Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Atlanta Hawks (Last Year: 38-44)
2013-14 Season Summary:
Despite finishing six games under .500, the Atlanta Hawks secured a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference even with star center Al Horford being sidelined for most of the season. The Hawks then nearly pulled off the huge first-round upset by taking the Indiana Pacers to seven games before being bounced. For the second-straight summer, Atlanta possesses a good amount of cap space to reel in some more talent in hope of making a move up the standings.
2014-15 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Al Horford/Petro Antic/*Mike Muscala
PF: Paul Millsap/^Mike Scott/^Gustavo Ayon
SF: DeMarre Carroll
SG: Kyle Korver/Lou Williams/John Jenkins
PG: *Jeff Teague/^Shelvin Mack/Dennis Schroeder
NBA Free Agents:
^PF-Mike Scott (RFA)
^PG-Shelvin Mack (RFA)
^PF-Gustavo Ayon (RFA)
PF-Elton Brand (UFA)
SF-Cartier Martin (UFA)
2014-15 Team Salary: Approximately $24.8 million
NBA Offseason Team Needs:
1. Small Forward:
DeMarre Carroll has established himself as a solid NBA glue guy, but the Hawks need to find a more potent offensive threat to bring off the bench at small forward. Kyle Korver can move to the three in a smaller lineup, but I expect Atlanta to target a wing with the 15th-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. A couple names to keep an eye on are UCLA's Kyle Anderson, Rodney Hood of Duke, and maybe Kentucky's James Young if he falls out of the lottery. If the Hawks go in a different direction with their draft pick, addressing this need is a must in free agency, but the team has enough cap space to land a quality piece.
2. A Defensive Big:
Al Horford's season-ending injury left a huge hole in the middle for the Hawks. Even with Horford expected to be healthy next year, Atlanta should look for a defensive-minded big man who can come off the bench and provide a shot-blocking presence since the team's current crop of bigs are more offense-oriented. If Danny Ferry feels last year's first-round pick Lucas Nogueira is ready to come to the NBA, he could possibly fill that role. However, the Brazilian likely needs another year of developing in Spain.
3. Spend Wisely:
With an estimated $15 million of cap space this summer, the Hawks need to continue to spend wisely in free agency. They landed Millsap and Carroll at very reasonable rates last summer and also didn't overspend on re-signing Jeff Teague or Korver. Keeping that trend moving forward will be essential for the team's long-term success.
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