Travis Schlenk sends strong message on future of Atlanta Hawks roster

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks ended the season on a very disappointing note says general manager Travis Schlenk and anyone who watched their 4-1 meltdown versus the Miami Heat. Miami put on a masterclass on how to stop a single-dimensional attack cold in its tracks. To quote Schlenk, “for ‘Ice Trae’ to show up, someone else has to get hot”.

That was from an appearance on 92.9 The Game on April 26 — two days before Schlenk joined players and staff for exit interviews.

At the time, Schlenk made clear that he felt the Hawks were closer to the team that finished 26-14 down the stretch as opposed to the one that was 17-25 before that point. But he also said they were “always going to look to make the roster better”.

He said he expected more roster turnover, a point that he has reiterated days later.

Expect a new-look Atlanta Hawks roster next season after a disappointing finish

Appearing on The Morning Show with John Fricke and Hugh Douglas, Schlenk sounded more like he did when he joined the same crew in January when he wondered aloud if bringing everyone back was a mistake. This time, the architect of this group took it a step further and left no room for uncertainty about his offseason plans.

“We made the decision last year to run the same group back and…we probably should have tried to upgrade as opposed to stay status quo. So, certainly this year, the way the season ended…we’re certainly going to try to upgrade the roster moving forward into next season.”

That would seem like a standard-issue statement after one’s team is bounced from the playoffs. But the distinction of staying status quo – something Schlenk lamented previously – led to an interesting follow-up from Douglas who asked how much roster turnover to expect.

“We have some guys that are free agents. We have some guys that are in contract situations. We’ve got a guy eligible for a contract extension…All that stuff plays into it….So we anticipate that there will be some change, certainly, with our free agents as we look to upgrade the roster.”

While it may mean nothing, Schlenk specifying they expect change among the free agents is interesting. Only four of the Hawks’ current free agents are unrestricted – Gorgui Dieng, Lou Williams, and Delon Wright.

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Dieng was relegated to mop-up duty. Williams is expected to retire though he has not made up his mind. And Wright has already expressed an interest in returning. Wright was the most productive of the trio and someone who fits much of what Schlenk says the Hawks will target this offseason.

“Defensively was a big letdown for us last year. We’ll look to address that area, certainly…And then, as we saw in the playoffs, when a team completely focuses on Trae [Young], having a secondary ball-handler, a secondary creator, that could certainly be another emphasis for us this summer.”

Schlenk went on to say that he does believe the Hawks have a “very good foundation” and that now their core has experienced playoff success and failure. He also agreed with Fricke in hoping there would be no more talk of the regular season being “boring”.

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With all of the trade rumors swirling around the Hawks already, this offseason is guaranteed to be anything but.