The Hawks have officially entered rebuild mode. If their 24-win season wasn’t obvious enough to where this franchise’s future is heading, the departure of Mike Budenholzer as head coach should have been a more obvious sign. The new front office, led by Travis Schlenk, wants to start over in Atlanta and it looks like it could be eyeing a Philadelphia-style “process.”

That process isn’t sitting well with current Hawks guard Dennis Schroder. Last season represented the least amount of wins in Schroder’s career and the first time he missed the playoffs. He’s known nothing but success so far and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he doesn’t like the idea of spending precious years of his prime losing. 

In an interview with media in Germany, Schroder implied that he wouldn’t be against the idea of being traded to a team like the Pacers or Bucks — two franchises he considers going in the right direction. He didn’t outright demand a trade, but he implied that if the team is going to lose then he doesn’t want to spend his time there. He has also unfollowed the Hawks on Instagram and deleted any picture related to them, for what that is worth.

This season was the first for Schroder on the new contract extension he signed in 2016. Atlanta has him locked up through 2020-21 on a five-year $70 million contract so the Hawks control his fate. If they want to keep him around then there isn’t much he can do about it besides requesting a trade. This might be his subtle way of doing that.

However, what’s interesting here is that Schroder says he doesn’t want to spend his prime losing. Most players don’t want to do that, but there’s a sense from Schroder that he believes the Hawks are losing games in spite of him and not because of him. The numbers from last season, on the other hand, disagree with that assessment.

The Hawks had a net rating of -6.6 when Schroder was on the floor in comparison to a net rating of -4.9 when he was off the floor. In terms of point differential, he was actively making an already bad Hawks team worse. He does this by playing a style that is very ball dominant and shooter heavy.

Schroder’s usage rating increased to 30 percent last season, a career high. His efficiency numbers, on the other hand, took a dip when he went from taking 15 shots a game to 17. If Schroder is going to dominate the ball the way he did, then a true shooting percentage of 51 percent isn’t going to cut it. He doesn’t make up for his high volume of shots with 3-pointers, because he’s a poor shooter from deep at 29 percent. Schroder has become an inefficient gunner that hurts Atlanta more than he helps.

If Schroder wants a trade, the Hawks might happily oblige because last season was a step backward for him in terms of growth. He’s only 24 so there’s room for him to get better, and there’s plenty of time for him to change, but he has to commit to that change. To his credit, he turns the ball over far less now than he did earlier in his career. He does take advantage of assist opportunities. There is potential in him, but he needs to play in a way that’s more helpful to his team. 

The Hawks traded Jeff Teague around the same time Schroder got his extension. This was a big moment for him. He was given the keys to an offense at a young age on a winning team. So far, the Hawks have not been rewarded for taking that risk on him. As they head toward a rebuild they’re getting another chance to take a risk on him. Do they keep Schroder around and hope he shows improvement, or is it better for him and Atlanta if the two sides go their separate ways? That’s a question the Hawks will have to answer this summer. 


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