Why Hawks' latest move could be a double whammy for the Spurs

Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks
Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks / Tom Pennington/GettyImages

They say misery loves company, and I do have to admit that watching the Atlanta Hawks struggle has taken just a bit of the sting out of how this San Antonio Spurs season has gone. Atlanta hasn't been nearly as bad as San Antonio this year -- not by a long shot -- but they're also not actively rebuilding.

We've covered the Hawks' struggles from afar. But their organizational dysfunction hit a new high this week as they fired head coach Nate McMillan. At first, I thought the Hawks canning their head coach would help urge Trae Young to force his way out of Atlanta and convince the Hawks to blow it up. And as someone with a vested interest in where the Hawks' first-round picks shake out in 2025, 2026, and 2027, I was pretty excited about that. 

But recent news indicates that the Hawks are actually on their way to making a smart head coaching hire. And it's a move that could hurt the Spurs in more than one way.

Spurs could lose potential Popovich successor Quin Snyder to Atlanta

Gregg Popovich sadly cannot coach the San Antonio Spurs forever. He's going to retire someday, and when that day comes, the Spurs will face one of the biggest decisions in the history of their organization.

Spurs fans have set their eyes on quite a few potential Pop replacements over the years. One name that has stood out recently is Quin Snyder. After he resigned as the head coach of the Utah Jazz, some thought he could be biding his time until a head coaching position opened up in San Antonio. We were half right. He was waiting on another head coaching offer, just not the one we had hoped for.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Hawks and Snyder have formally begun discussions to bring Snyder on as the next head coach in Atlanta. The two parties had an initial virtual meeting, and subsequent in-person meetings will follow. We can likely expect a formal announcement to come soon. 

This stinks for San Antonio on a number of fronts. First, they're losing a worthy potential Popovich successor in Snyder. But more importantly, Snyder is a really, really good coach! He led the Jazz to six consecutive playoff appearances and three trips to the Western Conference Semi-Finals. If this goes through, it could be a great hire for Atlanta.

Where Snyder could really shine is in his ability to squeeze as much as possible out of what could be a very potent Hawks offense. Trae Young is a divisive player. He's struggling this year, but there's no doubt he has the potential to be one of the most explosive offensive talents in the league. A supporting cast of Dejounte Murray, John Collins, AJ Griffin, and Saddiq Bey rounds out a solid albiet underperforming roster.

Snyder led top-ten offenses in each of his final three seasons in Utah and had the best offense in the NBA during his last go-round there. He's a player's coach and a creative offensive mind with a track record to back it up. I don't worry about his ability to get the players in Atlanta to buy into what he wants to do. I worry about what that could mean for those future draft picks.

If Snyder ends up as the head coach of the Hawks, he should be able to turn Atlanta into a playoff contender. That means those picks we thought could convey as lottery picks are more likely to end up in the low to mid-20s.

At the end of the day, first-round picks are still valuable, and if there's an organization in the NBA I trust to find great value in the 20s, it's the Spurs. Malaki Branham was the 20th pick, and he's been cooking this season. They've uncovered talent in the 20's before, and they can do it again.

Hiring Quin Snyder would be a great move for Atlanta and, conversely, a double whammy for the Spurs. So hat-tip to you, Hawks. You win this round.

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