It’s time to get back to work.
Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk gave his charges in the front office the weekend off after the long days and nights leading up to and through Thursday’s NBA Draft. The pace does not slow after the brief respite. The free agency period begins this week. The Hawks also have an entry in the Las Vegas Summer League in two weeks that will include all six selections from the past two drafts.
The Hawks will have a much better understanding in the next several weeks of what the roster will look like for the 2017-18 season.
“Our goal is still to be competitive,” Schlenk said before the draft. “Being competitive and maintaining our flexibility, that’s still where we are. We are not in a rebuild phase.”
The Paul Millsap Situation hangs over the organization but will likely be resolved by the weekend. The league free agency period begins at midnight on July 1, when teams can begin contacting free agents. Millsap is the most prominent of the Hawks’ six unrestricted free agents. The veteran is eligible for a maximum contract, one that is now projected at five years, $201 million from the Hawks and four years, $149 million from another team.
Schlenk has said that Millsap might receive better offers elsewhere, an indication that he is unwilling to give a maximum contract. Millsap might take less, in term and/or money, to remain with the Hawks. However, the four-time All-Star is likely to get a maximum offer from another team. Sides can agree on a deal at any point after July 1 but no contract can be signed until the end of the moratorium period, shortened by a day to July 6 in the league’s new collective bargaining agreement.
The Hawks will also have decisions to make on their own unrestricted free agents. Ersan Ilyasova, Kris Humphries, Thabo Sefolosha, Mike Muscala and Jose Calderon will be free to reach agreements with another team. The Hawks will also be able to reach agreements with other unrestricted free agents.
The Hawks will be busy with a current roster that includes just one power forward in Ryan Kelly and one center in Miles Plumlee. If Millsap is not re-signed, there will be much work to do if the Hawks want to remain relevant while retooling the franchise.
There is also Tim Hardaway Jr.’s situation that will require a lot of attention. Hardaway is a restricted free agent and the Hawks have the right to match any offer he receives from another team. They must define the financial threshold they are willing to spend to keep the emerging player in the fold after he showed significant progress in his two seasons with the Hawks. A consideration in the decision is the $16 million due to Kent Bazemore next season, the second of his four-year contract.
In the new CBA, teams now have two days to decide to match an offer sheet signed by their restricted free agents with another team. The previous agreement called for three days. Players are also allowed to sign an offer sheet during the moratorium period from July 1-6. If Hardaway does so, the Hawks have until 11:59 p.m. on July 8 to match.
Schlenk and the front office have also been busy exploring possible trades. The Hawks dealt Dwight Howard last week and received Plumlee and Marco Belinelli. Schlenk has already fielded trade calls on each as well as others on the roster.
Both Millsap and Hardaway have stated their desire to remain with the Hawks but also said the will let their agents handle the options before making a final decision.
“This is my team. I’m an Atlanta Hawk still,” Hardaway said during his exit interview following the Hawks’ playoff series loss to the Wizards in May. “There is no other team right now. My mind and my focus is with the Atlanta Hawks.”
The Hawks will field a roster, standing currently at 13 players, in the Las Vegas Summer League from July 7-17. The tournament, with 24 teams consisting mostly of first- and second-year players, will offer another chance to evaluate recent draft picks.
Taurean Prince, DeAndre Bembry, Isaia Cordinier, John Collins, Tyler Dorsey and Alpha Kaba will all participate. Prince and Bembry were on the Hawks roster last season and Cordinier played in France. Collins and Dorsey will likely be on the opening day roster and Kaba will return to play in Europe.
The Hawks could also be looking to invite players from the Las Vegas league to training camp with several positions opening, including a third point guard.
The Hawks are scheduled to open training camp in late September with a shortened preseason and earlier start to the regular season. The Hawks will still have roster decisions to make by the start of camp but much of the work will be done in the next several weeks.
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