2019 NBA Draft: Atlanta Hawks Used Cap Space to Create Future Contender

A primer on the Atlanta Hawks salary cap situation after the 2019 NBA Draft.

Once again flipping their nearly-empty payroll into future assets, the Atlanta Hawks were busy on 2019 NBA Draft night. This time they acquired the expiring deals of Allen Crabbe and Solomon Hill, nabbing the 4th pick along the way.

Now, their 4 highest paid players, Kent Bazemore, Allen Crabbe, Solomon Hill and Miles Plumlee (Crabbe and Hill acquired in the draft-related moves) are all on expiring deals, and together they make up 53.21% of the cap per Spotrac. Only two of those, Bazemore and Crabbe, project to be a big part of the rotation, and only Baze could crack the starting 5.

All signed during the infamous salary cap inflation of summer 2015 that led to many overpays, the only deal that was actually given out by Atlanta was to Mr. Kent Bazemore, and the rest were in a part of a trade.

Miles Plumlee was acquired in a deal with Charlotte that was primarily a way of dumping Dwight Howard’s contract. They also got Marco Belinelli and a 2nd rounder who ended up being Tyler Dorsey, both of whom played some solid minutes for a year, but are no longer on the team.

Last offseason, they dumped Dennis Schröder, who did not have a future in Atlanta, to the Thunder and received a still-young Justin Anderson and a 2022 first rounder in exchange for taking (and paying) for Carmelo Anthony.

Earlier in June, the Hawks flipped Taurean Prince and a 2nd round pick for the 17th overall pick and a career 39% 3-point shooter in Crabbe.

Then, they turned that same 17th pick, along with their 8th and 35th picks into the 4th overall pick, which really, given Zion/Morant/Barrett being cemented into the top 3 picks, felt like the first pick, giving Schlenk his top choice of the remaining talents.

The pick was likely more valuable than a normal 4th pick because of that, and the Atlanta Hawks took back Solomon Hill’s $12 million as a result.

The only real downside to taking on these contracts is that their money is tied up for the 2019 free agency period, but its a smart move for a team that wasn’t likely to be a big spender this summer anyways (Klay Thompson to ATL believers cover your ears). They will have a near blank slate for next season and could look to break the bank next year if they please.

With the three 2019 NBA Draft selections they added on Thursday, the Atlanta Hawks have eight players on the team on their rookie deals, making them one of the youngest and cheapest cores in the league.

Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter already made up on the league’s brightest futures, and adding De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Bruno Fernando only make things better.

They have one of, if not the best road map from the lottery to contender in the NBA right now, and while smart drafting has a lot to do with that, leveraging the bank was just as important.

Next: Grading All 3 Hawks Picks in 2019 NBA Draft

The Hawks will likely have a puncher’s chance for a 6-8 seed in the East this year, but next offseason, when the books open up and they have room for two max contracts to go along with their young core, things could start looking very good in Atlanta, very fast.

 

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