Atlanta Hawks, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: Atlanta Hawks GM Travis Schlenk’s honesty is surprising and refreshing

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Early on, it seemed like the latest episode of Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast, the Woj Pod, was going to be pretty much as expected. Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk was the guest of the episode, and it began with some talk about the members of the Hawks involved with All-Star weekend and some stories from Schlenk’s time in the Golden State Warriors front office.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with any of that, but there was nothing very surprising within the episode. That is, there was nothing very surprising until the conversation made it to the 2018 NBA Draft, and the Hawks’ front office decision to trade down with the Dallas Mavericks.

Atlanta traded the third overall selection, and thus Luka Doncic, for the fifth pick, which became Trae Young, and a future first rounder from the Mavs. Schlenk, when discussing the deal, shared that the Hawks would’ve drafted Doncic were he there, and actually had discussed the timing of a press conference with Doncic’s agent and had the Slovenian phenom in for a workout the morning of the draft.

The typical, boring line from a GM in a situation like this would be to say the Atlanta Hawks were set on Young all along, and couldn’t believe their fortunes in getting him after trading down a pair of spots. Good for Schlenk for not doing that, and for being real.

The risk in sharing that factoid on the Woj Pod is, of course, upsetting Young in the midst of an exciting rookie season. That doesn’t seem like it should really be a concern. Young is a rookie, but he’s not a baby. If he’s as driven as it seems like he is, this will probably just be a bit of motivation to prove both Dallas and Atlanta wrong in their pre-draft rankings, if it registers with him at all. Keeping it real with players is probably a better strategy than trying to BS them anyway.

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