The Atlanta Hawks are at a bit of a crossroads this summer.
One fork in the road points to a full rebuild. Jeff Teague is gone to make way for Dennis Schroder. Al Horford is a free agent and at 30 years old, may be looking for a team more ready to contend. The Hawks could get young quickly and accumulate assets in doing so.
The other path, however, leads to a quick reload. Horford could be kept on board with a max deal, more than any other team can offer. And he could be paired with any number of free agents.
A new report suggests that Atlanta is at least attempting to go down the second road.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Hawks are working vigorously to get a meeting with Kevin Durant. This summer’s best free agent (excluding LeBron who no one believes will leave Cleveland if he declines his player option), Durant is being pursued by nearly every team.
Currently, Durant does not seem to have the Hawks on his list of suitors. But anything could change. If Atlanta is serious about bringing on KD and has a plan to build around him, who knows what he will decide?
That said, getting a meeting with Durant will be a tough task for Atlanta, let alone signing the Thunder star. And that’s why the Hawks have a backup plan.
Stein reports that if Atlanta is unable to get into the Durant sweepstakes, they will look to sign Dwight Howard instead. The Rockets center recently declined his option to stay in Houston and will surely be looking for a max deal elsewhere.
An Atlanta native, Howard has been linked to the Hawks before. Signing him now would be a bit of a risk, considering his age and injury history in recent years. Howard has declined recently, but he is still a high-impact player. He would be a great addition in the right circumstances.
He would, however, be a strange fit in Atlanta as Stein reports that they want to pair him with Horford in the frontcourt. Playing Horford at the power forward position is not imminently strange, but it either moves Paul Millsap to the perimeter or to the bench, an odd decision to make either way.
Of course, Atlanta could always trade Millsap for help elsewhere. But he is their best player and one must wonder whether adding Howard would justify losing Millsap.
It will be an interesting free agency period for Atlanta either way. It could be the difference between continuing this path or a full-fledged rebuild.
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