Hawks Fans: What should be Plan B?

If you’re following Atlanta Hawks news, then you’ve probably seen offers to star guard Joe Johnson for a 6 year contract, with reported totals ranging from $117 million to $124 million. One site after another has lambasted the idea of paying Johnson such a contract, stating that he isn’t worth a ”max” contract that would pay him anywhere from an average of  $19.5 million to $20.67 million per year (though we know that these contracts actually start around the $16 million mark and increase per year). Many are suggesting that the Hawks take a small step backwards by letting Joe go, and spending the money wisely on free agents that will add depth, even if if they don’t provide star power. It’s actually somewhat amusing, considering how many people didn’t believe that the Hawks would pony up the dough in the first place. Now they’re not supposed to dole it out? Take for example NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury, who counts this move as less than wise. But what of the promise by Rick Sund (and ultimately, his bosses) to increase payroll even further, by adding quality depth to the frontcourt and perhaps at point guard? Will keeping Joe at such a price make sense then? Don’t the elite teams spend a little more than most people think they should, to take a legitimate shot at winning it all? Will this help the Hawks to be taken seriously, finally? One way or the other, the offer has already been made. Either Joe takes it…or he doesn’t.

 

What If Joe Declines?

Do you get the feeling that the Atlanta Spirit Group was just barely convinced to offer Joe that massive contract? It seems that Plan A calls for signing Joe to keep that 50 win-capable team together, then opening the wallet further to enhance the team and make it a true contender. But what if Joe doesn’t go for it? What if he spurns the nearly $30 extra million and that 6th year for a change of climate and scenery? I tell you what: I think the well dries up, and the change purses snap shut. Star power is what convinces owners to spend. Star power is what helps revenue. Joe may not have great star power, even in Atlanta, but he is a star nonetheless. Stars produce on the court, and can anybody deny Joe’s on court production? If he leaves, then the Hawks (and we fans) can only hope that guys such as Al Horford and Josh Smith become bigger stars. Ownership has to hope the same thing. If Joe leaves, they may be less inclined to spend, preferring to go cheap once again in free agency, and saving money. Considering that the team has been nearly allergic to using the Mid-Level Exception and other monies, that is a less than comforting thought.

 

Suggestions for Plan B?

There needs to be a Plan B, whether Joe re-signs or not. If he stays, what should the Hawks do to enhance the team (we’ll call this Plan B1)? Everybody, apparently including coach Larry Drew and center/forward Al Horford would like to see a more traditionally-sized center brought in, and I’m inclined to believe that Rick Sund will see this through, this time around. But what about a third point guard? Is it wise to keep Jamal Crawford in mind to see some few minutes at that position, or should the Hawks stick to having him play off the ball? Would a third guard that’s capable of playing point guard hamper Jeff Teague’s growth? Would you like to see Mike Bibby moved and another guy brought in? How does Jordan Crawford fit in, and does he allow the movement of Jamal Crawford to another team, if necessary?

Another issue could be small forward. While the 6′5″ Mo Evans can pull spot duty there, he is too often a bandaid on a gash. Unless Marvin Williams improves to the point of being rock solid at the position, the Hawks find themselves average-to-inadequate at a position that is easier to fill than most. Should the Hawks seek to improve themselves at small forward by moving Marvin, or should they see how he plays under Larry Drew? Will his talent and productivity finally be maximized (and consistent) under different coaching, or have we seen all he has to offer?

Free Agency Options Dwindling

Plan B2 (if Joe declines the offer) is something we’ve already discussed, and that includes what should be done if Joe leaves. The first name to pop up amongst both fans and media has been John Salmons. If reports prove true, the Bucks have all but re-signed the talented but inconsistent veteran guard, leaving the Hawks to look elsewhere. Depending on how you look at it, that’s either a good thing or  a bad thing. Salmons would have been an easy out, but was he what the Hawks needed anyway? Perhaps gambling less cash on a guy like Anthony Morrow, but veteran talent often means more when it comes to making the playoffs, not to mention competing in them. That, and the Hawks may have preferred not to add more youth to a somewhat young team.

