Atlanta Hawks: Why ASG wants J.J. back (even for the max) UPDATE: Still waiting

UPDATE: Still no word on an agreement between J.J. and the Hawks. There’s been no indication that a deal won’t happen soon, with J.J.’s agent telling Marc Berman of the New York Post: “[H]e’s comfortable in Atlanta, happy, and they can offer him one more year.”

If J.J. likes the team and the money, all that’s left for the Hawks is to wait . . .

Talked to a person with insight into ASG’s rationale for offering J.J. a max contract. Basically, the plan is for the Hawks to re-sign J.J. and then add the necessary pieces to make them a true contender in the Eastern Conference.

Letting Joe leave would mean the Hawks would be worse in the short term, and the Hawks aren’t prepared to take that step back (the sign-and-trade options aren’t so appealing as to assure the team would maintain or improve). Once they made that philosophical decision, they took a look at the market for J.J. It quickly became clear that a few teams with cap space were ready to offer him the non-Bird max, so the Hawks made an aggressive play to re-sign him and hope that pays off with a commitment from J.J. soon.

Atlanta’s basketball people recognize that re-signing J.J. alone isn’t enough to improve the team (because, well, it’s basically the same team) and ASG is not opposed to exceeding the luxury-tax threshold to sign the right player. That’s a good thing since they don’t have much choice. If J.J. re-signs, the Hawks would have about $68 million in committed salaries when including Chill’s $4.8 million qualifying offer and Jordan Crawford’s rookie-scale salary. The NBA projects the tax threshold will be about $68 million, so the Hawks would be bumping up against it with only 10 11 players under contract.

That leaves a minimum of three two open roster spots. If Chills signs an offer sheet (Washington is interested) and the Hawks don’t match it (they haven’t ruled out matching or working out a sign-and-trade) then the committed salaries would be roughly $63 million with four three open roster spots. The Hawks want a bona fide center and ASG is open to using the mid-level exception to sign one. They also will explore trade opportunities, though there haven’t been any serious discussions about potential moves because Rick Sund is focused on J.J. right now.

Here is where the draft ties into ASG’s thinking. The Hawks traded down with the belief that Jordan Crawford (he needs a nickname, right?) would still be there at No. 27. They liked Kentucky’s Daniel Orton and would have taken him with the No. 31 pick but he went 29th to the Magic and they didn’t like any of the other centers available. So they sold the No. 31 pick for close to $3 million, and that money could help offset their potential luxury tax bill and also the hit they would take for missing out on the tax escrow rebate.

ASG rejects the view expressed by David Aldridge and others that a potential sell of the team influenced the max offer to J.J. Michael Gearon Jr. has insisted that he is not interested in selling his share. It’s expected that Steve Belkin eventually, finally, mercifully will be bought out and another investor will be sought. The Hawks are said to be one of the few teams with no debt on their franchise.

So a future sell of the team is not what’s driving the decision to max out J.J., according to the person privy to ASG’s plans. It’s about the belief that re-signing J.J., adding more pieces and improving their tactics and approach under L.D. will allow the Hawks to finally take the next step. As far as I know, all the speculation about using J.J. in a sign-and-trade is off base, perhaps a way for skeptical observers to rationalize what they see as a bad contract offer from the Hawks. It’s always possible, I guess, but I haven’t heard anything that leads me to believe they want to send J.J. along (a sign-and-trade obviously would require his permission) and everything to suggest they really want him back.

I understand why many of my blog people (and it seems pretty much everyone on the Interwebs) believe this was a bad move. As I said before, Hoopinion, Peachtree Hoops and HawksStr8Talk all offered reasonable, clear-headed explanations as to why they feel the Hawks should move on without J.J. if his price is too high. I’m just trying to offer you as much insight as possible into why ASG did made the decision to offer the max.

If J.J. re-signs and the plan doesn’t work, with J.J.’s contract becoming a burden and their other moves also falling flat, then the Hawks will be judged harshly.

MC

444 comments Add your comment

hawksfan#1

July 1st, 2010
6:12 pm

hawksfan#1

July 1st, 2010
6:13 pm

TONY

July 1st, 2010
6:13 pm

TONY

July 1st, 2010
6:14 pm

Alright…..second

Ron in Vegas

July 1st, 2010
6:15 pm

a close 2nd…

Aaron

July 1st, 2010
6:17 pm

MC, I’m curious why the Hawks didn’t go all-in last year, fresh off a trip to the 2nd round…it would’ve made things much simpler with JJ, IMHO.

Daddilicious

July 1st, 2010
6:17 pm

doc

July 1st, 2010
6:19 pm

look they may have missed a golden op last year in not using their mle for a big and taking the tax hit. maybe they didnt believe they had the hosses to go up the ladder which they did and could have gone higher. the playoff dro poff was a mirage in a way and not indicative of what they can be with some legit back up bigs and a penetrating point or defending point. they dropped the ball last year and may have realized it and be going for the gusto now.

JeJe

July 1st, 2010
6:19 pm

Do you proofread your blogs?

Daddilicious

July 1st, 2010
6:20 pm

JeJe

July 1st, 2010
6:20 pm

“and then add the necessary pieces”

Who?

