After coming just two wins away from the team’s first NBA Finals appearance, the Hawks young nucleus led by Trae Young seems poised to make a few more runs at a title. The most difficult part about consistently getting to June in the NBA is roster turnover. With so many rookie deals on the books, there will come a time where Tony Ressler — the Hawks’ majority owner — will have to break the bank a bit to keep this team together. Good news, though, he knows that.
With John Collins and the front office expected to enter contract talks next month, the first major piece of this special Hawks squad is in danger of joining a new team. Obviously, both sides have been outspoken — Collins and Travis Schlenk — on wanting to get a deal done, but he’s just the first of many pieces the Hawks will have to back up the Brinks truck for to keep.
Trae Young will surely sign a supermax next month, somewhere in the five-year, $168 million range starting in 2022-23. Kevin Huerter will be looking to capitalize on his emergence in the playoffs, and then there are the up and coming stars of Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter. Ideally, with the aforementioned core, Danillo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Hawks will compete in the Finals before the Reddish and Hunter’s contracts are up. What is great, though, is that Ressler is willing to spend more than the organization ever has in the past.
“But I do think we have several years that we should be able to build some real stability. If the question is are we scared of the tax, are we scared of going into the tax?” Ressler said in an interview with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. “I’m scared of paying the tax and not being a good team, yes, that I’m scared of, but if we have to go into the tax to be a great team for a period of time, so be it.”
We are just entering the golden years of this team, and the Hawks’ ownership is willing to spend more than in years past given the luxury tax in the NBA, which allows teams to go over the league’s salary cap. Not only is Nate McMillan locked into a deal with the Hawks for the next four years, but the players and owner all seem focused on exactly one thing — championships — which is a nice change of direction from another Atlanta team I know that forces its general manager to work with one hand tied behind his back.