The Atlanta Hawks have been trimming their roster down for years. It began with sending Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets, which was followed up by allowing Josh Smith to walk to the Detroit Pistons as an unrestricted free agent. What followed that were low-key moves like the signing of three-point specialist Kyle Korver and bringing on Paul Millsap to be Al Horford's new frontcourt mate.
The Hawks had a solid core well on their way to playoff seed in a weak Eastern Conference, but Horford's season-ending pectoral injury has stalled their season. Atlanta hit a five-game losing streak leading up the All-Star Break (their largest of the season) and general manager Danny Ferry has less than a week to decide what's next for the roster he's been tweaking since he joined the franchise.
In need of small forward help
The Hawks group of small forwards isn't strong enough for a team hoping to contend. Sure, the team will likely slide into the playoffs, but this area of their roster is in dire need of help. DeMarre Carroll is having a career-high scoring season, but he's also playing career-high minutes. His per-36 numbers are actually lower than last season's with the Utah Jazz and are close to his career average.
That could be one of the reasons the Hawks have been linked to Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green. Green is averaging 16.4 points per game -- the second-highest average of his career -- and is shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc.
Carroll is producing more efficiently, though, which makes the possibility of adding $27 million over three years if the team signed Green difficult to imagine. Atlanta is in position to have cap space over the next two seasons and would put their salary structure in jeopardy if they swapped out expiring salaries for Green, who may not be much of an upgrade.
The Hawks don't have many excess pieces to upgrade the position and may be better served retaining their financial flexibility instead of making a "now" move. Their window of opportunity with this roster was shut once Horford was ruled out for the year.
Not much to trim
The Hawks don't have much roster excess, as mentioned above. The team could look to move Paul Millsap, but his all-around production is a great value at just $9.5 million per season through next season. Kyle Korver is having a phenomenal year, showing why he's one of the NBA's best three-point threats by shooting 46 percent from beyond the arc, but as attractive of a trade piece he may be he's a central piece to the team's offense.
Jeff Teague might be the most interesting piece on the roster, but the 25-year-old point guard could be hard to send off as asset. He's shooting 41 percent overall from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc. He's also making $8 million per year through 2016-2017, which is a huge chunk of salary to take on for a point guard who isn't very efficient. That could also be one of the reasons Atlanta could be interested in cutting their losses, though the roster as constructed is in line to make the playoffs.
That's how it's been for Atlanta for years. A roster good enough to make the playoffs but not healthy, or great enough to make noise. They've made the postseason for six straight seasons and have only made it to the second round three times. It's shaping up to be another one of those years for the Hawks.