Hawks need to think big in draft
Uncertainty continues to color the Hawks' offseason, and that includes their preparations for the June 28 draft and what they'll do with the 23rd and 43rd picks.
Rick Sund is still the team's general manager, so there is every reason to believe that Sund will be the man in charge of the draft preparation and selection. However, that often has been the responsibility of assistant general manager David Pendergraft, who like Sund has not spoken publicly about his future with the franchise.
That hasn't stopped the Hawks from scheduling 26 players to come to Atlanta for workouts. And that's players from every position, of every size and with a variety of skill levels. When you need a little bit of everything and have to restock a roster that included nine players who were working on deals that expire July 1, your two draft picks have to play a central role in whatever the plan is going forward.
Hawks coach Larry Drew and his staff will return, so there is at least some semblance of order in regard to exactly what the Hawks' future draft picks are going to need.
They need a big man, a center to help alleviate the pressure on Al Horford and Josh Smith up front. Zaza Pachulia is coming off of an injury that cost him the entire playoffs, so reinforcements are needed.
That would explain a workout list that includes Fab Melo of Syracuse, Garrett Stutz of Wichita State and Festus Ezeli of Vanderbilt among the big men the Hawks will take a better look at before the draft. Almost all of the forwards the Hawks are scheduled to see before the draft are bigger power forwards, guys who they know will be able to occupy minutes as a rookie in a frontcourt rotation that was woefully thin by the time the playoffs rolled around.
When the Hawks are on the clock on draft night, no one will be surprised to see them go big with both of their picks. Because in an offseason of uncertainty in so many ways, the one certainty is that the Hawks need a boost up front.
--The Hawks' most pressing need this time of year usually revolves around their seemingly never-ending quest for relief at the point guard position.
Jeff Teague's emergence as the solid choice at the position has put an end to the Hawks' annual summertime point guard exploration project. They still need to figure out their depth situation behind Teague, who will no longer have Kirk Hinrich as a security blanket.
But knowing that the headliner is taken care of makes the "Summer of Teague" one the Hawks can savor after so many years of not knowing exactly what they had at such a crucial position.
--The Hawks have six players under contract going into free agency, which means they'll have to fill out the roster with not only draft picks but also whoever they can round up from the free agent market.
One interesting option that has come back on the Hawks' radar is former Hawks Sixth Man of The Year winner Jamal Crawford. He opted out of his deal with Portland on June 15, making himself a target of a dozen teams in need of his scoring abilities off the bench.
Crawford didn't want to leave the Hawks last summer when his contract ended and signed a two-year deal with the Trail Blazers but made sure to have that player option for the second season so he could dive back into free agency now.
A return to the Hawks, while not anywhere near a foregone conclusion, remains a possibility.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"It is going to be very hard for us to get that MVP candidate unless you pick one or two (in the draft). Or unless you happen to have ... free agent money, to get one in free agency. It's going to be tough, so we are going to have to do it the hard way." -- GM Rick Sund on how the Hawks can build a championship contender in their predicament.