With the Atlanta Hawks’ season officially over, it’s time to start looking forward. Before you know it, the free agency period will begin, and things will move rapidly because of a shortened offseason. Nobody knows exactly what the restructured salary cap will be due to the lost revenue from the coronavirus, but we do know the Hawks will be one of the few teams with a lot of money to spend, and they can shake up free agency in a number of ways.
This is NOT a list of guys I think the Hawks should SIGN. Some of them are, but these are high-quality players that Atlanta could either:
A. Drive up the price on
B. Kick the tires on if the money is right
C. Sign to a short term deal
D. Add to their young core for the long term
This is all about making an offer or getting a meeting.
For this exercise, I have Atlanta losing the following guys:
- Damian Jones (RFA)
- Vince Carter (Retired)
- Tre’Veon Graham (UFA)
- Charlie Brown (RFA or G League)
Teague is a massive question mark. He makes sense to bring back if he takes WAY less than his $19 million 2019-2020 salary. Bembry is a wild card. He is not a world-beater, but he gels well with the 2nd unit on a cheap deal. I think he receives an offer in RFA, and the Hawks refuse to match. We are still a long way away from Free Agency. Player and club options are still up in the air, and extensions are certainly on the table. I’ll be focused on fortifying the second unit with one big splash move. Let’s take a quick look at what the Hawks could be thinking.
F/C Harry Giles (Sacramento Kings, UFA)
2019-2020 Salary: $2.15 million
Let me start with a guy I think the team should consider. Giles was the #1 prospect in the nation coming out of high school but was plagued by injuries, only appeared in 26 games for Duke, and has not set the NBA on fire, either. He sat out his entire rookie season after the Kings acquired his draft rights at pick 20, and even though Sacramento has been atrocious draft-wise, I liked the pick at that spot. I think the newly turned 22-year-old still has loads of potential. He doesn’t shoot much but is efficient, and towards the end of 2019-2020 in February, he had four games scoring in double figures after the Hawks re-acquired Dewayne Dedmon. For the season, he chipped in 10 & 6 in 20 minutes as a starter shooting 60% (Giles is an offensive zero behind the arc). I’d prefer a stretch big, but improving on the boards is worth a flier if he can be a 2nd unit big on a cheap contract.
C/F Christian Wood (Detroit Pistons, RFA)
2019-2020 Salary: $1.58 million
Let me preface this — Christian Wood isn’t going anywhere. There is a reason the Pistons traded Andre Drummond. Wood averaged 22 and 9 in his 12 starts and is only 24. He has bounced around the G-League and the NBA — five teams in five seasons. The Pistons, however, have found a diamond in the rough. Wood knocked down 39% of his 3s in 2019-2020 and looked the part of the perfect stretch big. He is the guy the Pistons want to build around. HOWEVER, it would be very Hawks-esque to offer him a massive deal and force Detroit to match. This is a dangerous game to play. Even though there is a 99.9% chance Detroit would match, there is a chance that Wood is a one-year wonder and the Pistons balk. Still, if the Hawks happened to land Wood, I don’t think anybody would be upset considering his performance last season.
F Davis Bertans (Washington Wizards, UFA)
2019-2020 Salary: $7.25 million
Bertans is one of the best-kept secrets in basketball. He exploded last season, averaging 15 PPG and shooting 42% from behind the arc, standing at 6’10”. That will play in today’s NBA. Bertans will be a perfect fit in the Hawks’ second unit as the sixth man of sorts rotating with Collins and Capela. While the Hawks are among the teams with the most three-pointers attempted, they have one of the worst three-point shooting percentages. That’s not ideal, and Bertans would go a long way to fixing that issue. However, NBA GMs know how valuable a player like Bertans can be, which may make him too pricey for the Hawks’ liking.
G Malik Beasley (Minnesota Timberwolves, RFA)
2019-2020 Salary: $1.96 million
Beasley will also get matched by his current squad; he was a substantial part of the return when the team made the four squad deal that landed Clint Capela in Atlanta. Beasley is a microwave scorer that I’ve had my eyes on for years and even suggested trading the 10th pick that the team turned into Cam Reddish last draft for him (I’ll definitely keep Reddish now, however).
