Hawks Owner Ressler Pressed For Free Agent Spree

Majority owner Tony Ressler instructed the Hawks’ front office to pursue numerous free agents last month, leading to the team’s big spending spree, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic details.

Following a three-year rebuild, Ressler told GM Travis Schlenk in a meeting prior to free agency to use all of the team’s cap space to fortify a young roster with quality veterans. The meeting also included coach Lloyd Pierce, assistant GM Landry Fields, and assistant coach and former Pacers head coach Nate McMillan.

“I said this to Travis: What’s the point of having all of this cap space if you don’t use it? That’s like looking at a fancy toy that you could never get your hands on. … We used every bit of that cap space,” Ressler said. “He did exactly what he was supposed to do, and I’m here with great confidence.”

The front office provided Ressler with a list of veteran players who would be good fits with their returning players, and the Hawks ended up getting several of their top targets, according to Kirschner.

The Hawks added Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo GallinariRajon Rondo and Kris Dunn in free agency. Bogdanovic received the biggest deal, a four-year, $72MM offer sheet the Kings didn’t match. Gallinari (three-year, $61MM contract) was acquired in a sign-and-trade with Oklahoma City, while Rondo and Dunn signed two-year deals.

Ressler told Schlenk to flaunt the team’s ability to sign multiple free agents.

“I think Travis wanted everyone to know he had the most cap space in the NBA, and he (darn) well expected to use it. I think that was the message he sent when free agency began,” he said. “I didn’t know if he was going to be able to use it, but to his credit and really the entire basketball ops’ credit, they used it.”

Ressler drew the line on Monday when the team didn’t reach a rookie scale extension agreement with one of those quality young players, John Collins. However, Ressler does expect major improvement after spending all that capital.

“The objective is not, emphatically, to be the eighth seed in the playoffs and pound our chest and say, ‘Mission accomplished,’” Ressler said. “There’s a plan here, and this is clearly one step in the plan, which is to get appreciably better off a shortened 20-win season.”

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25 thoughts on “Hawks Owner Ressler Pressed For Free Agent Spree

  1. Jason Lancaster

    So the owner spends a bunch of money and expects to win because of it?

    I’m sure that will work out great for all involved.

    • Much better then the owners who don’t spend a bunch of money and still expect to win.

    • arthur blank_for owner

      I’m just glad to see him come out and say something…its been 3 seasons and nearly no comments as the Owner. We’ve been told he’s eager to win by many others but hardly Ressler himself

    • TJECK109

      I guess they could have traded for bad contracts and acquired assets but not using it in some way is simply saying we are not in this to win.

    • Chief Two Hands

      It does kind of sound like spending money for the sake of spending money. It’s not like the moves the Hawks made turned them into legitimate contenders to come out of the East. I agree, however, that it’s better than nothing.

    • x%sure

      Better than waiting for the FA class of 21?— bc that was the plan that everyone commended them for sticking to the past few years. Well they gave up on it.

      Fine with me, but they’re a mess now. And I would rather see Bogans on the Bucks… he got poached.

      • SheltonMatthews

        But the class of ‘21 really isn’t the major class of ‘21 we thought it might be. LeBron, AD, Giannis, PG, and more have already agreed to extensions. Even a lot of the potential restricted FA have been locked up. In hindsight, spending to get some guys now wasn’t a terrible idea, because next crop is nowhere near what it was. Giving up on it probably wasn’t the worst idea.

        Now with that said, I understand Atlanta probably wasn’t going to get anywhere near the aforementioned players, so it’s pretty irrelevant, and they might not have actually spent the money they had in the wisest manner.

        • x%sure

          It would be funny if John Collins was the top FA in ’21.
          Looking at HR’s list, I see Kawhi & Dinwiddie & some decent talent with player options, but among UFAs & RFAs, Collins is probably the best! Fortunately for ATL, he is Restricted, like Nunn & Bonga. UFA, Drummond & Aldridge.

          Not sure what my point is… could be that this outspokeness from the owner signifies that talks with Harden are ended. He says, the goal is improvement, but not necessarily to finish in the middle. I like the Cavs with Drummond to do that. The Hawks defense still does not project strong.

  2. Little_Dunker_45

    On paper Hawks did well. On the court? Still don’t think they have quite enough to do anything serious. If making the playoffs if your goal then you probably achieved, but need some of these young men to hit another level before true greatnes

  3. KnickerbockerAl

    If you never made the playoffs. Making the playoffs is an upgrade. Hawks come together. They could be dangerous team. Young teams are still getting better. But they are also a deep young team. They should be fun this yr.

  4. Jeff Zanghi

    I think they did quite well this off-season. I mean they aren’t a title contender but theyre improving on a team that only won 20-games last year. If they can go from that to the 7/8 seed in one season you have to consider that a success.

  5. Jeff Zanghi

    and I think they definitely can be a 7/8 seed (or however the playoffs are going to work this year — I suppose they could also be a 9 — maybe 10 seed? and have a chance to make the playoffs?) Anyway point is… they took a non-competitive team and have in one off-season turned themselves into an actual competitive team. With the young core they already had in place plus scorers like Gallinari and Bogdanovic not to mention one of the better facilitators, Rondo, in the NBA (granted he’s not what he was in his prime… but still) and they should be a fun team to watch next season. Not a championship team by any means… but at least Hawks fans will be able to watch meaningful basketball — which is saying something when just a year prior you only won 20-games.

  6. Sillivan

    Wolves should not sign Beasley and Juan

    Trade Edwards for John Collins and a peanut

  7. SheaGoodbye

    Most of the moves were fine, but a meddling owner is never a good thing. Ressler should stay in his lane.

    • Doesn’t the owner have to give the okay for spending or not spending? He’s not out of his Lane he owns the team.

      • SheaGoodbye

        That’s not what this is, though. This was mandated spending, ie telling the front office what it should be doing.

        The funny thing is I’m pretty sure Schlenk was going to spend dollars anyway this offseason, but for the owner to require he do so is concerning moving forward.

  8. El Don

    ATL will regret not giving JC the max that he has earned, that’s for sure!
    Bogs & Gallo suck, they should be on the bench as Huerter & JC are better!
    FA class of ’21 is sooo bad, probably the worst FA class that I can remember!

    • SheaGoodbye

      Lol at giving a guy a max who cannot create his own shot, defend, or playmake. You’re crazy.

      Collins is a very good player, but not a max guy right now.

  9. siggers84

    This Hawks rebuild was a colossal waste of time. The team they had when they decided to tank was about the same standard as this one will be.

  10. You know what.. I don’t like this headline. I was confused upon clicking thinking that perhaps the minority owners were getting on him for spending so much? “Ressler pressed” ??

    Sounds like he was facing opposition. Should have been Ressler “pushed.” Pressed is receiving, pushed is giving. Nothing to do with the article.. just saying. I’ll let myself out.

    • x%sure

      “GM Shlenk” could follow “pressed” to be more clear. The word does make the sentence read more dramatic, and the Hawks’ FA moves did seem to begin quickly.
      The point being that Schlenk seemed to change course… but that he was supposedly made to do so by a restless owner, not restless fans, b/c you know, those crazy fans.
      Ressler impressed on the media that there was still a plan in place. As they say, Great idea boss.

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