Six teams – including the Thunder – have lined up free agent meetings with Kevin Durant so far, but there are still a handful of other clubs vying for the opportunity to sit down with the star forward. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, one of those clubs is the Hawks, who are trying to “wedge their way” into the KD sweepstakes.
As July approaches, Atlanta’s top free agent priorities involve re-signing Al Horford and Kent Bazemore, but the Hawks are also working to convince Durant and his representatives to allow them to make a face-to-face pitch. According to Stein, the chances of such a meeting occurring appear dim for now, but Grant Hill – a member of the Hawks’ ownership group – is expected to lead the club’s lobbying efforts, giving Atlanta a glimmer of hope.
Atlanta’s pursuit of Durant may be a long shot, but if the team falls short in its pursuit of its top target, it has at least one more big-name free agent on its list of possible alternatives. Stein reports that the Hawks are strongly considering pursuing Atlanta native Dwight Howard, who will also hit the open market this week.
According to Stein, the Hawks would go after Howard with the idea of playing him alongside Horford in their frontcourt. However, Howard could also represent a viable alternative at center if Horford ultimately signs elsewhere. While Atlanta is optimistic about retaining the All-Star center, Horford is expected to draw interest from the Lakers, Rockets, Magic, Pistons, Wizards, Celtics, and Nets, among other teams, Stein writes.
The Hawks are currently projected to have about $47MM in guaranteed salary on their books for 2016/17, which includes cap holds for their two first-round picks, but not Jeff Teague‘s $8MM salary. Even if the team re-signs Horford, there could still be room for another max or near-max salary.