$33 million 3-&-D Vet floated as Hawks' 'realistic dream' target in free agency

One of Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder's former players could make for an ideal target in free agency this offseason.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks could still run it back with the same group next season. While many expect them to trade one of their star guards this offseason, they will not be limited to that and should make moves to address issues either way. 

A player like Phoenix Suns forward Royce O’Neale could fit the bill.

A seven-year veteran, O’Neale averaged 7.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists while shooting 37% from beyond the arc this past season.

Hawks urged to reunite Quin Snyder with 'realisitic dream' target in free agency

“The Atlanta Hawks are projected to have modest spending power this summer,” Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz wrote on May 30. “Regardless of whether the Hawks decide to keep Trae Young, they need to get better defensively.

“Getting a veteran three-and-D wing like Royce O'Neale would be a realistic dream.”

O’Neale is coming off a four-year, $36 million contract. But he has only brought in $33.8 million in his career. 

This could be the 30-year-old’s last chance to cash in. Stricter rules in the CBA could make players like O’Neale even more valuable on the market as teams grow more weary of the second luxury tax apron. 

O’Neale began his career with the Utah Jazz under current Hawks head coach Quin Snyder.

Royce O'Neale could bring veteran 2-way presence to Hawks

The 6-foot-4 forward averaged 6.2 points and shot 38.1% from beyond the arc in five seasons under Snyder.

More importantly, O’Neale offers defensive versatility with the ability to guard 2-4 while spreading the floor on offense. The Hawks must shoot the three-ball better next season. They ranked seventh in threes attempted but were just 17th in three-point efficiency. 

The Hawks also need help on the boards, ranking sixth in total rebounds but 22nd on the defensive glass. 

Some of that was due to opponents making shots.

De’Andre Hunter’s future is uncertain. And Jalen Johnson is not yet proven as a perimeter defender. The Hawks are thin on 3-and-D wings with both players healthy. Focusing on players that will help on both ends should be a priority this offseason. 

Opponents shot 38.4% on threes against the Hawks last season, the third-highest mark in the league. O’Neale had a down season in 2023-24. 

But he held opponents 1.6% below their average field goal percentage in 2022-23.

Only Mouhamed Gueye and Dylan Windler posted better numbers among the Hawks players last season with nine combined appearances. Johnson, Wesley Matthews, and Patty Mills are the only other Hawks who bested O’Neal’s plus-0.9% defended field goal differential.

It is unclear how much of a bargain he will end up being given how in demand he could be. But O’Neale would be a fit on both ends of the floor.