Recapping the genius of Travis Schlenk this offseason


Schlenk told us before the offseason started Atlanta was not going to be one of the more active teams in free agency. They planned to sit back, watch the pieces fall into place, and go after the best value at the end. That did not mean Schlenk planned on taking a summer vacation.

There have been busy teams this offseason, but none much busier than the Hawks. Schlenk began the by picking up two first-round picks from the Nets and Allen Crabbe’s albatross of a contract for Taurean Prince. From that moment, Atlanta’s plan was made apparent. Use the remainder of their cap space to take on expiring contracts and continue to accumulate assets. But Schlenk was thinking even further than that.

On draft night, the Hawks had their eyes on two targets – De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. Schlenk knew Hunter would likely not be available when Atlanta was scheduled to pick at eight. So he used the extra draft capital he picked up from the Nets and traded up four spots with the Pelicans, snagging his man, De’Andre Hunter. In addition, the Hawks also had to take on Solomon Hill’s expiring contract.

Here is the full trade: Hawks receive the 4th overall pick in the draft, Solomon Hill, pick No. 57, and a future second-round pick. Pelicans receive the 8th overall pick, 17th pick, 35th pick and Cleveland’s 2020 first-round pick (top-ten protected).

On the surface, it looks like quite a haul for the Pelicans, and it was. However, think about what Schlenk did here. Cleveland is a lock to pick in the top ten next year, so that first rounder will turn into two second-round picks. The Hawks acquired the 17th pick for taking on Allen Crabbe’s contract, meaning Schlenk essentially moved up four spots in the top ten by taking on two expiring deals and trading three second-round selections. If that’s not Schlenking, I’m not sure what is.

But our GM was far from finished.

Atlanta still had the tenth pick in the draft, and by a stroke of luck, their other guy – Cam Reddish – was available. That wing problem the Hawks had last year is now a thing of the past, as they picked up arguably the two best swingmen in this draft class. Then, Schlenk used the second round pick from the Pelicans and future second-round selections to move up to 34 and snag Bruno Fernando out of Maryland. On most draft boards, the center was considered a sure-fire first-rounder, and the Hawks stole him in the second-round.

Schlenk could have stopped there, and this would have been viewed as a successful offseason, but he had a few more tricks up his sleeve.

The first thing he did is swap Kent Bazemore for Evan Turner. This is a bit of a nothing deal, but it did have a purpose. Baze has served his time faithfully as an Atlanta Hawk and was a tremendous teammate, but this is an organization focused on their future. De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are the future. There was no point in having a veteran wing out there eating minutes, so they swapped him for Evan Turner – who can play a little backup point guard – a position the Hawks needed to fill.

Atlanta followed that with another ho-hum move, trading Miles Plumlee and Solomon Hill for Chandler Parsons. This is a swap of two bad contracts for one gigantic, horrid one. But once again, there is a method to Schlenk’s madness. By moving Plumlee and Hill, the Hawks opened up a roster spot, and they used it on an intriguing target – Jabari Parker.

Atlanta inked Parker to a two-year deal worth 13 million dollars. The second season is a player option, so as long as Parker doesn’t get injured or find himself out of the rotation, this should be a one-year marriage. The former #2 overall pick has battled through two awful knee injuries early in his career, then had his name dragged through the mud in Chicago. However, Parker has always been able to get buckets.

This is a 24-year-old that averaged over 20 points a game at 21. There aren’t many players in the history of the league that can claim that. Even last year, after being traded to Washington, he put up close to 20 points, ten rebounds and four assists per 36 minutes. There is no arguing Parker has been a defensive liability, but for $6.5 million, this is the definition of low-risk, high reward move. The Duke product was signed to a two-year, $40 million contract just last year.

Following the acquisition of Jabari Parker, the Hawks parted ways with Omari Spellman for Damian Jones and a future second-round pick (2026). I’m not overly impressed with Jones, and he likely won’t be apart of the team past this season, but I do like this move for one reason. Spellman has talent, much more so than Jones, but the way he kept in shape was pathetic. He’s a professional athlete and showed up to Summer League well over 300 pounds. This was a message to the players in the organization; taking your job lightly will not be tolerated. There are expectations around here now, and Travis Schlenk is enforcing them.

The Hawks probably have another move or two in them before the season begins. I expect them to waive Jaylen Adams based on his poor performance in the Summer League and add another point guard. But for the most part, the roster is set, and it will be among the most exciting to watch in all of basketball.

Here are the current Hawks and their respective ages:

Trae Young (20)

John Collins (21)

Kevin Huerter (20)

De’Andre Hunter (21)

Cam Reddish (19)

De’Andre Bembry (25)

Jabari Parker (24)

Bruno Fernando (20)

Alex Len (26)

Damian Jones (24)

Evan Turner (30)

Chandler Parsons (30)

Allen Crabbe (27)

Jaylen Adams (23)

*Bold – Players on expiring contracts that will likely not be on the Hawks next season

*Italicized – Players on contracts that are up after next season but could play well enough to be re-signed

If the Hawks decided to let Parker, Len, and Bembry walk, they would have six players under contract for next season – all from the last three draft classes under Schlenk. He has torn everything down and is building from the ground up. As a result, the Hawks will have somewhere around $70+ million to spend this time next year to fill in around their young core. When you look at it like that, it comes off as wizardry. Schlenk nailed yet another offseason, and the Hawks are set up as good as any team in the NBA for 2020 and beyond.





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