The Hawks won last night on the road in Detroit 118-113, moving them to 3-1 on the season. Things could be a lot worse record-wise, but as far as on-the-court performance, they’ve left a lot to be desired through four games. Fortunately, they’ve been the beneficiary of a soft schedule combined with their opponents dealing with injuries. But their success won’t continue with the way things are currently constructed.
It’s only been four games, but the Hawks have two glaring holes. Their bench is paper thin, and they lack three-point shooting. That’s not a winning formula in today’s NBA, and it makes one of their offseason moves look even more puzzling in hindsight.
When Atlanta traded Kevin Huerter to Sacramento for Justin Holliday, Mo Harkless and a protected first-round pick, I was in shock, but I held my tongue in case it meant another move was on the way. Fast forward to now, and a corresponding acquisition never came, making this trade the most mind-boggling of Travis Schlenk’s tenure. I hated it when it happened, and I really hate it now.
Huerter’s not a star by any means, and you can even say the Hawks slightly overpaid him when they handed him a four-year, $70 million contract two offseasons ago. But what Huerter brought to the Hawks was elite perimeter shooting off the bench, exactly what this team needs. So far, in three games with Sacramento, Red Velvet is averaging a career-high 16.7 points on 45.7% from the field and 48% from three.
I don’t think this deal will make or break what the Hawks are trying to build in Atlanta, but it’s become overwhelmingly evident that trading Huerter was nothing more than a salary dump to avoid the luxury tax. Everyone in the organization knew this wasn’t a beneficial move for the team; it was purely for financial reasons, which should upset Atlanta fans, considering Hawks owner Tony Ressler has said on numerous occasions that he would pay whatever it takes to bring a winner to Atlanta.
Well, that’s easy to say, but when push came to shove, the Hawks shipped out one of their better players for very little in return to avoid the luxury tax. They are a substantially worse team because of it. Hopefully, when Bogdan Bogdanovic returns, things will begin to look a little better. But that could be months; Bogi has yet to even return to practice, and by the time he’s ready, the Hawks could find themselves in another hole that they will have to claw themselves out of in the second half of the season.