This off-season the Hawks did most of their talent acquisition through free agency and the draft. In addition to that, they participated in two trades which helped them clear cap room in the future while acquiring future draft picks. The goal for most of these moves was to acquire players on albatross contracts who were expendable for their teams for the Hawks to shed long term commitments. In doing this Atlanta will have plenty of money in upcoming off-seasons to offer free agents, when their young core is ready for contention.
In early July the Hawks announced that they had acquired Jeremy Lin from the Brooklyn Nets. Along with Lin, the package included a 2025 second round pick and the rights to a 2023 second round pick swap. In return Atlanta sent the Nets Isaia Cordinier, a former second round pick who is yet to make his NBA debut and a 2020 second round pick, protected in the top 55. In this trade the Hawks acquired a veteran point guard who, when healthy, has proven to be perfectly capable of being a competent floor general, averaging 12.0 points and 4.5 assists per game in his career. Lin also figures to be useful in mentoring Trae Young.
While this may to be an unfair haul in favor of the Hawks, who gave up nothing of value; the biggest factor of this trade is that Atlanta will now be paying Lin’s $13.8 million salary for this year. The Nets were then able to use that space freed up by the trade to orchestrate a trade to absorb Kenneth Faried’s sizable contract and acquire two draft picks from the Nuggets.
After the earlier trade, the Hawks were left with a point guard logjam, with incumbent starter Dennis Schröder, and newcomers Trae Young and Lin. Earlier this summer, Dennis Schröder expressed his displeasure with his role in Atlanta’s rebuilding effort saying, “I want to compete. I cannot be second to last in the Eastern Conference.” (ESPN). And this desire to be on a contender manifested itself on the less glamorous end of the court this season; where he had the worst defensive season of his career recording a 113 defensive rating and a -2.2 defensive box plus-minus.
On July 25th Schröder was shipped off to Oklahoma City to presumably fill their backup point guard role, in a three-team trade that also involved Philadelphia. In addition to the German guard the Hawks traded away the newly-extended Mike Muscala to the Sixers, and in return received a package consisting of Carmelo Anthony, Justin Anderson, and Oklahoma City’s 2022 first round draft pick. Anderson is a young wing that has yet to find a permanent role in the NBA, providing only replacement level production so far. However, the Hawks will have plenty of time to develop him as the rebuild progresses. On the 30th of July the Hawks bought out the majority of Anthony’s contract, except the veteran’s minimum salary that will be covered by the Houston Rockets, whom he will sign with after clearing waivers. So, by doing this the Hawks have taken a one-year cap hit of $25.5 million this year, which will be completely freed up by next summer. This is certainly favorable to paying Dennis Schröder $15.5 million each year for the next three seasons, to play on a team which he is at odds with.
So far this off-season, the Hawks have been willing to take on salary in the short term to create long-term financial flexibility in these trades. In this vein, the Hawks have been linked to the Rockets regarding a trade involving swingman Kent Bazemore for Ryan Anderson, whose role on the Rockets seems to be usurped by Carmelo Anthony. While no deal is yet in place, this would likely involve more future draft picks for the Hawks, and again free up more future cap space. The Bucks have also been reported to be interested in Bazemore.