More than anything, the Hawks must prove to be shrewd more than they are frugal. Maybe spending a lot on Joe isn’t a good idea. Maybe it is. Maybe that’s not the issue. Perhaps Plan B spending is what will make the difference, whether it’s Plan B1 or Plan B2. Perhaps if the Hawks ownership can be convinced to spend big, then they can be convinced to spend wisely. In the end, that means trusting your General Manager implicitly. And that, my friends, means that Sund has to make wise moves. Can Sund do this?

What would you like to see the Hawks do?

79 comments Add your comment

Big Ray

July 4th, 2010
10:35 am

Raybud ,

I would love to see us take advantage of the growing market for Josh Childress. It was bad enough that we lost the services and asset use of a high lottery pick for two years. If Childress gets loose from us again, with nothing in return, that’s horrible asset management. We need to get something out of this, as I agree with you: Chills doesn’t want to be here. Even if we got a bench role player that gives us nothing more than depth at a position we don’t need as much depth at, we’re not losing out.

Him walking with no compensation is unacceptable, in my opinion. I hope Sund and crew see this and take action, even though they’re keyed-in on Joe right now. Gotta be active on multiple fronts.

Kwooden1 ,

Count me in on the group that wanted Brandon Bass. I don’t know that he would have signed with us over Orlando, though. Looking at the two teams, we know which one had a better shot at competing for the NBA crown, and that’s the one free agents tend to go with if money isn’t at the crux of it all.

Having said that, it’s kind of poetic justice that he practically got no playing time with Stan Van Gundy (though I understood Van Gundy’s strategy to an extent).

[...] PostSources: Johnson likes Knicks, BullsESPNKevin Pelton on Joe Johnson's big offerESPN (blog)Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -NBA.com -msnbc.comall 273 news [...]

Big Ray

July 4th, 2010
10:43 am

Here’s a thought I’ve had on Joe Smith for some time now:

I don’t think he was as much “over the hill” as he was improperly utilized in Atlanta. Look at the prior two seasons, where Smith got just a hair under 20 minutes per game, and his shooting percentage was mid-to-high 40s. Fast forward to Atlanta, where Smith got HALF that playing time. Who produces well when they’re playing a sporadic sub-10 minutes per game that doesn’t even usually come in something as steady as 5 minute blocks? Who can get in any sort of rhythm?

Add the “intricacies” of last year’s offense and you have a double whammy. I think we could have gotten more out of Smith than we did, but it turned out to be a waste. If you think I’m wrong, then compare last season’s stats (all of them, mind you) for Joe Smith, to those of his previous two years. The year before last, he averaged similar minutes and similar production for two different teams. Reach your own conclusions, but I think the drop-off is telltale….

Having said that, I think keeping him around THIS coming season would be catching him too late. By now, he truly may just not have it…

O'Brien

July 4th, 2010
12:08 pm

kwooden1,

We dont know if he would have signed our offer sheet, but if ASG had in fact made an offer, I think we would have heard about it, because Bass’s team would have used it as leverage to get a better offer somewhere else.

Ray,

“Who produces well when they’re playing a sporadic sub-10 minutes per game that doesn’t even usually come in something as steady as 5 minute blocks? Who can get in any sort of rhythm?

Exactly. And the same applies to Jeff Teague. Even Mo Evans had complaints about his PT.

O'Brien

July 4th, 2010
6:55 pm

Good to have JJ back. Hopefully Rick Sund can make some trades to drastically improve the team.

niremetal

July 4th, 2010
7:22 pm

In one fell swoop, the Hawks got JJ back and pretty much proved that they are not cheap.

So why do I still feel so uneasy about all this?

MannyT

July 4th, 2010
11:32 pm

@niremetal–Often we have to overdo to prove a point or move away from a reputation. Thus the Hawks maxed Joe. If he played for a team with a better rep, they may not have had to max him to keep him. When you look at the Hawks lack of impact in the free agency market–there is one exception this decade–Joe.

To beat back the cheap/poor rep, they may have to use that MLE and head into luxury territory. The messy part is that it may not move them up the playoff seeding ranks. If all the big names except Bosh stay with their current teams, the Hawks probably don’t move up from 3rd seed. In fact, Wade will get help, Bosh will move to help a better team. The Hawks could spend luxury money and easily end up as the 5th or 6th seed.

If they get past the 2nd round, most folks around here will be happy. Otherwise, we spend a lot more for worse results. That’s bad business, but the type of corner you can get painted into with a bad corporate rep.

