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Free agency could derail Hawks' future

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Free agency could derail Hawks' future

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.

RELATED: Report: Magic targeting ex-Bullet for vacant coaching job

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

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2018 NBA Draft: A list of Green Room attendees

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USA Today Sports

2018 NBA Draft: A list of Green Room attendees

The NBA officially announced a list of 20 players invited to the Green Room at the 2018 NBA Draft. Provided that all attend, here's a list of who'll be there.

  • Miles Bridges, Michigan State
  • Mikal Bridges, Villanova
  • Marvin Bagley III, Duke
  • Mohamed Bamba, Texas
  • Collin Sexton, Alabama
  • Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State
  • Lonnie Walker IV, Miami
  • Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova
  • Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech
  • Aaron Holiday, UCLA
  • Deandre Ayton, Arizona
  • Wendell Carter Jr., Duke
  • Luka Doncic, Slovenia
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky
  • Kevin Knox, Kentucky
  • Michael Porter Jr., Missouri
  • Robert Williams, Texas A&M
  • Trae Young, Oklahoma
  • Chandler Hutchison, Boise State
  • Jerome Robinson, Boston College

There are two players each invited from Villanova, Michigan State, Duke and Kentucky.

The 2018 NBA Draft will be Thursday, June 21 at 7 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It will be broadcast on ESPN and streamed live on WatchESPN. The Wizards have Nos. 15 and 44 picks.

MORE WIZARDS COVERAGE

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The 2018 NBA Doomsday Mock Draft: A comical look at every team's worst-case scenario

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USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NBA Doomsday Mock Draft: A comical look at every team's worst-case scenario

The 2018 NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, June 21 and once again provides a glimmer of hope for even the most downtrodden franchises.

The NBA Draft is where teams can prepare for the future; where teams can rebuild and reload.

But the NBA Draft is often a crapshoot. Teams waffle on taking the best fit versus the best available player. Teams often panic and rest on laurels of draft years past. Fans like to build draft stereotypes for individual franchises, and while a lot of that is stupid Internet conjecture, it's fun to talk about and is often some actual truth to it.

So what follows is a look at the Doomsday Mock Draft. What your favorite team is likely to do if all else fails, which it often does.

1. Phoenix Suns: A franchise center who spends his first contract working with the Suns' medical staff more than his teammates.

2. Sacramento Kings: Someone who won't be a member of the Kings by the time 2022 rolls around.

3. Atlanta Hawks: Someone that will make Dennis Schroder unhappy.

4. Memphis Grizzlies: A Mike Conley Jr. repair kit.

5. Dallas Mavericks: Not the heir apparent to Dirk Nowitzki.

6. Orlando Magic: A reach that won't pan out.

7. Chicago Bulls: Someone from Iowa State, probably.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers: ANYONE YOU WANT LEBRON JUST PLEASE DON'T LEAVE US AGAIN!!

9. New York Knicks: /inserts .GIF of Spike Lee looking disappointed/

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Another big man because HINKIE 4 LYFE.

11. Charlotte Hornets: A North Carolina Tar Heel.

12. Los Angeles Clippers: A playmate for the head coach's son.

13. Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan 2.0.

14. Denver Nuggets: Yet another athletic guard.

15. Washington Wizards: Nope. Not touching this one.

16. Phoenix Suns: Someone to pass Devon Booker the ball.

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Wingspan. Nothing but wingspan.

18. San Antonio Spurs: One of the Space Jam villains who conveniently falls to the Spurs (See: Leonard, Kawhi. Anderson, Kyle. Murray, Dejounte)

19. Atlanta Hawks: Someone to replace Dennis Schroder.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Someone who Tom Thibideau can play 60 minutes of a 48-minute game.

21. Utah Jazz: A real glue guy. A gym rat. A high-motor guy. Intangibles. Grit. Moxie. 

22. Chicago Bulls: A two-way player who will ultimately get punched in the face by Bobby Portis.

23. Indiana Pacers: DRAFT ANOTHER UCLA PLAYER. WE DARE YOU.

24. Portland Trail Blazers: DRAFT ANOTHER MID-MAJOR GUARD. WE DARE YOU.

25. Los Angeles Lakers: The subject of Lonzo Ball's next diss track.

26. Philadelphia 76ers: A pallet of knockoff burner phones.

27. Boston Celtics: A draft night trade for more draft picks they probably won't use.

28. Golden State Warriors: An unfairly good player.

29. Brooklyn Nets: An unfairly bad player.

30. Atlanta Hawks: We ran out of Dennis Schroder jokes.

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