The Atlanta Hawks have been owned by Bruce Levenson since 2004. In the time that Levenson has owned the team, Atlanta has become a steady fixture in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race. With quality drafting and decent free agency pick ups the team has managed to fit together a competitor in most years. Now the Atlanta Hawks have been sold to a Grant Hill/Tony Ressler combination for an astounding $850 million dollars. Coming off of their most successful season in years Atlanta will be hoping to replicate that quality level of play. However, things won’t be easy as the Eastern Conference starts to take shape for the 2015 – 2016 season.
Last season the Atlanta Hawks rode a ball movement based offense in order to climb the Eastern Conference ladder and win 60 games. The Hawks went into the playoffs underrated thanks to their style of play and they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals where the team was promptly swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Al Horford struggled mightily in this series and he was ultimately shut down by the harder working Tristan Thompson. After getting swept in a series against the underwhelming Cavaliers roster, fans were right to wonder just what was going on with their team.
So the offseason came around and Atlanta immediately started making some moves. They dealt a few players away and let Demarre Carroll sign elsewhere in free agency. Carroll broke out in the playoffs to lead the team in scoring while playing elite defense at the swing position. In his place the Hawks will try to patch up the spot with guys like Tim Hardaway Jr and Lamar Patterson while Thabo Sefolosha recovers from an injury. This is a huge and immediate downgrade that will have serious repercussions on the rest of the team.
Fortunately Atlanta did get busy with acquiring veteran big man Tiago Splitter. Splitter has helped the Spurs offense and defense down low for the last couple of years and the big man looks ready to take a bigger bite of playing time in Atlanta. With the Hawk’s Mike Scott getting in drug trouble, Splitter might just have earned himself a solid spot in the rotation.
Still none of this really matters if the Hawks don’t evolve with the Eastern Conference. Cleveland is another year older and healthier and the rest of the East has gotten a ton better in the mean time. Atlanta may have missed their window on getting to an NBA Finals and it might have been the only chance they’re going to get. Fans of the Hawks hope not, but things are looking pretty rough at the moment.