Atlanta Hawks: And now for something really important: J.J.

It might feel like Christmas in July for the Hawks if J.J. returns. (LOUIE FAVORITE / lfavorite@ajc.com)

It might feel like Christmas in July for the Hawks if J.J. returns. (LOUIE FAVORITE / lfavorite@ajc.com)

There’s been much hand-wringing among my blog people about the Hawks’ draft, and I get that. Even when your team is picking No. 24, and even when that team is the Hawks, the hope is that somehow they beat the odds and find a rookie who can be a major contributor for a team that won 53 games last season.

But regardless of how you feel about the draft, it was far less important than what happens over the next couple weeks. Free agency opens at midnight Thursday, when teams can negotiate with players on the market. Deals can be struck during that time but signings can’t happen until a week later. And of course the biggest deal for the Hawks is what happens with J.J.

The Hawks want J.J. back. The things outsiders debate about regarding J.J.–his age, his minutes, his isos, his leadership, his postseason fade, etc.–don’t seem to be such issues at Centennial Tower. The Hawks value J.J. not because they won’t have the ability to sign a comparable free agent if he bounces, but because he’s a heck of a player whom they’ve built their team around.

As all of the rumors have swirled about J.J. wanting to leave for more shine, because of a beef with the fans, to be part of the super summit and whatnot, I’ve maintained that if the Hawks offer him the most money he will come back. The Hawks still believe they can re-sign J.J. because they can offer him the most money, and they don’t expect cash to be the issue.

Yeah, I understand you are skeptical about that part, but that’s their perspective. The difference in the maximum the Hawks can offer Joe and what other teams can give him is substantial. The exact numbers won’t be known until the league sets the salary-cap numbers for next season, which it will do during the July 1-8 moratorium. But it’s going to be something like $119 million max over six years from the Hawks for J.J., $92 million max over five years from someone else.

That’s $27 million, and as D-Wade told reporters: “Thirty million means a lot to anybody. To Bill Gates, $30 million means a lot.”

The Hawks are less concerned about the money and more worried about the knocks J.J. takes from fans and (cough, cough) media types. They fear he might decide to play for less money somewhere else because of those issues or something else they can’t control. Maybe those concerns are valid, but I’m still waiting for someone to show me players who leave that kind of cash on the table, particularly when it’s the last big contract they will get. The best way to show a player love and appreciation is, and always has been, to show him more money.

So, to summarize . . . The Hawks badly want J.J. to return. If it comes down to money, the Hawks like their chances to re-sign him. If it comes down to something else, they will get a little nervous. I’m guessing it will come down to money and if the Hawks step up in that regard, even if it means paying him the max, then J.J. will be back.

– The Hawks have opened a dialogue with Chills, a sign that perhaps he might soften his stance on returning to Atlanta. If it’s true that his Greek team doesn’t want him, that would seem to increase the attractiveness of a return to the league. Nobody wants to be where they aren’t wanted, after all, especially when that place isn’t even the best place to ply your trade.

Also, Chill’s market value may not be what he thinks. I’ve heard that a couple teams were interested in a sign-and-trade for him last summer, but the money they were talking about offering him was less than what Atlanta was dangling before he bolted for Greece. So Chills may not get what he wants when he goes looking for an offer sheet, especially when you consider teams are even more frugal now than they were then. Combine the market realities with the lack of Olympiakos love and that one-year, $4.8 million contract from the Hawks might start to look more appealing.

– Clearing up the confusion on Pape Sy. . . . I screwed up when I blogged that L.D. thinks he can play center. My bad. The Hawks measured Sy at 6-7 in shoes. L.D. thinks he could possibly play small forward but the Hawks essentially see him as a combo guard. Now we will see if they keep him around to try and develop him, which hasn’t been their M.O. in recent years.

– The Hawks are optimistic they can put together a good summer league roster. It’s important because they want Rook’ to have a good squad to work with in Las Vegas. My bosses just gave me the OK to head out there, too, so my blog people will get some firsthand accounts of Rook’, Jordan Crawford, Sy, and L.D.’s revolutionary new offense. There’s also a slight chance I end up in a casino.

– Thanks for all the comments over the last few days. Good to see my blog people still care, even if some of you don’t care for me. It’s all love. And it’s just basketball.

– Go USA. Beat Ghana.

MC

385 comments Add your comment

bigdave

June 25th, 2010
5:04 pm

very important week.

Pepsi for ROY

June 25th, 2010
5:08 pm

AND THE DRAMA BEGINS….

Joe Johnson spotted in Chicago having dinner with Bulls affiliates.

http://tinyurl.com/yonrvc

cedric

June 25th, 2010
5:16 pm

lets do a sign and trade with chills and a big. if that happens we can go to work.

