Hawks biggest free agent priority this offseason

NBA: NOV 18 Bucks at 76ers

Personnel changes are coming to Atlanta this summer. The Hawks, under the leadership of Quin Snyder, have to make improvements to the roster.

The club performed admirably under Snyder in the playoffs, but it’s clear the structure of the team isn’t going to work. Fans will hound John Collins or DeAndre Hunter on social media, but neither is the biggest issue.

Collins improved once Snyder took over, and I believe moving off of him right now would be a grave mistake. First off, he’s a hell of a teammate and competitor. Secondly, his struggles can be attributed to his circumstances. His shot has completely disappeared, but so has his role. Quin Snyder is an offensive maestro; if anyone can maximize JC’s talents, it’s him. Moreover, trading him at his lowest value is just bad business.

Hunter deserves a bigger share of the blame, in my opinion. To this point, Collins has overachieved, given his draft status, whereas Hunter was the 4th overall pick and hasn’t realized that potential. However, I still believe DeAndre Hunter can be an impact two-way player for this team.

The biggest problem is Clint Capela. He’s one of the best defending bigs in the league and was one of the lone bright spots for the Hawks on that end of the court. He’s a great teammate and locker room presence, but his impact on the offensive end is solely dependent on Trae Young or Dejounte Murray throwing him assists at the rim… that’s it.

The Hawks’ biggest free agent priority this offseason should be a center that can stretch the floor, which will, in turn, open up space for John Collins, Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, etc. Moving Clint Capela shouldn’t be difficult, and these are the free agents Atlanta should look to replace him with:

Brook Lopez

This is my dream free agent target for the Hawks. Lopez averaged 15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in 78 games for the Bucks in 2022-23. He’s a great defender and shot at a 37.4% clip from deep. Lopez is the perfect fit for this Hawks team. He’s aging and likely wants to stay in Milwaukee, but if he’s up for a change of scenery, the Hawks should inquire.

Kristaps Porzingis

Porzingis has a player option, so he might not even hit the open market, but he fits the mold I am aiming for. He’s an underrated shot blocker and one of the best shooting centers in basketball. He’s coming off a season where he averaged a career-high 23.2 points and played the most games (65) in five years. Porzingis also shot a career-best 49.8% from the field and 38.5% from deep. He’d be much more expensive than Lopez but also younger.

Nikola Vučević

Vučević posted averages of 17.6 points, 11 rebounds and 3.2 assists but improved shooting percentages — 52% overall and 34.9% from beyond the arc. He played all 82 games for the first time in his career, so his age shouldn’t scare the Hawks away. He’s not some elite defender, but his defensive rebounding and high IQ provide enough.

Naz Reid

This one isn’t like the others. The former LSU Tiger won’t cost nearly as much but provides a similar skill set. He averaged 11.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in just 18.4 minutes a night for the Timberwolves this season, appearing in 68 games, mostly as a backup to the duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. If the Hawks try to pinch pennies, Naz Reid could be an option.

Photographer: Sport Press Photo/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire
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