NBA 2021 offseason preview: Atlanta Hawks



After spending several years using their cap space to accept unwanted contracts from other teams and slowly amassing assets, the hawks hit the fast forward button of their retooling process during the 2020 offseason. The club came out and signed Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari lucrative multi-year free agency contracts and gave Young Traé a little help for the leader by adding Rajon Rondo and Kris dunn.

Some of these signatures have worked better than others. Injury issues limited Dunn to just four games; Rondo’s game in Atlanta was top to bottom; and Bogdanovic and Gallinari have each missed more than 20 regular season games for health reasons as well.

But Bogdanovic and Gallinari were in good health for most of the second half and played a key role in the Hawks’ strong end to the season. The team was able to return Rondo to the Clippers in a deadline deal for Lou williams, which proved to be a better fit as a second unit marker. And a mid-season coach change from Lloyd Pierce To Nate mcmillan has been a major factor in the club’s turnaround.

The final result ? After a 14-20 start, the Hawks ended the season winning 27 of their last 38 games, taking the fourth seed in the East and winning two playoffs as underdogs. Despite Young’s absence for part of the Eastern Finals, Atlanta ultimately claimed two NBA Finals wins, a result even the team owner Tony Ressler admitted has exceeded his most optimistic expectations for the season.

After a year of wellness in Atlanta, the Hawks’ front office will enter the offseason with the goal of retaining and adding key roster items to ensure the team is not affected by a regression in 2021/22.


The Hawks’ offseason plan:

The Hawks have big contract decisions to make this offseason on three important players: John collins, Young and Kevin huerter. Collins is eligible for restricted free agency, while Young and Huerter are set for rookie-wide extensions.

Collins’s situation will be the most sticky of the three, and not just because his contract is about to expire (Young and Huerter each have a year on their own). Given the lack of top talent in the free agent market this offseason, Collins is the kind of player who could get a maximum salary offer from a rival suitor, which is probably a bit higher than the Hawks would love to go.

Atlanta offered Collins a four-year extension worth around $ 90 million + last year and would likely be comfortable matching anything between $ 100 million and $ 105 million. But a maximum bid from another team would be worth $ 121 million. That kind of commitment would reduce the Hawks’ flexibility in the years to come, so it will be interesting to see if they’re ready to match that kind of supply if needed.

There aren’t many teams with a substantial margin this summer, so if the Hawks and Collins negotiate directly, maybe Atlanta could get it back at a slightly more team-friendly rate. And if Collins’ camp is prepared to work closely with the Hawks during the free agency process, a sign-and-swap deal could be a solution that benefits all parties. I’m assuming the club are keeping Collins and potentially considering a trade once he’s locked into a long-term deal, but it could go in a number of different directions.

Young negotiations should be simpler – the Hawks will have no problem putting the most on the table for their top scorer and cornerstone of the franchise. The only sticking point in those talks will be whether Young gets a fifth-year player option, a 15% trade kicker, and Rose Rule language that could take his starting salary to 30% of the cap. I imagine Atlanta will be quite accommodating on these points.

Booing won’t come close to maximum, but he’s become a reliable sniper and side playmaker for the Hawks. Of the players who signed rookie-wide extensions in 2020, Luc Kennard is the most obvious comparable for Huerter – Kennard was awarded a four-year, $ 56 million contract, so Huerter’s reps will likely look to match or exceed that number.

Even if Collins returns to a lucrative new contract, the Hawks should have the full mid-level free agency exception. Their priorities will likely be to add depth to the playmaker, where Williams is a free agent, and to the center, where Onyeka Okongwu should be sidelined until at least January after shoulder surgery.

The club could split their mid-level exception into two parts to deal with these spots or could devote the entire MLE to a single player, filling the rest of the bench with minimum wage players, the No.20 pick in the draft, and maybe a semi-annual signing.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Hawks are well positioned to group together multiple players (and maybe a draft pick or two) for a quality starter if the opportunity arises. My bet is that the team is patient with their current squad and intends to make the most of De’André Hunter and Cam Reddish next season after battling injuries in 2020/21. But if everyone is healthy, this should be a full list that could deal with some strength positions.


Salary ceiling situation

Note: Our salary cap projections are based on an assumed 3% increase, which would result in a cap of $ 112.4 million for 2021/22.

Guaranteed salary

  • Danilo Gallinari ($ 20,475,000)
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic ($ 18,000,000)
  • Clint Capela ($ 17,103,448)
  • Young Traé ($ 8,326,471)
  • De’André Hunter ($ 7,775,400)
  • Onyeka Okongwu ($ 6,104,280)
  • Cam Reddish ($ 4,670,160)
  • Kevin huerter ($ 4,253,357)
  • Bruno Fernando ($ 1,782,621)
  • Total: $ 88,490,737

Reader options

Team options

Unsecured salary

Restricted free agents

  • John collins ($ 7,705,447 eligible offer / $ 12,411,906): bird rights
  • Brandon goodwin ($ 2,126,991 eligible offer / $ 2,126,991): pre-registration fees
  • Total (limit retained): $ 14,538,897

Bidirectional free agents

Draft pick

  • Global Choice # 20 ($ 2,659,560)
  • No. 48 overall choice (no maintenance of the ceiling)
  • Total: $ 2,659,560

Players eligible for the extension

  • Kevin huerter (beginner’s scale)
  • Young Traé (beginner’s scale)
  • Clint Capela (veteran)
  • Bruno Fernando (veteran)

Unrestricted free agents / Other ceilings

Cap off season Outlook

The addition of caps for Collins and the Hawks’ first-round pick brings the team’s total guaranteed commitments to nearly $ 104 million for 11 spots on the roster. With a projected cap of around $ 112 million, that wouldn’t be enough to generate significant space, so the Hawks will likely operate above the cap, retaining their full mid-level exception and half-year exception.

That could change if the Hawks make a trade that lowers the team’s pay or if Collins goes into free agency, but that’s a less likely outcome at this time.

Limit exceptions available

  • Intermediate level exception: $ 9,536,000 1
  • Biannual exception: $ 3,732,000 1

Footnotes

  1. These are projected values. If the Hawks decide to operate under the cap, they would lose those exceptions and instead have access to the Hall Exception ($ 4.9 million).

Basketball Insiders, RealGM, and ESPN salary and cap information was used in the creation of this article.