Hawks GM Landry Fields Replaces Travis Schlenk as President of Basketball Operations

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 21, 2022

Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields speaks during a news conference, Friday, July 1, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
AP Photo/John Bazemore

Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields is replacing Travis Schlenk as the team's president of basketball operations.

Schlenk, who's pivoting to an advisory role, cited personal reasons for his decision:

"Throughout this season, Tony and I have had multiple, honest conversations about some of the personal things I've been going through and how I've been feeling, and I appreciate the counsel he has provided me as well as the opportunity he gave me six seasons ago to be a first-time general manager. As we enter a new year, the timing feels right for me to take a step back, reflect and prioritize my family."

The move comes as the Hawks are off to a disappointing 16-15 start that has them seventh in the Eastern Conference. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski referenced what could be Fields' first big piece of business in his new position:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Schlenk has multiple years left on his contract, and will remain in the organization working with owner Tony Ressler, sources said. Fields was promoted to GM in June and will step up and take on a larger role now. Hawks are 16-15 and remain engaged in trade talks on John Collins. <a href="https://t.co/6RySqItJgO">https://t.co/6RySqItJgO</a>

Fields has had a rapid ascension in the front office. He was only just promoted from assistant general manager to GM in June, and now he'll be running the show.

The 34-year-old is inheriting what appears to be a difficult challenge.

Schlenk did well to accelerate the Hawks' rebuild. Their run to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals doesn't happen without the arrivals of Bogdan Bogdanović and Danilo Gallinari.

The downside of the playoff run was that it significantly raised expectations for the organization and gave the front office the wrong idea about the roster it had.

In the aftermath of the 2021 postseason, John Collins got a five-year, $125 million extension and Kevin Huerter got a four-year, $65 million deal. Huerter has already been shipped out to the Sacramento Kings, and Collins is the source of trade speculation as well.

The Dejounte Murray trade also reflected the increased pressure Schlenk felt to atone for a first-round exit in 2021-22. You give up three first-round draft picks for a player when you think you've found the final piece of the puzzle.

Murray is averaging 20.6 points and 6.1 assists through 26 games, but the trade isn't working out as planned with the team out of the top six in the East. And the front office is now without the kind of assets that could land another difference-maker on the squad.

You also have the reported tension between star guard Trae Young and head coach Nate McMillan. On top of being active prior to the Feb. 9 trade deadline, Fields could plausibly be looking for a new coach before the end of this season.

Even if Wednesday's move was something Schlenk had been considering for some time, he's stepping down at an opportune time for himself.