The Atlanta Hawks are a team heavily invested in the win-now mode. While their ownership has stated that they are happy to go into the luxury tax for the right players, there is a good chance that if the Hawks do not have a good season then they will most likely make a move by the trade deadline.
The reason for this is that they are currently over the luxury tax, and while it is currently by less than $1.0 million, this can have huge ramifications down the track. You see, the Hawks are already over the salary cap for next season and they have not signed De’Andre Hunter to his rookie extension yet.
Currently, the Hawks have just nine players signed and have $139 million worth of salary on the books. Per Shams of the Athletic, the new salary cap for the 2023-24 season is only $134 million, which is just over $10.4 million higher than this season.
The Atlanta Hawks need to win or this roster will not be together at the trade deadline.
The Hawks are going to try and lock Hunter into a long-term deal so that they can avoid a John Collins-type situation from a couple of seasons ago. They do not want to have any distractions as they try and integrate Dejounte Murray into this team so that they can go back to the top of the Eastern Conference.
So, if they offer Hunter a five-year, $90 million deal, he will be on about $18.0 million per season. This means that the Hawks will have a salary bill of $157.0 million if they don’t make any more moves with only ten players signed for next season. This gives them around $5.0 million to sign five players and remain under the luxury tax. This is not going to happen.
So, this is why the Hawks need to win this season. If they don’t then they seriously limit their options for the following two seasons. The problem is the repeater tax which kicks in when a team has gone over the luxury tax in any three out of the previous four seasons. The Hawks are currently in the tax and unless they make a trade, they will stay in the tax this season.
Hunter’s contract will likely push them into the luxury tax next season meaning that unless they can win it all, and make it worth it, the Hawks will trade players. Of course, like anyone who follows the Hawks closely, let us hope that this entire piece is hypothetical.
If the Atlanta Hawks win the Championship, ownership will be pretty happy to pay pretty much anything as they have achieved their goal.