On Tuesday, three time defensive player of the year Dwight Howard was traded to the Charlotte Hornets for Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli, and the 41st draft pick. Howard’s stint in his hometown was supposed to be a renaissance period for the big man, but instead it was a single mediocre season that ended with a first round exit from the playoffs. Even though he is on the downturn of his career, Dwight Howard is still certainly worth more than what the Hawks got in return, a sign of more big changes to come for the Hawks organization.
While Paul Millsap is the best player to put on a Hawks uniform since Dominique Wilkins, it seems as if it is time to let him go. After making a trade for the sole purpose of dumping one aging players contract, it would make no sense to re-sign another aging player to a huge sum of money. The Howard trade would prove utterly useless if the Hawks keep Paul Millsap, unless they also sign another free agent like Jimmy Butler or Gordon Hayward, but that is simply not going to happen.
Another older free agent is Thabo Sefolosha, and as much as people love his defense and scrappiness, it should be a no brainer to let him go. There are also a few minor role players that will be looking for a new contract; Kris Humphries, Jose Calderon, and Ersan Ilyasova are all over 30 year old free agents.
One of the most difficult decisions of the summer will be regarding 25 year old free agent Tim Hardaway Jr. If the Hawks really do plan to rebuild, they must decide whether they want Hardaway to be part of that plan or not.
Travis Schlenk was given a terrible situation when he became the Hawks GM. Even though the team has made the playoffs every year in the past decade, they’ve been about as close to winning the championship as some of the worst teams in the NBA. Basically, it’s going to take a few really unbearable years to get to a championship level, which most fans would take over decades of playoff appearances with no championships.
A warning to Hawks fans:
If this move is the beginning of a rebuild then this I going to be a very rough summer. There is a legitimate chance that we also see Millsap, Hardaway, Muscala, and others leave. The Hawks instagram comment section is now the home to a small revolt of angry fans, but this is only the start. What these angry fans have to understand is that in today’s two-team NBA, the only possible way to win is to restart from the ground up. If someone can make a semi-coherent argument as to how the Hawks were going to win the championship with Dwight Howard, then congratulations, you should probably be the new Hawks GM. Until then however, Hawks fans everywhere should take a page out of the 76ers book and trust the process.
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