After a mixed bag of a season that ended in a first round loss to the Wizards, the Atlanta Hawks are making some front office changes. Mike Budenholzer has decided to relinquish his position as President of Basketball Operations and will remain as the head coach. Wes Wilcox has also stepped down as the general manager, although he will still maintain a role in the front office. These changes come on the heels of a very significant offseason with both All-Star Paul Millsap and young Tim Hardaway Jr. becoming free agents. The change in front office personnel may signal a different direction for the Hawks over the coming seasons.
One of the names that have repeatedly come up as a possible new General Manager is former Detroit Pistons General Manager Joe Dumars. Joe Dumars was the architect of the 2004 Pistons team that went on to win a Championship. He is credited with discovering underrated players such as Ben Wallace and Richard Hamilton and creating one of the few teams to win a championship without a true superstar. The Pistons would go on to make it to the Eastern Conference finals six times in a row in 2003-2008 before being swept by the Cavaliers in the 2008-2009 season. The Pistons have not had any significant success since. Dumars stepped down in 2014. There are concerns about whether Dumars would be an effective GM in the modern NBA pace and space style of basketball. There are also other concerns with Dumars such as his blunder in the 2003 draft. With the second pick in one of the strongest draft classes in NBA history, Dumars chose Darko Milicic over other available stars such as Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade. The high profile signing of a declining Josh Smith is another notable black mark on his record. Smith was signed to a team that already had an abundance of big men, and Smith was ill-fitted to be the perimeter player that the Pistons asked him to be, shooting an abysmal 33 percent field goal percentage. with 17 percent on three-pointers with the Pistons.
David Griffin is another name that has come up as a possible GM. The current GM for the Cavaliers is not guaranteed a contract for the next season and is on the radar for the Hawks. Griffin has built a roster for the Cavs centered around their superstar Lebron James. He has managed to obtain solid role players from good trades like the trade to New York for J.R Smith, and the Hawks own Kyle Korver. Again Griffin is not without fault. A large part of the success of his roster has to do with how the Cavs have by far the highest paid roster in the NBA, with their starting five earning more than the Hawks entire team. He also has benefited from having aging veterans like Deron Williams sacrifice salary to gain a chance at a championship with Lebron James. The Hawks have neither the high salary nor the star power that the Cavaliers currently have, so Atlanta will be a different challenge for him entirely.
Whoever the Hawks choose will have a challenge ahead of them, and little cap flexibility to work with. They will most likely have to choose between competing for a playoff spot with the aging veterans of Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap, or retooling and rebuilding around the young talent that the Hawks have in Dennis Schroder, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Taurean Prince.
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