Kevin Durant is not going to be in an Atlanta Hawks uniform next season. The Hawks have a solid core and are reportedly interested in making a push for the star forward. Atlanta would be able to afford to sign Durant and then re-sign Al Horford because of full bird rights. The move would create the fiercest front court in the league, but would it even be better than what Durant already has in OKC, or what they could put together in Golden State, San Antonio or Los Angeles? Doubtful, and it would be a risk. Durant would be betting about $90 million dollars on the Hawks due to the cap spike in 2017. Durant in all likelihood will be signing a small extension with OKC and the Hawks should already be looking at other options.
Demar Derozan is fully expected to opt out of his contract this offseason and sign a max-deal in Toronto or elsewhere. Atlanta has a desperate need to find scoring on the wing. Bazemore is an unrestricted free agent and Korver clearly began to show his age this season and could probably use a move to the bench next season. The Raptors surprised many by taking the Cavs to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, but few consider them real close to accomplishing the ultimate goal of a championship. The Raptors have made it clear that their number one priority is to sign Derozan, but given their current roster, they do not have a lot of room for improvement. If Derozan wants to win, he will take some serious looks at other destinations, and the Hawks could be one of the most enticing places for the star shooting guard.
Jordan Clarkson is set to become a restricted free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. He has put solid numbers for the Lakers even playing alongside Kobe Bryant. Clarkson shot 44% from the field and close to 35% from the three-point line while averaging 15.5 points in his first full NBA season last year. The Lakers would optimally like to retain Clarkson and match any competing offers, but if a few big names have interest in joining the Lakers, Los Angeles could choose to spend their money elsewhere. They also do not want to be locked up financially going into next offseason in which there is a bevy of star free agents. Clarkson could be a rising star or just a guy on a bad team putting up some decent numbers. However, the Hawks are an aging team and getting another young guard that can score the rock would certainly help.
Pau Gasol is set to become an unrestricted free agent with the Chicago Bulls. Flashback to two offseasons ago, when the Hawks heavily pursued the Spanish big man. They offered more money to Gasol, but Gasol opted to take the lesser amount of money for the opportunity to possibly compete for a championship with the Bulls. What a mistake that turned out to be, as the Bulls failed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals with Gasol two seasons ago and failed to even make the playoffs last year. Gasol has once again made it clear this is not about the money. He wants to go somewhere where he can compete for a championship. He may be on his last leg, but he averaged 16.5 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago last season. He could see the potential in this Hawks team now and come to Atlanta at a discount rate in order to compete for a championship.
Hassan Whiteside is an unrestricted free agent looking for his first huge contract in the NBA. Whiteside has been the most physically dominating defensive force in the NBA over the past two years. He averaged close to four blocks a game for the Heat and recorded a PER of 25.69 last season. His offensive game has also improved since coming into the NBA and could look to become a legitimate low post threat in the future. The Hawks would obviously have to let go of Horford or trade Millsap in this situation, but it could be worth it. Atlanta’s biggest deficiency is rebounding and Whiteside would certainly flip that from a negative to a positive. He would also be the defensive anchor in the paint allowing other defenders to camp out on opposing team’s three-point shooters.
Many believe Dwight Howard is a cancer and do not want to see him anywhere near their team. But the Hawks have gone after Howard every time he has hit free agency, and I do not expect that to change this time around. The Hawks will show Howard interest, but this time it might be a little more mutual. Previously, Howard wanted nothing to do with his hometown Hawks, but before last year’s trade deadline, a report showed Howard now has a new-found interest in playing in Atlanta. Howard’s best days might be behind him, but he still has a lot left in the tank, and with a coach like Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta could get the best out of the star center.