Travis Schlenk

Hawks Rumors: McMillan, Young, Schlenk, Collins

It’s becoming increasingly likely that this will be Nate McMillan‘s final season as head coach of the Hawks, according to Lauren Williams and Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sources tell the authors that a player agent was informed that McMillan won’t be returning in a recent meeting with team owner Tony Ressler and his son, manager of basketball and business operations Nick Ressler.

Star guard Trae Young has been involved in disputes with McMillan, although their relationship has reportedly been smoother since an incident that was highly publicized in early December. Williams and Vivlamore hear from several sources that McMillan has considered resigning (as previously reported), but team officials were able to talk him out of it. When asked for a response, McMillan said he is focused on the playoff race and will delay any decisions on his future until after the season.

New head of basketball operations Landry Fields and Kyle Korver, who is finalizing a deal to become assistant general manager, both denied talking to agents about the team’s plans for McMillan.

“We’ve got half a season (left),” Fields said. “That’s a lot of basketball. There’s been transition. There’s been stories that come out. There’s been so much investment that we have to have today to think about beyond this season. It’s not just like Nate, it’s with a lot of different people. Like for us, how are we thinking about ourselves going forward?

“To start to live into that space without honoring this space would be unfair for everyone involved — Nate, myself, Kyle included — like, that’s somewhere. We believe in Nate right now. He’s for us. He’s trying to do things in this whole transition of leadership that are hard. They’re hard for everyone. So having this partnership right now for the objectives that we have for this continued season is our only focus.”

There’s more on the Hawks, all from Williams and Vivlamore:

  • The relationship between Young and former president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk deteriorated over the past few months, leading to Schlenk’s decision to move into an advisory role in December, according to the authors’ sources. They add that even though Schlenk is listed as a senior advisor, he’s had no actual input into the organization since stepping down, confirming a recent Sam Amick report. The dispute reportedly began after Game 2 of last season’s playoff series when Young chartered a private flight home from Miami without telling anyone from the team. He was subsequently fined.
  • Several controversial personnel decisions led to the front office shakeup, sources tell Williams and Vivlamore. Among them was a John Collins trade last season that was ultimately vetoed by ownership. Other moves include the trade of Kevin Huerter to the Kings made just to avoid the luxury tax, the high price the team paid to the Spurs for Dejounte Murray, the signing of Aaron Holiday, who was Nick Ressler’s teammate in high school, and the trade of Luka Doncic to the Mavericks after drafting him in 2018.
  • The Hawks are focused on portraying an atmosphere of stability amid all the recent changes, Williams and Vivlamore add. The organization is looking for a new uniform sponsor and doesn’t want to scare away a potential advertiser with any appearance of turmoil.

Hawks Rumors: Schlenk, Ressler, Murray, Collins

The Hawks‘ impending promotion of Kyle Korver to assistant general manager is just one of many changes taking place in the team’s front office this season, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

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 “messinessinvolving 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.”

Hawks’ Schlenk Moving Into Advisory Role; Fields To Run Basketball Ops

9:09am: The Hawks have officially announced that Schlenk is stepping down from his position as president of basketball operations and moving into an advisory role, with Fields assuming control of the team’s basketball ops. A statement from Schlenk suggests that he was the one to initiate the change.

“Throughout this season, Tony and I have had multiple, honest conversations about some of the personal things I’ve been going through and how I’ve been feeling, and I appreciate the counsel he has provided me as well as the opportunity he gave me six seasons ago to be a first-time general manager,” Schlenk said. “As we enter a new year, the timing feels right for me to take a step back, reflect and prioritize my family.

“I am proud of the group I assembled both on the floor and in the front office. We have built a strong foundation for the Hawks franchise and achieved a high level of success. As an advisor, I look forward to working with Tony and Landry and continuing to make contributions in less visible but still impactful ways.”


9:02am: The Hawks are making a change to their front office structure, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk will be transitioning into a senior advisory role.

General manager Landry Fields will take Schlenk’s place as the executive who oversees and runs Atlanta’s basketball operations, Wojnarowski adds.

