The Hawks’ season is likely over due to the coronavirus, but they may be able to capitalize on this tragedy more than others this offseason. As the young core of Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, and De’Andre Hunter grows, decisions will soon be made. Will they hand John Collins a max extension? Do they have to decide between Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter since they were both lottery selections playing the same position? Did they see enough development this season from Kevin Huerter to build around him?
Some of these will be gut-wrenching, and they may need to see this core surrounded by other veteran pieces to gain more insight as to what direction they should go. The Hawks already started this process by adding Clint Capela to the mix, but this offseason should be a busy one. The coronavirus has had worldwide consequences, but Atlanta may be able to capitalize in free agency.
The Hawks are one of the few teams with cap space
Atlanta is one of few teams that are projected to have cap space. Before the pandemic, there was around $115 million in cap space available for the 2020-21 season. The Knicks, Hawks, Grizzlies, Cavaliers, and Hornets being the only teams with significant money to spend, with Atlanta possessing the most. Let’s imagine the salary cap drops due to the loss of revenue from the pandemic, leaving 85% of teams out of free agency altogether. That would allow the Hawks all the buying power in the world, especially given their competition in free agency, consisting of Cleveland, New York, and Charlotte — destinations that aren’t exactly sexy. Even if the Hawks do not target a superstar free agent, they can leverage this to make substantial acquisitions in some capacity.
More players may take one-year deals
If the cap does drop significantly, players may be settling for one-year deals. Thus, we may see a ton of teams re-sign guys to one-year contracts in hopes that when this ends, revenue will return, and the cap will recalibrate. This will allow Atlanta to bring in a free agent such as Joe Harris, who likely would have taken a multi-year deal, and add an elite shooter on a shorter contract while building a much needed supporting cast to go around their young core. In a perfect world, they add a couple of quality veteran pieces they may not have been able to beforehand, and maintain their flexibility for the star-studded 2021 free agency class.