What has been the best move of the Hawks offseason thus far?

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The Hawks have a playoff caliber roster as it stands today. It likely won’t contend for a title, but with a full training camp under Quin Snyder, the club should stave off the play-in tournament.

It’s mostly the same roster with one glaring difference — John Collins. The athletic big man has finally been traded after years of rumors the Hawks were shopping him. JC ended up in Utah, and all the Jazz gave up was a measly second-round pick and Rudy Gay, who is no longer with the team.

Selling at Collins absolute lowest point is bad business. A few years ago, we were talking about how a swap for Lauri Markkanen, who is now an All-Star, wouldn’t be enough to pry Collins out of Atlanta. Now, the Hawks essentially gave him away for nothing.

It can only be seen as a negative without considering the circumstances. However, when you widen the scope, silver linings begin to show. The Hawks were cash strapped with Collins’ contract, given the club also allocated significant portions of the salary cap to Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela, and De’Andre Hunter, with multiple extension candidates on the roster.

If the Hawks wanted to hand out contracts to other players, they had to shed some salary, and John Collins made the most sense. So, yes, in a vacuum, the trade looks bad for Atlanta. However, it enabled them to pull off arguably the best move of the entire offseason — extending Dejounte Murray.

Murray’s extension, which is extremely team-friendly, is the veteran maximum that could be worth as much as $120 million over four years. About $9 million of that total is incentive-based too, so the Hawks could be on the hook for just $111 million over four years. The former Spurs point guard would’ve garnered much more on the open market but decided to stay in Atlanta.

To further my point, Dejounte Murray’s average annual value ranks 58th in the NBA. There’s no reality where he is the 58th-best player in the Association; it’s a bargain. So, it’s no surprise Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report had the extension as the club’s best offseason move.

One of the best free agents of the 2024 class is already off the board, with Murray agreeing to a four-year, $114 million extension with the Hawks that includes $6 million in incentives.

This was the most Murray could have signed for by extending off his current $17.7 million salary. A new rule in the CBA allows players to extend for 140 percent of their salary, up from 120 percent, which Atlanta took advantage of.

This is a terrific contract for the cash-conscious Hawks, especially since Murray looked like he was headed for a max contract after making the All-Star game in 2022. It’s a good deal for Murray as well, who locks in a ton of guaranteed money, gets a player option in Year 4 and a 15 percent trade kicker.

The 26-year-old wants to be in Atlanta, which Quin Snyder certainly had something to do with. There’s a new era in Hawks basketball. Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, and Quin Snyder are now tied at the hip. All are signed through at least the 2026-27 season, so there’s stability and a newfound direction for the organization.

Moreover, the DJM contract is an extremely attractive trade chip. Let’s think about a potential scenario. If the Hawks flounder in 2023-24 and make the playoffs but suffer another first-round exit with little to show for it, there could be talks of breaking up the two ball-dominant guards.

Quin Snyder will have the difficult decision of whether it can work or not. If the 2024-25 season rolls around and there are no improvements, it wouldn’t be crazy to think the Hawks could dangle a two-way All-Star on one of the best contracts in the league on the trade market.

Obviously, we all want this new-look team to be successful, but it’s worth noting this is in the realm of possibilities.

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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