The NBA Finals are underway, and the NBA Draft is set for a little over a month from now. As it stands, we don’t know when next season will begin, but I imagine it will start sometime after the new year. This will be a critical offseason for the Hawks, as they attempt to move past the rebuilding phase, meaning this will be the first free agency we really see Travis Schlenk make some significant acquisitions.
With over $60 million coming off the books, Atlanta will be one of the few teams with cap space. Unfortunately, this class isn’t exactly loaded. However, I still expect the Hawks to be busy.
In this series, I will break down free agent targets at each position. I won’t merely be focusing on the best players at each position, but rather on guys I think fit around the Hawks’ current young core. For instance, I’m beginning with point guards.
With Trae Young in the fold, Atlanta doesn’t need to add a superstar that needs the ball in his hands at all times. However, a backup PG that can also share the floor with Young so that he can play off-ball at times is a role that needs to be filled desperately.
Given what Fred VanVleet has done in the playoffs the last two seasons, he will probably be the hottest commodity at the position and will be looking for a job as a full-time starter. However, money talks at the end of the day, and the Hawks have the cap space to make this happen. VanVleet is a microwave that averaged nearly 18 points and 7 assists for the Raptors this past season and was even more productive in the playoffs. He is also a pest defensively and brings with him a winning mindset — two things the Hawks desperately need to add.
Some people might be concerned with the potential fit; however, in an era of positionless basketball, having two ball-handlers like Young and VanVleet on the floor at the same time is becoming more of the norm. This is a better fit than most people probably think, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Travis Schlenk made a serious run at the 2019 NBA champion.
After an injury-riddled 2018-2019 season, Dragic bounced back magnificently this season, averaging 16.2 points and 5.1 assists in just 28.2 minutes and has been even better in the playoffs, helping the Heat make the NBA Finals as their starting point guard. I’m not sure that he will want to leave Miami, and if he does, it will probably take a lot of money to lure him in. However, the Hawks have the cap space to pull it off, and he would create a similar dynamic with Young that I mentioned above with VanVleet.
If the Hawks don’t want to spend top-dollar on a point guard — and who can blame them for not wanting to with Trae Young on the roster — there are a few quality veteran backups who could fill the backup role off the bench, and Augustin is probably the best of the bench. The soon to be 33-year-old averaged over 10 points and nearly 5 assists off the bench for the Magic last season, helping them secure a playoff berth. At a reasonable rate, he’d be a nice addition to a Hawks team that needs some scoring and experience off the bench.
Teague has been a solid starting point guard in the league for years, but it’s about time he accepts a full-time role as a backup. He was just that for the Hawks last season after they traded for him. I wouldn’t say he thrived behind Trae Young, but he wasn’t awful and seemed to be getting more comfortable with the team before the season was shutdown. If he will take a substantial pay cut, it makes sense for the Hawks to bring him back.
Dunn is a restricted free agent this offseason, and we will have to see how keen the Bulls are on keeping him. However, the Hawks have the type of cap space to make an offer Chicago might not want to match. The former fifth overall pick by the Timberwolves could fill the backup role nicely, and he’s young enough that there’s still a chance he could take substantial steps forward in his game. I like this signing as a relatively low-cost, high-upside signing.