What's next for the Hawks?

Atlanta is poised for a big offseason, but will it energize the fan base?

Updated: May 16, 2013, 5:29 PM ET
By Amin Elhassan | ESPN Insider
Josh SmithScott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty ImagesIt is an offseason of uncertainty for impending free agent Josh Smith and the Atlanta Hawks.

The Atlanta Hawks were the playoff team everyone forgot. Even though they posted their sixth straight postseason appearance, they still were one of the bottom five teams in the league in attendance. They've had a hard time generating excitement despite featuring a roster of exciting players who are coveted around the league.

But they've also been a poster child for the treadmill of mediocrity, and that treadmill was unplugged by the Indiana Pacers. Now they enter the offseason with an opportunity to drastically remake the franchise.

Here's a look at where they've been and where they're headed:

The Good

The continued excellence of Al Horford: It astonishes me that Horford is as underappreciated as he is. Here's a player who averages a double-double, can play on the block or out of the high post, is an excellent passer, exhibits high basketball IQ, is an excellent team defender and scores efficiently from all over the floor. In many ways, Horford is where Marc Gasol was a few years back -- an elite talent hidden in plain sight. The best part about Horford is Atlanta has him under contract for a paltry $12 million a year for the next three years, and that discount is what allows the organization the flexibility to add talent without being a tank job.


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