Impeded by the Hawks ownership group that has failed to make a serious attempt to build a legitimate contender to win an NBA Championship, the Atlanta Hawks are in a tough position that could impact the future of the franchise as well as the perception with Hawks fans and the view of the organization league-wide as we prepare for the 2016-2017 NBA season.
From a fan perspective, if the Hawks were to bring back Al Horford and Kent Bazemore, we can continue to keep out streak of playoff appearances, which is a Eastern Conference’s best nine years in a row, dating back to the 2007-2008 NBA season. If you’re a Hawks fan who is satisfied with making the playoffs every year and the Eastern Conference Finals being the ceiling, re-signing both players would be your solution. However, to most fans, the organization’s fear of shaking up the core and possibly taking a step back in the process is starting to annoy Hawks fans .Honestly, I can’t say how the fan base would react if both players are retained and there’s not many changes to a roster that’s in desperate need of some changes.
Since the new ownership arrived, many Hawks fans are confident in their direction for the team’s future… For Now! One of the prime examples that could get Hawks fans pumped that the front office would love to build a championship was due to a ESPN report earlier in the week. Marc Stein and Chris Broussard released a report that the Atlanta Hawks were trying to make a pitch for Kevin Durant as well as coveting Dwight Howard. Although Durant will not be meeting with Atlanta, the Hawks are left with a few options. Many reports are circulating that Al Horford will not return to the Hawks next year because the team is hesistant to offer a fifth year for a new contract.
Horford will meet with the Houston Rockets on Saturday and is projected to meet with NBA Finals contender Oklahoma City Thunder at some point as well other teams such as the Boston Celtics. According to Stein, the Hawks price to retain Kent Bazemore could be steep due to the offers from other teams such as the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks to name a few. With the addition of Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry in last week’s NBA Draft, Atlanta has replacements at his position, but have stated they would love to bring him back in a Hawks uniform.
With the uncertainty of Horford and Bazemore returning to the Hawks, There are many scenarios that could happen, including Atlanta ultimately taking a small rebuild mode and re-load for the future.Free Agency could determine whether the Atlanta Hawks are officially set to re-build or could the team acquire a key contributor that will help them contend in the Eastern Conference. Bringing home the hometown kid (Dwight Howard) is a option that would make sense more than the return of Al Horford and Kent Bazemore, but if the Hawks could return with two of those players, the team would be heavily relied upon if the Hawks are going to remain among the top of the Eastern Conference. Other options for the Hawks in the event that none of the players returned would include notable names such as; Arron Afflalo, Leandro Barbosa, Bismack Biyombo, and Paul Gasol among many others.
If the Hawks don’t fare well in Free Agency, many expect they could blow up the roster and begin an immediate re-build for the team, which some fans are on board to do after the many early exits from the NBA Playoffs. If the Hawks chose to re-build, the first option would be trading All Star power forward Paul Millsap. Around the trade deadline, the Toronto Raptors inquired their interest of trading for him but the Hawks declined.If the Hawks were to deal Millsap or as Hawks fans would say, “Trillsap”, I think we would open a sign and trade scenario with Toronto.
Toronto would sign Bismack Biyombo and along with other players on their roster that the Hawks would be interested in to complete the deal. However, I can’t see the Hawks blowing their progress up because this team is still a piece or two away from legitimately contending with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Free-Agency for the Atlanta Hawks isn’t just based on the 2016-2017 season but the overall state of the franchise is at risk.
Phil Veasley is a resident of Atlanta who has been a die-hard Hawks fan since 2005. He is Civil Engineer student at KSU. Currently, Phil writes for Atlanta Hawks Talk while also managing all ATLSportsHQ sites. He can be reached on Twitter at @_ATLPhil