Why the Atlanta Hawks should totally reset this offseason

NBA: APR 17 Play In East Hawks at Bulls

Because the Atlanta Hawks don’t own their own future draft picks after acquiring Dejounte Murray in a trade a couple of offseasons ago, most expect them to attempt to do everything they can to build around Trae Young one more time in an attempt to convince him to stay.

That didn’t seem possible a week ago, but after landing the #1 overall pick in the lottery, the Hawks have a few different avenues they could take that if done correctly, could lead them to competing immediately in a weak Eastern Conference. Atlanta could use the first pick in a trade to bring in a more proven veteran. They could also take the best player available and move other pieces like Dejounte Murray, De’Andre Hunter, Clint Capela, and Onyeka Okongwu. There is no shortage of paths for Landry Fields and company, but the one less traveled might be the best thing for the franchise long-term.

That is the option of a total rebuild. Trade Dejounte Murray, Trae Young, De’Andre Hunter, Clint Capela, and whatever else teams might be interested in, accumulate a boatload of draft picks, and build around a core of Jalen Johnson and #1 overall pick.

It might be painful at first; the Hawks would surely be one of the worst teams in The Association, but that shouldn’t be viewed as a negative when looking at the 2025 NBA Draft class, as James Edwards points out for The Athletic. 

“If I were the Hawks, I’d start fresh after landing the top choice. I would get as many assets as I could by trading both Trae Young and Dejounte Murrayand build around Sarr, Jalen Johnson and Kobe Bufkin. That would keep the Hawks in the Cooper Flagg sweepstakes next year. At the very worst, the Hawks will land a top pick in a loaded 2025 NBA Draft even if they don’t walk away with Flagg, who is currently viewed as the class’ prized prospect”

The issue with this method of thinking is the Hawks don’t own their first-round pick next year. However, if they do make a deal with the Spurs, who are in need of a point guard, that could change.

The last thing Hawks fans want to think about just days after landing the #1 overall pick is a full-fledged rebuild. This is an organization that’s failed to produce any semblance of a consistent winner in their 50+ years of existence. Winning the lottery could be the biggest win in franchise history, and there’s a runway — even if it’s a small one — for the Hawks to turn this thing around right now and become contenders.

That’s much more enticing, but let’s paint a picture. The Hawks trade the pick along with others, completely re-tooling the roster around Trae Young. It doesn’t work, they win 45 games and are bounced in the first round of the playoffs. They can’t land a bonafide star in next year’s draft, Trae Young says he wants out, and they still don’t own their future picks because of the Dejounte Murray trade.

Sound familiar? It’s because that’s who the Hawks have been for the better part of the last two decades, the prototypical treadmill team, which is by far the worst thing that can happen to a franchise in the NBA.

So sure, it’s fun to think about the Hawks #1 pick turning into a superstar, and savvy trades working out in their favor, leading them back to the Eastern Conference Finals and perhaps even further. But that’s more like winning the lottery than reality. The Hawks have already done that once this offseason, do they really want to test their luck again? This time, by putting the entire future of the franchise at risk.

Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

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