MC put something on Twitter about Joe possibly forcing a S&T for a 5 yr deal. It made me laugh. Because if the deal sucks for your current team, why would they allow you to force them into a S&T. If it were a decent deal for the Hawks, it would not have been a forced issue. They may have had more cap flexibility, better salary structure and ended up with a team that was as capable of competing. Who knows.

All that said, yes, we overpaid, but I am glad to have the best player on the team back in the fold.

Now what will Sund do next?

Freedom isn’t free…free agents aren’t free either. Hope all y’all enjoyed Independence Day.

Melvin

July 4th, 2010
11:55 pm

Resigning Joe was the 1st and most important move this summer (Good job ASG). Now how the Hawks fill out the rest of the roster will should the fans how serious they are committed to winning a championship.

doc

July 5th, 2010
12:20 am

What more uneasy? Come now Impossible. :-)

maybe they got a brain nire to go with all that money.

Really what is thee to be uneasy about?

doc

July 5th, 2010
12:37 am

more is meant to be nire, i phone does ti again along with these aging eyes

vava74

July 5th, 2010
4:04 am

Have you see the startling difference on how the media portraits the “opting-out-resigning-for-3-to-4-years-at-15million” by a 33 year old Paul Pierce who 4 years ago (when he was 28 going on 29) before getting garnett and allen led the celts to a 24 win in comparison to JJ an unrestricted free agent who is just outside his 29th birthday is getting for signing for what the Market allowed him to sign?

PP is the great capatain who gave cap flexibility to the celts (by reducing his 21 million due for this year while getting a guaranteed 45+ in exchange…

JJ is simply the overpaid dude. A guy who has been selected All NBA third team…

vava74

July 5th, 2010
4:12 am

And Nowitzki is the same: at 32 he got 80 million for 4 years WITH A NO TRADE CLAUSE and he is seen as saving the Mavs the differential between the 80 million and the 96 he could get… A guy who will be pushing 37 and will be untraceable at the end of the contract.

vava74

July 5th, 2010
4:14 am

“Untradable” ?

A guy who surrounded by quality talent has been kicked out the first round of the playoffs already twice…

vava74

July 5th, 2010
4:15 am

One of them in his MVP season…

JSS

July 5th, 2010
4:33 am

You guys need to stop arguing the merits of the deal. It is a fait accompli! The question now is what you can either attain, retain (what do we do with Childress or get for him), or jettison from this roster.

Marcus

July 5th, 2010
7:16 am

OK, what is plan C (which could stand for ‘Center’)?
What bargaining tools do we have to work with?
a) MLE
b) Rights to Childress (or S&T if he signs another teams offer sheet?)
c) Expendable players on current team (Bibby, Marvin, Jamal, Smoove?)
d) 3 million dollar transaction in selling pick # 31
e) Draft rights to any number of Euros we recently drafted in 2nd round (Cenk, Gladyr, Sy)

Now is there anybody out there who can be a starting C or contributing reserve who is worth giving up the assets we have?

vava74

July 5th, 2010
7:32 am

Przbilla for Crawford seems acceptable for me but we would need to be sure that Craw 2 can contribute immediately.

I have a hunch that he will and that he will be the sleeper on this draft.

Melvin

July 5th, 2010
9:53 am

Vava,

I wouldn’t giving up Jamal for Przybilla. Although he’s a big body, he’s not that much of a game changer…

Melvin

July 5th, 2010
9:54 am

From Hoopsworld:

“The Johnson Effect: Now that Atlanta Free agent Joe Johnson has agreed to accept the Hawks’ $119 million contract offer, a number of additional moves have been set in motion.

Sources close to the situation say that while the Hawks’ did issue a Qualifying Offer to Josh Childress and have the right to match whatever offers he receives on the open market, it now becomes highly unlikely the team matches a serious offer. Childress, who is trying to make his return to the NBA after playing two seasons in Greece, has a number of interested teams and is said to be in demand.

Childress was in demand last year; however the Hawks made it known they would match offers starting at the mid-level exception ($5.8 million last season) and teams shied away.

With Johnson’s massive deal on the books the Hawks are expected to pass matching Childress unless they can unload one of their longer term deals.

