As expected, the Atlanta Hawks are in rebuilding mode under new general manager Travis Schlenk, and the GM himself doesn’t expect that to suddenly change.
“If we’re going to be honest with ourselves, we don’t have that franchise guy,” Schlenk told Sirius XM NBA Radio on Tuesday.
It’s been three years since the Hawks won 60 games and finished with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Gone from that team are the entire starting five of Al Horford (Boston), Paul Millsap (Denver), DeMarre Carroll (Brooklyn), Jeff Teague (Minnesota) and Kyle Korver (Cleveland).
Today, the Hawks enter Tuesday’s game in Cleveland at 6-20. Schlenk is in his first year as GM, coming over from the defending champion Golden State Warriors, and speedy point guard Dennis Schroder is their best player.
Schlenk isn’t expecting Atlanta to turn into a free-agent destination overnight. So it appears the Hawks will take their chances playing the lottery — as in the one that determines the order of the draft in June.
“We’re in a climate in today’s NBA that superstar players can really control where they want to go,” Schlenk said. “So it’s tough to get those guys in free agency. They want to go to a place where they can team up with someone else to try to win a championship. Unfortunately right now, that’s not where we are as an organization.”
On the bright side, the 2018 draft is expected to be littered with talent — from Arizona center DeAndre Ayton to Duke power forward Marvin Bagley to Slovenian swingman Luka Doncic to many others.
“So for us, the best way to get that cornerstone, franchise kind of guy is the draft, and that’s kind of the path we’ve decided to go,” Schlenk said.