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3 veteran free agent targets to help playoff push

With the Atlanta Hawks looking to make a playoff push in the 2020-21 season, adding veteran talent through free agency will be crucial.

After finishing 14th in the Eastern Conference with a 20-47 record this season, the Atlanta Hawks are reportedly gearing up for a postseason push next season.

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor noted that the team could shop their No. 6 overall draft selection for pieces that can help win sooner rather than later. Furthermore, the Hawks are projected to have approximately $42.9 million in cap space this offseason, among the most of any team in the association.

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Those two factors set the stage for a busy offseason, and Atlanta could genuinely make some substantial moves to get their name into the postseason mix. It will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but strictly looking at free agency, there are a few names that should interest the Hawks.

Given their struggles this season, Atlanta needs to look into acquiring some veteran experience, 3-point shooting, and capable defenders.

The Hawks’ defensive issues were on full display throughout the season, finishing the year with a defensive rating of 114.4, 28th in the league. Their play on the other end of the court was nothing sensational either, as the Hawks shot a league-worst 33.3 percent from behind the arc on the season.

As for finding a veteran presence, that was a role filled marvelously by Vince Carter over the past two seasons. With the 43-year-old Carter officially calling it a career, the only other playing on the roster above the age of 30 under contract next season is big man Dewayne Dedmon.

Those three factors give the Hawks plenty of issues to address this offseason, and it will be intriguing to see how they plan to fix their biggest flaws.

Although this is a weak free agent class in the eyes of many, there are still a few hidden gems in there that could be fantastic additions to a team like the Atlanta Hawks. Without further ado, here are three free agent targets for the Hawks to pursue as they look to take a step forward next season.

Atlanta Hawks free agent target No. 1: Wesley Matthews

Wesley Matthews started in all 67 of his appearances for the Milwaukee Bucks this season and carved out a fitting role for himself. The veteran averaged 7.4 points on .396/.364/.765 shooting slashes, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game.

Although the statistics do not jump off the page, where Matthews made the most impact was on the defensive end of the floor. He was one of the most upstanding defenders on the league’s best defensive team this season, and that should make him a desirable target for the Atlanta Hawks. At 6’4″, Matthews is not the most sizeable defender, but he is as versatile as they come.

Matthews often received the task of taking on top-heavy assignments in big games for the league-best Bucks this season, never shying away from the opportunity. That saw him glued to LeBron James, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and many of the NBA’s biggest stars on a nightly basis, doing his part to slow them down.

On top of that, the guard is a serviceable floor spacer, connecting on 38.1 percent on his career 3-pointers, making him an ideal 3-and-D fit for the Hawks. An 11-year veteran, Matthews also brings valuable experience to the table, another box Atlanta needs to check off the free agency to-do list this offseason.

Matthews holds a player option for $2.7 million next season that could see him remain with the Bucks, but it is justifiable to believe he will elect to test free agency. If the 34-year-old is searching for a raise in pay, the Atlanta Hawks have the ability to make a sufficient offer for his services.

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