At this moment, Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk is all of us. He sees a team that showed so much potential last season en route to the Eastern Conference Finals now severely underperforming. Even more to his credit, he did not let their misfortunes (and mistreatment) in dealing with COVID over the last two-plus weeks be an excuse.
Appearing on 92.9 The Game’s The Morning Show with John Fricke and Hugh Douglas, Schlenk took primary responsibility should the Hawks not get things turned around.
He was also very clear about what he feels has held this team back and what may come.
Atlanta Hawks GM Travis Schlenk was very critical of his team’s performance on Tuesday
The remarks come on the heels of the Hawks disheartening 136-131 defeat at the hands of the Anfernee Simons-led Portland Trail Blazers. It’s their third time allowing 130-plus points in the last four games and ruined a career-high 56-point night from Trae Young. It was also very much on-brand for this season, according to Schlenk.
In response to Douglas asking if he ever takes time to appreciate what Young is capable of, Shlenk offered up the following:
"“Sure, sometimes. But during a game, especially a game…I’m a broken record here…we play another short-handed team, score 120-plus points and we can’t win. I mean, that just…that shouldn’t happen”"
He went on to say that maybe one day he’ll look back on it more fondly but, for now, not so much.
"“It’s a hard pill to swallow when your team’s not playing as well as you think it should. And maybe I need to lower my expectations for this team”, Schlenk said, “ultimately falls on my shoulders.”"
The man who put this group together then said the players “aren’t responding” to what the coaches are doing.
"“We’re seeing the same thing every game. Again, last night we had the lead going into the fourth quarter and…then we can’t keep it. I sound like a broken record here but it’s the same thing every game.”"
Schlenk then said they would have to take a “long look” at the roster to assess whether it is the group that showed so much promise at less than full strength last season or the one that has struggled to perform up to snuff even when (closer to) fully healthy this season.
He also said they will have to make adjustments in the wake of those assessments.
What those would be but he later wondered out loud if, perhaps, he made a misstep in bringing the entire group back.
On the Hawks defense, he was just as direct.
"“There’s no sense of urgency to make a stop. There’s no sense of accountability that ‘I’m gonna stop my guy” or as a team, we’re gonna make an effort…somebody gets scored on, they go down to the other end. It doesn’t bother them”"
Schlenk also announced he is the latest (and hopefully last) member of the organization to enter protocols in an interview that covers injury updates to wondering how much Solomon Hill’s leadership is missed,
It mostly makes the general manager’s frustration very, very apparent. He even snapped back at the hosts for making a bigger deal of his comments than warranted.
At one point, Schlenk wonders aloud if it was “such a great idea to bring everybody back” as we get closer to the trade deadline and questions whether he has put a product on the floor that is good enough.
The Hawks next play on Wednesday at the Sacramento Kings and should get Bogdan Bogdanovic and John Collins back.