Although they have not been granted a meeting with him yet, the Atlanta Hawks are trying to secure an official spot in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes.
Marc Stein of ESPN is reporting that the Hawks are hoping that the presence of Grant Hill in their ownership group goes a long way in swaying Durant to come to Atlanta, and presumably Hill would lead the lobbying efforts if Durant agreed to meet with the Hawks.
Hill is a well respected former NBA star, and could leave a positive impression on Durant regarding the direction of the Hawks.
Atlanta is coached by former San Antonio Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, and he has implemented a system very reminiscent of what the Spurs do. The Hawks are often referred to affectionately as the Eastern Conference equivalent of the Spurs because of that.
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Atlanta’s top priorities this offseason were believed to be the retentions of Al Horford and Kent Bazemore.
With a projected salary cap of $94 million, the Hawks currently have over $38 million in cap space. Theoretically, the Hawks could afford to bring in both Durant and Horford if they each agree to take slightly less money than what other teams could offer them.
Bazemore would probably be forced to go elsewhere, but those are the unfortunate realities of a salary cap. Choices have to be made.
It’s not known whether Durant is going to add any new teams to the list of the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Hawks are a non-factor in the sweepstakes until they can get that meeting. If Durant doesn’t agree to see them, then their interest in him is irrelevant.
The Spurs see themselves as major players in the Durant sweepstakes, and would enjoy a narrower field of his potential suitors. The Hawks joining the hunt would give the Spurs one more team to compete with for Durant’s services.
A popular fallback option for the Spurs if Durant doesn’t work out is to try to sign Horford away from the Hawks. Atlanta can still offer him more money, but whether he decides to return to Atlanta remains to be seen.
Free agency is an interconnected web. One player’s decision ends up having league wide repercussions. It will be an exciting free agency period.