It’s unclear whether the move was instigated by the Hawks or whether it stems from a desire on Schlenk’s part to take a step back. Either way, he has multiple years left on his contract and will remain in the organization working alongside team owner Tony Ressler for the foreseeable future, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Fields, meanwhile, has enjoyed a meteoric rise as an executive since his NBA playing days ended in 2015. He joined the Spurs as a scout in 2016, then was named the general manager of their G League affiliate in Austin in 2016. The Hawks brought him aboard as an assistant GM in 2020, and he was subsequently promoted to GM earlier this year amid rumors that other teams were trying to lure him away from Atlanta.

Schlenk, formerly an assistant GM in Golden State, was hired as Atlanta’s general manager in 2017 and had been the ninth longest-tenured head of basketball operations in the NBA. He was promoted to president of basketball ops in 2019.

Schlenk launched a rebuild when he initially joined the Hawks and oversaw three losing seasons before the team turned things around in 2020/21, making a run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

During his tenure atop the team’s front office, Schlenk swung two major draft trades to land Trae Young (for Luka Doncic and a future pick) and De’Andre Hunter; drafted John Collins, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, and Onyeka Okongwu; and acquired Dejounte Murray from San Antonio in a blockbuster deal this past summer.

Going forward, Fields will be tasked with trying to transform the Hawks from a playoff team into a legitimate title contender. Atlanta is expected to be active before this season’s trade deadline, with Collins once again believed to be on the block.

Hawks’ Schlenk: “It’s Not Going To Be A Major Overhaul”

The Hawks are heavily involved in the trade rumor mill ahead of the draft and free agency, but president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk says the team isn’t looking for a major roster shuffle.

It’s not going to be a major overhaul,” Schlenk said, according to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic. “I think some people have assumed some things based on some of my comments or (team owner) Tony (Ressler)’s comments after the season.”

As Schultz writes, Atlanta faces an important offseason as a pretty good team that took a step back in 2021/22 — the Hawks made the Eastern Conference finals in ’20/21 but were eliminated by Miami in the first round of the playoffs this season. The Hawks want to compete for championships around Trae Young, but transforming a low-end playoff team into a championship-caliber club is easier said than done.

It’s a lot easier to become a good team, a playoff team, than it is to become one that contends for a title,” Schlenk said. “We feel we’ve become a competitive team, but now we have to take the next step and these are difficult decisions. If you make a mistake in the draft, you can overcome that. It’s a two-year mistake. If you make a mistake in free agency or in a sign-and-trade, when you’re giving somebody a four-year, $150 million contract, that can be detrimental for a long time.”

Schlenk said he’s talking to five or six teams a day, and acknowledges that “there are four or five paths we can take right now.” He’s adamant that finding the right fit will play a crucial role in whichever path he takes.

It’s about fit,” Schlenk said, per Schultz. “That’s an aspect of this people don’t appreciate enough. It’s easy to (assess) talent, but these are human beings, and they’re a close-knit group of guys who spend a lot of time together. The right guy or the wrong guy can really affect a team.”

It’s an interesting story from Schultz and worth checking out for Hawks fans who subscribe to The Athletic.

Hawks To Elevate Landry Fields To GM Under Schlenk

The Hawks are promoting Landry Fields to general manager, beginning next month, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Fields, who has been an assistant GM with the franchise, will continue to work under president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk.

Just 33 years old, Fields began his front office career with the Spurs. He joined the Hawks as an assistant GM in 2020.

Hawks owner Tony Ressler has expressed high confidence in his current front office personnel and Fields’ promotion reflects that. There were rumors early in the season that other teams were trying to lure away Fields but that he was likely to be promoted by the Hawks.

Fields started out as a scout with San Antonio in 2016 and eventually worked his way up to becoming the GM of the G League’s Austin Spurs. He also spent five seasons in the NBA, playing for both the Knicks and Raptors. In 255 games, he averaged 6.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG.

Hawks Owner Ressler Promises Roster Changes

The Hawks plan to shake things up this offseason after standing relatively pat last summer. That’s what owner Tony Ressler told the media, including The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner, on Thursday.

Ressler felt the team’s brass may have read too much into the surprising run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, which is why the roster looked much the same this season.

