Hawks will be in no rush to enter free-agent bidding wars
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 26, 2018 07:25 AM
Atlanta Hawks NBA basketball team first-round draft picks from left; Omari Spellman, Trae Young and Kevin Huerter laugh after posing for photos following a news conference Monday, June 25, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP photo/John Bazemore)
By Charles Odum, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks expect to enter NBA free agency next week with about $20 million in salary cap space and three open spots on their roster.
General manager Travis Schlenk says the team will be in no rush to spend that money.
“We will not be quickly out of the gate looking to sign guys,” Schlenk said Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), when the Hawks introduced their three first-round draft picks, guards Trae Young and Kevin Huerter and forward Omari Spellman.
“We’ll kind of sit back and see what the market dictates. ... We’ll kind of play a waiting game and see how the market plays out.”
The market is expected to generate stiff competition for top free agents LeBron James, Paul George and Chris Paul. The Hawks are expected to be observers in those bidding wars.
The Hawks may have had more interest in bargain shopping for affordable help on their front line before veterans Dewayne Dedmon and Mike Muscala exercised their contract options to return next season.
Guards Malcolm Delaney and Damion Lee are eligible to become free agents.
The rebuilding Hawks’ focus is on their youth. The team traded No. 3 pick Luka Doncic to Dallas for Young, the No. 5 pick. Atlanta also acquired a 2019 first-round pick from Dallas in Thursday night’s (Friday, PHL time) deal.
Only one day later, Young already was featured on billboards around Atlanta. Clearly, Young is seen as the much-needed new face of the franchise as well as the future floor leader of the team.
Young wore long pants — but no socks — to Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) news conference after making a fashion statement by wearing shorts to the draft. He said he had not yet seen himself on the new billboards.
Asked if he’s ready to handle the expectations that come with being a top-five pick, Young said “I’m just a piece of the puzzle. I’m not the whole thing. ... I’m looking forward to working with everybody.”
Schlenk and new coach Lloyd Pierce said they expect starting point guard Dennis Schroder to remain with the team and share time with Young.
While back in his native Germany to play with his national team this summer, Schroder expressed a desire to be traded.
Schlenk said he talked with Schroder about the quote and said “they just took snippets of his answers.”
Pierce said Schroder is on board with the Hawks’ rebuilding plan.
“Talking to Dennis, he’s excited,” Pierce said. “He was excited about who we were going to end up with in the draft and he’s excited about where we’re headed.”
Pierce said it will be important for Young to have Schroder as a mentor, just as former Hawks guard Jeff Teague set the example when Schroder entered the league.
“I think Dennis will be a tremendous role model,” Pierce said. “We’ve talked already about him and Trae not only co-existing but him being a leader for Trae and helping him on the court.”
The Hawks still could be receptive to trade inquiries about Schroder. Atlanta’s cap space could be more useful in a trade, possibly involving Schroder for a veteran, than in free agency.
Huerter will not play this summer following surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right hand. He wore a brace on his right hand on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) but said he is recovering quickly and hopes to be cleared before his projected three-month rehabilitation period.
Huerter attended Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, New York, with pitcher Ian Anderson, the Atlanta Braves 2016 first-round pick.
Huerter made no friends with Braves fans when he said he is a San Francisco Giants fan and added “Hopefully I can go to a game and see the Giants beat them.”