2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Atlanta Hawks

Hoops Rumors is previewing the 2020 offseason for all 30 NBA teams. We’re looking at the key questions facing each club, as well as the roster decisions they’ll have to make this fall. Today, we’re focusing on the Atlanta Hawks.

Salary Cap Outlook

With so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020/21 salary cap, it’s impossible to say exactly how much space the Hawks will have. But they currently project to have more flexibility than virtually any other team in the NBA.

Even if the cap remains the same as it was in ’19/20, Atlanta could comfortably get to $43MM+ in room, depending on where the team’s lottery pick lands. Once they use up all that space, the Hawks will have the room exception available — it’d be worth $4.77MM if the cap doesn’t increase.

Our full salary cap preview for the Hawks can be found right here.

Roster Decisions To Watch


  • None

Non-Guaranteed Contracts:

Two-Way Contracts:

Free Agents:

2020 Draft Assets

First Round:

  • No. 4 overall pick (pending lottery results)

The Hawks have the fourth-best lottery odds, but their most likely pick is No. 6 (25.7%). They have a 12.5% chance at the No. 1 pick and a 48.1% chance at a top-four selection, with No. 5 (7.2%), No. 7 (16.8%), and No. 8 (2.2%) also in play.

Second Round:

  • No. 50 overall pick

The Hawks will receive the more favorable of the Heat’s and Rockets’ second-round picks. That’ll be Miami’s second-rounder, which falls at No. 50 — Houston’s will land in the No. 51-53 range.

Three Key Offseason Questions

1. How will the Hawks use their cap room?

Under general manager Travis Schlenk, the Hawks haven’t been major players in free agency, preferring to hang back and wait for the potential bargains that are available a few days after the league year opens. Atlanta has generally had no shortage of cap space in those years, but has preferred to use it to absorb unwanted contracts to gain extra draft picks.

With the Hawks looking to soon make the transition from rebuilding team to perennial playoff threat, it would seem to be a prime time to adjust their free agency philosophy. With so much space available this fall, Atlanta could theoretically make a major splash, adding a veteran or two who could help push the team’s young core over the top.

While that plan may sound good to team ownership, a couple of practical factors could complicate matters. For one, this year’s free agent class isn’t exactly loaded with stars for the Hawks to target. None of the players at the top of our free agent power rankings are really logical options for Atlanta.

Anthony Davis isn’t leaving L.A.; the Pelicans almost certainly aren’t letting Brandon Ingram get away; Montrezl Harrell doesn’t make sense for a team that just acquired Clint Capela; and Fred VanVleet probably isn’t an ideal partner for Trae Young in what would be a very undersized backcourt. There are players further down that list that could appeal to the Hawks, but investing big long-term money in any of them would be risky.

On top of that, this offseason sets up perfectly for Atlanta to stick with its formula of using cap room to accommodate salary dumps and collect assets. After all, with team owners across the league expected to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, there may be several teams who are looking to cut costs and are willing to part with draft picks to do so.

The Hawks won’t be in asset-gathering mode forever, and they can afford to be a little more aggressive on the free agent market in 2020. But being one of the only teams with maximum-salary cap room doesn’t mean they’ll come out of the offseason with a max-caliber player.

2. Is it time to consolidate assets in a trade?

If the Hawks can’t land a star on the free agent market, could they do so in a trade? They have no shortage of trade chips available if they want to try to make a move, including an extra 2022 first-round pick and a handful of future second-rounders.

Young looks like an obvious keeper, but there’s no one else on the Hawks’ roster that is 100% assured of a long-term stay in Atlanta — the team would surely consider moving the likes of De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and/or Kevin Huerter if the price is right, and even John Collins was mentioned in trade rumors earlier this year.

Given Young’s ability on offense and lack thereof on defense, the most logical fit for the Hawks would be a two-way wing who can lock down opposing scorers and doesn’t necessarily need to dominate the ball.

Those players aren’t easy to find though, and the most frequent subjects of trade speculation these days don’t quite fit the bill — Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine, for instance, aren’t strong enough defenders to pair with Young. Stars who might’ve made sense for the Hawks in past years when they were unhappy with their situations – such as Jimmy Butler or Paul George – are now in their preferred destinations and likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

The Hawks have done business with the Nets in recent years, and if Brooklyn makes Caris LeVert available this offseason in its search for a third star, that’d be an opportunity worth exploring. Otherwise, it’s hard to find many ideal fits on the trade market if the Hawks want to cash in some chips for an impact wing.

3. Will the Hawks extend John Collins this fall?

Currently, Capela is the only player on the Hawks’ roster who is owed more than $15MM in any future season. He’s also the one who has a fully guaranteed salary beyond 2021, with the exception of the players on their rookie contracts.

