NBA Rumors: 3 Downward trending teams with future-defining decisions to make

The Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, and New Orleans Pelicans had disappointing exits in this year's playoffs. Now they are faced with some difficult decisions heading into the offseason.
Atlanta Hawks v Minnesota Timberwolves
Atlanta Hawks v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages
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NBA Rumors: There are three downward trending teams that must make future-defining decisions this offseason.

The NBA Playoffs kicked off in early April and the first round has been a ton of fun to watch. A few series are still in progress, but some series ended pretty quickly. So far, we have seen a few teams have underwhelming exits in the play-in tournament and the first round of the playoffs. This includes the Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, and New Orleans Pelicans.

With these teams being knocked out early, they now head into the offseason facing a difficult question: what’s next for our team and how do we improve our chances of winning a championship? Let’s take a look at each of these three teams and see what their next steps are as they try to improve upon what they did this season.

Atlanta Hawks

The last three seasons have been brutal for the Atlanta Hawks. After making it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021, they made some big changes to their roster to improve their defense, but these changes didn’t work and the team has yet to duplicate the same level of success they had that season. Since 2021, the Hawks have won just 48.8% of their regular season games for a record of 120-126. They have also failed to make it out of the first round.

After losing to the Chicago Bulls in the play-in tournament this year, there have been rumors that the Hawks will likely shake things up by trading either Dejounte Murray or Trae Young. This may be shocking to some NBA fans, but something has to change or the Hawks are likely headed for another mediocre season.

If the Hawks trade Murray, they can possibly get some draft capital in return for the 26-year-old guard whose recent four-year, $114.1 million extension is about to kick in. If they trade Young, they’ll probably get even more valuable pieces in return than if they moved Murray, which is why the Hawks would even consider trading their franchise cornerstone.

As a Hawks fan myself, I think the Hawks should keep Trae Young and trade Dejounte Murray or trade both. These two players are a poor fit together. When they were both on the floor this season, the Hawks had a -5.71 net rating, which is downright terrible. When Murray was on the floor without Trae, the Hawks had a net rating of -0.78, a little bit better, but still bad. On the other hand, when Trae was on the floor without Murray, the Hawks had a net rating of 3.45.

It seems obvious that if the Hawks are serious about being a competitive basketball team, they need to move on from Dejounte Murray. In this situation, they would need to improve their wing rotation, get more shooters, and improve their defense. This is easier said than done, but this is what it will take for them to become a strong playoff team.

However, it would also make sense for the Hawks to tear everything down and trade most of their top players, including Trae Young, to gain a boatload of draft capital and cap space which would give them a chance to restart and build from the ground up. Either decision would be fine, but they absolutely cannot trade Trae Young and move forward with a core of Dejounte Murray, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Jalen Johnson, and Clint Capela. That would be a colossal mistake.