HAWKSVILLE - Don’t we get this feeling around this time every summer?
While the rest of the NBA seems to move at a breakneck pace in the summer, things here in Hawksville seem to move in that Matrix-styled slow motion, the one where is dancing on the rooftop avoiding those bullets from the agents.
It’s always bothered me in the past. But not so much now.
Not with teams (Portland) being made a fool of in their pursuit of players that may or may not push them to the next level. Toronto’s pending acquisition of Hedo Turkoglu certainly looks like a playoff-making move for a franchise that (even with Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon last year) couldn’t muster more than 33 wins. The Raptors finished third to last in the Eastern Conference, meaning Turkoglu’s addition alone (they don’t have any more free agent cash to do anything else) will have to account for their summer stimulus plan.
Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t.
But when I think about all the deals that get done in these desperate summers (the ones where there aren’t a bunch of teams flush with cash and the free agent market is generally considered thin, by historical standards) and I cringe at some of the disastrous purchases that have been made.
Remember when Chicago thought they were snatching the championship momentum from Detroit a couple years ago by stealing Ben Wallace away for $64 million? Or how about the Hornets righting their champion-’ship stock with Peja Stojakovic with a similarly bloated contract?
And we don’t even have to travel back that far. Just look at last summer, when Philadelphia thought it was remaking itself into a title contender with the acquisition of Elton Brand (who, his his defense, had his season cut short by a severe injury). I point these instances out to illustrate just how cautious a team needs to be when dipping its toes into the murky free agent waters.
That said, I’d love for the Hawks to get all their business done now and make a sizable splash while doing so. I just don’t see it happening. They are close to terms with Mike Bibby, per my sources (and that report out of Philadelphia that suggested the deal was done was not only highly speculative but also way premature – a text message from someone with knowledge of the negotiations poked fun at the report thusly, “so the deal is done, huh? That’s news to all of us still trying to sort it all out.”) on a deal that solidifies the backcourt. Beyond that, the Hawks have negotiations to tend to with all of their own free agents (Zaza Pachulia and Marvin Williams first and foremost) as well as deciding how to proceed with Josh Childress, whose NBA status will have to be decided in the next 10 days.
That’s where things get a bit tricky for the Hawks, who in my estimation have to two extremely important factors weighing in their favor.
First, they don’t have cap money burning a hole in their pocket right now. When teams do, there’s a rush to spend without taking into account the flip side that things could go terribly wrong if you don’t spend wisely (the Chicago-Ben Wallace deal seems like a prime example, but I’d dial it back to the Eddy Curry-Knicks summer as well, you’ll remember that’s the summer the Hawks hosted Curry and tried to entice him. Good thing they lost out on that one, huh?).
Also working in the Hawks’ favor is that they’re not a team desperate to crawl out of a lottery hole (though I’m sure you remember the feeling). When the Hawks acquired Joe Johnson four years ago, they were flush with cap space and that summer’s free agent crop was considered thick. They eye-balled Ray Allen first and missed out, but wound up landing the right player at just the right time to help in their transformation from doormat to eventual playoff team. Like I said earlier, maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t.
When you’re coming off back-to-back playoff seasons, the need for prudence in all matters can’t be stressed enough. One false move (or non-move in the Hawks’ case this summer) can set you back. Sometimes it can send you back as well, all the way back to Jersey for the lottery ceremony.