The Atlanta Hawks are a team that was rebuilding for the future and not too worried about how the 2013-2014 season was set to play out. After much success, the Hawks might look add some pieces and drop some pieces.
But who shouldn’t return as a member of the Hawks next season?
Elton Brand, Gustavo Ayon, Cartier Martin, Shelvin Mack and Mike Scott are all free agents this summer, with Mack, Scott and Ayon being restricted free agents.
So let’s start with the unrestricted free agents: Brand and Martin.
Brand: Brand was a very pleasant surprise who really stepped up this season to play big stretches of minutes for the injured Al Horford and Ayon. Brand was good on the court as well as being good in the locker room serving as a “father figure” veteran for this young Atlanta squad. All in all, The Hawks should want to bring Brand back, but not for the $4 million he made this past season. I believe he would need to make less than $1.5M in order to bring him back because Horford should/will be healthy.
Martin: Martin had his struggles and his glorious moments. One thing is clear about him, he can stroke a basketball. Another thing that was obvious was that he lacks the athleticism defensively to be a consistent bench player. He seems uncomfortable dribbling and passing which results in many turnovers. Martin made $884K this past season, and honestly he’s not worth bringing back, even at that price. The sharp-shooting Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins should be back and will probably be given another shot at the rotation. Save the money.
Now for the restricted free agents:
Gustavo Ayon: This one is tricky. “Goose” provided size inside and did a decent job on the boards compared to Pero Antic and was also a good passer. That’s about it.
Ayon looked scared to take layups, set horrible screens and was regularly called for illegal screens. He wasn’t a great defender even though you have to give him so props, he did hustle. He made $1.5M last season and NO WAY do you bring him back for that price when you have so many different options (Antic, Brand, Horford and the arrival of 2013 draft pick Lucas Nogueira). He has a $1.875M qualifying offer.
Shelvin Mack: Mack has a $1.148M qualifying offer and the Hawks shouldn’t hesitate to try and keep him. Other teams can sign him to an offer sheet (Example: Jeff Teague last season) and all Atlanta has to do is match. Mack was a staple in the back court and is a bulldog on the court (not just because he went to Butler University). Keep him.
Mike Scott: I’m not going to waste your time here, obviously keep him. He’s still developing and wants to get better defensively. Scott has a qualifying offer at $1.115M. No brainer.
The Hawks have one big decision to make at the center position. Antic’s option will probably be accepted, leaving the third string center spot up for grabs between Brand and Ayon. The Hawks should only keep one, and possibly none of those two if Nogueira does indeed make his return.
Salary cap total: $47,899,576
NBA projected 2014-15 salary cap: $63.2 million
* The Hawks will be approximately $15,300,424 under the salary cap.