The superstar’s relocation impacts Atlanta more than you might think.
When a player of LeBron James’s caliber switches teams, a ripple effect is sent throughout the entire NBA. Yes, that ripple even reaches teams like the Atlanta Hawks, who currently sit at the bottom of the NBA totem pole. Let’s take a look at how the Hawks are specifically impacted by the King’s decision.
Potential Luol Deng Deal?
With LeBron choosing to go to Los Angeles, the Lakers will be doing everything in their power to get rid of forward Luol Deng, who is slated to make over $36 million over the next two seasons. If the Lakers are able to shed Deng’s contract, they will have more cap space, which is vital when trying to surround James with a workable supporting cast.
Due to the Hawks’ cap space, they have the ability to take on a contract like Deng’s if it was packaged with a pick or two from the Lakers. Los Angeles currently has its own first-round pick in upcoming drafts for the foreseeable future, although that would likely change if they made a deal for Spurs’ star Kawhi Leonard.
In all likelihood, if Atlanta wanted to take on Deng’s less-than-ideal contract, they would want at least one future first from Los Angeles.
Cavs’ 2019 pick in doubt
We all saw nearly a decade ago what an impact LeBron has on a team when the Cavaliers went from 61 wins in 2009-2010 to 19 wins in 2010-2011 after LeBron bolted for Miami. A similar drop-off will likely occur with these Cavaliers, as the non-LeBron players on the team aren’t exactly the most premier talent in the league.
Unfortunately, Cleveland’s inevitable dramatic decrease in wins is bad news for Atlanta. As you may recall, the Hawks traded Kyle Korver to Cleveland in the 2016-17 season in exchange for Cleveland’s 2019 first round pick, but Atlanta will only receive that pick if it is outside the top 10.
With LeBron gone, Cleveland will also probably look to move Kevin Love and fully embrace a tanking mentality, and if they have a terrible record as expected, the Hawks may not receive the pick. The NBA’s improvised lottery system set to begin next year may help Atlanta’s odds of receiving the pick, but I certainly wouldn’t bet on it at this point.
Landscape of the East shifts
OK, so this might not impact the Hawks in the immediate future, but it is definitely worth noting that LeBron’s seemingly-insurmountable wrath is no longer here to torture the rest of the Eastern Conference.
While Atlanta won’t be competitive until at least 2020, LeBron’s departure from the east could open the door for teams like the Celtics and 76ers to take control of the conference, which makes for a more clear idea of who the Hawks will be competing with when they are good enough to start thinking about title contention.
On first glance, it wouldn’t appear that LeBron’s move from Cleveland to Los Angeles would directly impact the Hawks. However, the shift increases Atlanta’s chances of getting a potential first-round pick from the Lakers if packaged with Luol Deng, but it also decreases their chances of getting Cleveland’s first rounder in 2019. The move will also cause a drastic shift in the landscape of the Eastern Conference, which will affect the Hawks later down the road.
So thank you, LeBron. Life in Atlanta just got a little more complicated.
Jackson Stone- @tdjs_network