With the NBA Draft set for tomorrow and free agency beginning at the end of the week, the rumor mill is rapidly spinning around the Hawks. According to who you talk to, they are in on anybody and everybody, which is probably true, given they have plenty of trade assets and over $40 million in cap space. This upcoming week is set to be one of the busiest in recent memory for Atlanta — an exciting thought when you consider just how boring the last few offseasons have been for the Hawks.
The most recent name the Hawks have been linked to is former All-Star small forward Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) November 17, 2020
Hayward is expected to opt-in to the last year of his contract, which will pay him nearly $35 million next season. Understandably, the Celtics believe they can find a better use for that money, so they are attempting to find a suitor for Hayward, and the Hawks make sense.
According to reports from earlier this offseason, Atlanta’s general manager Travis Schlenk and their head coach Lloyd Pierce are under severe pressure to make the playoffs this season. Unfortunately, there aren’t many coveted free agents on the market, and the incoming draft class isn’t very inspiring either. Acquiring an All-Star caliber player like Hayward in a salary dump would allow the Hawks to compete this season while keeping their options open next offseason when many more superstar free agents are available.
Hayward signed a four-year deal with the Celtics, but his three seasons have been ones to forget in Kelly Green. In his first game with Boston, he suffered that unforgettable brutal leg injury, and he hasn’t been quite the same since. However, he did look much more like himself last season in the 52 games he played, averaging 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists on 50% shooting from the field and 38.3% from behind the arc. This could end up being a wonderful experiment for Atlanta, and it should not take very much in terms of assets to acquire him.