Watch these potential Hawks free-agent targets in playoffs

The Hawks aren’t in the playoffs, but their fans can watch and reminisce about better days. Former Hawks All-Stars Al Horford (76ers), Paul Millsap (Nuggets) and Kyle Korver (Bucks) are still in the Disney World bubble. Former Hawks coach of the year Mike Budenholzer (Bucks) is there, too.

As usual with Atlanta sports, going down memory lane inevitably means ending up in a ditch of disappointment. In this case, it’s 60 wins followed by a LeBron James sweep. But these playoffs also can offer a glimpse of a better future for the Hawks.

The Hawks are projected to have the most salary-cap space of any team this offseason. After three seasons of rebuilding, they are aiming for next season’s playoffs. The Hawks finally look ready to pay for key pieces rather than take on bad contracts for draft picks or signing marginal veterans for stop-gap help. Several pending free agents who could be good fits are playing in this postseason.

The Hawks have nine players under contract for next season (not including qualifying offers for free agents). There’s the “Core Five” of Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Hurter, Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter. The Hawks strengthened their center rotation with trades for Clint Capela and Dewayne Dedmon.

The Hawks want to add quality veteran players to supplement their young nucleus. General manager Travis Schlenk has said the priorities are power forward and the wing positions. The Hawks also could use a veteran backup for Young, the centerpiece of their rebuild.

Free-agent negotiations are set to begin Oct. 18, two days after the draft. The Hawks can’t sell free agents on being a ready-made contender. They can offer the chance to play with Young, who gets everybody good shots. More important, the Hawks can offer a bigger contract than the contending teams that are limited to the mid-level exception (expected to start at about $9.8 million for next season).

Here are some pending free agents in the bubble to watch as possible Hawks targets.

Wing players

Joe Harris, Nets

The Hawks ranked last in 3-point shooting percentage for bench players this season. Signing Harris would change that. He’s shot better than 41 percent on 3′s for three consecutive seasons. Harris also is good at taking advantage of over-eager defenders to score at the rim.

Harris said he wants to re-sign with the Nets, and GM Sean Marks said a deal with Harris is a top priority. However, in the last year the Nets signed expensive contract extensions with Taurean Prince, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. If re-signing Harris means a big luxury-tax bill, the Nets might let him walk.

Jae Crowder, Heat

Crowder has always attempted a lot of 3-pointers. He joined the Heat in March and started making them, too. Once the Heat got to the bubble, coach Erik Spoelstra inserted Crowder into the starting lineup in large part because of his defensive versatility.

Crowder, who played at Villa Rica High, is among the free agents who may end up having to weigh money against other factors. He could sign a relatively modest mid-level contract with a contender or seek a bigger payday. The Hawks could use him.

Furkan Korkmaz, Sixers

Korkmaz, 23, is more of a developmental player than a sure thing. He played only 14 games as a rookie and 48 games last season. But Kormkaz took on a bigger role this season and responded with 40.2 percent 3-point accuracy on 356 attempts.

That shooting means Korkmaz will receive some interest on the market despite his defensive limitations. He also hasn’t provided much scoring production inside the 3-point line. But Korkmaz would provide something the Hawks need now while fitting the developmental curve with their other young players.

Power forwards

Jerami Grant, Nuggets

Grant has a $9.4 million player option for next season but told Yahoo Sports in June that he was strongly considering not exercising it. He developed into a key rotation player for the Thunder last season before they traded him to the Nuggets for a first-round draft pick. Grant has come a long way since his days with the Sixers, when Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce was an assistant.

Grant is a good 3-point shooter (38.9 percent on 252 attempts this season) and athletic finisher at the rim. He’s a good defender who is “switchable” on wings. Grant would be a good fit for the Hawks if they pay up and convince him to join up.

Danilo Gallinari, Thunder

Gallinari is a ball-dominant scorer and playmaker, so he’s not a fit with Young. Those traits make him a great fit as “stretch” power forward on the second unit. That’s never been his role over 11 NBA seasons, but maybe the right contract could convince him to come off the bench for a rising team.

Durability is a concern with Gallinari, 32. He has a long injury history but played in 62 of 72 games for the Thunder this season and logged more than 1,800 minutes in each of the past two seasons. Gallinari would be great for the Hawks as a featured bench player.

Paul Millsap, Nuggets

Millsap had four All-Star seasons with the Hawks before they began their rebuild and he moved on to Denver. Millsap, 35, is not a star player anymore. But he boosted his scoring efficiency this season with career-best shooting on 3′s and is a tough, strong defender.

Millsap’s age means he likely won’t sign another lucrative, long-term deal. He might opt to sign a short-team contract with a contender. But maybe Millsap could be persuaded to be a key role player and leader for a young Hawks squad.

Point guard

Goran Dragic, Heat

Dragic was an All-Star for Miami in 2017-18. After knee surgery limited him to 36 games last season, Dragic made a smooth transition to effective sixth man. The Heat cleared substantial cap space with trades in February. But Heat boss Pat Riley may use it to pursue a starter this summer or keep his options open for a star-studded free-agent class in 2021.

Dragic modified his rim-attacking game after the knee issues. He takes more 3-pointers and pull-up jumpers now. Plenty of those would be available as a Hawks reserve.

Jordan Clarkson, Jazz

I didn’t think much of Clarkson’s game while he was putting up numbers for the post-LeBron Cavaliers. I like what I’ve seen from him in the bubble. Clarkson is a talented scorer who plays with verve and, by all reports, he’s been a popular teammate everywhere he’s played.

Clarkson might be more of a combo guard or wing than a true point guard. That’s probably a plus in the increasingly position-less NBA. The Hawks would do well to add him to their rotation.

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