As June approaches, the Hawks franchise will have to make some tough long term commitments not only to the players, also hiring a new General Manager with reputable experience and success. Former Hawk Steve Smith stated in a radio interview with 92.9 FM, “The one thing I would ask of this Hawks organization is don’t deny the former Hawk.” he continued, “I think, whoever it might be, you have to come here and entrench yourself with the fiber of this city,” Smith said. “I don’t know if the last few general managers have done that. You have to be a part of this city. You have to be here. People have to see you. You have to be visible.”
The organization has been busy so far this offseason, starting off by removing the president of basketball operations title from head coach Mike Budenholzer. The former General Manager Wes Wilcox was moved to, the role of special advisor to ownership. Ressler intends to hire a general manager to oversee the entire basketball operations. Several names such as former NBA players Chauncey Billups, Joe Dumars, David Griffin, Brent Barry, Gersson Rosas and Mark Hughes have all been reportedly linked to the Hawks.
As of Wednesday May 4th, according to Adrian Woj, from The Vertical, Warriors’ assistant General Manager Travis Schlenk has been working closely with Tessler and a deal could be made before the draft. Things are still being worked out but it seems like the process may have come to a halt with both sides reaching an agreement.
Another update, that was expected, has the Hawks’ in flux as All-Star forward Paul Millsap has opted out of his $21.4 million contract for next season to become a free agent, league sources told The Vertical.
Atlanta has publicly stated on multiple occasions that Millsap will be a top priority in July free agency, and Millsap has expressed interest in re-signing. Only time will tell for the forward how valuable he is on the market, and if the Hawks are willing to give Millsap a 5 year maximum contract that would be the highest paid contract in Atlanta Hawks history.
Millsap isn’t the only big piece that is due for a big pay day, Tim Hardaway Jr. aka Microwave will be a restricted free agent this summer. When asked in his exit interview about his time in Atlanta he states, “I love it here. Atlanta brought me here and it really felt like I was starting all over as a rookie when I got here. They made me go through some tough times. They made me mature as a person on and off the court. And made me appreciate the game a whole lot more when I first came in the league. That’s what I’m thankful for.”
“I want to be here, point blank,” Hardaway said. “They brought me here because they believed in me and believed in what I’m capable of doing. I’m thankful for it. … As of now, I’m still here. This is my team. I’m an Atlanta Hawk still. There is no other team right now. My mind and my focus is with the Atlanta Hawks.”
Hardaway is scheduled to make $3.3 million dollars next season. That number will change dramatically after July 1st, where he will be offered at least $15+million annually. The Hawks sent Hardaway to restricted free agency after not extending him a qualifying offer in October.
Hardaway Jr. greatly improved this season, having multiple outbursts and defining moment games, becoming a most improved player candidate in the process. Tim Hardaway Jr. also added that he wants to improve his ball-handling skills during the offseason, a lesson he learned first-hand going against the Wizards dynamic backcourt. He explained in the exit interview about playing against one of the best backcourt duos,
“Wherever you want to get on the court, you have to be able to handle the ball,” Hardaway said. “Watching who we played against, Bradley Beal and John Wall, those guys handle the ball very, very well. They get to anywhere they want on the court. Being able to have that as part of your game will go a long way.”
Dwight Howard’s season might have not have finished the way he wanted to, and his exit interview confirmed just that. Howard’s individual achievements tell a bunch of the story. He finished with 12.7 rebounds per game, 5th in the NBA. He ranked 2nd in the league in offensive rebounds per game (4.0) and 3rd in dunks (199).
Howard played a career-low 29.7 minutes per game while posting career highs in offensive rebounding rate (15.0 percent), total rebounding rate (23.5 percent), and field-goal percentage (63.3 percent). The 6-foot-11 veteran center posted all of those elite numbers despite a minutes restriction and frequently not playing in close 4th quarter minutes.
Howard said that he felt relatively good while playing in 74 regular-season games and 6 in the playoffs. He stated in the exit meeting,
“I felt amazing all year,” he said. “I had a couple of games where guys fouled me and I had to sit out, but other than that I felt great. My body was never an issue with me all year: back, knees, none of that stuff bothered me.”
Through all the ups and and downs throughout the season, Howard expressed his commitment and desire in his interview saying, “I want to be the best for my team and this city,” he said. “This is why I came here. It is upsetting to me, I want to get out there and play. It’s difficult when you work hard for something and you watch it being taken from you.”
Howard when asked about his plans for the summer,
“I’m just going to work on my game and get in the gym, and continue to do the stuff I do every day,” he said. “I just want to get ready for next season, have a good summer and get my body right.”
With that being said it will be a very important offseason beginning with the draft on June 22nd. There are many different ways to go with the 19th pick, perimeter shooting will be much needed regardless at every position.