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Hawks' Fields plans to retain No. 1 pick, but keeping options open

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ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields says he likes his options for the potential top picks in the NBA draft — and he insists he's not planning on trading the No. 1 pick, even though his phone lines remain open.

“I think we’re really excited by the draft,” Fields said Monday as he continued to prepare for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft on June 26. “And the more that we uncover, like we go, great, I’m glad we have No. 1. I keep joking around like I’m not giving it back. So, I think we’re in a really good position here. I’m excited about it, frankly.”

The Hawks were the surprise winner of the NBA draft lottery on May 12. Atlanta won the No. 1 draft pick despite just 3% odds after finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference at 36-46.

Fields says his initial enthusiasm about landing the top pick has not been diminished as he and his staff have examined options such as two French stars, Alexandre Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher, Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard and UConn center Donovan Clingan.

Even so, Fields acknowledged the task of determining which prospect should be No. 1 is an ongoing process. He said he, not team owner Tony Ressler, will make the draft choice.

The decision on keeping the No. 1 pick could be affected by the fact the Hawks have no other selections in the draft. The roster may need help from more than one draft pick after the team lost to Chicago in the first round of the play-in tournament.

Fields said he and his staff are assembling tiers of draft prospects. When asked if a trade down for more picks would be wise if he sees no prospect clearly ranking above all others, Fields said, “Eventually you’ll narrow down to your guy, for sure.”

Fields said the pool of possible top picks on the Hawks' draft board continues to shrink.

“I would say a week ago it was wider than it is now,” he said. “The board is definitely shaping up, tearing itself out.”

Fields said he's looking for a player “to be No. 1 and just the guy that we see is a great fit for us, not just for the next day, but for the future as well.”

Aside from a slight break on Sunday for Father's Day, Fields has stayed busy on the phone, taking and receiving calls from other executives.

“For the most part, it continuously rings,” he said.

The Hawks have been frustrated by the inability to revive a franchise that has not won a playoff series since advancing to the 2021 Eastern Conference finals despite scoring leadership from guards Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. The Hawks kept Murray at the trade deadline in February when there was much speculation he might be dealt for draft picks.

Decisions about the future of center Clint Capela and forward De'Andre Hunter also may be looming this offseason. But the first priority is making a decision on the No. 1 pick.

“We as a group looked at a ton of different scenarios,” Fields said. “Like if you keep the pick, you try to get back into the draft. ... With where we are right now, we’ll pick one. ... We’re planning on picking one.”



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