The Atlanta Hawks are heading into NBA free agency, looking to make a move or two in order to get back to the top of the Eastern Conference. Al Horford is set to hit open free agency, and he will be their No. 1 priority. After they either re-sign him, or another team signs him, the Hawks will then focus on bringing in more talent to the roster.
Kent Bazemore will also be a free agent this offseason, and the Hawks would like to retain him. There are a lot of other targets that the Hawks could consider as well. That being said, there is one player in particular that is an intriguing option for Atlanta.
John Buhler of FanSided opined that the Hawks could sign restricted free agent small forward Harrison Barnes.
Needless to say, Barnes would be an upgrade for the Hawks over Bazemore at the small forward slot. He has been a supporting cast member in Golden State, but is more than capable of taking a larger role. Barnes would be an offensive weapon for the Hawks, and his defense has been underrated throughout his career as well.
Last season, with the Golden State Warriors, Barnes ended up averaging 11.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He shot 46.6 percent from the field overall and knocked down 38.3 percent of his three-point shots.
Barnes would fit very nicely into the offense that head coach Mike Budenholzer runs in Atlanta. He can step out and knock down the three-point shot and is more than capable of putting the basketball on the floor and getting to the rim. Atlanta needs more players who can create their own shots, and that is an area that Barnes can help.
Atlanta will have a lot of competition from other teams looking to sign Barnes should they choose to go that direction. Golden State has indicated a desire to bring the young forward back on a new deal. One thing that the Hawks could have going for them, is the fact that the Warriors are hoping to sign Kevin Durant when free agency opens up.
Perhaps the Hawks could sneak in early in free agency and get Barnes to sign a max offer sheet and force Golden State to choose between matching the offer or trying to stay in the running to sign Durant.
Other teams, like the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, and even the Indiana Pacers could be interested in Barnes. If the Hawks decide that they want to target Barnes, they will need to be aggressive in their pursuit of a deal with him immediately when free agency opens up on July 1.
It will be interesting to see whether Barnes signs before Durant, or whether he waits to see what happens after the biggest name in free agency is gone. Durant’s deal likely won’t make any kind of impact on Barnes’ new contract.
There are a lot of questions that the Hawks will need to answer in 2016-17. After trading Jeff Teague, the pressure is on Dennis Schroder to put together a big season. Atlanta needs to put as much talent around him as possible, especially if Horford ends up leaving in free agency.
Expect to hear a lot of rumors surrounding both the Hawks and Barnes as free agency gets underway. Barnes is one of the top free agents on the market, and the Hawks would be wise to target him.
Do you think the Atlanta Hawks should target Harrison Barnes in free agency? Would he break out with a bigger role and become a legitimate leading scorer for the Hawks? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall]