Five things on to-do list for Hawks’ new GM

Travis Schlenk had been in the Golden State Warriors organization for more than a decade. Schlenk was hired as the new Atlanta Hawks general manager.

Travis Schlenk had been in the Golden State Warriors organization for more than a decade. Schlenk was hired as the new Atlanta Hawks general manager.

A lengthy to-do list awaits Travis Schlenk.

When he officially begins his duties as the Hawks new general manager and head of basketball operations on Thursday there will be franchise-altering decisions to make in the next two months. He inherits a roster with six unrestricted free agents, one restricted free agent and eight players under contract to varying degrees. The draft is June 22 and the Hawks have three selections, some of the 11 picks they have over the next three years. Free agency starts on July 1.

Here’s a look at five of the roster decisions that face the Hawks and Schlenk:

1. Paul Millsap

This is clearly the biggest decision. Millsap is an unrestricted free agent and eligible for a maximum contract. Millsap can receive a projected deal of five years, $205 million from the Hawks or four years, $152 from another team. Millsap would be 37 years old and eligible for a projected salary of $46,662,000 from the Hawks in the final year of a maximum contract. There is a chance that the Hawks and Millsap agree to a deal that doesn’t include the final-year maximum. There is also a chance he leaves and the Hawks receive nothing for the four-time All-Star after holding on to him at last season’s trade deadline. You remember Al Horford?

With a projected salary cap of $101 million, the Hawks have about $69 million in salary on the books for next season. A starting maximum Millsap salary would be $35,350,000 The Hawks hold Millsap’s Bird Rights and could go over the cap to re-sign him but there would be a lot less flexibility in filling out the roster with Millsap back in the fold.

Millsap said he wants to return and principal owner Tony Ressler said the franchise will make “every effort imaginable” to keep their star.

Schlenk told a Bay Area radio station after he was hired from the Warriors that a large part of that organization’s success was manageable contracts. “One of the things we did in Golden State is we avoided signing bad contracts,” Schlenk said. “All the guys we signed in free agency were on deals that were moveable. If you sign a bad free agent contract and it’s a deal that can’t be moved, that can hold your franchise down.”

2. Tim Hardaway Jr.

Hardaway is a restricted free agent and due a big raise. He is on the books for $3.3 million next season but he will surely get an offer from another team that far exceeds that figure for a player who made such significant strides in his time with the Hawks. The Hawks gave up a first-round pick for Hardaway and by the end of this second season was starting in the playoffs.

Schlenk must decide how high the Hawks are willing to go to match an offer for Hardaway. In the current financial climate of the NBA, Hardaway figures to command at least $10 million, perhaps more. Can the Hawks afford to spend that much on Hardaway when Kent Bazemore is due nearly $17 million next season in the second of his four-year deal? That’s a lot of money to have tied up in two who play the same position. It is likely the Hawks will keep only one.

3. The NBA Draft

Schlenk certainly knows the draft and who will be available from his time as Warriors’ assistant general manager. The Hawks front office has long been at work doing their due diligence with pick Nos. 19, 31 and 60. Schlenk had a hand in the Warriors successful selections of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Can he do the same in Atlanta? There could be a chance to select a contributor at No. 19 and perhaps No. 31. The No. 60 pick would seem destined for the Hawks’ new NBA Development League affiliate.

There is also a matter of last year’s draft and the wings the Hawks selected. Taurean Prince advanced all the way to the starting lineup by the playoffs. DeAndre Bembry was limited but the Hawks – or maybe another team – see potential. How Prince and Bembry fit in the Hawks’ future will impact the draft.

4. Free Agency I

In addition to Millsap, the Hawks have five other unrestricted free agents come July 1. Ersan Illyasova, Kris Humphries, Thabo Sefolosha, Mike Muscala and Jose Calderon will be on the open market. Illyasova and Muscala seem candidates to return. Head coach Mike Budenholzer will likely have a big voice in who returns with their ability to fit his style of play. The Hawks certainly need at least one player to backup Dwight Howard at center. Budenholzer also likes to carry a third point guard, something the team did without for much of last season until the acquisition of Calderon. Both these positions the Hawks could choose to fill from within.

5. Free Agency II

The Hawks will have salary cap space to add to the roster, especially if they lose Millsap. If Millsap does walk, the Hawks have a gaping hole at power forward. Millsap is one of the best available on the market. They could look at Blake Griffin (player option), or unrestricted free agents such as Serge Ibaka, Zach Randolph, Taj Gibson or Patrick Patterson.

Perhaps, with the abundance of draft picks, Schlenk could look to a trade to fill a potential void at power forward. He will most certainly look to free agency to fill out the roster around the returnees.


This is what the Hawks’ salary situation looks like this summer:

Dwight Howard $23,500,000

Kent Bazemore $16,910,112

Dennis Schroder $15,500,000

Mike Dunleavy $5,175,000 (partial guarantee)

Malcolm Delaney $2,500,000

Taurean Prince $2,422,560

DeAndre Bembry $1,567,200

Ryan Kelly $1,577,230 (non-guaranteed)

Total: $69,152,102

Unrestricted free agents

Paul Millsap

Ersan Ilyasova

Kris Humphries

Mike Muscala

Jose Calderon

Restricted free agent

Tim Hardaway Jr.