Insider makes ominous Atlanta Hawks prediction: They’re ‘under a mandate’

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

Things could get more chaotic for the Atlanta Hawks before they settle down.

“The Hawks are under a mandate, from what I have been told, to get out of the luxury tax,” said ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst on the ‘Brian Windohorst & The Hoop Collective’ livestream on June 22. “They’ve spent a lot on signing guys…so they’ve got to shed some salary.”

Atlanta is on track to foot an $8-plus million luxury tax bill if they don’t make any moves to send out some of their beefier contracts.

They are still looking at the prospects of having to give new money to the likes of Saddiq Bey, Onyeka Okongwu and, perhaps most importantly Dejounte Murray whom the Hawks traded for last offseason but will be an unrestricted free agent after next season. It’s why the Hawks have been mired in trade rumors since even before the season ended.

General manager Landry Fields acknowledged they were eyeing a trade up in the draft.

“There’s been a lot of rumors about the Hawks,” Windhhorst said. “They haven’t been able to complete any deals, so I don’t know what’s going to happen…I would look for some sort of move to shed some salary.”

The Hawks stood pat at No 15 – just as Fields predicted – and took Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin, who compares favorably to Murray.

Bufkin is expected to see the floor early, per Fields, and should be able to capably complement either of the Hawks’ backcourt stars.

Murray shared a post saying that “anything could happen” earlier.

But that appeared to simply be motivational as a veteran player got in some offseason work in the gym. He is coming off a solid inaugural season in Atlanta, averaging 20.5 points, 6.1 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals while shooting 34.4% on a career-high 5.2 looks from beyond the atc per game.

Still, the rumors around the Hawks have been persistent enough that the expectation is for something to be done this offseason.

ESPN insider predicts shakeup to Atlanta Hawks’ roster

“I feel like there’s a decent chance that there’s going to be Hawks maneuvers in the next few days,” Windhorst added. “So they know what they have on the table, they know what they may want to do.”

Windhorst did note that he has not heard any trade chatter surrounding Trae Young.

Young and Murray formed a historic tandem this past season. But Windhorst blatantly sidestepped a similar question about Murray’s availability which would track with previous reports from Yahoo Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer who did add the caveat that it would take “a lot” for the Hawks to part with the 2022 steals champ.

And, for what it’s worth, Young has spoken highly of his first season alongside Murray and about their prospects for next season.

The Hawks are trying to thread the needle between affordability and remaining competitive. That is a tough proposition given the top teams in the NBA standings routinely dot the list of the league’s highest spenders creating a veritable “chicken-or-egg” situation for Fields and Co.

The biggest surprise this offseason has been the Hawks’ trade up to No. 39 overall to select intriguing big man Mouhamed Gueye out of Washington State.

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It sounds as though there is an expectation from the outside for more, even bigger moves this summer.