Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Hawks hope Warriors' Schlenk ready to be big-picture guy


On Tuesday, I wrote a column illustrating the lack of clarity around the Hawks' general manager search.

On Wednesday, the clouds lifted.

The Hawks' hiring of Golden State's Travis Schlenk as their new general manager could come as early as Thursday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chris Vivlamore .

So the Hawks got their guy. But is he the right guy?

Schlenk won't be bringing Kevin Durant, Steph Curry or Klay Thompson with him. But he is known as a strong talent evaluator and has been around a winning championship environment and some smart basketball people. He's also done every job imaginable, including working as director of basketball operations at Georgia (1998-99) during the forgettable Ron Jirsa era.

 

Schlenk, who has been with the Warriors for 12 years, has a varied background. He was on staff at Georgia, later worked in basketball operations for the Orlando Magic, was a video coordinator for the Miami Heat for four years, worked as an assistant coach and video coordinator for Golden State for five, then moved into the Warriors' front office. This is his fifth season as Golden State's assistant general manager.

But Schlenk, whose candidacy wasn't a secret from the outset of the search, has never been the big-picture guy. So in a sense, he's untested. Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler previously suggested his new general manager would be given control of the operation and presumably have control over personnel over coach Mike Budenholzer, who lost his title as president of basketball operations after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs.

It's not certain at this time if Schlenk also will be given an executive title like team president, or if the Hawks will move somebody else into that position. Orlando, in a similar situation, just made two hires: Toronto's Jeff Weltman as president of basketball operations and Milwaukee's John Hammond as general manager.

The Hawks, theoretically could get a little bit of a PR bump by hiring a front-office assistant off a finals team, just as the Falcons did when they hired former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn after consecutive Super Bowl appearances. But those bumps last only as long as the first decision or the first game.

The Hawks' face enormous personnel issues this summer. Those include the decision on whether to re-sign unrestricted free agent forward Paul Millsap and restricted free agent Tim Hardaway Jr., who to draft and whether Dwight Howard will be a part of the future.

The Hawks have sought a general manager who can deal with Budenholzer and will be able to make difficult decisions, should the two parties be on opposite sides of personnel issues. That became a problem in the Budenholzer-Wes Wilcox relationship. In addition to Budenholzer losing his executive duties, Wilcox was moved from general manager to a nondescript advisory role. He's expected to leave the organization.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.