The Atlanta Hawks did not end their season on a positive note and the only constant message has been of change for the sake of improvement. General manager Travis Schlenk challenged Onyeka Okongwu to come back as a better defensive rebounder. The second-year big man vowed to come back with a jumper.
And there have, of course, been ample hypothetical trade scenarios tossed out.
Those do not figure to be slowing down anytime soon after Hawks principal owner, Tony Ressler, met with media on May 5 to discuss the current state of the team. Ressler, in many ways, echoed the sentiments of Schlenk from just days earlier.
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Ressler made mention of one issue that may have been on the minds of Hawks fans since last season. At that time, Ressler said that the Hawks would go into the luxury tax for a true contender. When Atlanta didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline, perhaps the message was clear.
He mostly repeated that stance on Thursday.
More importantly, he sided with Schlenk in admitting regret at not seeking out improvements for this roster during the offseason.
The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner shared Ressler’s response.
“Yes, I think we should have tried to get better rather than bring back what we had. That won’t happen again. It was a mistake, in my opinion at least.”
Sharing this opinion with his general manager is about as strong of a sign as we will get that some serious movies could be made beyond a deal being consummated. Ressler then got a bit more specific via 92.9 The Game’s Caleb Johnson.
“I think every team should add a superstar to their team when they can. We’re no exception to that.”
With Schlenk and head coach Nate McMillan making note of wanting to get Trae Young off of the ball more next season, and the way the Hawks offense stagnates when he is off of the floor, another star-level player seems to be in order.
Still, it is nice to hear ownership acknowledge as much in conjunction with recognizing that it means paying a hefty sum in the luxury tax.
The Hawks already have the 11th-highest salary cap figure heading into next season, per Sportrac, and are roughly $2.3 million below the tax line before making any moves. In their defense, half of the teams above them have also either already been eliminated or, in the case of the Los Angeles Lakers, failed to make even the Play-In Tournament.
As for the people he has put in charge of running the operation, Ressler did not express anywhere close to the same regrets.
“I’m very involved, frankly, in every major decision….And for whatever it’s worth, I look at Travis, Landry, and Nate relative to NBA basketball decisions as frankly being more knowledgeable than me.”
He went on to say that it is important for him to understand the objectives but that is a solid endorsement given the way things turned out this season.