The Atlanta native is a career 39% shooter from deep, and finally escaped from the Denver guard logjam this winter. As a starter, the 23-year-old averages 21/5/2 shooting 47% from 2 and 43% from 3. He’s a walking bucket and would take immense pressure off of Trae Young. However, Beasley will likely receive a massive offer sheet in restricted free agency, and Minnesota has almost no choice but to match.
F JaMychal Green (Los Angeles Clippers, Player Option)
2019-2020 Salary: $4.89 million
Green has been around the league doing what he does best for years: putting in work on the boards. He’s lost some minutes to Montrezl Harrell in LA but remains efficient and tough underneath. He’s also only making about $4.8 million, which could tempt him to decline his player option with his minutes going down. Harrell was a guy I wanted to sign a LOT, but with Clint Capela aboard — he likely won’t be interested in a backup gig on a worse team.
Green, however, would see more minutes and a chance to join another up and coming squad. He has shot 46% over the past few years and chipped in around six boards in 20 minutes of play. Green also has a decent stroke from 3 too — a career 37% shooter, but he doesn’t let it fly often.
G Wesley Matthews (Milwaukee Bucks, Player Option)
2019-2020 Salary: $2.63 million
Another cheap player option at $2.6 million, Matthews might want a new deal. He also more than likely would prefer to stay with a contender and ride it out. Matthews is what he is at this point — a player that will give you about 10-15 PPG, play quality defense on the perimeter and shoot about 40% from the field. If he’s available, cheap, and interested in a rebuild — sign me up. At the very least, Matthews improves the Hawks second unit’s shooting and defense.
F Josh Jackson (Memphis Grizzlies, UFA)
2019-2020 Salary: $6.06 million
Josh Jackson is the definition of a reclamation project. The former 4th overall pick has been a bust considering who he was chosen ahead of in the 2017 draft. After an abysmal start and some off the court issues, Phoenix had enough and shipped Jackson to Memphis for only Jevon Carter and Kyle Korver. He was supposed to be an elite 3 & D prospect, but his defense was suspect at best, and he shoots 41% from 2 and 29% from 3 for his career. His career 12/4/2 is a massive disappointment for a 4th overall pick that has spent time in the G-League. However, I still think Jackson has potential, showing some improvement in his shot selection & efficiency in 18 games for Memphis. If the Hawks want to take a short-term flier on this reclamation project, it shouldn’t cost them very much. He fits the timeline of their young core and should only push the other young wings to improve.
G Pat Connaughton (Milwaukee Bucks, UFA)
2019-2020 Salary: $1.68 million
Pat Connaughton makes a lot of sense for Atlanta. He’s been a pleasant surprise for the Bucks since they signed the former 2nd round pick in 2018. He had career highs in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, and steals before seeing a minor dip in 2019. With Milwaukee looking to save as much as they can, Connaughton will probably be playing elsewhere next season. Five points, four rebounds, and an assist per game aren’t setting the world on fire, but Connaughton on a cheap deal is a quality warm body off of the bench.
G/F Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets, UFA)
2019-2020 Salary: $8 million
My dream scenario is acquiring Beal via trade and signing the UFA Joe Harris. Harris’ defense is… acceptable, but paired next to Cam Reddish; they are a formidable duo. He is a sniper and would thrive with Trae Young feeding him. The former three-point champion is first in the entire NBA over the past three seasons in 3P%, shooting a jaw-dropping 44%. He connected on a league-leading 47% of his threes in 2018-2019, but came back down to earth shooting 41% this past season. Harris would create gobs of space, opening up more room for John Collins and Cam Reddish to operate. Reddish came alive in February and March, shooting 35% and 48% from 3, respectively. Collins found his shot quickly coming off of suspension, making 40% of his 3s this season. Harris and Beal coming to Atlanta this offseason while keeping Cam Reddish is a wild scenario, but the Hawks have the money and assets to make it happen.
F Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans, RFA)
2019-2020 Salary: $5.95 million
File this one under “Never going happen but offer something ridiculous so New Orleans has to match.” Brandon Ingram was arguably the most significant piece of the Anthony Davis trade, and he’s blossomed under Alvin Gentry. Averaging 24/6/3 while shooting 50% from the floor and 38% from 3 will play on any NBA team, but he’s still a restricted free agent. The Hawks have gobs of cap space, offering Ingram a max deal, and forcing New Orleans to match is a fantastic strategy. The Pelicans are keeping their nucleus of Ingram, Ball & Williamson together, but Atlanta should still make an offer to keep their salary bill as high as possible.