STRETCH

June 25th, 2010
5:19 pm

Cedric,

That might be the ticket! But too bad we dont make the final decision. If these guys can manage to keep JJ and SNT Childress for a proven veteran big then yes….THEY CAN GO TO WORK!

bali

June 25th, 2010
5:20 pm

my question is he worth all the money to keep him…would the hawks be better served by spending saved money on someone else..

LEA

June 25th, 2010
5:24 pm

if they give him 119 million dollars, I am done with this sorry ass franchise.

i_am_soulstar

June 25th, 2010
5:26 pm

If we have JJ and Childress back, and Teague can successfully make the transition from bench warmer to floor general, we’ll certainly improve.

I agree though MC, Free agency is wayyy more important than the draft for the Hawks this summer.

@DanWeiner

June 25th, 2010
5:27 pm

So they’re concerned he’ll leave a laid back city like Atlanta and go somewhere else like Chicago or New York where they actually care about pro sports and the fans will treat him better there? Good lord the ASG is really out of touch with reality.

allan in texas

June 25th, 2010
5:29 pm

JC

June 25th, 2010
5:29 pm

@Pepsi – I hate you :)

jroc

June 25th, 2010
5:31 pm

Just show me the money baby! Joe is a little sore about the fans but when he sees that money he will forget real quick. JJ you have the chance to continue to have a team that is considered yours why turn your back on it. This team is showing a lot of promise and is on the incline, they are young and very talented.Can’t wait for next season! Looks like Joe will sign and everythings going to be alright!

allan in texas

June 25th, 2010
5:31 pm

Sorry about that. If JJ is offered that extra year and the extra 25 million he will take it Wouldn’t you?

dap01

June 25th, 2010
5:32 pm

If they resign JJ, they would then need to move contracts such as Bibby, Paculia or JC in order to improve the team.

terrell

June 25th, 2010
5:34 pm

6 yrs. 120 mill??? How much will JJ have left in the tank in 6 years? Or 3 years for that matter? I say we let him go and see what the younguns can do. Pick up Salmons to replace JJ, bring in a vet sf(Matt Barnes) and a vet big(Kurt Thomas), and we should be alright. It’s not like JJ is going to show up big in the Playoffs anyway.
Teague/Salmons/Barnes/Josh/Al
Bibby/Jamal/Marvin/Zaza/Kurt Thomas
Mo Evans/Jordan Crawford/R.Morris/Joe Smith
Bibby/Jamal/

Michael Cunningham

June 25th, 2010
5:34 pm

@allan in texas: “If JJ is offered that extra year and the extra 25 million he will take it Wouldn’t you?”

yes. . . . with max deals it’s the extra year, not the raises, that makes the real difference. especially when you are J.J.’s age and won’t be able to make it up with another big contract after this one.

Michael Cunningham

June 25th, 2010
5:36 pm

@dap01: “If they resign JJ, they would then need to move contracts such as Bibby, Paculia or JC in order to improve the team.”

Bibby would be a hard sale unless he’s packaged. Zaza’s contract is reasonable. JC is a legit trade chip with an expiring deal.

Rondo

June 25th, 2010
5:36 pm

Buck! Buck! Buck! Buck! Buck! BooooYAHAAAH! YO MC I hear you or going against The Black Allstars Of Ghana! Watch out son the Black Stars will be shining on Saturday! BRREEEEEEEEEE!

Me

June 25th, 2010
5:37 pm

I’m with LEA. You can kiss anything beyond the second round of the playoffs goodbye for the next six years if we give him that kind of money.

ILL-logical

June 25th, 2010
5:38 pm

Of course you realize that IF the Hawks offer Joe the max deal, there will be one less Crawford on the roster.

Brett

June 25th, 2010
5:41 pm

is all that $$$ guaranteed?

Najeh Davenpoop

June 25th, 2010
5:43 pm

If the Hawks can find their defensive-minded big man by trading Jamal Crawford — which I’m still convinced they set themselves up to do by drafting Jordan Crawford — they would then be able to use their mid-level and veterans’ minimum to improve depth at other positions. Assuming they keep Joe, they are still going to be stuck in a conference with three superstar-led teams; the way they can counteract this with no superstar of their own is by improving depth and overall talent across the board at every position.

In the event they keep Joe, what do y’all think about this trade possibility:

Hawks send Jamal Crawford ($10 million, expiring) to the Portland Trailblazers for disgruntled SG Rudy Fernandez ($1.5 million/year, rookie-scale contract), C Joel Przybilla ($7.5 million, expiring), and a future first-round pick.

