The 2016-2017 NBA season has reached the All-Star break, and the Atlanta Hawks have reached a personnel crossroads that will define them for years to come.
The famous Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken, is widely known and lauded because of its simplistic, yet universal, idea of having to choose from multiple options and what that entails. A man reaches a road that divides, and this man describes what it is like to have to choose. The 2016-2017 Atlanta Hawks find themselves at that proverbial crossroads, and the decisions that Head Coach Mike Budenholzer and others make will change the arch and trajectory of this franchise.
The Hawks currently sit at 32-24 on the season, and are in 5th place in the Eastern Conference. They are only a 1/2 game out of 4th, only 2 games out of 3rd place, with only 7 1/2 games separating them from the conference leading LeBron James led band of not-so-merry Cavaliers from Cleveland. Most NBA teams would find that to be an enviable spot, at this point in the season, and frankly, so would many prior Atlanta Hawks teams. In short, they are “in the mix”.
More from ATL All Day
- Atlanta Braves: Felix Has Already Shown Enough to Win a Rotation Spot
- Atlanta Braves Implode Late To Phillies, Cole Hamels Remains Sidelined
- Kyle Wright Shines As Folty Struggles In Atlanta Braves Loss To Red Sox
- Atlanta Hawks Sweep Back-to-Back Games Over Weekend
- Atlanta Braves: Grapefruit League Play Check Up
But like that other famous American poet, Bob Dylan, intoned, the winds of change, they are are a blowin’. Two short years ago, these Hawks finished the regular season with a franchise best 60 wins, and ended the regular season first in the Eastern Conference. Only one starter from that team is still with them, however, the now 4-time All-Star, Paul Millsap, and now, even he is in the eye of the trade or no-trade hurricane. Rumors continue to swirl regarding other players with expiring contracts, i.e., Dunleavy, Splitter, Muscala, Sepholosha, Scott, and Humphries. Subtract Lamar Patterson, with his 10 day contract set to expire soon, and one uses basic math to see that, on a 15 man roster, that’s more than half of the roster that could be moved by the February 23rd trade deadline.
The other side of this diverged path shows that, after having moved the likes of Teague, Korver, Payne, and Joe Johnson (remember him?), Coach Bud and Co. have amassed extra draft picks from the Nets, Heat, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, and Wizards over the next 3 years. These picks could be used to fill spots vacated, or they could be packaged in deals with current players in trade deals. In NBA terms, it’s a lot of currency, and like that famous phrase warns, you “use it or lose it.” One gets the idea the Hawks will use “it”, sooner than later.
There are 26 regular season games left in this season. It is very possible for the Hawks to string together a couple of substantive win streaks, and play musical chairs for playoff seeding between the 3, 4, or 5 spots.
They are very much in a playoff hunt, and will look to compete here on out. But the faces that fill out the jersey could change soon, changing the play and personality of the team, as well. No one really has a concrete idea about which direction Atlanta’s Front Office will take, but everyone seems to agree that it will look different, whatever path it is they ultimately choose. Much like Robert Frost’s nameless man, these Atlanta Hawks have reached a personnel crossroads. The question is: Will they take “the road less traveled”? And will it make all the difference?