ESPN analyzes Hawks standing with the salary cap

NBA: APR 04 Hawks at Bulls

There might not be a team in The Association that stands more to gain or lose this offseason than the Atlanta Hawks.

It begins with the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. The Hawks pulled a rabbit out of their hat when it was announced they won the NBA Draft Lottery about a month ago after having just a 3% chance to do so. That opened a lot more doors for Atlanta, but it also could set themselves up for massive disappointment. This is one of the weakest draft classes in recent memory, one with no clear #1 overall pick. If the Hawks want to get out of the difficult predicament they find themselves in, they must get the draft right.

Once a decision is made next week, Atlanta’s focus will then shift to trades and free agency. As of now, all of their focus is on their own guys, which ESPN’s Bobby Marks pointed out in his latest piece.

Above the tax: $8 million

Above the first apron: $5.5 million

Below the second apron: $5.4 million

The Hawks have the first pick in the draft, hoping to improve a roster that lost in the play-in and has consistently underachieved.

The next step comes with evaluating whether the backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray should be broken up. There is also the decision on the future of restricted free agent Saddiq Bey.

If Atlanta extends the forward a $8.5 million qualifying offer, the Hawks will be not only in the luxury tax but over the first apron. Before tearing his left ACL in March, Bey was averaging 13.7 points.

As currently constructed, the Hawks don’t have much room to maneuver in free agency, especially considering ownership has shown no desire to go into the luxury tax to make the team as competitive as possible. However, where the Hawks are expected to make major changes to the roster is through trades.

Everybody is expecting Atlanta to deal one of Trae Young or Dejounte Murray. The duo just hasn’t worked since the Hawks acquired Murray in a trade a couple of offseasons ago, and expecting things to get significantly better with them together is foolish. One of them must go, and some even believe both of them could be on their way out the door.

The Hawks also have a number of supplementary pieces they could make available. Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter appear to be the most likely candidates dealt; however, teams will be calling about Bogdan Bogdanovic and Onyeka Okongwu as well.

For the Hawks, the hope is that they can re-tool rather than undergo a complete rebuild just a few years removed from making the Eastern Conference Finals. It will be a tight runway for an inexperienced front office to navigate, but with a few savvy moves, the potential is there for Atlanta to be a real competitive team again as early as next season.

Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire


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