Why the Hawks would do it: Przybilla is coming off a knee injury and is no sure thing, but if he’s healthy he could easily be the defensive center the Hawks need off the bench, and if he’s not the Hawks are not tied down with any long term financial liability. At 7′1″ and 250 pounds, he is easily big enough to guard the league’s bigger centers one on one, and with the addition of Marcus Camby the Blazers no longer need Przybilla as insurance for Greg Oden. Fernandez provides a cheap, versatile, athletic scorer, shooter, and ball-handler off the bench who can run the floor, and combined with Jordan Crawford’s contributions they can probably come close to matching Jamal Crawford’s production. Hawks would save about $1 million on the salary cap by making this trade, and the future pick gives them an additional asset they can use in a subsequent trade.

Why the Blazers would do it: Jamal’s contract is also expiring, so the Blazers don’t incur any long-term financial liability either. He is a proven scorer who can play a similar role in Portland as he does here, playing the majority of the bench minutes at the guard positions and playing at least some of the time alongside Brandon Roy. Considering that Fernandez is demanding a trade and Przybilla is coming off an injury, they would be getting a lot of value in return.

MannyT

June 25th, 2010
5:43 pm

@MC–I think it’s less about love or basketball. Aside from pulling Sanaa Lathan in to star in a movie with the quiet Mr. Johnson, will the Hawks be able to convince him that they can win? Joe might be at a point where he wants the best combination of money AND a chance to get a ring. It looks like other teams have made some serious, cap clearing efforts to attract multiple free agent stars. After Joe, the best the Hawks can say is that they saved some money on insurance…and draft picks this month.

I have no beef w/Joe…but I am also in no position to improve the roster or pay him. For some reason, I think that sucks more for me than it will for him as he cashes in this summer.

Rondo

June 25th, 2010
5:45 pm

Me-Lea: If your job gave you a max contract you would be the envy of your job! Thats what sports teams pay their stars today. Yes its sad, and we know you won’t see that much money in your life-time. You complain that your hawks don’t spend money and are cheap Let them pay their star.

Michael Cunningham

June 25th, 2010
5:45 pm

@Rondo: “Buck! Buck! Buck! Buck! Buck! BooooYAHAAAH! YO MC I hear you or going against The Black Allstars Of Ghana! Watch out son the Black Stars will be shining on Saturday! BRREEEEEEEEEE!”

i wanted to see an African squad get through–I had the Super Eagles to the final eight in my bracket–but I’m a Yank.

Michael Cunningham

June 25th, 2010
5:46 pm

@Brett: “is all that $$$ guaranteed?”

yessir

MannyT

June 25th, 2010
5:48 pm

@Najeh–can we really expect Joel P to return to the Hawks? It seems that he may not have enjoyed his prior stop here when BK was clearing cap space for the rebuild before he hired Woody. Camby might be a better trade target due to age and 2 yrs on contract.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 25th, 2010
5:48 pm

Adding to what I said above, if a Crawford trade nets the Hawks the big man they need as well as additional depth somewhere else, they have plenty of possibilities going forward. Any big man acquisition makes Zaza expendable, meaning they could dump his contract for depth at other positions or even just salary cap space. They could use the mid-level on a veteran PG and make Bibby expendable (not that he isn’t already), or bring in a SF who could challenge Marvin for his starting spot.

Bottom line is, I agree with MC: if they keep Joe, Jamal is the most attractive trade piece this team has, and drafting Jordan Crawford just made him less untradeable.

Michael Cunningham

June 25th, 2010
5:50 pm

@MannyT: yes, the chance to win might play a part in it. but would it play a $27 million part? the Hawks don’t look like a championship team at the moment but neither do they look like garbage. lots of players like to talk about winning, and no one wants to end up in a miserable situation, but when it comes right down to it money wins out 99 percent of the time.

but, yeah, i have a feeling J.J. is going to be just fine either way.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 25th, 2010
5:50 pm

“can we really expect Joel P to return to the Hawks? It seems that he may not have enjoyed his prior stop here when BK was clearing cap space for the rebuild before he hired Woody. Camby might be a better trade target due to age and 2 yrs on contract.”

Camby is a better player, no doubt, but I don’t know that Portland would part with Camby and roll with the injury-prone Oden and Przybilla going into next season. And anyway, there was a different GM and coach the last time Przybilla was here, not to mention it’s not really up to him where the Blazers choose to send him.

