The Atlanta Hawks are set to have a difficult year, especially in their home market.
But for one reason or another, that doesn’t mean fans are going to be disappointed.
“It will be tough for some people,” said Jeff Bowerman, who was a player for the Atlanta Hornets from 2004-08.
“It will certainly be tough, but it’s not like I would go out of my way to leave.”
Bowerman was one of the team’s key players in Atlanta during the George Karl era and said he’s happy to have Atlanta back, especially as the Hawks head into the final stretch of the season.
“The way it went down the last few years, the fans were always very nice to us, but now it’s different,” Bowermans said.
“The fans have taken it upon themselves to change it, and I don’t know if it’s a positive thing, but I’m happy to be back.”
Baker is the first player from Atlanta to return from injury and the second to return after playing a major role during the playoffs.
The first was guard Aaron Brooks, who spent four seasons with the team and finished his career with the Hawks as a third-team All-NBA selection.
The second was point guard Jordan Hill, who signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the club in December and has been an important contributor for Atlanta this season.
Bowermans is hoping to be a part of the next wave of players from Atlanta who are coming off the bench and want to get back to the league’s best.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” he said.
Bowers is excited to be joining a young core that has a lot of young talent, including center Paul Millsap, who is expected to join the team next season after playing for the Charlotte Bobcats this season and the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Development League.
Millsap is one of seven players from last season’s draft class to sign contracts with the NBA team.
The Hawks have an additional $60 million committed to the salary cap for next season, which is a significant number, especially after they spent a significant portion of the summer trying to keep their roster together and find ways to upgrade it.
The team has been in talks with free agents in recent days, but they were all reportedly told to wait until the offseason to sign new deals.
The team is hoping it can find a solution for Millsap’s contract that would keep him on the roster for years to come, but he could be looking at a max deal if the Hawks don’t find a way to upgrade.
“When we’re getting ready to go to the playoffs, it’s going to make all the difference in the world to have all those young guys around us,” Bowers said.
“You have to find ways for them to stay together.
They’ve got to be together for years.”
Bowers said that’s the case for Millsaps, who has struggled this season with injury.
He has missed three games this season after sitting out last year with a shoulder injury and has missed a combined 14 games this year.
He said the biggest concern is that the Hawks aren’t going to have enough cap space to spend on free agents, but Bower says he would be willing to play in Atlanta if it meant he could play on a championship team next year.
“If you don’t have that cap space, I’m going to play,” Bowser said.
He added that he would consider joining the Atlanta franchise if it means a better situation for himself and his family, and he’s confident the Hawks will find a plan that would work for both parties.
“We’re just trying to get better every year,” Bowles said.
The Atlanta Hawks announced on Tuesday that they’ve signed point guard Al Horford, forward Kyle Korver, center DeMarre Carroll and forward Brandon Bass to long-term contracts.
The Hawks will have a cap space of $95 million and have approximately $40 million available to spend next year, but the franchise is not expected to spend any more.
The NBA has already signed the franchise’s first three free agents: center Dwight Howard, guard Avery Bradley and guard Paul Millsaps.
Atlanta will be in the market for some new free agents next summer.