East rival urged to take advantage of Atlanta Hawks’ situation

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Teams like the Atlanta Hawks often find themselves in trade rumors.

They are undoubtedly a talented group but, as last season showed, they were missing something in addition to needing more time together to jell to become true championship-caliber squads. But change is expected this offseason and could come in the form of a long-awaited resolution.

“The Sixers should also place a call to the Atlanta Hawks, who are facing some particularly thorny financial decisions within the next 13 months,” wrote Bryan Toporek of Liberty Ballers on June 7. “They already have five players earning $15 million or more in 2024-25…They’ll have to start shedding some of their longer-term salary soon.”

Toporek also notes the looming contract situations of Saddiq Bey, Dejounte Murray, and Onyeka Okongwu who are extension-eligible this offseason.

Murray could be considered the least likely of the group to get an extension done given the raise he is due if he hits free agency. Okongwu is a former No. 6 overall pick and the likely successor at center while Bey’s deal would be the least expensive, though he could have suitors in 2024.

That opens up the possibility that one of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela, or John Collins comes available “at a discount”, Toporek speculates.

Bogdanovic, 30, is starting a four-year, $68 million contract that he signed in March, keeping him from being included in any trade until September which is when training camps open. A lot will have happened by then.

He averaged 14.0 points (40.6% 3P), 3.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists this past season.

Capela, 29, is beginning a two-year, $46 million extension this season but, because he signed it in 2021, he can be included in a deal, perhaps to make way for Okongwu. The 2021 rebounding champ, Capela averaged 12.0 points and `11.0 rebounds this past season, his sixth consecutive campaign averaging a double-double.

Collins, 25, is coming off his worst season as an established pro averaging 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds while struggling with efficiency shooting just 50.8% overall and 29.2% from deep.

He is heading into the third year of a five-year, $125 million contract.

A perfectly impossible solution for the Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are on pace to be more than $8 million into the luxury tax with a bill upwards of $8 million and have never paid the tax since Tony Ressler took over as principal owner in 2015, though he has expressed a willingness to do so for a title contending team.

That is just lip service until it happens so moves could be coming and Collins has been bandied about in trade speculation for the better part of the last three years.

The new CBA is also limiting to the point of being punitive to teams over the luxury tax thresholds.

Toporek offered up Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris, 30, who is coming off a 14.7/5.7/2.5 season in which he shot 38.9% from beyond the arc. Harris is heading into the final year of a five-year, $180 million contract.

However, his $39.2 million salary in 2023-24 means the Hawks would have to add salary to satisfy league rules. And, while the Sixers could arguably use either one of Bogdanovic and Collins, the Hawks might not be as eager to give up so much – maybe some draft compensations sweetens the deal.

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But the Hawks have been clear that they are looking to be taken advantage of by how they have held on to Collins to this point despite the constant rumors. It’s hard to see that changing.