“I think we should have tried to get better rather than bring back what we had,” Ressler said. “That won’t happen again. It was a mistake, in my opinion at least.”

President of basketball operations Travis Schlenk made similar comments during a radio interview earlier this week.

Here are few more notable points from Ressler’s press conference:

  • The Hawks’ roster moves will be made with an eye toward finding more creators on offense and better defenders, particularly on the perimeter. “Getting more folks who could handle the ball, create and more defensive-oriented players — or both — that’s an obvious answer,” Ressler said. “When I talk to Travis and (assistant GM) Landry (Fields) about this very subject, which you could imagine happens frequently, I think their view is the league is complicated. You have to use the free-agent view, you have to use the draft, you have to use the development of the players — and, frankly, the availability of what’s out there will determine the decisions we make.”
  • Ressler is willing to make the Hawks a taxpaying team, as long as it makes sense to spend for a perennial contender. Ressler has told Schlenk he’s willing to go over the luxury tax threshold as early as next season. “We’re going to pay what we have to pay,” he said. “Sometimes owners set a tone — and I’m trying to set a very clear tone — sometimes we say some things one season that may not pertain to the next. Going into the tax doesn’t scare us. … Our job is to go into the tax when it’s good business, to position ourselves for greatness.”
  • Ressler isn’t thinking about a coaching or front office change. “Between Travis, Landry and Nate (McMillan), we have a hell of a team in our front office and coaching staff,” Ressler said. “I have enormous confidence in all of those folks.” However, he felt complacency seeped in throughout the roster and organization. “That’s what this season told me,” he said. “The idea that you have complacency before you win a championship — maybe after we win a championship, I’ll take a breath. We’re not going to have complacency again at any level.”

Hawks’ Schlenk: Reddish Trade Sets Up Deadline Strategy

The Hawks dealt young forward Cam Reddish nearly a month before the trade deadline. Atlanta’s general manager and president of basketball operations, Travis Schlenk, said that by making this trade now, he can better assess what to do at the deadline, as Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.

“I’ve seen some people say, ‘Why wouldn’t they wait?’ We wanted to see if just a little tweak would have an impact,” Schlenk said. “This gives us two, three weeks before the trade deadline to see if a small tweak does kind of change the trajectory of the season. So, by doing this early, it gives us that little runway to evaluate. And, you know, again, our hope is that this will sort of change the course of the season for us.”

The Hawks added Kevin Knox and a first-round pick in the deal with the Knicks. Knox probably won’t play much, but Atlanta can now go with a wing rotation of De’Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter without trying to find minutes for Reddish.

The first-rounder, which Charlotte owed New York, was a motivation factor for Schlenk. It gives the Hawks another asset it can dangle in future deals.

“We feel like this pick from Charlotte, even though it does have protections, I think my analytics group said there’s a 90% chance over the next four years we get this pick, so we think it’s a real first-round draft pick, it’s not a fake first-round draft pick,” Schlenk said. “And the one thing I’ll say about draft picks, everybody values draft picks. Every team might not value a player, but 29 other teams will value a real first-round draft pick.”

Reddish expressed his desire to be moved to a team where he could play more. He was averaging 23.4 MPG in 34 games this season with Atlanta. The Hawks weren’t down on Reddish’s ability but the wing logjam, along with salary constraints that would have made it difficult to extend him, compelled them to comply to his wishes.

“He’s super high-talent. We all see that. He’s got great length, he’s got great size, he’s got great skill level. But we’re trying to blend the team together, as well,” Schlenk said. “So we have to take all that stuff into consideration. He could certainly go on and have an All-Star caliber career, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all by that.”

Coach Nate McMillan was well aware of Reddish’s desire to be moved, but noted the former Duke forward remained professional throughout the season, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets.

“I thought he handled it the right way,” McMillan said. “He didn’t make a big deal about it in the press.”

