(Sports Network) - With a new head coach and very few players under contract,
the Atlanta Hawks have a lot to gain from this year's draft.
Mike Budenholzer, Gregg Popovich's right-hand man for years with the San
Antonio Spurs, replaced Larry Drew as the head man. Budenholzer has worked
with Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry when Ferry was a member of the Spurs
and when Ferry worked in San Antonio's front office.
Both Ferry and Budenholzer have their work cut out for them. Few players are
under contract for next season and they'll have to decide whether or not to
bring back multi-talented forward Josh Smith.
He is an unrestricted free agent and the team declined to trade him at the
deadline, making many people believe the Hawks are interested in bringing him
back. Smith indicated previously he wants a max contract and that might be too
prohibitive a figure to allow for a return.
It's no secret the Hawks will have money to spend, especially if Smith lands
elsewhere. There have been reports that Ferry and the organization are going
to make runs at both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, the two premier free agents
on the market.
So much depends on what impact free-agency will have on the composition of the
Hawks' roster. They have back-to-back picks (17 and 18) in the first round to
try and populate their roster.
They could definitely use help at shooting guard, so Jamaal Franklin of San
Diego St. or Glen Rice, Jr. from the NBA D-League could make sense. If the
Hawks can't land Paul or re-sign Jeff Teague, point guard is an issue. Someone
like Miami's Shane Larkin could be in the mix. If Howard or Smith isn't in
uniform next season, big men like Duke's Mason Plumlee, or Gonzaga's Kelly
Olynyk become factors.
Maybe a mix of guard and big man would be the correct recipe for the Hawks.
Players under contract: C: Al Horford; G: Lou Williams; G: DeShawn Stevenson;
G: John Jenkins; F: Michael Scott; G: Shelvin Mack
Free agents: F: Josh Smith; G: Devin Harris; C: Zaza Pachulia; F: Kyle Korver;
C: Johan Petro; F: Dahntay Jones; G: Jeff Teague; F: Ivan Johnson
(restricted); C: Anthony Tolliver
Recent Draft History:
2012: John Jenkins (23), Mike Scott (43)
2011: Keith Benson (48)
2010: Damion James (24), Pape Sy (53)
2009: Jeff Teague (19), Sergiy Gladyr (49)
2008: No picks
Draft picks: 1st round (17th, 18th overall), 2nd round (47th, 50th overall)
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