According to Amick, although the Hawks announced last month that Travis Schlenk would be moving into an advisory role after stepping down from his president of basketball operations position, league sources tell The Athletic that Schlenk is no longer part of the operation in Atlanta and is free to leave for another team if he so chooses.
Nick Ressler, the 27-year-old son of Hawks owner Tony Ressler, has had “increasing influence” on both roster and staffing decisions since becoming the franchise’s director of business and basketball operations in December 2020, Amick explains, adding that the younger Ressler’s “effect on the decision-making process” was a factor in Schlenk’s departure.
Amick describes the Dejounte Murray trade as the “beginning of the end” for the previous regime in Atlanta, reporting that Schlenk expressed reservations about the price the team paid for the former Spurs guard (three first-round picks, including two unprotected, and a pick swap). Nick Ressler was the driving force behind that move, per Amick.
The “messiness” involving head coach Nate McMillan in early December also played a part in ownership’s final decision on Schlenk, according to Amick, who adds that Tony Ressler may bring in a more experienced executive at some point to help fill out a fairly green front office. There has also been plenty of chatter about the possibility of the Hawks adding more former players to their basketball operations department, tweets Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
Here’s more on the Hawks:
- Atlanta has been one of the NBA’s most active teams in trade talks in recent weeks and is very much in the market for immediate help, as opposed to trying to recoup draft picks, Amick writes. It’s clear the Hawks’ priority is still to win as soon as possible despite a disappointing start to this season (the team’s record is 19-22).
- Rival executives who have spoken to the Hawks about John Collins indicate that the asking price has come down considerably compared to where it was in past years, says Amick. League sources tell The Athletic that there are some scenarios in which Atlanta is simply asking for a quality player in return for Collins, as opposed to that player plus draft capital.
- Speaking to Amick, Collins referred to Schlenk’s “advisory role” using air quotes and suggested that the Hawks’ players hadn’t received a full explanation for the front office changes. Murray, meanwhile, admitted that his first season in Atlanta has been more turbulent than he anticipated. “I mean, there’s a lot going on (that’s) non-basketball,” Murray said. “And then with basketball, you’ve got guys in trade rumors.”
- Here’s more from Murray on that outside noise: “I wouldn’t say more than what I expected, but more than where I came from in San Antonio where everything was just not as loud. There’s a lot going on, but for me I’m just trying to keep guys together with my leadership, showing up to work, working hard, being vocal and keeping us together, and trying to keep the outside noise the outside noise. But at the end of the day, we all see it. You can’t hide. You can’t run from it. … At the end of the day, winning takes care of it all. So we need to control what we can control, continue to come together as brothers, and try to go out and win basketball games.”