The Atlanta Hawks made the decision to shake things up last offseason by letting Al Horford walk in free agency rather than fork over the five-year max he desired, trading Jeff Teague to the Pacers, and then bringing Atlanta native Dwight Howard back home. The result? Pretty much the exact same as the past decade of Hawks basketball, just with different players.
The Hawks went 43-39, earned the fifth seed in the East, proceeded to lose to the Wizards in six games, and now face even more questions going into this summer than last.Atlanta must determine, once and for all, if they will break it down and rebuild or keep everything together. Two of their three biggest offseason questions involve their starting frontcourt of Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard — the other being how much they’re willing to spend on Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Hawks are at a crossroads, one that they appeared to have reached during the season with the Kyle Korver trade and then subsequently backtracked to by reneging on a rebuild and keeping Millsap at the trade deadline and acquiring Ersan Ilyasova.
Now, there’s no running from the decision, and the front office must come to a consensus. Millsap will opt out of his player option and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but has made his intentions clear that he would like to re-sign with the Hawks if they come with a max offer. This makes sense, because Atlanta can offer him the most. However, Millsap is 32, two years older than Horford was when he hit free agency last year and the Hawks passed on offering him the full max for fear of the eventual decline players often see in the mid-30s.
So, the Hawks must make a decision on whether they bite the bullet and pay Millsap or, for the third time in the last five years, let a star frontcourt player walk in free agency after balking at offers at the trade deadline (Horford and Josh Smith being the prior two examples).