According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Hawks were interested in Domantas Sabonis and Jaylen Brown if they had become restricted free agents in 2020. (subscription required). Of course, both players were recently handed extensions, taking them off the table for the Hawks.
It would have been cool to see a homecoming of sorts for Brown, and Atlanta needs to find a center going forward. Now, the 2020 free agency class looks even more barren, despite the Hawks having a huge chunk of cap space available. The good news is it appears Atlanta is getting close to pushing in their chips and taking the next step in the Eastern Conference – with their eye on young talent that can grow alongside their youthful core.
The two remaining free agents that fit this mold are Brandon Ingram and Andre Drummond. Ingram is restricted, and Drummond is unrestricted, given he opts out of his deal. However, as far as Ingram goes, he has not developed as many have hoped, and the Hawks just doubled down on wings in the 2019 NBA Draft. Drummond is intriguing and is establishing himself as the best rebounder in the entire NBA. Center is the most significant need for the team, as Alex Len has struggled early and is on an expiring contract regardless.
With only a handful of teams projected to be substantially under the cap, the Hawks will have to use the assets they have accumulated to bring in talent. Or they will play the waiting game and acquire inflated expiring deals for additional assets once again. But it is encouraging to see the light at the end of the tunnel.