I’m going to have a little fun with sports still out of commission. I’m not taking this too seriously (so you shouldn’t either), so I’m going to create my semi-realistic plan for the 2020 Hawks. It’s almost impossible to guess how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect NBA spending, but I’m suspending disbelief for this article. Consider this a part 2, if you missed my earlier piece on 10 Free Agents the Hawks should consider. I’d check it out; I go into detail on what I like and what each player brings to the team. I’ll be giving a rough idea of what the roster and salary table will look like as well, but these won’t be exact numbers considering the NBA can change these figures yearly. If we’re living in a perfect world and Jake the GM gets exactly what he wants, it all starts with a big splash. I had a piece back in January, profiling Beal and his dissatisfaction with the Wizards. Atlanta has the chips to make the best offer. I talked about what a trade might look like:
Washington Trades: G Bradley Beal
Atlanta Trades: F De’Andre Hunter, G Kevin Huerter, 2020 First Round Pick, 2020 2nd Round Pick (from Golden State, Miami, or Houston), 2022 First Round Pick (From OKC, Lottery Protected)
This is a considerable trade package — but the return is even more significant. Yes, there’s a risk because Beal is entering the last year of his contract, and I doubt he would agree to an extension before testing free agency. However, the Hawks will be able to offer him the most amount of money, and Schlenk would be betting on him being satisfied with the way the organization is heading.
Beal is a walking bucket, and his presence next to Trae Young is going to allow EVERYONE to eat. Collins will continue to set his all-time pacing in efficiency, and Trae will build on his assist number, which is already the second-best in the league. When you have a guy that commands that much attention, everything opens up. De’Andre Hunter and Kevin Huerter are fantastic building blocks, but flipping them and the 2020 1st makes a lot of sense unless that pick is in the top two. Clint Capela is holding down the block if the Hawks are in James Wiseman territory, and adding another ball-dominant guard like LaMelo Ball doesn’t appeal to me. The 2nd first-rounder is a sweetener, and I think the Thunder will be well out of the lottery by 2022 with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading the squad.
So what would the team look like in the aftermath of the Beal trade? These are the guys I had Atlanta losing in the free agency article.
- Damian Jones (RFA)
- Vince Carter (Retired)
- Tre’ Veon Graham (UFA)
- Charlie Brown (RFA or G League)
Next are the guys I targeted in the free agency article. Removing the “not gonna happen” restricted free agents like Christian Wood, Brandon Ingram, and Malik Beasley. Here are my ideal signings.
G Jeff Teague (2 years, $8 million with the 2nd year being a player option)
F JaMychal Green (2 years, $14 million)
F Skal Labissiere (1 year, $1.57 million)
G/F Joe Harris (3 years, $39 million)
G/F DeAndre Bembry (2 years, $5 million)
Teague’s deal is what it is. If he finds a better offer (looking at you, Knicks), I’m very comfortable with Brandon Goodwin leading the 2nd unit. Skal is offered his current salary for next year. JaMychal Green receives a reasonable pay raise after declining his option in LA, adding defensive switchability and shooting. Acquiring Beal would help lure him away from the Clippers, who would also entice one of the top shooters in the league to join Atlanta. With Irving and Durant commanding max deals, Joe Harris is the odd man out, joining a Hawks squad desperate for shooting. I wanted to include Davis Bertans, but the rumors are that Washington is looking to offer around $18 million to keep him. As gifted as he is, that would drive Atlanta way over the salary cap. He also wouldn’t receive the minutes he needs.
Speaking of that pesky salary cap, how much is this going to cost the team? The two highest salaries currently on the 2020-2021 cap table are Clint Capela ($16 million) and Dewayne Dedmon ($13.3 million). Not ideal, but Dedmon can be cut for $1 million after next season if the cap situation is sticky. The bad money 2016 contracts that Atlanta has been swallowing will be purged, and Chandler Parsons alone will free about $25 million in space. Looking at the current salaries before considering the new moves and not accounting for Huerter and Hunter, Atlanta is roughly looking at:
*Note: All figures courtesy of Spotrac
Capela: $16 million
Dedmon: $13.3 million
Young: $6.75 million
Reddish: $4.49 million
Collins: $4.14 million
Fernando: $1.52 million
Goodwin: $1.17 million
That’s it — $47.37 million on a talented young nucleus. With Beal looking for an extension and Young & Collins looking for a raise soon, this is the year to lock up the surrounding pieces necessary for a championship run.
Teague: $4 million
Green: $8 million
Bembry: $2.5 million
Labissiere: $1.57 million
Harris: $14 million
Beal: $28.75 million
There’s an estimated whopping $60.82 million added onto Atlanta’s salary table. Even with these additions, Atlanta STILL skirts the 2019-2020 luxury tax (this is probably subject to change due to COVID-19…Keep in mind, I traded all of our 2020 picks for Beal, and I’m not accounting for any G-League roster. We’re still talking a perfect make-believe world here, people.) Still, this leaves them with enough flexibility to keep a big three of Young, Beal, and Collins for years to come, given the NBA’s bird rights. Tony Ressler & Grant Hill will be paying a pretty penny for this squad beyond 2021, but they’ve already said money isn’t an issue when it comes to bringing a winning basketball team to Atlanta.
So how do these Hawks look on the court?
G: Trae Young
G: Bradley Beal
F: Joe Harris
F: John Collins
C: Clint Capela
G: Jeff Teague
G: Cam Reddish (6th Man)
F: DeAndre Bembry
F: JaMychal Green
C: Dewayne Dedmon
G: Brandon Goodwin
F: Skal Labissiere
C: Bruno Fernando
These aren’t your granddad’s Hawks. This unit still lacks defensive chops, but they will score and shoot at will. Subbing in a small ball lineup with Green at the 4 and Collins at the 5 will create a 5-man sniper squad that can knock down a jumper from anywhere on the court. When the season came to a stop, Atlanta was 8th in 3s attempted and dead last in 3 point percentage. Having two stretch bigs on the floor simultaneously with Green (36% from 3 for his career) and Collins (40% from 3 in 2019-2020) will only add more pressure to opposing defenses trying to guard the best shooting trio in the league.
Who could you possibly leave open? Beal is a career 38% shooter from 3 and has multiple 50 point games under his belt. Harris is a career 42% sniper. Mix in a point guard that averaged 29 and 9, and opponents will be scrambling on defense. You have to pick up Trae at half court, or he will make you look silly. The same goes for Beal. If the starting five needs a little more defensive juice, subbing out Harris for Reddish and planting Capela in the paint will slow things down. Beal and Harris aren’t solving this team’s defensive issues by any means, but they will light up the scoreboard.
The 2nd unit suddenly becomes respectable after Atlanta fielded one of the worst benches in the association in 2019-2020. Jeff Teague is a perfectly capable floor general, and clearing the logjam on the wing will allow Cam Reddish to continue flourishing. Bembry can shoulder some ball-handling duties to give Reddish opportunities at all three levels. At the same time, JaMychal Green provides some hard-nosed defense and a veteran presence to the group, and Dewayne Dedmon can hopefully be 2017-2018 Dedmon down low. I would still like to see some more scoring on the bench to help Cam Reddish, but allowing him to be a true alpha is excellent for his development.
This is an infinitely better basketball team that could compete in the Eastern Conference overnight. There are a ton of “what ifs,” and Schlenk may not be ready to pull the trigger on a blockbuster move like the trade for Beal. However, this scenario paints a picture of all the possibilities the Hawks have available them thanks to their young pieces and financial flexibility.