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Hawks GM Fields braces for more tough decisions after trading Murray to Pelicans

Landry Fields Atlanta Hawks Landry Fields - The Canadian Press

ATLANTA (AP) — No matter how difficult it was to conclude that trading Dejounte Murray was necessary, Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields knows he faces more challenges this offseason.

The NBA draft brought Atlanta two players, including No. 1 overall pick Zaccharie Risacher. Saturday's trade with the New Orleans Pelicans added four veterans to the roster, plus two future first-round draft picks, for Murray.

That leaves the Hawks with an overstocked roster and the possibility that more veterans could leave Atlanta.

Fields said Wednesday that the decision to trade Murray, who joined Trae Young in Atlanta's high-scoring backcourt the last two seasons, followed the conclusion that “we wanted to reshape some things.”

“It was hard decisions, challenging,” Fields said. “We knew that where we ultimately want to be was going to require some challenging decisions. ... So from now until the start of the season, we’ll have some more tough decisions to make."

The Hawks have not won a playoff series since advancing to the 2021 Eastern Conference finals and they finished 10th in the Eastern Conference at 36-46 this season.

The first step in reshaping the roster was Fields trading AJ Griffin to Houston and acquiring the rights to guard/forward Nikola Djurisic of Serbia in the draft.

The 6-foot-9 Risacher, a forward from France, joins Young and forward Jalen Johnson as the foundation for the rebuild. Risacher has made a strong first impression in workouts this week for the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

“He shoots the ball like crazy,” Djurisic said of Risacher. “He can hit some wild shots. He can block some shots.”

Forward E.J. Liddell, a 2022 second-round draft pick who was part of the package of veterans acquired from the Pelicans, said Risacher “has got a lot of potential to be really great. He's a tough shot-maker. He's tall. It's going to be really tough to contest his shots. And he can handle the ball for a guy so tall.”

Liddell, who also will play on the Hawks' Summer League team, guard Dyson Daniels, forward/center Larry Nance Jr. and center Cody Zeller were acquired in Saturday's trade. Daniels was a 2022 first-round pick.

The trade created a surplus of options at center. There has been speculation the Hawks could trade Clint Capela, who has shared time with Onyeka Okongwu. Fields said he was trying to reach an agreement with center Bruno Fernando to push back Wednesday's deadline to guarantee Fernando's $2.72 million salary for next season.

Capela, 30, is due to earn more than $22 million next year before possibly becoming a free agent.

“I still place a lot of value in Clint, so should be fine,” Fields said.

Daniels, who is expected to provide strong defense, could join Bogdan Bogdanovic, Garrison Mathews, Seth Lundy and others in the shooting guard spot that had been manned by Murray. Lundy was signed to a new two-way contract on Tuesday.

Risacher could immediately push De'Andre Hunter at small forward. Fields said he hopes Risacher uses the Summer League experience to “get more and more integrated, accustomed to actually playing a new style of basketball.”

Risacher, 19, said he was “super excited” to begin the transition from European basketball to the NBA.

“There’s so many difference between those two,” Risacher said. “First of all, of course, it's bigger. And just the way we play here is kind of different. And that’s, you know, that’s good. ... It’s really interesting for me to discover and be able to play here with all those great players.”