However, Atlanta will have to start making major financial decisions on its young talent as early as this offseason, when Collins becomes eligible for his rookie scale extension. There are compelling reasons for the Hawks to wait on a new deal for Collins and equally compelling reasons for the team to get something done this fall.

Waiting until 2021 to make a decision on Collins would give the Hawks a chance to evaluate how their Collins/Capela frontcourt actually looks on the court, since the two big men have yet to play a game together.

Additionally, since Collins has said multiple times in recent months that he feels as if he’s worthy of a maximum-salary contract, it might make more sense to have him fully earn that max deal with a strong contract year rather than handing it to him after a season that started with a 25-game suspension for a drug violation.

Waiting for Collins to reach restricted free agency would also significantly increase the Hawks’ flexibility in 2021. Rather than entering that offseason with a max salary for Collins (likely in the $28-30MM range) already on the books, the team would just have to carry his $12.4MM cap hold — that would create a ton of extra cap flexibility for the Hawks before they go over the cap to re-sign him.

On the other hand, the fact that Collins has so frequently talked about the possibility of an extension suggests it’s important to him to get something finalized sooner rather than later for the sake of security, and Atlanta may not want to risk alienating one of its potential cornerstones.

A handful of factors – that 25-game suspension, a disappointing season for the Hawks, and the NBA’s current financial outlook – may also give the club some leverage to negotiate something below the max for Collins. If he’s open to that possibility, it could save the team some money in the long run. The Celtics and Pacers, for instance, were wise to complete extensions with Jaylen Brown and Domantas Sabonis last fall, since they would’ve been candidates for more lucrative offer sheets this offseason.

Whichever path the Hawks take, it won’t necessarily represent their final decision on whether Collins is a long-term building block for the franchise. Trading him in a year or two will still be possible if he signs an extension, and locking him up in 2021 shouldn’t be a problem even if the two sides don’t agree to an extension this year.

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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25 thoughts on “2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Atlanta Hawks

  1. Simmons>Russ

    Trade their 4th overall pick, Kevin Hueter and Dwayne Dedmon to GSW for the 1st overall pick.

    GSW move down 3 spots, but get a solid young back up SG for behind Klay and get a starting centre who can shoot 3’s and block shots.

    Atlanta can then select Anthony Edwards. He’s born and raised in Atlanta having also gone to high school and college here. He would be the perfect backcourt partner for Trad Young. Not only will he give up 15-20+ points per game but he can also play good defence and be a leader.

    After that Atlanta should look to bring in veteran players that make them a playoff threat. You just said if the cap doesn’t move they should have 43mil +. Plus with the GSW trade and Dedmon leaving your creating even more room.

    Derrick Favours has bounced around recently, he should return home to Atlanta. I’d go get Jae Crowder. Crowder knows how to play a role on good teams. Id go get a shooting big man like Meyers Leonard just to give you some versatility. Then bring back Jeff Teague who has done well as a back up PG leading that second unit.

    After the draft and FA I’d then give Collins a new contract. He’s been a solid contributor in terms of numbers but he needs to get some more wins now. I’d start by offering him 4 years 80mil fully guaranteed with a player option for a 5th.
    Similar deal to Sabonis and Draymond Green.

    1. Trae Young. Jeff Teague. Cassius Winston
    2. Anthony Edwards. Cam Reddish. Sterling Brown
    3. Jae Crowder. DeAndre Hunter
    4. John Collins. Derrick Favours. Thon Maker
    5. Clint Capela. Meyers Leonard. Fernando

    Season goal: Make the Playoffs (5th/6th seed)

    • Sillivan

      Why did John Collins stop talking contract extension?
      Wait for August 20
      If Warriors get First pick,then Warriors send the pick to Hawks for Collins

      Warriors are more willing to overpay Collins

      • Simmons>Russ

        No Hawks keep Collins.
        For Atlanta Collins is worth keeping, whereas if they get the first pick from GSW they will take Anthony Edwards and then have 4 wing players with Edwards Heuter Reddish and Hunter.

        Give up Hueter and the 4th overall pick and Dedmon. If GSW asks for more then give them a protected first down the line or multiple seconds.

        Trad Young Anthony Edwards John Collins and Clint Capela those 4 are the future of the franchise and build around ALL of them

      • El Don

        You can’t overpay for Collins, even if you give him the max is not anywhere near an overpay! He is that good dude!

        • I like what Luke Adams has as a suggestion and letting Collins reach restricted free agency and then match any contract that’s offered. You don’t give him the max without any Gage on what the league defines his value as. Not many teams can afford big money so it’s win-win for Atlanta.

    • Not bad, I like it. The Warriors might do that because they need decent bench depth.

