HAWKSVILLE - We’re going to start today’s journey with the answer to the most asked questions surrounding the Hawks these days.
Until you read, see or hear of veteran power forward Joe Smith signing elsewhere, the Hawks still have a shot at landing the free agent big man.
That’s truly the best (and only real) hope available on that front.
I certainly think it helps the Hawks’ cause that they’ve already completed negotiations and come terms with all of their in-house free agents, in case you missed it Marvin Williams was the latest late last week. Because now they can focus all of their attention on filling out the frontcourt rotation with the necessary extra bodies needed as they head into training camp.
As I detailed Sunday, the Hawks plan to take a closer look at several big men over the next few weeks to see who might fit best. It’s a wise move, what with the pickings being as slim as they are this late in the summer. Garret Siler and Jason Collins are surely large enough for the job but I’m not sure that either one of them soothes any fears about the Hawks’ lack of quality depth up front. Johan Petro, Stromile Swift and Loren Woods (another name I’ve heard is on the Hawks’ radar) don’t help me sleep any better either.
Maybe, as some of his staunch supporters have been suggesting to me repeatedly the past year, Randolph Morris deserves a shot to prove he’s the guy the Hawks need. He is under contract already. And he has shed weight better and faster than the dude from the Subway ads. One scout in attendance at Tim Grgurich’s recent camp in Las Vegas reported that he was impressed with Randmo’s quick feet and shooting touch – “I didnt’ think he could play until I watched him work in that environment,” my scout friend wrote in an email over the weekend. “He’s got a chance if he can get on the floor.”
Maybe this is the year, the final year of his two-year deal, that Morris shoves his way into Mike Woodson’s rotation … or maybe not. But with their options for a big man dwindling, I can’t see where it hurts to give Morris a chance. The Hawks have actually had some success with players like Morris, lightly-regarded players that turn into contributors (Mario West and Othello Hunter come to mind as recent undrafted rookies that made favorable impressions).
Hunter strikes me as another player capable of fitting into the mix for the Hawks come training camp. He’s probably a bit undersized, but since when has that ever stopped the Hawks from throwing a guy out thee (Al Horford and Josh Smith are always accused of the same crime of impersonating “true” big men). The reviews on his performance in the Hawks’ rookie/free-agent mini-camp last summer were surprisingly mixed. I thought he was fantastic. He definitely stood out to me. But several people who were also there suggested that they weren’t moved much by his showing. It’s always subjective.
ONE LAST THING, regarding another Joe (as in Johnson). I’ll admit to being perplexed at all the rancor over whether or not it’s prudent to explore contract extension talks with JJ’s camp. Why wouldn’t the Hawks want to lock up their best player for at least four more years (and that’s all the Hawks can offer since Johnson has a year remaining on his current deal, per league rules)?
A four-year deal in the $62-$64 million neighborhood (that’s an extension from what he makes now with the proper annual raises) makes plenty of sense to me. The question is how much sense does it make to JJ’s camp as they weigh the millions you can touch now with the potential millions that might (or might not) be available next summer, when he’d be an unrestricted free agent?
I know some of you are vehemently (I love that word) opposed to the idea of “4 More Years” with Joe in office. I just don’t understand why. We’re talking about a three-time All-Star that would still be in his NBA prime at the end of the deal. And if the fears of a potential lockout two years from now are realized, I’d much rather have the core of my team locked up going into the summer of 2011 as opposed to fishing around for players with so much uncertainty surrounding the league.
Just some thought to kick of the week.