Since getting strong indications Johnson would stay last week, the Hawks have opened talks on moving both Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby.

Sources close to the Hawks list Bibby as the player the team wants to move, but understands his $5.5 million this years and $6.2 million next year may be a tough pill to swallow.

Marvin Williams has greater upside and slightly greater trade appeal but is owed $6.71 million this year, for a total of four more seasons at just at $30 million.

Atlanta sources downplayed that there was a desire to move Williams, but said that it was time to move Mike Bobby and the team is hoping that Jeff Teague, last year’s first round pick shows improvement in summer league as the team really wants to push the tempo next season and see Bibby as unable to do that effectively, without getting beat defensively.

The Hawks have leveraged their future against Joe Johnson, and now that they have his verbal commitment, the hawks have additional work to do in rounding out the roster.

For the record, the Hawks have $47.6 million in salary commitments so far for the 2010-2011 season, before Joe Johnson’s $16.8 million, putting the Hawks at $64.4 million owed to 10 players.”

O'Brien

July 5th, 2010
10:15 am

This comes back to rick sund’s last offseason. If bibby was expiring, he would not have been a tough pill to swallow.

An I still don’t understand how rick thought so highly of Marvin, but so little of chills.

Melvin, Vava,

I would trade Jamal for pryzbilla. He is not a game changer, but we are loaded at SG, and thin in the frontcourt.

I think Jordan Crawford will have a good year, but we also have mo Evans to add stability at SG.

And with al horford again stating his preference to play PF, Sund has to bring in a decent reserve center (or move Josh for a solid starting center).

Melvin

July 5th, 2010
10:34 am

OB,

I agee we are stack at SG but given that Jordan is a rookie and Mo is simply serviceable. I’m not sold on moving Jamal just yet. I would like to see the Rook perform under the big lights before moving our SMOY. Unless Drew offense will makeup for the loss of Jamal scoring, I would be very careful who I trade him for. Bibby, Mo, Marvin and ZaZa would be the contracts I would try to move first.

niremetal

July 5th, 2010
10:57 am

To quote a guy on Hawksquawk:

Marvin= underachiever with unfulfilled potential. Chillz= overachiever with significant holes in his game. If we trade Marvin and bring back Chillz as a starter, it won’t be long before we are looking for a SF.

vava74

July 5th, 2010
10:57 am

doc

July 5th, 2010
10:59 am

i have long said we would regret the amount of money that has been paid to bibby as much as i liked what he brought in many ways he was the worst contract and even worse than even speedy, though that is hard to fathom at least we re-couped on his injuries by insurance kick backs. he was a very expensive stop gap measure for very poor decisions made during the cost saving building mode the team went through. i hope he can be moved for a viable player. he has to be more than a mentor and caddy to teague at his price. coaches are to fill that role at a much reduced price.

doc

July 5th, 2010
11:02 am

as much as i like chills nire, kind of agree with those comments. he is a very good guy for his many capabilities, not sure he is a long term solution as a starter though he was a good finisher because of his head, he just made few mistakes and played all out, the type i want on the court when it matters most.

vava74

July 5th, 2010
11:07 am

Chills is a fine player and a guy who usually comes up with whatever is necessary to help his teams win.

He should be used as such 25-28 minutes consistently in a “contender” either subbing the SG or the SF positions as seen fit on a given game.

He was one of the most influential players in the Boston series with his offensive rebounds or baseline dunks and put backs.

He is (or has the potential to be) a kind of a Rodman type of player: a super utility guy who works hard and plugs holes.

I wish we could put Chills head (afro included) into Josh’s body…

Melvin

July 5th, 2010
11:58 am

Look who Hoopyshype have on the trading block for the Hawks….lol

http://hoopshype.com/market_center.htm

vava74

July 5th, 2010
12:45 pm

I think Marvin still has a very good chance to blossom and be a real contributor.

However, I saw on Hawks TV an interview about his summer plans and he sounded so desinterested that it was frightening to hear.

He said that he was getting back to NC to continue his studies – which obvious is an excellent personal decision for him – but he made absolutely no reference to being looking forward for the next season nor that he would be also working in his game…

Maybe he sends out the wrong vibes, but he definitively sounds alienated and not really into bball.

Chucktown38

July 5th, 2010
10:17 pm

Get Heywood from the Mav’s