      • ThePeople'sElbow

        Huerter and Dedmon are like end of the bench rotation guys, look at their horrendous efficiency on a crappy team like the Hawks. They would not add value to the Warriors and the #1 pick overall presumably can get more value than those two marginal players.

    • Simmons>Russ

      City size has literally nothing to do with basketball or team success

      • If I think it through I believe Sillivan means New York could attract a star free agent a little more easily then a smaller City like Atlanta? Maybe. Sometimes I never know LOL.

      • UGA_Steve

        It absolutely does have something to do with it. NBA stars tend to make as much or more outside of their contract in advertising. Smaller market teams simply cannot match that bonus and will almost never win a battle for a premier free agent.

        The Hawks have had plenty of cap space over the last few years but knew they had zero chance of landing the true stars because of the market. The entire first paragraph of the article was less of a decision of the Hawks than is was that they knew that is the only play they had. So they went after lesser guys and then turned them into assets hoping to build through the draft.

        From my perspective the Hawks need to stop that mode now and let the kids play. They can only get better with minutes and the Hawks should no longer be int he mode where they are wasting minutes on vets.

  2. Sillivan

    If Anthony Davis join Knicks or Hawks,then Lakers get Giannis on free agency

    • No chance. Giannis wants the ball in his hands. LeBron will have none of that. Too similar of a style.

      On the other hand, Warriors everyone touches the ball and the ball moves. The only person to change his game would be Draymond Green. He won’t be bringing the ball up and handling it as much with Giannis at the four. I think green will be fine with that I believe he is a team-first guy.

  3. KnickerbockerAl

    Edwards would be a great fit for Hawks. They should explore trading up. If they don’t luck out with top pick. I see Hawks heading in right direction. Wasn’t a big Young fan in draft. But I must say I was wrong. He’s for real. He’s a better ast guy than Curry. Having Capela will also help his D. He’s really not played with team. Hawks should be a new team next yr. Their future is bright.

    • I think you’re right with one caveat. Edwards is a volume shooter low forties percentage. With a backcourt of 2 guys who like to shoot the ball that often does not spell success and Foster’s dissent among the frontcourt and rest of the roster. For this reason I’m not sure if the Hawks bring in Anthony Edwards if he’s available.

  4. Simmons>Russ

    What could be an absolutely crazy trade would be the Hawks signing and trading John Collins, giving up the 4th pick, Kevin Hueter, Dwayne Dedmon and a future first for the first overall pick and Draymond Green.

    The Hawks would be a real threat. Trae Young is the next Curry and having Green you could copy a lot of GSW offensively. Not to mention you’d have Anthony Edwards as a two way player playing the Klay Thompson role at SG. Then you have Capela playing great defence at the centre position and at SF you have Reddish and Hunter. Plus you’d have a huge amount of Cap space to spend on depth. Defensively Green and Capela would be great especially with Edwards and Hunter on the wings and Guards

    On the other hand the GSW team which is surprisingly getting older than you think gets younger and stays strong. Collins is a 20:10 machine, Dedmon gives you 3’s and blocks at centre, Heuter can be developed into the next Klay and you have the 4th overall pick aswell.
    That could be Cole Anthony, Tryese Haliburton, James Wiseman or Obi Toppin.
    You have Curry and Klay the old leaders with Wiggins Collins and a draft picks as the young players then some solid role players and some more youngsters.

    • Sillivan

      Cole is not on the level of LaMelo Ball
      Cole is out if lottery pick

      Around 20th pick

    • That’s a decent idea on paper and make sense for both rosters, but that’s way too much to give up for the first pick and green. Waaaay too much.

      • ThePeople'sElbow

        not really, Green is a former DPOY (probably should be 2x) and 5x all NBA defense (3 first, 2 second team). Collins at this point has attractive counting and ppg stats for a crappy team. either way Bob Myers is not trading Green.

    • Don’t get me wrong I love these trade-ideas and it sure is fun to think about. Keep them coming. There’s going to be more looks at the non-playoff teams so I hope you guys keep throwing these out there.

  5. nentwigs

    With the retirement of Vince Carter,
    the Hawks are expected to utilize
    one of the following as a replacement:
    Duke Slater,
    Chuck Boyle,
    Charley Hacker
    Frankie Lombardi,
    Lester Hummel.

    • That’s fantastic. At first I thought you were going to mention something about there being no Hawks in the Atlanta area.

  6. _sturt_

    Luke Adams —

    Don’t sleep on Oladipo’s potential availability.

    Given ATL’s lackluster history in free agency, and given Schlenk’s comments over the past year that he desires to add a veteran core player who would represent an addition much like Iggy did for GSW when he was there, there’s a really good likelihood that Schlenk is going to be an active trade suitor this off-season.

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