Should the Hawks pursue top remaining free agents?

Jabari Parker (ESPN)

The Atlanta Hawks currently have a 15-man roster heading into summer league. Three of those roster spots include Antonius Cleveland, Jaylen Morris, and Jaylen Adams. Their roster spots aren’t necessarily locks, and they will need to prove themselves in summer league action. If those players do not perform well, Atlanta’s front office will decide to waive them before the start of the season. So that beckons the question – who could Atlanta possibly look to sign?

Even with the (not so team-friendly) contracts of Dennis Schröder, Kent Bazemore, and Miles Plumlee, the Atlanta Hawks still have roughly $20 million in cap space left to spend.

Notable free agent signings: LeBron James (LAL), Kevin Durant (GSW), Paul George (OKC), DeMarcus Cousins (GSW), Chris Paul (HOU), DeAndre Jordan (DAL), Aaron Gordon (ORL), Julius Randle (NOP), Rajon Rondo (LAL), Trevor Ariza (PHX), Avery Bradley (LAC), Derrick Favors (UTA), and Nerlens Noel (OKC)

Noel, Randle, and Gordon were a few names linked to the Hawks before they signed their new contracts, so who does that leave for Atlanta?

Notable free agents remaining: Clint Capela (restricted), Marcus Smart (restricted), Jabari Parker (restricted), Zach LaVine (restricted), Jusuf Nurkic (restricted), Isaiah Thomas (unrestricted), and Brook Lopez (unrestricted)

The players listed above are the top-ranked free agents remaining, all who have been linked to Atlanta or could possibly fit their system. Let’s take a deeper look into each of these players.

Clint Capela RFA (Houston Rockets)

Clint Capela (CBS Sports)

Capela is probably the biggest name left on the free agent market. His name hasn’t been linked to Atlanta as much as some other players, however, how can a Hawks fan not dream of a Collins/Capela frontcourt? It would be a long, dominant, paint presence the Hawks would love to have around Trae Young. Capela put up impressive numbers as well – finishing #1 in the league in field goal percentage (65%) and #2 in blocked shots (1.85 blocks per game). To round out his stats, he averaged 13.9 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per game. Capela is only 24 years old, and will more than likely look for a max contract, or something close with the way he played last season and his potential. The only problem is he’s a restricted free agent. That gives Houston a chance to match any contract Capela is offered, which they are likely to do even if Capela receives a max offer. The Hawks would not be able to offer Capela a max deal unless they clear cap space via trade. With Travis Schlenk running the show, anything can happen but I wouldn’t count on it.

Marcus Smart RFA (Boston Celtics)

Marcus Smart (NBA)

Marcus Smart could be another guy the Hawks might consider if they choose to move Dennis Schröder this offseason. Smart will likely earn a contract between $10-$15 million per year and he’s shown how effective he can be on both sides of the ball. The 24-year-old guard averaged about 10 points per game and nearly 5 assists per game for Boston last season. While he only shot 30% from 3 point range, he could always work on and improve his jumper with a gunner like Trae Young on the roster. Like Capela, Smart is a restricted free agent and Boston is likely to match any contract Smart receives unless it seems too high to match. Smart would bring passion and intensity off the Hawks bench as the 6th man and could work really well under Lloyd Pierce and his defensive philosphy.

Jabari Parker RFA (Milwaukee Bucks)

Jabari Parker (Yard Barker)

Jabari Parker’s name has been mentioned quite a bit when the Hawks are mentioned in free agency. Personally, he is my favorite free agent available and I would love to see Parker at power forward and Collins at center in a small ball lineup. At only 23 years old, Parker has suffered a few setbacks of injuries early in his career, but when he’s healthy he’s intriguing. His numbers are decent, but don’t reflect how tough he is on the court and how disruptive he is on the defensive end. He averaged 12.6 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 38% from 3 point range and 48% overall. Parker is a restricted free agent, but the 6’8, 250 pound forward seems like he could fit perfect in Atlanta during this rebuilding process and play great with Collins, Young, and Prince.

Zach LaVine RFA (Chicago Bulls)

Zach LaVine (Yahoo Sports)

23-year-old Zach LaVine may be the most explosive player left in free agency. His athleticism, playmaking, and ability to put the ball in the basket is beautiful to watch. With the Bulls last season, LaVine had a nice all-around stat line of 16.7 ppg, 3.9 apg, and 3 rpg. His name has been linked to Atlanta quite a bit and some fans like the rumors while others don’t. There isn’t an immediate need for him with Schröder and Bazemore still on the team, but the idea of a Young/LaVine backcourt could set the Hawks up nicely to get buckets for the next 10 years. LaVine will listen around the league for offers, and Chicago will have their chance to match it because he is a restricted free agent as well. However, Chicago hasn’t seemed as interested in matching LaVine’s future contract, thinking he will get too much money. He could definitely bring some excitement to Atlanta for years to come.

Jusuf Nurkic RFA (Portland Trail Blazers)

Jusuf Nurkic (NBA)

Jusuf Nurkic isn’t a guy mentioned as much as I thought he would. He is your typical NBA big man who can get just about everything done. He is only 23-years-old and put up 14.3 ppg, 9rpg, and 1.4 bpg. He scores the ball efficiently. Unlike some other restricted free agents, Nurkic isn’t demanding a big contract. It seems he wants one more deal to prove himself worthy of a max deal in a couple years. Portland has reportedly already offered him a qualifying offer, so Atlanta would probably still have to move the contracts of either Plumlee or Bazemore in a sign and trade to be able to obtain him, but it’s a risk Schlenk could take.

Isaiah Thomas UFA (LAL)

Isaiah Thomas (Slam Online)

Isaiah Thomas is one of the more confusing free agents. He is an unrestricted free agent so he controls his own destiny. After bouncing in Sacremento and Phoenix, he finally found a home in Boston and became a star. He carried the team to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose to LeBron James and the Cavaliers, but Thomas was a superstar. He then got traded to the Cavs in the Kyrie Irving deal and only played 15 games before getting traded to the Lakers, where he played in 17 games but only started in one. His overall stats in all 32 games were 15.2ppg and 4.8apg. The problems with Thomas last year were his shooting and his turnover problems. He averaged 29% from 3pt range and turned the ball over 3 times per game. So why am I bringing him up in a Hawks article? Well, as well all know he is an undersized shooting guard who plays the point. Odds are, he would be pretty cheap this summer (maybe around the $15mil-$20mil range) and would get a team friendly contract due to his play last season and his injury history. Young and Thomas would be a very small backcourt in Atlanta, but they’ve both shown they can score the ball in numerous ways.

Brook Lopez UFA (LAL)

Brook Lopez (Hoops Hype)

Brook Lopez is a player the Hawks have been linked to many times in the past, and once again he’s linked to them this offseason. The more he’s played, the better he’s gotten and he develops his game every year. The 30-year-old free agent put up 13 ppg, 4 rpg, and 1.3 bpg for the Lakers last season. His new 3 point shooting touch was excellent for a big man: 34% 3PT FG. He shot 46% overall from the field. Lopez is one of the above average players left on the market who won’t request big money. He’s made roughly around $20mil a year for the last few years with Brooklyn and Los Angeles and will more than likely sign a deal for the same, if not a few million less. I think Lopez would fit really well here in a mentorship role, as he would be great for John Collins and Omari Spellman.

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If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a writer for ATLSportsHQ please DM Phil Veasley (@_ATLPhil) on Twitter or IG. Or send a sample article to atlsportshq@gmail.com.

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