Mike Budenholzer has displayed a very high level of loyalty towards his players. However, this could be his Achilles heel as a coach. The organization’s attachment to Kent Bazemore has the team in a really tough financial spot. If they shell out money to retain Muscala as well, they will be digging themselves in an even bigger hole.
With Coach Bud rolling with Mike Muscala instead of Dwight Howard down the stretch of the Wizards series, the safe money would be on the Hawks attempting to retain “Moose”. However, with Coach Bud in a reduced role and a new general manager coming soon, there will be differing opinions in the front office.
One thing is for sure. Muscala is not worth the likely $10 million he may yield with the NBA’s newfound obsession with big men who can shoot. Moose has been a nice project for the Hawks, but he’s simply just not that great. With Dwight Howard on the wrong side of 30, and a draft class deep in guards and wings, this is the year for the Hawks to take a chance on a big man worth developing who could fall to 19th or 31st overall. The team could draft players such as Bam Adebayo and Caleb Swanigan who would make a fraction of what Muscala would make and offer higher upside.
The Hawks’ biggest problem has been deciding should stay and who should go. If they bring back Muscala, Hardaway Jr., and Paul Millsap, they will be digging themselves in a huge hole financially for a team with little room for improvement. Even if the young trio of Schroder, THJ, and Prince makes huge strides, it could be nullified by Millsap and Howard’s regression as they age.
Tony Ressler wants to win now, but it is just not possible given the team’s cap situation and the fact that Lebron James will be dominating the East for the foreseeable future. The Hawks need to be wise with their money, and focus on drafting and developing young talent with higher upside rather than retaining their mediocre role players.