Hawks

Atlanta Hawks: Ranking 2018’s offseason moves

As the NBA season cruises into the new year, enough time has passed to evaluate the Hawks major offseason moves. Of course, this list will be highlighted by the blockbuster draft night trade that sent Luka Doncic to the Mavericks and Trae Young to the Hawks. That might be a move Hawks’ fans would like to forget, but there were plenty of positives that may potentially speed this rebuild along faster than people expect.

Since the Hawks aren’t exactly pushing for a playoff spot, I will opt to hold off on grading the Lloyd Pierce hire and focus on specific player acquisitions and departures. We will start with the positives.

Best moves

  • Hawks trade Dennis Schröder and Mike Muscala in a three-team deal that saw them acquire Carmelo Anthony, Justin Anderson, and a lottery-protected 2022 first round draft pick. 

This was a trade the Hawks needed to do to completely initiate the rebuild. It became obvious that Dennis Schröder, through his actions on and off the court, was not the ideal candidate to lead this franchise through what was going to be a lengthy reconstruction. What once looked like a bargain of a contract became one the Hawks desperately needed to rid of, and they did just that.

I’m not going to act like this was some spectacular move. At the end of the day, the Hawks still had to pay Carmelo Anthony $25 million for nothing. However, it did clear up future cap space for when the Hawks are planning on winning and ensured the Hawks were not going to win many games this season. They also managed to land a lottery-protected first round pick in the process.

This may wind up being the best move of the offseason, and few would have foreseen that before the start of the season. Lin, who is coming off back-to-back season-ending injuries, was basically given to the Hawks on the last year of his contract to save the Nets money. The Hawks needed point guard depth, so the move made sense regardless, but Lin has quietly put together a fantastic season, and teams around the league are starting to take notice.

There have been plenty of whispers surrounding Jeremy Lin in trade talks. He has a 17.6 PER on the year and will probably bring back the Hawks a first-round pick in return. If that happens, consider this an A+ move by Travis Schlenk for making something out of nothing.

This move still has a ways to go before we can officially rule it a success, but I feel confident enough in Huerter to already do so. The 20-year old out of Maryland has a game resembling Klay Thompson. He doesn’t dribble much, nor does he need to, to score. He’s fantastic in catch and shoot situations but can put the ball on the floor and shoot from the mid-range or attack the basket. He possesses underrated athleticism and can get after it on the defensive side of the ball. The Hawks nailed the 19th pick with John Collins in 2017 and may have done so again by drafting Kevin Huerter.

Atlanta was never going to be a major player in free agency. Of the players they did sign, they were looking for some under-appreciated value on the market. One of those players they must have seen that in is Alex Len.

The former #5 overall pick never panned out with the Suns. Now, in his second stop, he hopes to find a long-term home in Atlanta. In 35 games including 20 starts, Len is averaging a career-high 10.4 points per game. He has also stretched his game out to include a three-point shot. He still has a year and a half left on his contract, so if he continues to progress like that he could net the Hawks another first-round pick or maybe even find himself a piece of the future.

Worst Moves

Might as well get it out of the way. The Hawks have probably already lost the Luka Doncic for Trae Young swap and we are less than six months removed from it happening. This is not a knock on Young or the player he could potentially become, but more of a compliment to Doncic, who is on pace to become only the fifth rookie to reach the NBA All-Star game. Doncic is simply doing things you don’t see out of All-Stars let alone rookies and he is only 19 years old.

Hawks’ fans can justify the move by saying the Hawks could still win this trade because they acquired Dallas’s first round pick next year as well. But what are you going to be looking for – another Luka Doncic? Well, he is already gone and all the Hawks had to do was call his name.

This looked to be an inevitable situation between the Hawks and Mike Budenholzer, so there is not much blame to be put on the Hawks’ brass. Although, it’s impossible not to recognize just how elite of a coach Mike Budenholzer is and how critical of a loss he was. I know he was not interested in the long-term rebuild the Hawks were about to endure, but for a coach of his caliber that was under contract, the Hawks probably could have handled the situation a little better.

Moves That Have Yet To Be Determined

Even though it’s a first-round pick, drafting 30th overall is far from a sure-thing. It appears the Hawks found a nice player here. Spellman is a versatile power forward that plays taller than he is due to his size and strength. He also stretches the floor out nicely with his three-point shot. In 24 games thus far, there have been plenty of promising signs, but it’s too early to tell if Spellman was a quality selection.

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