For the first time in the history of Atlanta basketball, they won an Eastern Conference Finals game, losing in six to the Milwaukee Bucks. The biggest reason for that? Outside of Trae Young, of course, was depth. This team is loaded with talent. They dealt with injuries all season long, including the playoffs, and overcame them to put together arguably the best season in franchise history. However, with all that depth will come tough decisions, and those start this offseason with John Collins, who is set to hit restricted free agency.
The Hawks certainly have the space to pay Collins whatever he wants, but every contract decision moving forward will have to be done with caution because they have a laundry list of players in line for healthy raises. Trae Young will eventually sign a supermax contract; the Hawks will soon have to decide on the future of Kevin Huerter, and De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish aren’t too far behind them. On top of that, the Hawks already have a ton of money committed to the likes of Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Clint Capela. Some of their contracts will be up by the time others need to be paid, but the Hawks would love to hang on to all three of them as long as possible.
Sadly, they won’t be able to. There are only so many dollars to go around, and everybody will want to be paid. Eventually, gut-wrenching decisions will have to be made, players will depart, and the roster will evolve — for better or worse. Everybody in the organization is aware of that, and Bogdan Bogdanovic recently commented on it, via Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.
“It’s going to be so hard to keep all of these guys here,” Bogdanovic told The Athletic. “I remember being back in Europe reading about what Draymond Green said about Golden State with how it’s going to be hard to keep this group together. I feel like something like that here. It’s going to be challenging for this group because there are so many talents and great players. The challenge is to enjoy it while we can.”
Thankfully, I’m not the one who has to make these decisions. That will be up to Travis Schlenk and the rest of the Hawks front office. So far, they have done about as good of a job as possible, which is why the Hawks have become championship contenders much sooner than anticipated. However, how long the championship window will remain open for Atlanta will be determined by these critical contractual decisions over the next few offseasons. It’s a fantastic problem to have, but it’s also why you can never take a playoff opportunity for granted because they can come and go in a blink of an eye.