to Philadelphia, which has three first round picks including the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Regardless of the team, both guards need to be out of Atlanta to give the Hawks some young players to build around and reload this team for the future.
Sign Mike Conley
Why Mike Conley? He’s one of the most underrated point guards in the league and I think he has the skills to work in a Budeholzer system. He’s not as fast Teague or Schroeder, but it’s hard to question his decision making. A recent report from Brian Geltzeiler, who you can follow on Twitter at @hoopscrtic, said there was a north of 90 percent chance that Conley stays in Memphis. Conley will be 29-years-old, but only played in 56 games last season. He shot 42.2 percent from the field and there will be others bidding for his services. It’s worrisome that he struggled at the age of 28 last season with a career low shooting percentage and games played.
However, check this out. In just those 56 games, Conley had a VORP (Value over Replacement Player) of 1.3. Jeff Teague’s was 1.3 in 79 games and Dennis Schroeder’s was .3 in 80 games. In more than 20 games missed, Conley had a better score than Teague and Schroeder combined for the 2015-16 season. The Hawks need to take a serious look at signing Conley to be their point guard for the next, several years.
If Conley is unavailable, Atlanta should take a look at the services of Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings and Deron Williams in that order. The Hawks can trade off two assets and get younger pieces for the future and still be better than last year with a free agent signing at the point guard position.
Get a Legitimate Scorer
Kevin Durant isn’t coming here, but the Hawks should still pursue. Demar DeRozan isn’t coming here, but the Hawks should still pursue. LeBron James isn’t coming here, but he Hawks should still pursue. The Hawks need to be serious about acquiring a scorer for the team. An out-of-the-box idea is trying to get Kevin Love in Atlanta. Love traditionally plays power forward, which is currently being occupied by Paul Millsap, but Love could also play small forward for this Atlanta Hawks team. Love wants out of Cleveland and LeBron wants him out of Cleveland. I don’t know what the cost would be to get him from Cleveland, but I can imagine the price would be lower than normal due to the fact that LeBron wants him gone. Now if James doesn’t resign with Cleveland, all cards are off the table.
Paul George from Indiana might be available, but he would come at a high price. Maybe Dennis Schroeder is involved in the deal, so the Hawks wouldn’t have to give up much more. Maybe Indiana wouldn’t want Schroeder, if George is getting shipped out.
Bradley Beal is another name to look at. Sure he probably will not sign with Atlanta, but he would be the Hawks’ “go-to guy.” Beal isn’t that guy in Washington and it would be enticing to say the least for him to be that guy in Atlanta.
Jennings, a name I mentioned as a point guard could be an option as a scorer in Atlanta, but he’d have to play defense. The plus to that is that you wouldn’t have to trade any assets and it wouldn’t cost much money. Jennings isn’t considered a legitimate scorer, but he would be lead guy in Atlanta, which is something the Hawks haven’t had in a while.
Sign-and-Trade Al Horford
I love Horford. I love what he’s done for Atlanta and, honestly, I won’t be mad if the Hawks bring him back for the 2016-17 season. My argument against him is that the Hawks need a rim protector. Horford isn’t that guy. He’s great at what he does and would be an excellent power forward, if given the opportunity. Teams highly covet a guy with Horford’s skill, especially at the position he plays. He’s got trade value and a team that wants him bad enough, and there are teams (like the Boston Celtics) that do. Sign-and-trades don’t bring in much in return, but it’s better than leaving empty-handed, which the Hawks absolutely cannot do.
Here’s another outside-of-the-box idea: Trade Millsap. Horford could slide over and play the power forward position, while Millsap is sent out of town for a big package as well. Many teams value Millsap’s defensive skills and ability to protect the basket, that the Hawks just might be able to get a lot in a trade for him. Also keep in mind that Millsap’s contract can end as early as the 2016-17 offseason and there’s a good chance he’ll opt out to get some extra money.
Either way, the Hawks don’t need both guys in the frontcourt next season.
Get a Rim Protector
You saw what Tristan Thompson did to the Hawks. You saw what Bismack Biyombo did to the Cavs. Hell, you’ve seen what every big man does in the playoffs, which is create problems and second chance baskets. The Hawks need that. Noel would be circled at the top of my list in any trade with Philadelphia and if I can’t get him I go all in on Andre Drummond from Detroit. Another name is Biyombo, who will get $15M this offseason and the question that follows that is, “Is he worth it?” He might be the cheapest rim protector on the free agent market, which makes him that much more valuable. A guy who I’m not really excited about, but he fits the bill is Dwight Howard. The knock I have on Howard is he can’t stay healthy and he’s likely to be expensive. If his price comes down (way down), then the Hawks need to make their move. Heck, even if it stays up, the Hawks need a rim protector. The Hawks need a big man and they’ve got opportunity to go and do that right now.
Not everything on this list will happen. It’s not a video game. Sure, it all could happen, but don’t hold your breath on all of it. If I were the Hawks GM, these would be things that I would look at. If I can’t get the right price for my point guards, I keep them. If Horford become incredibly cheap, I keep him. There are so many things unknown about this offseason that anything can happen. Many teams will be looking at the services of these same players and might make more compelling offers to lure them away. One thing is for certain, however: what that Hawks are doing now simply isn’t working and it’s time to make some changes. They can make a lot of changes and still be competitive next season.