The Hawks are one of a small handful of NBA teams with significant cap room remaining, but it doesn’t sound like general manager Travis Schlenk is eager to make a play for any of the top free agents still available. Schlenk, who spoke last month about exercising patience and caution in the free agent market, tells Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his club is focusing on the trade market for now.
“We are going through the trade process right now. Seeing what trades might be out there,” Schlenk said. “That’s the process right now, seeing what options might be out there. Not really an antenna for free agency. Our free agency is going to be trades.”
The Hawks have approximately $22MM in cap room, a figure that could increase if the team waives non-guaranteed players Antonius Cleveland and Jaylen Morris. That’d be more than enough to put pressure on a team like the Rockets, Celtics, and Bucks with an offer sheet for Clint Capela, Marcus Smart, or Jabari Parker. However, Schlenk sounds more inclined to use that room to take on an unwanted contract or two, acquiring young players or draft picks in the process.
“Right now, we have the 14 guys under contract. Jaylen and Antonius are non-guarantees so we could get down to 12 pretty quickly if we needed to,” Schlenk said. “We’ll probably look to carry 14 guys just so we have some flexibility with our space to take on contracts if we need to be. The majority for free agency for us is just going to be taking on contracts to gather assets if we get a player we like.”
The Hawks reportedly explored trading highly-paid veterans Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder earlier in the offseason, but it doesn’t sound like a deal involving either of those players is a priority for the franchise at this point. Asked specifically about Schroder, Schlenk said the point guard’s comments about being open to a trade were “taken out of context,” adding that Schroder is “in a good place” with the Hawks.