The Hawks are undoubtedly entering a critical crossroads in their organizational history. No group of players have experienced this much success for the Hawks in the past 25 years, yet the Hawks still look so far away from a championship trophy. With several of their core players coming to the end of their contracts, Atlanta is going to have to make some tough decisions this offseason in order to put the team over the top.
Of those decisions, none may be more important than the question at point guard. Jeff Teague became the starter for the Hawks at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, and the organization has seen him turn from a project into an all-star. He is still just 27-years old and seems to be at the beginning of the prime of his career. Dennis Schröder was the Hawks’ first-round draft pick in 2013 and has improved exponentially over his three year tenure in Atlanta. The German sensation has captured the eyes of many in this league as possibly the next great up and coming point guard. Schröder’s speed and passing ability is one of a kind, however, it is his improved jump shot that has been the biggest difference in his game. With Schröder seemingly on the verge of a breakout and both point guards set to become free agents at the end of next season, the Hawks are going to have to make a decision on who to keep this offseason.
Sure, the Hawks could have both of them come back next season, but with every day that passes and the Hawks hang on to them, their trade value deteriorates more and more. With the Hawks on the verge of competing for a championship already, Atlanta would be best served dealing one of the star point guards before the start of the season. Most speculators around the league expect that Teague will be dealt rather than Schröder. He is older, showed inconsistencies last year during both the regular and postseason, and even was almost dealt before last year’s trade deadline. Schröder seems ready to pop and the only thing holding him back is the guy in front of him. Although, Teague’s trade value heading into the last year of his contract is not going to be very much. At best, the Hawks can hope for another expiring mediocre player in return or perhaps move up a few spots in the draft by moving Teague. With Schröder things are a little different.
Schröder is still only 22 and will only be a restricted free agent next offseason. Meaning whichever team has the rights to his contract when it ends can pretty much lock up Schröder for the next five years as well, providing they are willing to pay him the money. He carries a lot more trade value than Teague even though they are both on expiring contracts. Schröder will also probably be a lot more expensive to retain next offseason. Teams like the Philadelphia 76ers have already expressed interest in offering Schröder a max contract when he becomes a free agent. The Hawks could obviously match the offer an keep Schroder, but they would not be able to go after many other free agents to surround him with.
The decision is not an easy one and comes back to a typical cost-benefit analysis. The Hawks still have some pretty big holes as a team. They need to find a center that can be the anchor on defense and finishing possession with a rebound. They could also use more scoring off the wing. Jeff Teague is a solid point guard and he will be the first person the Hawks look to move, but if Atlanta cannot find what they are looking for with Teague, they may dangle Schröder out there to see what kind of market he has. If it where me, I am not dealing Schroder unless a team like Philadelphia wants to give up a player like Jahlil Okafor (who is on the trade block) for him. He simply has too much potential, and Teague has struggled to look like a point guard that can lead a team to a championship in the postseason. This is Schröder’s team heading forward, unless a team offers up an arm and a leg for him.