When 12:01 a.m. hits on July 1, it's usually just the start of another day for the Atlanta Hawks.
When the NBA Free Agency period begins on the first of the month and the top free agents sit down to discuss deals with teams, Hawks fans are twiddling their thumbs, feeling left out as another unmemorable offseason continues for a franchise desperate to get to the next level.
The Hawks are never in the conversation early in free agency despite having a winning coach, a long playoff run and being located in a metropolitan city with a diverse culture. The stars are never yearning to come to the Peach State. There are a few notable exceptions, like Dwight Howard's short homecoming, but it's the best of the best who never even think about putting on the Pac-Man logo.
It begs the question, are the Hawks trying hard enough to woo the top guys?
What are they doing? We don't hear much about who the front office is meeting with, what they're doing and how they're trying to close the deal. While teams like the Miami Heat are putting up banners with a photoshopped Gordon Hayward wearing a Miami Heat jersey, the Hawks never seem to pull out all the stops.
Just drove around American Airlines Arena and check out what I came across! 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/QfH1B79Cqy— Kevin Escalera (@KevinEscalera) July 1, 2017
I drove around Philips Arena on Saturday. While there was a buzz around the city with tourists exploring the unique attractions only Atlanta has to offer in the sweltering summer heat, there was nothing special happening around Philips. Just a few boarded up windows and signs of construction as the first phase of a $192 million renovation gets underway.
The renovations will be nice, but will they ultimately help the Hawks? Opening a Barber Shop in the Arena, a TopGolf simulator and a court side bar will help ticket sales and attract a corporate audience with a short attention span, but are the renovations really going to do anything to attract players?
Where is the pizzazz? Where are our banners of top free agents hanging around Philips when they fly in? Why doesn't the team meet at the Georgia Aquarium, and they pass by the penguins wearing Hawks jerseys while little basketball goals are set up? Or invite Migos in and have them include the players' name in one of their new songs? Get them a VIP ticket to one of the many Fourth of July celebrations the city has to offer since Atlanta is apparently one of the best cities to celebrate our nation's independence?
It's time to do more than just take free agents to a stakehouse and talk about Coach Bud's system. It's time to use the resources Atlanta has and show free agents that the Hawks are willing to spend the money to build a winning franchise. The Hawks ownership group has the money to spice things up. Do it.
It is General Manager's Travis Schlenk's first Free Agency period with the Hawks, and we know he's got the experience to bring in top guys. He reportedly helped bring Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors last season. Time will only tell if he's capable of doing the same in Atlanta, but it's time to start changing the Hawks' offseason culture now and get the team to elbow its way into the free agency game. Whether they believe the team is in a rebuild or not, it shouldn't change the approach to free agency.
Are the Hawks doing enough in free agency? Right now, the answer is no. On this July 1, it's just another day for the Atlanta Hawks. Maybe someday with a little creativity, that will change.PHOTOS | Atlanta Hawks draft pick John Collins