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How Hawks spent $20 million this offseason and what it means going forward

The Hawks wanted to collect salary cap space and draft assets as part of their on-going rebuilding effort.

They have both - in abundance.

Now, what they do with that collection to turn the franchise back into a contender and how fast it can be done remains to be seen. Hold on to your seats, this could still be a bumpy ride for a while.

After a 24-win season in 2017-18, the Hawks entered the offseason with three first- and one second-round draft picks and $20 million in salary cap space. General manager Travis Schlenk told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in July that he would not spend in free agency but rather make trades to net assets by taking on expiring contracts with available cap space.

Here is how the Hawks spent their trove and what it means going forward.

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* Acquired Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman with their first-round selections. They traded their second-round pick, after selecting Devonte Graham, to the Hornets for second-round picks in 2019 and 2023.

* Acquired veteran point guard Jeremy Lin in a trade with the Nets. The Hawks also parted with a 2020 second-round pick (via the Trail Blazers) and the rights to Isaia Cordinier. The Hawks received the right to swap second-round picks in 2023 and a second-round pick in 2025. The Hawks used about $13 million in cap space to take on Lin’s expiring contract.

* In a blockbuster move Thursday, the Hawks agreed to a three-team trade with the Thunder and 76ers. The Hawks received Carmelo Anthony, who they will buy out, from the Thunder and Justin Anderson from the 76ers. They sent Dennis Schroder to the Thunder and Mike Muscala to the 76ers. The Hawks also received the Thunder’s first-round draft pick in 2022 (protected 1-14), which will become two second-round picks if it does not convey. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot went to the Thunder. They Hawks will waive Antonius Cleveland, as soon as today, as part of making the deal work. By absorbing Anthony’s $27.9 million contract, the Hawks are out of salary cap space. The deal is expected to be completed in about 10 days.

In summary, the Hawks turned their $20 million in cap space into a future first-round pick, a second-round pick and a second-round pick swap. They will go into next season with a roster not expected to win under new head coach Lloyd Pierce, thus enhancing their own draft position, and a chance to scrutinize and develop a core of young players with Kent Bazemore (now the longest tenured Hawk), Taurean Prince, DeAndre Bembry, John Collins, Tyler Dorsey and their three rookies. The Hawks cleared the way for Young and got a first-round pick for Schroder, who they had to trade.

The Hawks met with the Thunder during the Las Vegas Summer League earlier this month. The Thunder were looking to move Anthony without it costing them assets. The Hawks were one of just a few teams with the available cap space to take on Anthony’s contract. Schlenk wasn’t going to use all his cap space for Anthony and get nothing in return as the 10-time all-star was never going to play for the Hawks. Even with the move to acquire Lin, seemingly decreasing his ability to get anything of significance for Schroder, Schlenk got a first-round pick and removed a player with issues – on and off the court.

Perhaps most important move this offseason will be seen next year. The Hawks substantially added to their salary cap space for next summer as they went from approximately $30 million to $45 million in available funds. The Hawks may not be an attractive destination for free agents next year but depending on how the rebuilding project goes, they could be in the future. Look no further than the 76ers. Who wanted to play in Philadelphia while the team was winning 19, 18, 10 and 28 games in four years before winning 52 games this season and making a run in the players. Following the successful rebuild, the 76ers were considered a possible landing spot for LeBron James this summer.

After this summer, the Hawks have choices. Now, the must choose wisely.

A STOCKED PANTRY

A look at the Hawks’ upcoming draft picks:

2019

1st – Own

1st – Cavaliers, Top 10 protection (Moves to first round of 2020 if doesn’t convey or second round picks in 2021 and 2022 if doesn’t convey as first round.)

1st – Mavericks, Top 5 protection (Protections of 1-5 in 2020, 1-3 in 2021 and 1-3 in 2022 and unprotected in 2023)

2nd – Hornets

2nd – Timberwolves/Lakers, Least favorable

*Hawks second-round pick is due to Washington, 31-55 protection

2020

1st – Own

2nd – Own

2021

1st – Own

2nd – Own

2022

1st – Own

1st – Thunder, Top 14 protection. (Becomes second-round picks in 2024 and 2025 in does not convey)

2023

1st – Own

2nd – Own with right to swap with Nets

2nd - Hornets

*Hawks get two most favorable second-round picks between their own, Hornets and Nets

2024

1st – Own

2nd – Own

2025

1st – Own

2nd – Own

2nd - Nets

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