When it comes to the Atlanta Hawks, it's far more interesting looking at the future rather than analyze their current, one-sided head-to-head matchup against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There isn't much worth discussing in the Eastern Conference Finals unless the Hawks win Game 3 Sunday night in Cleveland. They would do so without 3-point shooting threat Kyle Korver, who is out for the rest of the series with an ankle injury; with a gimpy DeMarre Carroll and sans any momentum after losing the first two games in the best-of-seven series. Plus, there is that James fella. Best of luck with all that.
Therefore let's look forward to the offseason. Like the Wizards, the Hawks have plenty of decisions, the kind that could alter their title-seeking hopes. Unlike Washington, Atlanta's center on some of its frontline talent.
Two starters are unrestricted free agents - forwards Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll. Millsap, selected an All-Star in each of his two seasons with the Hawks, has turned into one of the game's most versatile power forwards. Teams looking for a stretch-4 type --yes, like the Wizards -- would surely have interest in the 6-foot-8 forward who can score on the perimeter and inside. That's if the Hawks truly let Millsap test free agency rather than just hand the 30-year-old a fat contract. Expect the latter, but never assume anything in free agency.
Carroll, 28, dramatically upped his value with a dominant performance during the first two rounds of the postseason. The energy forward with a 3-point shot served primarily as a complementary piece up front next to Millsap and Horford during the regular season. He turned into a leading man during the playoffs with a six-game streak of at least 20 points. That included Game 1 and 2 against the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Any hopes that the Hawks could keep Carroll for a reasonable deal likely evaporated with that stretch.
One report states a "long list of teams" are expected to target the small forward, including the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, a scenario that could drive his per year salary into the $15 million range. That seems a bit rich, though teams might be willing to spend more with the salary cap set to rise in 2016. Trevor Ariza, a comparable player to Carroll, signed a four-year deal for $8 million per last summer. Atlanta would need to find a replacement during the draft or free agency if Carroll doesn't return.
Reserve forward Pero Antic, part of Atlanta's primary rotation, is a restricted free agent. Deep reserves John Jenkins and Elton Brand are unrestricted free agents.
The Hawks blitzed the East during the first half of the season and cruised to the conference title and their most wins (60) in franchise history. Millsap, Korver, Jeff Teague and Horford, a free agent in 2016, were selected All-Stars this season. Dennis Schroder is a scoring threat off the bench with plenty of room for growth. Keep this core together, return a healthy Thabo Sefolosha and the Hawks should remain one of the favorites even against a likely deeper crop of contenders.
But if other teams around the league go hard for Millsap and Carroll, Atlanta might need to come up with Plan B.
MORE WIZARDS: Hawks squandering opportunity against James, Cavaliers