At the start of every season, there are 30 teams in the NBA that have the chance to win an NBA Championship. All records are the same, however, not all rosters are the same. The Damian Lillard trade impacted three rosters and will probably not be beneficial for the Atlanta Hawks this season.
There were actually two parts to the Lillard trade. The first was a three-team deal which had many moving parts. However, the most important one for the Hawks is that the Milwaukee Bucks landed one of the best point guards of this generation who will play alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
To get Lillard, the Bucks only gave up Grayson Allen and Jrue Holiday from their current playing group. However, the pain for the Hawks did not end there. The Trail Blazers flipped Holiday to the Boston Celtics for Malcolm Brogden and Robert Williams.
What this means for the Atlanta Hawks and their faithful.
As long as the Bucks have Antetokoumpo on their roster, they are going to be a threat in the East. However, adding Lillard means that they have multiple scorers down the stretch and will be incredibly difficult to defend at the end of games. While Holiday was a quality player, acquiring Lillard makes the Bucks one of the favorites to win the whole thing.
Likewise, the Celtics have made moves to improve their roster, which was the second-best in the conference last season behind the Bucks. They moved away from Marcus Smart, preferring to get another floor-spacing big man in Kristaps Porzingis.
They also moved on from the disgruntled Brogdan by sending him to the Blazers in exchange for Holiday. There was a question of who was going to be the primary ball-handler for the franchise. With Holiday as a starter, this question has been answered. He is also a quality defender, meaning Boston will not miss Smart too much.
This has the impact of the two top teams from the regular season in the East having improved their rosters. Add to this the Miami Heat, who came out of the East last season are still in the mix and it feels that the Hawks are going to be battling for a low playoff seed.
While the Hawks made some moves around the edges over the offseason, it is hard to see them competing with the powerhouses in the East. The biggest in for the Hawks was Patty Mills while they freed up salary cap space for the future by trading John Collins.
This would appear to be a season of growth and development for the Hawks and this needs to be all right for the franchise. They have a solid core in their starting group and a good crop of younger players who need time in the league.
So, will they compete for a championship this season? That is highly unlikely. However, as long as they grow and develop as a team, that needs to be seen as a positive. The time for the Atlanta Hawks is not next season, it is in three to four seasons time.