The Atlanta Hawks have had a middling season in 2021-22 that has seen plenty of highs alongside a plethora of lows. Following on the heels of taking the eventual NBA Champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, to 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals last postseason, expectations were high for this team going into the 2021-22 NBA season.
Instead, the Hawks have underwhelmed, mostly due to a porous defense and a general malaise that will (hopefully) dissipate once the team (hopefully) makes the playoffs.
Because the Hawks have not held a .500 record since Dec. 15, many pundits believed that Atlanta would be a major player before the NBA’s trade deadline last week. Multiple rumors swirled around a potential Ben Simmons trade involving fan favorite John Collins.
However, the trade deadline came and went with nary a peep from Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk, and, as such, the team will now have to bolster the roster with the help of buyout targets from around the league.
Read on to explore the top 3 buyout candidates for the Atlanta Hawks, ranked.
Hawks Buyout Candidates
1. Gary Harris
The Hawks top target on the buyout market should be Gary Harris of the Orlando Magic (if he’s bought out, of course). Harris was an integral part of the Denver Nuggets for a few years as they frequently made the playoffs thanks to the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic.
Harris’s archetypal 3-and-D skill set perfectly suited the Nuggets and he often guarded the other’s team’s best player (size permitting).
However, over the past few seasons, Harris’s three-point shot, which had always been reliable in Denver, dropped off completely to the point that he shot only 33.3 percent in his final full year in Denver (19-20).
Now, though, Harris’s outside shoot looks much more like it did earlier in his career, and he’s shooting a solid 38 percent on 5 triples attempted per game – his highest since the 17-18 season.
The combination of strong outside shooting and lockdown defense would perfectly suit the Hawks’ needs, and he could even close in some lineups to potentially paper over Trae Young’s less-than-stellar defense.
While this selection might be colored slightly by the tint of nostalgia, this writer can’t help but think that Kent Bazemore being bought out by the Lakers and returning to Atlanta in a reduced role would be wonderful.
When Baze was at his best in Atlanta, for instance in the 2014-15 60-win season, he could be found flying around the court with reckless abandon – wreaking havoc on defense with timely steals and deflections and even appearing out of nowhere to block shots on occasion.
Soon, the other major pieces of that 60-win team would leave for greener pastures, so Baze’s role was increased considerably, and he was often tasked with creating offense on his own – a role he was not ideally suited for.
If the Hawks were to snap him up off the buyout market this team, he could return to the Hawks and excel in the role that helped him to become a fan favorite of his time. Since he is averaging the lowest minutes per game since his second-ever season (all the way back in 2013-14) at 14.4 per game, a divorce between he and L.A. is likely in the cards.
With that in mind, come home Baze!
3. Juancho Hernangomez
Despite the fact that the Utah Jazz just acquired Juancho Hernangomez from the Pelicans in the Joe Ingles trade, the Jazz have plenty of depth at the four, so they might not need Hernangomez’s services.
If that turns out to be the case, the Hawks should certainly consider signing the 26-year-old veteran who has actually bounced between three different teams (Celtics, Spurs and now Jazz) this season (let’s make it a fourth!).
Hernangomez is a stretchy big man with decent mobility on defense and solid decision-making and scoring chops on offense.
Pair him with one of the game’s premier offensive initiators in Trae Young, and he would likely help bolster the team’s frontcourt offensively with John Collins missing in action since suffering a foot injury against the Spurs on Friday, February 11.
While he is expected to return after the All-Star break, more depth and shooting at the four is always useful, especially with someone like Trae Young manning the offense and finding open shooters at all times.