It has been an eventful offseason for the Atlanta Hawks. After years of speculation, they finally traded away John Collins. However, all Collins brought back to Atlanta was salary relief, as they just received Rudy Gay, whom they since have traded away, and a second-round pick for the 25-year old power forward.
That’s certainly not the ideal trade fans would have envisioned their team making. Collins, after all, was once a key part of the Hawks’ core. To see him land with the Utah Jazz for scraps will be nothing short of infuriating for the fanbase.
Nevertheless, the move was made to keep future financial flexibility, thereby allowing the Hawks to make moves that may indeed be for the long-term health of the franchise. Trading away John Collins made agreeing to a four-year, $120 million contract extension with Dejounte Murray an easier endeavor, keeping one of the Hawks’ most important players in town for the foreseeable future.
Beyond that, however, the Hawks have been content to make moves on the margins. In fact, some of their more important moves this offseason won’t qualify for this exercise since they were trades and not free agency signings.
With that in mind, here are grades for the Hawks’ signings and contract extensions thus far during the 2023 NBA free agency period.
Hawks free agency grades
Signing Dejounte Murray to a four-year, $120 million extension: A
Letting Dejounte Murray reach unrestricted free agency would not have been the ideal scenario for the Hawks. They gave up three first-round picks and a pick swap to the Spurs for Murray, fresh off the best season of the 26-year old point guard’s career. Only receiving two seasons from him would have been disastrous for the Hawks, as there’s a strong possibility that Murray seeks to sign elsewhere come the 2024 offseason.
But the Hawks won’t have to think about that problem in this reality, as they will be keeping Murray in Atlanta until at least the end of the 2026-27 season, as the All-Star point guard has a player option for the 2027-28 campaign. And they did so at a cost that should please them, especially when Murray’s right in the middle of the prime of his career.
Paying an average annual value of around $30 million for Murray is definitely a bit of a bargain for the Hawks, compared to what his peers are making. Fred VanVleet, for comparison, is making $42 million per year for the next three seasons. Those two players are a similar caliber of player (fringe All-Star talent), and yet one is making $12 million more than the other. $12 million per year can almost net a team their own version of Herb Jones!
Had Dejounte Murray exploded for a strong 2023-24 campaign with a full season of head coach Quin Snyder’s tutelage under his belt, he would have commanded a similar contract to that of VanVleet, especially when he’s an unrestricted free agent. But now, the Hawks will be paying Murray less than the Blazers are paying Jerami Grant annually for the next five years, and less than the Washington Wizards will be shelling out for Jordan Poole’s services for the next four.
The Hawks will now have to figure out a way to bring out the best in both Murray and Young without the two of them cutting into each other’s strengths. But they will now have time on their side as they try to maximize their talented backcourt – and they didn’t even need to break the bank to do so.
Signing Seth Lundy to a two-way contract: B
Seth Lundy had a fruitful collegiate career, taking a huge step in his senior year at Penn State to end up being the 46th pick of the 2023 NBA Draft. Lundy has had his issues with scoring efficiency in the past, but he became a much more lethal weapon for the team last season, shooting 40 percent from deep on a healthy six attempts per game.
Lundy will now have the opportunity to contribute to the Hawks roster, even in a bit role. His two-way deal gives him 50 games of eligibility in the NBA, thereby giving him the chance to prove himself as a player worthy of a roster spot especially when the Hawks endure injury woes at the wing.
Signing Miles Norris to a two-way contract: B-
Miles Norris possesses potential as a stretch-four in the NBA. At 6’10, he has the size to become a deterrent on the defensive end as well, making him a quality player to have on a two-way deal.
Norris, in his final season at UCSB, averaged 14.1 points and 6.1 boards on 39.1 percent shooting from three. Norris must improve his defense and rebounding to solidify his place in the Hawks organization.
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