Hawks GM delivers strong statement on potentially critical draft decision

Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields spoke candidly about one key decision regarding the 2024 NBA Draft.
Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields
Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields met with the media on Monday, nine days before Day 1 of the 2024 NBA Draft.

Armed with the No. 1 overall pick, Fields set out to cast a “wide net” in search of the right answer about which direction to go. Their search included exploring options to trade out of the No. 1 slot, with UConn center Donovan Clingan the rumored target.

He did not clarify their stance on Clingan, but Fields did shut down trade speculation.

“We've looked at a ton of different scenarios,” Fields told reporters on June 17. “With where we're at right now, we'll pick one. But yeah, I don't think it would be wise for us not to go over those scenarios. But there's been a ton that we've gone over and we'll continuously go over those as well. Even ones that may present later on with different team talks that we've had.

“Today, we're planning on picking one.”

Fields doubled down on those comments in a one-on-one interview with Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Sarah K. Spencer.

Whether that is Clingan, Alexadre Sarr, or Zaccharie Risacher remains to be seen. Sarr has been and remains the betting favorite. But Risacher has overtaken him in most mock drafts after an impressive postseason, part of which Hawks brass witnessed in person.

The rumored interest in Clingan also cannot be ignored, with UConn head coach Dan Hurley mentioning it in passing during a recent interview.

“Quin Snyder is a really smart guy who, I know that they (the Atlanta Hawks) really like Donovan (Clingan), so I was able to kind of talk to them about Donovan, but then also to pick his brain in large part,” Hurley said naming the Hawks head coach as one of his trusted advisors during his foray into NBA coaching, per CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander on June 14.

But the Hawks have a clear-cut need at the forward spots.

Ability to solidify defense key to Hawks' offseason

They have been defensively porous on the wings for years, and could look to trade De’Andre Hunter this offseason while Saddiq Bey is a restricted free agent.

Even if both players return, the Hawks need to bolster their perimeter defense, which has Risacher looking like an appealing target. He offers immediate appeal as a two-way contributor with room to grow physically and in his game.

Sarr’s appeal has been as a potential Jaren Jackson Jr. or Dereck Lively II substitute for the Hawks to solidify their backline defense, particularly behind Trae Young.

The underlying theme is clear, though.

The Hawks must improve defensively to advance beyond being a perennial Play-In Tournament team. How effectively they believe they can do that this offseason could inform many of their other decisions.