The Atlanta Hawks are barely keeping their heads above water this season. The club came into the year with high expectations after trading a haul of draft picks for Dejounte Murray, giving Trae Young the first All-Star teammate of his career, and the results have been disappointing.
The team has floated around .500 for the entire campaign and has seen both their head coach and GM removed. Quin Snyder and a conglomerate of front office personnel now lead the Hawks. Landry Fields and Kyle Korver head the group on paper, but the hierarchy is unclear with Tony Ressler and Nick Ressler still in the fold.
The Hawks have to make substantial changes this offseason, but with no cap space and little draft capital, I’m not sure how they make any. Ownership has been clear about not being scared of crossing the luxury tax threshold; however, past moves paint a different picture. There’s no reason to believe the organization can drag itself out of this hole, but there could be a light at the end of the tunnel — enter Jaylen Brown.
Yes, the Atlanta native could be the Hawks’ saving grace. His future with the Celtics is a hot and divisive topic in Boston. Some believe the All-Star wing will stay with the team that drafted him, while others are more pessimistic about his future once his contract expires in 2024.
And the Hawks are a legitimate free agent landing spot, according to an Eastern Conference GM, via Heavy on Sports’ Sean Deveney.
“One reason the Hawks are trying to unload (John) Collins is to get that cap space and be in position to add someone, another star, with Trae,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “It is not easy to get free agents to Atlanta but Jaylen Brown would be different—they want to be in position, at least, to make a move if he wants to be there. I think there is not question they are watching the situation with him. Closely.”
Jaylen Brown is a star. This season he’s averaging 26.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 49.2% from the field and 34.4% from three-point range in 61 games. Moreover, he’s always been fond of playing in his hometown.
“It’s always fun coming back home, seeing some familiar faces,” Brown said. “Seeing people that you seen growing up, seeing family, seeing friends — courtside — giving you support, showing you love. Leaving after the game, people chanting my name. Like, I grew up and went to high school — I went to Marietta — probably 15, 20 minutes away from here. Growing up, I went to a lot of Hawks games.”
Once he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2024 season, Jaylen Brown will be the most highly sought player on the market. He’s one of the best two-way players in the league, and the Hawks have a need for his exact skill set. Unfortunately, that would require a max contract.
Trae Young is on a supermax deal; Dejounte Murray is in line to receive a max contract, so the Hawks would be stretched thin financially, especially considering ownership wouldn’t go a few million over the tax line for Kevin Huerter. With De’Andre Hunter and John Collins underperforming against their current deals, the Hawks’ salary cap is a mess. Atlanta would have to shed some salary or go head first into the luxury tax.
Jaylen Brown is much different than Huerter, though. So, maybe there’s a scenario where the Resslers feel he’s worth paying tax penalties. If he makes an All-NBA team this season, he’ll be eligible for a super max contract, which would likely be the best chance the Celtics have at retaining him. The chances of the Hawks signing Brown are slim, but the move would certainly make the club championship contenders.
Photographer: Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire
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