BobWeiss

June 25th, 2010
5:51 pm

Joe Johnson has been a great addition to the Hawks. He was easily worth the compensation they gave to the Suns and is the reason why the Hawks are now a legitimate team. However, he isn’t a max player and he certainly doesn’t have 7 great seasons left in the tank. As painful as it might be, the best move for this franchise is to try and get some compensation in the form of a sign and trade. Allowing Johnson to leave won’t hurt nearly as much as having him eating up valuable cap space for 7 years. Just ask the 76er’s how they feel about Mr. Brand.

Rondo

June 25th, 2010
5:53 pm

Najeh- Thats a weak trade neither one of those guys play defense and they disappear in big games.No i don’t like it. Camby alone would be better.

Clyde

June 25th, 2010
5:53 pm

Joe Johnson ain’t worth a max contract.

Clyde

June 25th, 2010
5:54 pm

We should have traded Joe 2 years ago and got something in return for him.

Delbert D.

June 25th, 2010
5:55 pm

“That’s $27 million, and as D-Wade told reporters: “Thirty million means a lot to anybody. To Bill Gates, $30 million means a lot.””

$30 million to Bill gates is sales tax on his latest acquisition..

Muhammad Cali

June 25th, 2010
5:56 pm

TO NAJAH DAVENPOOP : YOUR TRADE SCENARIO IS POOPLY HORRENDOUS !! NO WAY THE HAWKS ARE GETTING RID OF JAMAL CRAWFORD

Rondo

June 25th, 2010
5:56 pm

MC A black Yankee! WOW! I don’t even think its a dark skin brother on the New York Yankees!

Fate Ace

June 25th, 2010
5:57 pm

D-Wade said $30 Million is alot of money? Yoou fogure for what the NBA players get paid we could see some hussle—The play offs and the championship series was so week and lame. Over paid and I honestly think Kobe was all show after they won…..please prove me wrong.

Rondo

June 25th, 2010
5:58 pm

Najeh has been hanging with Ricky Williams a little too long

Rondo

June 25th, 2010
6:01 pm

Fat Face these was the best Finals in a long time get your biased comments off this blogg.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 25th, 2010
6:01 pm

Haha… looks like I like Rudy Fernandez and Joel Przybilla more than many of you do apparently…

MannyT

June 25th, 2010
6:02 pm

@Najeh–As of last night there is a change of GM in Portland. Who knows what they are thinking now?

vava74

June 25th, 2010
6:03 pm

A fully recovered Priz is a better defensive Center than Camby by far.

Camby is a very good help defender but average – at best – on the ball defender which I assume is what people have been asking for: someone who can put his body on Howard and bump him off position and play uncomfortable.

Without diminishing Camby’s stock too much, I personally think that Portland overpaid him by a mile with this latest contract.

MannyT

June 25th, 2010
6:06 pm

@Fate…if you got 30 mil tomorrow, would you be more or less dedicated to things like hustle? Seems that a guaranteed pile of money is less of an incentive to do the little things. At least I heard that a lot this week when they talked about guys not getting in top condition for the draft.

MannyT

June 25th, 2010
6:07 pm

So @vava if you are Portland which guy would you prefer to move? That’s the guy that we are more likely to get.

sams the man

June 25th, 2010
6:07 pm

I met J.J. at my work once. We were outside admiring his multi colored hummer/truck/tank looking ride. A lady pulled up behind his car and was asking for directions. J.J. comes back out and says to my co-worker “hey bro, tell that bitch to get out of my way.” It was insulting to the lady,who clearly heard it, and my co-worker. JJ can go bye-bye.

Rondo

June 25th, 2010
6:11 pm

bob weiss- Marv Albert ate half of a ladies butt and nobody remembers it because he is a so-called good guy and treat people with respect(except for that poor young lady that he mauled). Bonds has a terrible attitude and has suffered for it.

JeJe

June 25th, 2010
6:22 pm

Read Sund’s comments from yesterday. He thinks we could’ve played better and competed vs. Orlando. LOL

This guy is such an idiot. He didn’t even mention that Cleveland OWNED us last year or that ORL and CLE on the whole OWN us in the regular season.

We sold picks to save $90,000 (7 owners — LOL!!!!) so we can resign and dish out the world to someone who isn’t even a superstar.

LEA

June 25th, 2010
6:22 pm

Rondo how about u shut ur mouth, because you will NEVER see it either.. now go sit in the corner somewhere and mind yours..

Rondo

June 25th, 2010
6:23 pm

sams the man- You got to b talking about JJ on Goodtimes!

JeJe

June 25th, 2010
6:24 pm

THE DUMB4SS OWNERS WON’T EVEN GIVE HORF AN EXTENSION YET.

THEY ARE SO CONCERNED ABOUT SAVING 90,000 FREAKING DOLLARS