Charania’s Latest: Ariza, Nunn, Sabonis, Turner, Hawks

The Lakers are hopeful that forward Trevor Ariza will be able to make his season debut within the next week or two, says Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ariza has been sidelined for the entire fall as he recovers from ankle surgery, but continues to ramp up his activity. He was expected to participate on Monday in a practice with some members of the South Bay Lakers, as well as Rajon Rondo and Kent Bazemore, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Like Ariza, Lakers guard Kendrick Nunn hasn’t played at all for the team this season due to a bone bruise in his right knee. Sources tell Charania that Los Angeles is optimistic about Nunn returning to the court and making his debut for the club at some point in January.

Here’s more from Charania:

  • The Suns and Kings have shown interest in Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis in recent years, per Charania. It’s unclear if either Pacific team will make a run at Sabonis now that he’s rumored to be available, but they could be worth watching. Charania adds that “a slew” of teams are expected to pursue Myles Turner, and the expectation is that Indiana would only move one of its two big men, not both.
  • Hawks president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk and other members of Atlanta’s front office will likely sign contract extensions by the 2022 offseason, Charania reports. There have been rumors that other teams may try to lure assistant general manager Landry Fields away from the Hawks, but Fields is trending toward being promoted to GM in Atlanta under Schlenk, according to Charania.
  • Charania’s latest Inside Pass column for The Athletic included several other notable tidbits, which we rounded up in a series of stories earlier today.

Hawks Notes: Huerter, Hunter, Bogdanovic, Capela, Vaccinations

Extension talks are ongoing between the Hawks and Kevin Huerter, but president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk isn’t sure if anything will get signed, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic writes.

“As I’ve said all along, we’re hopeful to get something done with Kevin long-term, but if we don’t, that’s OK too,” Schlenk said. “As we saw last year with John (Collins), that certainly doesn’t mean that we’re not going to work hard next year in free agency to try to get Kevin wrapped up long-term. These things are kind of hard to predict how things will go. They’re kind of hard to do.”

If no agreement is reached, Huerter will be a restricted free agent next summer.

We have more on the Hawks:

  • De’Andre Hunter won’t be a full participant in camp, according to Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The teams expects him to be ready when the season begins. Hunter underwent right knee surgery in June. Huerter and Bogdan Bogdanovic, who also dealt with knee injuries last season, are also expected to a full go by the regular season. Clint Capela had a PRP injection in his Achilles tendon, and he’ll gradually ramp up activity during camp, Spencer adds.
  • The Hawks will be fully vaccinated by the start of the season, Spencer writes. One player still has to receive his second dose, but that will be done by opening night. All staff members have been vaccinated.
  • In case you missed it, Jahlil Okafor has signed a non-guaranteed contract with Atlanta. Get the details here.

GM Believes Hawks Have Become Free Agent Destination

President of basketball operations Travis Schlenk believes the Hawks are now a destination for top free agents and All-Star level players seeking a trade, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic writes.

“I think last year kind of put us back on the NBA map as far as a destination,” he said. “Those who want to get traded, they want to go somewhere they think they can win. And I think now that perception of us is out there, because we do have a young core that did show success in the playoffs. So the hope would be when a star player does ask to be traded, we’ll be one of the destinations he’ll be open to coming to.”

Acquiring a second star to pair with Trae Young could be somewhat difficult, though Schlenk sees it as a possibility.

“I still think when you look at the depth of our roster and the young talent that we have, we don’t have draft assets like we have in the past anymore, but we now have guys under contract that you could match some of the bigger salaries,” he said.

The Hawks have one spot open on the 15-man roster, but Schlenk doesn’t plan to fill it right away. The team is close to the luxury tax, so when a 15th player is added, it will likely be on a non-guaranteed deal.

However, if Atlanta is in title contention again, owner Tony Ressler won’t mind paying the tax, according to Schlenk.

“Certainly, Tony is willing to pay the tax if we are going to be a contender,” Schlenk said. “I’m probably more conscious of it than Tony is, to be honest with you. It’s my job to manage his money. He’s got a lot more of it than I do, so I worry about it more than he does.”

Another order of business that the Hawks would like to take care of before the start of next season is reaching an extension agreement with Kevin Huerter, according to Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He’s one of the NBA players eligible for a rookie scale extension.

The talks should heat up next week, Spencer adds.