The Hawks had a boatload of money to spend this offseason — one of the few teams that could say that — and they did not wait long to use it. They quickly inked Danilo Gallinari to a three-year deal, followed by the signings of Kris Dunn, Rajon Rondo, and Bogdan Bogdanović. They also held onto their draft pick, selecting USC center Onyeka Okungwu, who will add a lot of versatility to this group, especially defensively. With those acquisitions, along with the development of their young core, the Hawks are more than ready to take the next step and make the postseason in 2021. However, just reaching the playoffs is not the ultimate goal; this team is closer than many people think to making a serious run in the Eastern Conference, and they may not be done this offseason.
Last week, Travis Schlenk addressed the media, and while he said he thinks the Hawks will likely enter the season with their current roster, he did leave the door open for a potential addition. However, it won’t be coming through free agency. Atlanta is almost out of money to spend, but they have all the necessary pieces to make a blockbuster trade if a superstar lands on the trade block.
Based on free agency, it’s clear the entire organization is all hands on deck, planning to do whatever it takes for this team to become a championship contender. Travis Schlenk has done a wonderful job of being patient — accumulating assets and financial flexibility over the last few years. Now, he’s used that financial freedom to surround Trae Young and this young core with some high-quality pieces. What’s next could be the cherry on top to a franchise-changing offseason.
Right now, I’m not sure there is anyone available that the Hawks are seriously interested in. However, they have the pieces to make any move they want. John Collins could be used as the centerpiece of a blockbuster deal. The fourth-year man out of Wake Forest has become an All-Star caliber power forward already, yet it is not clear whether Atlanta is fully committed to him. The two sides have been working on a contract extension, but it doesn’t seem like anything is near a conclusion.
Even without dealing Collins, the Hawks have plenty of pieces that could be moved to land another All-Star. Cam Reddish showed a lot of potential at the end of last year. It would be gut-wrenching for Atlanta to deal with him, but many teams would be highly interested. De’Andre Hunter started in 62 out of the 63 games he played in as a rookie. Kevin Huerter is also another intriguing young piece, and if the Hawks find the right move, they could deal Okungwu before he even plays a game in a Hawks uniform. Atlanta also owns all of their future picks and Oklahoma City’s first-round selection in 2022 (Top-14 protected).
Everything is in place for the Hawks to be aggressive. They haven’t handcuffed themselves with porous contracts, and they’ve loaded their roster with talented players. With the season scheduled to start in less than a month, I’m not sure a move will become available before the first game. However, as teams begin to struggle, more opportunities will arise. By then, the Hawks should have a clear picture of what their needs are and can address them accordingly. By this time next year, I would be much more surprised if they didn’t make a move than if they did.