Travis Schlenk

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.

Hawks Notes: Williams, Backup PG, Okongwu, Roster

Lou Williams had considered retiring after the trade that sent him from the Clippers to the Hawks, but after Atlanta’s miraculous Eastern Conference Finals run, he’s thinking about coming back, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Blessing in disguise. ATL, thank you,” Williams wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday. “I appreciate the warm welcome back. My teammates and staff was nothing less than amazing to me. Love. #6man #undergroundgoat #thinkimcomingback.

The three-time Sixth Man of the Year is entering unrestricted free agency this summer.

We have more news from the Hawks:

  • While the Hawks are open to bringing back Williams, Hawks president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk views the backup point guard spot as an area the team will try to upgrade this offseason, as Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “It’s no secret that we’ve always struggled to field a consistent role is at the backup point guard spot,” Schlenk said. “We’ve had a couple of different guys. I think that’ll be one area where we look to shore up this offseason.”
  • Schlenk expressed confidence in the team’s big men, including Clint Capela and John Collins, after Brook Lopez stepped up to provide a big offensive presence following the injury to Giannis Antetokounmpo. “When you get to the part of the season where we got to — the Eastern Conference finals — you’re playing against good teams and good players,” Schlenk said. “I have confidence in the big guys on our roster to be able to compete.”
  • On rookie center Onyeka Okongwu, Schlenk said: “I told ‘O’ yesterday I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player improve so much from the beginning of the playoffs to the end of the playoffs… Told him he should be extremely proud. But there’s a lot more there. And ‘O’ knows that and we feel like that. He’s only going to get better.”
  • Schlenk also touched on the roster-building challenges the team will face as a number of its current players get more expensive. “Obviously it’s a lot easier when you have guys on rookie-scale deals to build out your roster,” Schlenk said, “but once those deals come up, and those players start making bigger money, you really are limited on the ways to add to your team.”

Hawks Notes: McMillan, Offseason, Reddish, Collins, Young

Praising the job that interim head coach Nate McMillan has done since replacing Lloyd Pierce on the Hawks‘ sidelines, general manager Travis Schlenk said that McMillan has been especially adept at tweaking the team’s plays to fit specific players’ skills and has been “unbelievably consistent with his messaging,” writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While it seems like a given that McMillan will be offered Atlanta’s head coaching job on a permanent basis, Schlenk said he has yet to have that conversation with the veteran coach, as Spencer relays.

“Obviously he’s done a great job, I’ve said that publicly. I’ve told Nate that, but our stance is still the same,” Schlenk said. “We’re going to let the season play out and then once the season plays out, we’ll sit down and have conversations. But to this point, short of me telling him he’s doing a great job, we haven’t had any more in-depth conversations.

“That’s quite frankly the way Nate likes it and wants to do it as well. We’re obviously extremely pleased with the job he has done; I have no problem saying that… But we haven’t had any conversations.”

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • Asked about the possibility of bringing back largely the same roster for next season, Schlenk said he wouldn’t be opposed to that, though he acknowledged that a few changes could be coming, according to Spencer. “Every free agency, draft, we’ll add players through the draft, we have two picks this year. And then free agency and the trade season,” Schlenk said. “But listen, if this same group came back, it wouldn’t bother me at all. But we’ll have to see how the draft and free agency play out.”
  • Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness) is able to conduct unrestricted individual workouts and is participating in team practices on a limited basis, according to the Hawks, who said the swingman will be reassessed in 10-14 days. Reddish isn’t expected to have a real role even if he’s able to return before the Hawks’ playoff run ends, but Schlenk said the plan is to have him play for Atlanta’s Summer League squad in August, as Spencer details.
  • Asked about the Hawks’ top offseason priorities, Schlenk identified John Collins‘ restricted free agency and the team’s two draft picks as the most important matters to sort out, according to Spencer. The Hawks’ GM also mentioned Lou Williams‘ unrestricted free agency and Kris Dunn‘s player option decision as issues to address.
  • Trae Young will likely receive a new deal from the Hawks this summer, but Schlenk was noncommittal when asked about the players who are eligible for rookie scale extensions. “To be honest, I haven’t even really talked with any of (Young’s) people yet about any of that stuff,” Schlenk said, per Spencer. Kevin (Huerter) and Trae are eligible. We’ll certainly look to talk to their groups at the appropriate time.”

Hawks’ GM Schlenk Talks McMillan, Trade Market, Collins

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk, who spoke today to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic and Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, acknowledged that a number of the team’s free agent additions “haven’t performed as well as they wanted to.”

However, Schlenk said that veterans like Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo have had an impact on the team off the court and expressed confidence that they can turn things around on the court. He also reiterated that the Hawks’ goal is still to have a winning season and to make the playoffs.

New head coach Nate McMillan will be tasked with getting the squad – which currently has a 16-20 record, back into the postseason mix. And while leading the team to a second-half surge might improve McMillan’s chances of getting his interim tag removed at season’s end, Schlenk insists that the veteran head coach has nothing to prove and is already assured of receiving consideration for the permanent job.

“He’s certainly going to have the opportunity to be the permanent head coach,” Schlenk said, per Kirschner. “No doubt about it. You can certainly argue that he’s got the best chance because he’s here right now, and we’ll have the ability to work with him for the next three months. He’s going to have the opportunity to coach games. I don’t know that there’s necessarily anything that I need to see. He’s got a proven track record. He doesn’t need to prove to me that he can coach NBA basketball. I know that.”

Schlenk also addressed a handful of other topics today, confirming that the Hawks hope Kris Dunn can make his debut with the team at some point later this month and discussing Atlanta’s approach to the trade deadline. Here, via Kirschner and Spencer, are a few of the highlights from the Hawks’ GM:

On whether the Hawks are actively exploring trade scenarios:

“Right now, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything on the horizon, but that can change. You rarely get teams’ best offers. Nobody gets real serious until you get down to the last week or two. It’s hard to gauge. We certainly will look to do anything we can to do anything we can that feels like, is going to make us a better team in the short-term and the long-term. Those sometimes don’t go hand-in-hand, but we’ll look at any situation we think that will help us.”

On the team’s plan for John Collins:

“John’s a big part of our team… He’s made the decision this fall to go to restricted free agency, and that was his choice and obviously we respect it. But we’re going to have the opportunity to match any offer he gets. We’ll certainly make him an offer in free agency as well, and he’ll have the ability to see if he can get an offer from another team. But at the end of the day, we view him as part of our team, and I don’t see a restricted free agency situation where we would just let him walk for nothing.”

On whether Collins could be moved before the trade deadline:

“We listen about all our guys, that’s our job, to see what the value of all our guys are. John is a good young player, and teams have interest in him, no question about it. But we listen on all our guys, I guess is the short answer.”