Paul Millsap is without a doubt the best player on the Hawks. However, he will likely demand a contract that will make him one of the highest paid players in the league going into his late 30’s. It would be foolish to issue Millsap such a deal given the Hawks’ cap issues and the fact that the Hawks have a trio of young talent. The Hawks need to go younger, but ownership will do everything imaginable to keep Millsap. The Hawks just need to retool to contend in a realistic window, which is a few seasons from now with Lebron James dominating the East. Losing Millsap without a doubt hurts the team, but retaining him long-term will hurt them even more. If the Hawks are going to retain him, they should do so on nothing more than a three year deal. Unfortunately, this will likely be Millsap’s last pay day, so he will want more years.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Hawks must retain Tim Hardaway Jr. He and Dennis Schroder have the potential to turn into one of the better backcourts in the NBA if they keep developing. Though he struggled when first traded for last season, he was the most improved player on the Hawks this season and one of the most improved players in the entire association. The Hawks have lacked off the dribble scorers for years, and now they have two. He had a pedestrian postseason, but this could help the Hawks keep him in their price range. The Hawks have the right to match any offer issued to Hardaway Jr., and they would be foolish not to match. They already gave up a first rounder to acquire him and he is a vital part of the team’s future, which justifies slightly overpaying for his services.
Jose Calderon provided an upgrade over Malcolm Delaney, but the team may look to upgrade at back up point guard. If he is willing to accept the league minimum, his shooting and familiarity with the system are worth bringing the veteran back on a one-year deal, but maybe not as the primary backup.
Thabo Sefolosha fell out of the Hawks rotation at the end of the season, which does not bode well for him going forward. It would be more wise to give minutes to younger players such as Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry and let them develop. If the team can find a way to dump Kent Bazemore’s contract and do not draft another shooting guard, the team should issue him a cheap one year deal for his familiarity with the system and his defense. However, this is unlikely and having Sefolosha block minutes for developing players would be foolish. He should go to a contender that needs a great defender off the bench.
Kris Humphries did not have much of an impact this season due to playing spot duty. However, with Mike Muscala set to hit free agency, Humphries could be a much cheaper option that could give the same production if he steps into a bigger role. It would also not hurt to give him a one year deal minimum deal to fill the same role, but the team may move on.
The Hawks have got to let Moose walk. He simply is just not that good, and Coach Bud has placed way too much trust in his hands. He is likely to get a decent sized offer from another team due to the NBA’s newfound obsession with big men who can shoot. Given the team’s cap concerns, it would be foolish to overpay for his services when he could be replaced for a fraction of the cost. He could be looking at eight figures annually.
Ilyasova was a great bench piece that helped the Hawks with their perimeter shooting. However, with Ilyasova plugged in during Paul Millsap’s absence, the team could not win. Ersan should be the team’s backup plan in the case that Millsap walks. If the team decides to go younger, Ilyasova could be a nice piece to pair with young guys yet still ensure they have get a good draft pick.