Every NBA fan knows that free agency opens well before the official August 2nd start date, and teams will be negotiating deals behind closed doors that will become official shortly after. The Hawks could lose a few key pieces this offseason, including Lou Williams, who was the microwave scorer Atlanta needed coming off of the bench this offseason. The Hawks could also lose Solomon Hill, Tony Snell, Brandon Goodwin, and John Collins this offseason in free agency.
I already broke down how much the Hawks should have to spend here, and they could be in a more favorable position to sign some guys if they give Collins a big deal. If you want to check out my lists of free agents I think the Hawks could be interested in, I’ll link those below, but here are the guys I would like to bring in, and I think they can fit them all into the cap sheet. Just like the Hawks did last offseason, I’m going to focus on adding quality depth. The Hawks found success in 2020-2021 with shooting and defensive versatility, and that’s exactly what I’ll be targeting. I’ll be doing a post-draft edition following next week’s draft, so be on the lookout for that.
Just a quick note, I wrote this before it was announced that Onyeka Okongwu would miss up to six months with a torn labrum. The Hawks could look to replace him with a guy like Harry Giles or Richaun Holmes, but for now, they may just run things with Nathan Knight and Bruno Fernando until Okongwu is healthy.
Collins is the only free agent that I have the Hawks bringing back; I think they can upgrade everywhere else. I’m definitely not opposed to bringing back Brandon Goodwin, but I don’t see Lou Williams returning to Atlanta. Maybe I’m wrong, just my gut feeling.
We’ve talked about Collins 100,000 times on here — match what he gets in Restricted Free Agency and get ready to run it back.
I think Dieng and the Hawks are a perfect match. While the team should continue to develop Okongwu, Fernando, and Nathan Knight — Dieng gives the Hawks exactly what they need out of a bench big man. Standing at 6’10, he is a solid defensive center that can swat a lot of shots in the paint. His defensive rating was 108.8 this season, just trailing Clint Capela who sat at 106.1. While defensive rating isn’t a perfect metric, Dieng knocked down almost 43% of his three pointers in 2021. He is the perfect big to bring off the bench to guard forwards and centers, especially when he can provide some outside shooting. By re-signing Collins to the max, the Hawks should get a Luxury Tax Exception that they can use on Dieng or someone else on this list.
F Rudy Gay
The Hawks have found success by adding solid mentors like Vince Carter and Solomon Hill, and I think Rudy Gay is the perfect player to fill the void. Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter can learn a LOT from Gay, who was once considered one of the best 3-and-D players in the entire league. Gay isn’t the high flying 20-point per game scorer he used to be after suffering a torn Achilles, but he has changed up his game and still offers very solid defense. Gay shot over 38% from 3 last season. His veteran presence will be even more invaluable, but I think he’s a perfect fit for a young Hawks team that can help him contend for his first NBA Championship.
I’m okay with letting Lou Will test free agency if the Hawks can add Alex Caruso. Not only is Caruso one of the peskiest backcourt defenders in the entire NBA, but he can also can jump out of the gym and shot over 40% from 3 for the Lakers in 2021. Caruso is a guy that you can play next to Trae Young as a starter in a pinch; he isn’t super ball dominant and can take a lot of defensive responsibility away from Young. Hopefully, injuries don’t hit the Hawks like they did in 2021, but Caruso is the perfect bench guard in any situation.