The Atlanta Hawks are aiming to pair Kevin Durant with Trae Young via free agency, per The Athletic’s Sam Amick. The Hawks have been taking the long-term approach with their cap space as GM Travis Schlenk has repeatedly emphasized their desire to use cap space to take on undesirable contracts in exchange for future draft picks.
Amick reported Atlanta is now looking to be active in free agency potentially making use of their $41 million in cap space. Atlanta’s dream of making a run at Durant may be far-fetched, but the Hawks plan on shooting their shot. A strong argument can be made that the Hawks’ situation is more desirable than the Knicks if the decision were based purely on basketball. Amick detailed the Hawks change of plans in a recent article at The Athletic.
Yet for Atlanta’s purposes, Young’s progression has been positive enough to inspire a rethinking about this coming summer in which they’ll have approximately $41 million in salary cap space. According to a source with knowledge of their thinking, the Hawks are so bullish on the development of Young, fellow rookie Kevin Huerter and second-year big man John Collins that they want to explore even the biggest and boldest of offseason plans.
Translation: They’re planning to pursue meetings with the best-of-the-best in free agency when July 1 rolls around. It’s a half-court shot of sorts, to be sure, but they’d love nothing more than to fire that pitch to everyone from Kevin Durant on down. Talk about the young core and where they believe they’re heading under coach Lloyd Pierce, the arena that received $192.5 million in renovations that have drawn rave reviews, and the fancy new practice facility too. Even if (insert free agent’s name here) doesn’t come, it’s the kind of courting that sends a league-wide message that your program should be taken seriously.
The Hawks Have Enough Cap Space to Sign Kevin Durant
As we saw when LeBron James signed with the Lakers, free agent moves with marquee free agents are rarely made for pure basketball reasons. While the Hawks may have a few more pieces in place than the Knicks, New York City could end up being the trump card when compared to any other option.
Atlanta is far from New York City, but the Hawks will no doubt emphasize the thriving Hip-Hop scene along with the movie industry as additional selling points. The Hawks have enough cap space to sign Durant outright.
Trae Young Has a Relationship With Kevin Durant
Young already has a relationship with Durant. The Hawks rookie point guard just dropped 49 points on the Bulls in a four-overtime thriller. Young elaborated on his relationship with Durant on the Rookie on the Rise documentary, per the USA Today.
I’ve gotten a lot of feedback since I’ve gotten drafted. Really throughout the Summer League, throughout the summer process and throughout these summer games, I’ve gotten a lot of texts from a lot of vets and a lot of guys I look up to. One of the main people I’ve been talking to is Kevin Durant. He reached out to me after our games in Utah, just trying to be encouraging and giving me a lot of advice about different things – on how to handle the media, and just everything that goes into basketball.
Unless something drastically changes, Durant is unlikely to seriously consider the Hawks. If Atlanta could score a meeting with Durant this summer, it could go a long way in showing future free agents just how attractive the Hawks could be in the coming years.