The Atlanta Hawks are just a few years removed from their Eastern Conference Finals appearance and is one of the top teams in the conference over the last decade. Although the Hawks made the playoffs nine years in a row, they are desperately missing the superstar that would help them take the next step towards the NBA Finals in the future. After the 2014-15 season, due to contract complications between players and the front office, the starting lineup would undergo changes.
In the 2015 Free Agency Period, Small Forward Demarre Carroll was the first to leave to the Toronto Raptors, signing for a four-year, $60 million contract. The following season, the Atlanta Hawks returned to the playoffs; unfortunately, their season ended in a sweep to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Semi-Finals. Following the disappointing playoff run, the Hawks would lose two starters from the 60 win roster as Atlanta traded point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers and former All-Star center Al Horford departed in Free Agency to the Boston Celtics on a a four-year, $113 million contract.
Hawks fans and league experts were pretty confused with the direction of the Hawks considering the loss of three starters in two seasons. Atlanta would acquire All-Star Center Dwight Howard from and role players Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroeder became starters with All-Star Forward Paul Milsap and Kyle Korver.
With the rejuvenated starting lineup, mainly due to the addition of Dwight Howard, Hawks fans were excited to see how the starting lineup would fare against the NBA . After the Hawks started off fast earning a big win against the defending champs, Cleveland Cavaliers on the road at the time and cruising to a 9-2 start, injuries and a inconsistent season would follow as the Hawks earned the 5th seed and finished with a dismal 43-39 record.
Atlanta would get eliminated in six games to their Southeastern Division foe, the Washington Wizards. During the middle of the 2016-2017 season, the Hawks traded another starter from the 60 win team, shooting guard Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Mike Dunleavy and cash. After the trade of Korver, many speculated that the Hawks wouldn’t re-sign Paul Millsap as well as Free Agency was approaching.
Two days before the NBA Draft, the Hawks traded Center Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Hornets for Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli and 41st pick in the Draft. After the Draft, Paul Milsap signed a three-year, $90 million deal with the Denver Nuggets, which was the final member of the 60 win starting lineup to leave Atlanta.
In a later interview, Millsap said the Atlanta Hawks didn’t offer him a contract, which was disappointing. Hawks fans were confused with the approach of the front office and wondered where would the team go from here? Atlanta’s future approach is to rebuild the roster and renovate Philips Arena to have a more appealing feel for future Hawks games.
With the rebuilding process in full effect after the beginning after the departure of Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr., the Hawks drafted Power Forward John Collins from Wake Forest, who was impressive during his Summer League tenure. Collins averaged (15.4) Points Per Game, (9.2) Rebounds Per Game, and an Assists Per Game. Also, the Hawks drafted Tyler Dorsey from Oregon and Alpha Kaba from France.
Atlanta retained Power Forward Ersan Ilyasova a one-year deal and signed former San Antonio Spurs center, Dewayne Dedmon, to a two-year $14 million dollar contract. Also, the Hawks are in the process of revamping Phillips Arena to provide Hawks fans and other spectators the best experience whether it’s for a Hawks game or other major events that will take place. The renovation process for the city of Atlanta cost a whopping $192.5 million dollars.
As for the causal fan, a revamped Philips Arena will give the city of Atlanta more opportunities to host major sporting events, conferences, concerts, etc., which is revenue for Atlanta. Rumors have surfaced that Atlanta could host their second NBA All-Star Game (First hosted in 2003) which could provide a major economic boost for the city as well.
A revamped Philips Arena will feature an on-court bar behind one of the goals and
a barbershop in the arena as well. In conclusion, Hawks fans, our question of the front office’s approach to rebuild was finally answered this Summer. Yes, the rebuild is happening and with time, we will notice the changes around the arena and to the Atlanta Hawks basketball club.
Antonio Smith: @__TrenchGotti