ATLANTA (AP) — On a night when the focus was on the future, the Atlanta Hawks insisted the trade of Dwight Howard was not the start of a major rebuilding job.

New general manager Travis Schlenk met with the media shortly before the start of Thursday's NBA draft to discuss his first big move: a deal that sent Howard to the Charlotte Hornets , while bringing little in return except salary cap relief.

Schlenk, who came to Atlanta from champion Golden State , said the deal fit his goal of maintaining roster flexibility "as we work to get this franchise going in the direction we want it to."

"This trade helps us, we believe, accomplish long-term and short-term flexibility," he said.

Schlenk quickly added that he expects the Hawks to remain competitive while retooling a team that won 60 games just two years ago, claiming the top seed in the East and reaching the conference final. This past season, Atlanta went 43-39 and was eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs.

"Our goal is still to be competitive," Schlenk said. "Being competitive and increasing our flexibility, that's still where we are. But we're not in a rebuild."

The Hawks had the No. 19 pick in the first round of the draft, along with two second-round selections.

Howard spent only one season with his hometown team, failing to adapt to coach Mike Budenholzer's free-flowing offense and making clear he's no longer one of the league's most dominant players.

"When I first got the job, one of the first things you do is you start making phone calls to other teams to see what kind of value your players have to other teams around the league," Schlenk said. "Dwight's name came up in some of those conversations and over the course of the weeks Charlotte expressed a lot of interest."

Clearly, the Hornets weren't willing to give up much for the 31-year-old center, who barely played in the fourth quarter of Atlanta's six playoff games and is due to earn $23.5 million each of the next two seasons.

The Hawks settled for overpriced center Miles Plumlee, shooting guard Marco Belinelli and the 41st pick, while also giving the Hornets the No. 31 choice.

"Disappointed is not the word I would use," Schlenk said. "We obviously went with what we thought the best package there."


Associated Press writer Andy Buhler contributed to this report.


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