ATLANTA — Atlanta Hawks general manager Rick Sund doesn’t have much leverage entering the NBA draft next week.
The Hawks are without a first-round pick after Sund traded for point guard Kirk Hinrich in February. Sitting at No. 48 overall, Atlanta lacks the flexibility needed to talk with other teams about possibly trading up in the draft.
Add in the uncertainty of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, which expires June 30 and will likely delay the start of free agency July 1, and the Hawks’ offices are hardly buzzing with excitement.
“There’s probably less (talk among teams) with regards to the uncertainty of the CBA and people willing to pull the trigger,” Sund said Friday. “In prior years a few days before the draft, there’s some consummation of trades. There’s just as much dialogue, but not much action.”
The deal that sent Mike Bibby, swingman Jordan Crawford and a first-round pick to Washington for Hinrich and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Hilton Armstrong was a washout for the Hawks, whose season ended with a third straight second-round playoff loss.
Hinrich brought some toughness to the lineup that Sund and coach Larry Drew wanted, but the seventh-year veteran wasn’t a
factor in the six-game postseason setback to Chicago. His strained hamstring, though, gave Jeff Teague a chance to play on a big stage, and the second-year guard matched up respectably against Bulls star and league MVP Derrick
But the Hawks still wonder if they can commit completely to Teague, who has endured long stretches of his career on the bench under his first coach, Mike Woodson, and his second, Drew.
“I like the progress Teague has made in the last couple of years,” Sund said. “He’s had his highs and lows, but you’ve got to be ready to play. He got a break when Hinrich got hurt and he took advantage of it, which is good for him and good for us. So it gives the coach a lot of flexibility moving forward.”
Atlanta hasn’t had an impact player taken in the draft since center Al Horford was picked No. 3 overall in 2007. The Hawks had no picks in 2008, took Teague 19th overall in ’09 and swapped spots with New Jersey to bring in Crawford last year.
Whomever Sund takes with the 48th pick will have a hard time earning minutes among a nucleus of Horford, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Teague, Marvin Williams, Hinrich and Zaza Pachulia.
But the Hawks will be in the market to replace a shooter with sixth man Jamal Crawford likely becoming an unrestricted free agent. Sund also wants to add size and rebounding skills.
Sund thinks Atlanta is still on a long-term path to playing its way into an Eastern Conference final for the first time. He has no plans to remake the Hawks with a strong core of veterans in their 30s even though Dallas, Boston, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers used that approach to win the last five NBA titles.
“Obviously we’ve been going the route the last couple of years, kind of like Oklahoma City,” Sund said. “That’s probably the next team that doesn’t have a lot of 30-year-olds. They’ve got all those kids. They’re trying to grow through the draft and whatever, and they’re making a lot of headway, as is maybe Memphis. The Bulls are kind of the same way.”
Sund added that Williams, who underwent outpatient back surgery to fix a bulging disc earlier this month, is recovering well.