When the Hawks entered free agency in the summer of 2017 under the guidance of then-new general manager Travis Schlenk, they had a decision to make. They could resign Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway, Jr. and keep a still productive Dwight Howard around and guarantee themselves to be back in the thick of the eastern conference playoff picture for years to come.
Instead, Schlenk wisely saw that there was no chance to build a championship team around that core and instead chose to tear the team down and start from scratch. That same offseason, the Washington Wizards signed role player Otto Porter to a four year, $106.5 million contract, and point guard John Wall to a four-year, $170 million contract, thus solidifying that duo, along with guard Bradley Beal, as their core for the future.
Over the course of last season and the beginning of this season, the Wizards have deteriorated from the slightly above average heights they reached in 2016-17, and now find themselves battling with teams like the Hawks for lottery position, especially now that Wall is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his heel.
The Wizards would love to back out of the commitments they made by signing Porter and Wall to ridiculous contracts, but they can’t. They were too afraid of what a rebuild might do to the organization and how it would be received by the fans. They’re paying the price now.
No one is going to trade for Otto Porter’s 11 points and 5 rebounds per game while he’s on this contract. No one is going to trade for John Wall just for him to have a spectacular game one night and then mail it in the next five contests. The Wizards are playing like a team that believes that they have no present and no future, and that’s because that is the true situation.
The Hawks may not be a good team right now, but they do have young pieces to build around and an abundance of cap space so that when these young pieces start to develop, they will have the means to sign upper echelon free agents. There are far worse situations around the league than the one taking place in Atlanta.
So, while rebuilding isn’t fun and Hawks fans who witnessed the 60 win season in 2015 are certainly not content with the production on the court right now, let’s just all take a moment and be thankful that we’re not fans of our division rivals from D.C.
Jackson Stone – @tdjs_network