Travis Schlenk doesn’t like the word rebuild.
The Hawks general manager believes there are are negative connotations to the philosophy of a sports franchise starting from scratch. Besides, Schlenk said, that is not what he is doing in his first month with the team. This is not Philadelphia. The 76ers accumulated lottery draft picks after several dismal, uncompetitive seasons in a franchise reconstruction still underway.
“We want to be exciting,” Schlenk told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are going to play an exciting brand of basketball. We want to be competitive. We want fans to show up every night thinking we have a chance to win. Fans in Philly, I don’t think they felt that way. That’s not our goal. If we make the playoffs, great. If we miss out one year, it’s not the end of the world. We just have a chance to get a better player. Our goal is to be competitive.”
There is no doubt Schlenk is changing the Hawks roster upon his arrival from the Warriors following a front office shakeup in Atlanta. Dwight Howard was traded. The Hawks selected three players in last week’s NBA Draft. Free agency is about to start and there are decisions to make on Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Schlenk reiterated his philosophy that the Hawks will build through the draft.
“What we did in Golden State is what we are trying to do here,” Schlenk said. “We never really were terrible. We were winning 30-some games, staying competitive, so when you get the last month of the season you are in the playoff hunt. But when you get your draft picks, you’ve got to be right. We did an unbelievable job in Golden State when you talk about Steph Curry. Ekpe Udoh, we didn’t do great on that one. But then Klay Thompson followed up with Harrison Barnes. Three out of four years, we got an NBA player. We feel good about getting John (Collins) at 19 this year. Taurean (Prince) last year for these guys. We’ve got a base.
“Again, we are trying to be competitive. The Philly model is not our model. We are going to continue to add guys who help us be competitive but are also on deals that allow us to have flexibility.”
Schlenk said the Hawks will take a wait-and-see approach when the NBA free agency period opens Saturday. He is looking for value to fill out a roster with major pieces in Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince. He referenced the one-year, $4 million deal the Warriors signed with Carl Landry in 2012.
“He slipped through the cracks,” Schlenk said. “We got a good player. He was a great player off the bench for us.”