The Atlanta Hawks may have a ton of cap space to work with this offseason. Al Horford’s contract is set to expire, and Jeff Teague is a strong candidate to be moved via trade due to the emergence of Dennis Schroder. With the cap estimated to be around $89 million for the upcoming offseason, the Hawks only have $52.5 million in cap commitments, with a bunch of assets on movable contracts. Thus, the team appears to be in a good situation to spend come July. The Hawks are one of the better teams in the East, but they desperately need a guy who can crash the boards and a guy who can take the last shot. Let’s take a look at some impending free agents that could help the Hawks get closer to an Eastern Conference title next season.
Nic Batum may just be the wing the Atlanta Hawks need to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The longtime Portland Trailblazer was moved to the Charlotte Hornets after a down year in 2014-15. However, his 3-point shooting has risen back up to 35%, and he’s in the midst of one of the best offensive seasons in his career. His shooting ability alone makes him an enticing fit for the Hawks, but he also does a little bit of everything, as he averages 5.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds per game. He would provide a huge upgrade from Kent Bazemore, who is a free agent following this season. Batum would fit Coach Bud’s system like a glove.
Pau Gasol is no spring chicken at age 35, but he may be the best fit of any free agent in this year’s class. He is a better rebounder than Al Horford. He is a better shooter than Al Horford. He has more tenacity than Al Horford. Bringing Gasol in allows the Hawks to still have the ability to stretch the floor without being a liability on the boards. The team showed interest in the big man last time he was a free agent.
The former Hawk and fan favorite is having the best year of his career, serving as a walking double-double for the Dallas Mavericks. If the Hawks decide to spend on a wing and Al walks, Zaza could be a cheaper alternative to address the Center position.
To lure Dwight Howard to Atlanta, the team will have to give the big man a max contract. This could be a risky proposition given he is now hitting his 30’s and has had lingering injuries. However, it may be a risk worth taking for a Hawks team that has lacked superstar power for over a decade. The Hawks are the 28th ranked rebounding team in the league. With Howard on the team, there’s no way we rank that low next season. Reports have also rumored him to have interest in returning to his hometown.
Another former Hawk. Jamal Crawford may not be the most ideal fit for Coach Bud’s system, but the Hawks desperately need a guy who can score and bunches as well as take the last shot. Jamal Crawford can be that guy for Atlanta, and his price tag won’t be too heavy given his age. He could be just what the second unit needs to get the Hawks scoring points like they were just a season ago.
Though he was just traded and is in the midst of a down year, Jeff Green could be an ideal fit to replace Kent Bazemore in Atlanta’s starting lineup next season if he leaves for greener pastures. He can play defense, and though he has struggled shooting a bit from deep, he has a long standing track record of success as a shooter. He is an ideal 3 and D fit for the Hawks.
Matt Barnes is yet another 3 and D option who could be a great fit for Coach Bud’s system. He would be a very cheap addition, but could provide the team with a guy who can start at the wing.
He’s developing a reputation for being a hothead, but Hassan Whiteside could be the answer to every Hawks fan’s prayers. Whiteside is a great rim protector and rebounder, and if he’s plugged in at the 5 for Atlanta they have the potential to be the best defensive team in the NBA. He is a walking double-double every night and is the NBA’s current blocks leader. I would rather have Whiteside on boards than re-sign Horford any day of the week.
With Dennis Schroder making it known he wants to start, there’s a strong chance Jeff Teague is dealt this offseason. If so, the team will have to seek a viable backup point guard. Vazquez is having a down year and could be had for next to nothing on the market.
The Hawks are in desperate need of a scorer, and Eric Gordon is just that. Gordon is a sharpshooter from deep, one of the best in the league. He is currently sidelined by injury but was having another terrific season leading up to his injury. He could be the scorer the Hawks need to put this offense in the top ranks in the league.