The Atlanta Hawks have a ton of cap coming off the books at the end of this season. Chandler Parsons, Evan Turner, Allen Crabbe, Alex Len, De’Andre Bembry, Damian Jones, and Tyrone Wallace will be free agents, while Vince Carter is expected to retire. Jabari Parker also has a player option that he will, in all likelihood, decline. This will free up around $73 million in cap space, while still leaving the core of De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Trae Young, John Collins, Bruno Fernando, and Kevin Huerter intact. Of course, they will also likely have two more players on rookie deals as well, assuming the Nets stay out of the NBA draft lottery, which will eat into that figure a bit.
Unfortunately, the free agency class appears to be weak in 2020. I already wrote about how the Hawks should pursue Andre Drummond this offseason, but they will still have to allocate funds elsewhere to put together a squad. Out of all those guys on their list of free agents, two players can bring continuity and talent to the team as they grow – De’Andre Bembry and Jabari Parker.
Before the Collins suspension, these guys were clearly the best off the bench and should be seen as assets going forward. Their roles have only grown with Collins and Huerter absent.
Bembry has progressed immensely since the Hawks drafted him back in 2016. As of this writing, he is likely the best defender on the Hawks, though it is a matter of time until De’Andre Hunter claims that accolade. Atlanta should be looking to keep any defensive asset they have at this point. Though they doubled down at wing in the draft, Redish and Hunter have shown great versatility, as has Bembry. He can come up the court with the ball, play point forward if needed and brings valuable energy off the bench. Bembry should not demand a big payday, and the Hawks control his destiny regardless. If he can be extended at a reasonable price tag, Atlanta should keep him around as a high-quality bench piece.
Parker, on the other hand, could be in line for a giant pay bump. But with that being said, there is a good chance that a bunch of moronic GM’s continue to snub him. It would be hard to imagine where this team would be without Parker, given the Collins’ suspension. He has stepped into the starting lineup and become Trae Young’s running mate. The chemistry those two have already exhibited in such a short time together is astounding. Parker can score in bunches and had the makings of an elite 6th man before the Collins suspension. He can shoot the three and is one of the best below the rim, ranking fifth in dunks. Having Parker is a bit of a luxury, but if brought back at a value, there is no reason the Hawks shouldn’t consider it. He is gelling with this team, and many forget he is just 24 years old.
My dream offseason for Atlanta, barring any moves on the trade market, would be to re-sign these two guys, poach Andre Drummond, and bring in two more first-round picks. That would be a Hawks team set to make a big-time push in a weak Eastern Conference. It is still early, but keep in mind that Bembry and Parker are essentially trying out for new contracts. If they continue to play well for Atlanta, they should be prioritized this offseason. Sure, cap flexibility is among the top priorities for Travis Schlenk. But he will have to field a team in some capacity, and these two are talented enough to be used as trade chips if a big fish wants to come to Atlanta in 2021. For now, Parker and Bembry are the pending free agents the Hawks should consider incorporating into their future plans.