• Russell Schmidt

NBA Future Power Rankings: 27. Atlanta Hawks

*Photo via Foxsports

Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks offseason plan made a lot of sense; it simply didn’t work. First the Hawks traded Jeff Teague for the 12th pick in the draft that they used on Taurean Prince. This move gave the Hawks a young wing under a rookie contract as insurance for free agent Kent Bazemore while handing the starting point guard role to Dennis Schroder. Schroder appears ready for the task and the Hawks wisely picked up veteran Jarrett Jack to back him up. In addition the Hawks rewarded Bazemore with a 4-year $70 Million contract, which now appears to be the going rate for a solid/young wing. Where the Hawks collapsed was with the way they handled their All-Star big men. After spending the first 9 seasons of his career in Atlanta, Al Horford is heading over to the Celtics on a 4-year $113 million deal. To replace him the Hawks signed Atlanta native Dwight Howard to a 3-year $75 Million contract. After signing Howard, the Hawks made a last second push to resign Horford and deal Paul Millsap, the team’s top player from the previous season. Despite Millsap being a better fit with Howard and a better overall player than Horford, this strategy made a lot of sense. First of all Horford is currently 30 years old, while Millsap will be 32 years old next summer when he is a free agent. Both players were near locks to sign max contracts, and the max contract next summer will be even more costly as the salary cap continues to rise. Therefore the plan to keep a younger and less expensive Horford over Millsap made sense. In addition the Hawks lost Horford for nothing to Boston. Had they kept him and traded Millsap, they at least would have been getting some value for one of their All-Stars. The Hawks plan totally backfired as they lost Horford and probably made Millsap unhappy. The Hawks showed that they are reluctant to give Millsap a max contract and that they prefer both Howard and Horford. The foundation of the Hawks incredibly entertaining 2014-15 team that went 60-22 and reached the conference finals has already been dismantled. Teague, Horford and DeMarre Carroll are gone, Millsap will likely leave next season, and Kyle Korver is now 35 years old. Now, just two seasons later, the Hawks appear much closer to a rebuilding squad than a contender.

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