2013 Atlanta Hawks

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Atlanta Hawks (Last Year: 44-38)

2012-13 Season Summary:
All things considered, the Atlanta Hawks overachieved this past season. With the new faces on the roster and the dealing of Joe Johnson, the team managed to finish with the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference and made the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. When it was all said and done through, the Hawks simply lacked the talent or depth to result in anything more than a first-round exit from the postseason.

Al Horford and Josh Smith shared the responsibilities of replacing Johnson as the team's go-to options. With more weight on his shoulders, Jeff Teague took a step forward in his development as a floor leader and produced his best NBA season. Newly acquired players like Kyle Korver and Devin Harris played their roles well, as did Lou Williams prior to suffering a season-ending torn ACL midway through the year.

Outside of that core, Atlanta lacked the depth to be a legitimate threat. The team mixed in a combination of young players and journeymen veterans as temporary stop-gaps knowing that an offseason of transition was on the horizon. Despite getting the most of this group of players, the Hawks chose to part ways with head coach Larry Drew and already named Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer as his replacement.

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Al Horford

PF: *Ivan Johnson/^Mike Scott

SF: ^DeShawn Stevenson

SG: Lou Williams/John Jenkins

PG: *Jeff Teague

NBA Free Agents:

F-Josh Smith (UFA)

PG-Devin Harris (UFA)

G/F-Kyle Korver (UFA)

C-Zaza Pachulia (UFA)

C-Johan Petro (UFA)

SG-Dahntay Jones (UFA)

PF-Anthony Tolliver (UFA)

PG-Shelvin Mack (UFA)

*PG-Jeff Teague (RFA)

*PF-Ivan Johnson (RFA)

^G/F-DeShawn Stevenson (TO)

^PF-Mike Scott (TO)

2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $18.5 million

NBA Offseason Team Needs:

1. Land a Star: With a ton of cap space, Atlanta has plenty of flexibility to be very aggressive during the offseason. Landing Dwight Howard and/or Chris Paul is obviously the dream scenario, but the Hawks need to realistic about the chances of that happening. Maybe Howard can be convinced to return home and join his former AAU teammate Josh Smith in Atlanta, though that seems like a longshot. Who knows if Smith will even want to re-up with the Hawks? Still, it's worth a shot to empty their buckets in trying to land a pair of big-name free agents.

2. Have a Plan B: If Smith moves on while Paul and Howard sign elsewhere, Atlanta should have a more attainable backup plan. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Andre Iguodala, and others should be on the radar, but only if the price is right. If the Hawks have to overpay to land a couple of the better free agents, the team might be better off going the patient route and building from scratch as opposed to killing its cap space for years to come.

3. Re-sign Teague?: Jeff Teague is coming into his own, yet is still nowhere near an elite NBA point guard. He is a restricted free agent and due a long-term extension, but how much will the Hawks be willing to pay him and will they let him walk if another team foolishly signs him to a monster offer sheet? I wouldn't feel comfortable giving Teague anything more seven million dollars per year.

4. Everything Else: With only three players under guaranteed contract for next season, Atlanta literally needs help at every position. With a pair of first round picks in the NBA Draft and plenty of cap space, the team will find pieces, but will they be the right pieces to fit whatever the Hawks' new identity will be next season under their first-year head coach?

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