The Atlanta Hawks will enter a year of great transition in 2017-18. Here is a look at five players Atlanta could have interest in during NBA free agency.
For the last 10 years, the Atlanta Hawks have been a fixture in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They have had the longest active playoff streak in the conference, but how free agency goes this summer will largely determine if Atlanta can keep its playoff dreams alive.
Atlanta has already traded its starting center Dwight Howard, after only one year with the team, to the division rival Charlotte Hornets. It is seen as a glorified salary dump with new Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk in charger. However, taking on center Miles Plumlee’s beast of a contract isn’t exactly great for Atlanta’s books.
The Hawks made three selections in the 2017 NBA Draft. They took power forward John Collins out of Wake Forest at No. 19, shooting guard Tyler Dorsey out of Oregon at No. 41 and French big man Alpha Kaba with the final pick of the draft at No. 60. Atlanta continues to look to improve long-term in the draft, but will it make the right moves with veteran NBA players in free agency?
Here are five players that the Hawks need to seriously examine about if they have a role on this rebuilding team in 2017 NBA free agency this summer.
Power Forward, Atlanta Hawks
Overall, Atlanta has seven players hitting free agency this summer. Many of whom are valuable rotational players for head coach Mike Budenholzer — wing Thabo Sefolosha, power forward Kris Humphries and center Mike Muscala. However, the one guy that is really intriguing for the Hawks in his unrestricted free agency is forward Ersan Ilyasova.
Atlanta only had Ilyasova for 26 games last season, but he did start 12 games for the Hawks after coming over from the Philadelphia 76ers in the Tiago Splitter trade. Ilyasova had been a player that Budenholzer had tabbed as a guy that would be a great fit in his system for a long time.
He came over to Atlanta and made an immediate impact, averaging 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 24.3 minutes per contest. Frankly, 2016-17 was Ilyasova’s best season in the NBA even though it was split between three teams. It was the first time in his career that he scored more than 1,000 points in a basketball season. He played in all 82 games, succeeding on whatever team he played for.
Of all the players that have come into Budenholzer’s coaching system, few have taken to it as quickly as Ilyasova did. He won’t be asked to start at the four for Atlanta next year, but could spot-start for Budenholzer if need. At the right price, look for Ilyasova to re-up with the Hawks. He is the high-end veteran big they’ll need to hang tough in this swift rebuilding process.