The Atlanta Hawks made it clear they favor roster additions with established players over rookies. The Hawks have capitalized the past few seasons by taking lesser known veterans and making them into stars. Atlanta is looking to repeat that success after trading for Tim Hardaway Jr in the NBA Draft while the team is preparing to get very active once the NBA free agency market opens on July 1.
The Hawks entered the draft with the No.15 pick and the chance to get some real talent just outside the lottery numbers. Instead, the Hawks drafted Kelly Oubre who was then traded to the Washington Wizards who then drafted Jerian Grant, sent him to the New York Knicks where Hardaway Jr was sent to Atlanta. It was a complicated set of moves to acquire a shooting guard that has been unimpressive in two seasons with the Knicks. However, head coach Mike Budenholzer remains very confident that Hardaway Jr can really develop into a start for Atlanta in the coming years.
With that out of the way, Atlanta is preparing to make moves in free agency. While getting Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll to return is a priority, it will be tough to do with salary cap space tight. While the Hawks work out how to bring their own players back, other free agents are now eyeing Atlanta has a favorable landing spot this summer.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, LaMarcus Aldridge is interested in Atlanta in free agency. The power forward has informed the Portland Trail Blazers that he will be leaving in free agency and the Hawks are on his wish list. Atlanta likes the idea of pairing Aldridge with Al Horford in the front court and while bringing back Millsap would be nice, the power forward is an upgrade with 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
Shams Charania of RealGM.com is reporting that Monta Ellis is also interested in joining the Hawks. After opting out with the Dallas Mavericks, the shooting guard is looking for a long-term contract after moving past the $8.72 million option. The chances Ellis signs with the Hawks are slim simply because there is not space for him. Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder have the point guard position taken care of and Kyle Korver is not headed anywhere. Hardaway Jr can come off the bench if he develops. Ellis also does not fit into Budenholzer's pass-friendly offensive plan.
The initial reactions on Hardaway are mostly skeptical. The shooting guard did much of nothing with the New York Knicks causing Phil Jackson to get desperate to trade him. However, Atlanta has made something out of nothing before and could strike gold once again.