Hawks should serve as a cautionary tale for Pacers, Timberwolves

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The NBA Finals are set as the Celtics and Mavericks compete for the first championship under their new era of superstars in Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic.

However, for the rest of the league, the offseason is already underway, including the Hawks, who are expected to be quite active this Summer. Atlanta owns the No. 1 overall pick, a pair of All-Star point guards that are expected to be available via trade, and plenty of other trade chips.

It should be a big opportunity for the Hawks to potentially right a ship that has been off course since their magical Eastern Conference Finals run in 2021. Atlanta has been on the hamster wheel of mediocrity, and they should serve as a cautionary tale to a couple of clubs coming off impressive postseason runs — the Pacers and Timberwolves.

Indiana was swept by Boston, and Minnesota went out by way of a gentlemen’s sweep at the hands of Dallas, but both clubs should take Atlanta’s failures as a blueprint of what not to do — running it back.

The Hawks decided to essentially run it back with an eerily similar roster the following season, and it was a great lesson for teams who may have also peaked too early. The Pacers and Timberwolves cannot rest on their laurels.

Indiana has an All-Star in Tyrese Haliburton, but similarly to Atlanta, the Pacers don’t necessarily have an obvious path to improving the roster. They’ll likely offer Pascal Siakam a four-year max contract with a salary north of $42 million, but that’s sticking with the status quo more than anything.

As far as Minnesota, it’s not exactly straightforward either. Anthony Edwards is a budding superstar who is still just 22 years old, but the Timberwolves need to have some tough conversations surrounding their other highest-paid players in Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert.

Against the Nuggets, it seemed the Big 3 was a match made in heaven, but against the Mavs, it was a much different story. In reality, KAT isn’t a #2, and paying a defensive specialist max contract money doesn’t seem to be a formula for winning a championship.

I don’t know what the Pacers and Timberwolves should do, but running it back shouldn’t be an option. The Hawks did so, fell back to earth, and then made a trade out of desperation to acquire Dejounte Murray, one that Travis Schlenk opposed but was pushed through by ownership.

It was a wonky fit, and it never panned out. Now, Atlanta finds themselves walking a tightrope this offseason.

Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

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