The Heat laid the Hawks to rest Tuesday night, winning the series after a tightly contested 97-94 game. It was a tough series for Trae Young, who was locked down by the suffocating Miami defense. It’s evident the Hawks need to surround Young with better secondary options and better defenders. Here’s a list of impending free agents that I think Atlanta should pursue in the offseason if they want to make another deep run in the playoffs:
Signing another scorer to pair with Young should be a top priority. Financially, Zach LaVine will be tough to fit into the lineup, but his talent supersedes that hurdle. He averaged 24.4 points per game this season and also brings positional versatility — can play guard or small forward. Travis Schlenk would have to part ways with a couple of players to make room for the contract LaVine will command, but Danilo Gallinari has minimal guaranteed money next season.
Although his defense won’t help the Hawks, the series against the Heat showed how desperately Atlanta needs a consistent secondary scorer. That could be De’Andre Hunter or John Collins, but there hasn’t been any indication either player can shoulder the load. There may come a time when Schlenk stops waiting around for them.
Zach LaVine's career journey to his postseason debut! pic.twitter.com/ZpKP7VFDp7
— NBA (@NBA) April 20, 2022
He may not have the allure of a superstar name, but Robert Covington could be a real difference-maker for the Hawks. If they want to kill two birds with one stone, Covington is the guy to do it. This past season, we saw him post an elite defensive plus/minus of 2.2 while adding a respectable 38% three-point percentage. Overall, the journeyman forward can do a bit of everything and looks like the 3 and D player the Hawks need. This dominant performance versus the Bucks showcased his offensive prowess:
Robert Covington tonight vs the Bucks
One of the best performances all year imo pic.twitter.com/vazpGyVS9c
— PositivityMuse (@PositivityMuse) April 2, 2022
To become a championship contender, the Hawks have to make some changes. Whether that comes through the free-agent market, trades, or the draft, it’ll be exciting to see where the front office goes. The end of the season was disheartening, but there’s plenty to look forward to with Trae Young at the helm.