Who are we clearing cap space for?

hawksfan#1

July 1st, 2010
6:21 pm

JJ is a good player but I think we can still do just as good without him. The best possible move that the hawks can pull is getting a Butler and Haywood from Dallas for him. Both are above average players. We would have so much depth in the front court with smoove playing 3 Butler playing 4 and Horford playing 5. Marvin and Haywood coming out of the bench makes it a quality bench. Imagine how amazing our bench would be
1 Teague
2 jo Crawford
3. Marvin
4 ZaZa
5 Haywood

Chris D'

July 1st, 2010
6:22 pm

So the new GM has brought in one good player and after this will have over paid for 3 of the players the last GM brought in that everyone ridiculed. 35 million for JJ, Marvin and Bibby really?

aaronr

July 1st, 2010
6:22 pm

who are potentional teams that would be interested in a trade for josh smith?

Southern Hawk

July 1st, 2010
6:22 pm

Thanks for the insight MC. What is your opinion on the JJ deal? I really think this is the best option available for the Hawks right now. The possibility of landing any of the other big named free agents was almost Zero. Contrary to popular belief, the Hawks actually DO have good chemistry, and I really do believe that the new coach will make the difference, along with maybe their MLE. Any ideas on who they would pick up with their MLE?

Michael Cunningham

July 1st, 2010
6:27 pm

@JeJe: “Do you proofread your blogs?”

nope. you can have the job, max contract, but i insist on a clause that prohibits you from ever posting another comment on my blog. deal?

Michael Cunningham

July 1st, 2010
6:29 pm

“Who? Who are we clearing cap space for?”

what cap space? there is none. there are cap exceptions and trades.

Aaron

July 1st, 2010
6:29 pm

Hahahaha, you’re a trip, MC.

Tee

July 1st, 2010
6:30 pm

We were thoroughly embarrassed in the playoffs by the Magic. Our team quit and show no heart after being challenged. Joe was the leader of that group and did nothing to prove his doubters wrong, there are better players to build around! Management should be building around Al Horford. Trade Joe and get bigger bodies who can contribute now. Jamal Crawford is a fine substitute, I’d rather have the ball in his hands for the last shot over JJ.

Michael Cunningham

July 1st, 2010
6:31 pm

@ Aaron: “MC, I’m curious why the Hawks didn’t go all-in last year, fresh off a trip to the 2nd round…it would’ve made things much simpler with JJ, IMHO.”

good question. i wasn’t here so afraid i can’t answer it. my guess is they have now changed their philosophy in regards to paying the tax.

Show me state

July 1st, 2010
6:31 pm

After the hawks re-sign joe…..is there anyone else (in the free agent market) that they have their eye on?

GT Alum

July 1st, 2010
6:34 pm

Thanks for the insight. The main piece of good news in this post is that it sounds they’re planning for re-signing JJ to just be the first move, not the only move. Sounds like Dallas isn’t offering something along the lines of the Butler and Haywood/Dampier package that many people are looking for. Sounds like all Hawks fans can do is wait and hope they’re willing and able to make some moves that have a bigger impact that signing Collins and Joe Smith did.

Najeh Davenpoop

July 1st, 2010
6:35 pm

Good stuff MC. Nice to know what the DASG is thinking, or at least what they want us to think they are thinking.

Michael Cunningham

July 1st, 2010
6:35 pm

@ Show me: “After the hawks re-sign joe…..is there anyone else (in the free agent market) that they have their eye on?”

i’ve asked around on that but it seems Sund is focused on J.J. right now. that makes sense because Hawks have to know what happens with him before they can put the rest of their plan into motion.

tjhook

July 1st, 2010
6:41 pm

Hey MC,
Is there any converstation about bringing in a post threat? Not defensively but offensively. The offense is limited because we only have one trustworthy post prescence (Horford). I’ve been suggesting Al Harrington as a addition because he’s been in the organization and may be interested in joining as a mid-level exception. The current offensive threats are good but we need versatile scoring to keep opposing teams down. Woodson was good about keeping our turnovers down as a team so the organization is closer than many believe to breaking through the glass. The Johnson contract is exorbitant. Maybe with success, he will see fit to reward folks like Horford and Crawford once their contracts are up because the contract amount is bigger than his talent.

Michael Cunningham

July 1st, 2010
6:44 pm

@ Najeh: “Good stuff MC. Nice to know what the DASG is thinking, or at least what they want us to think they are thinking.”

if they are BSing it won’t take long to figure it out.

DJ

July 1st, 2010
6:45 pm

Ric Bucher said the Celtics are interested in Josh Childress too

Reginald

July 1st, 2010
6:46 pm

Is there anything to the rumor that the Hawks are shopping Marvin Williams & Mike Bibby….it was mentioned on Hoopsworld.com

GT Alum

July 1st, 2010
6:46 pm

MC, so, with re-signing JJ, it seems like one of the additional pieces they need is someone to be their ‘Zo. Even if he doesn’t fill one of this team’s biggest needs as a shooter or a defensive post guy, they need someone to make sure everyone stays focused. JJ obviously isn’t that guy, and neither is anyone else currently on the roster. Horford has the right attitude, but I don’t know if he’s got the experience to make everyone listen, although he’s won more significant titles than anyone else on this team has.

SB75

July 1st, 2010
6:46 pm

MC…… Is there any truth to the rumor the Hawks are shopping Bibby and Williams?

JeJe

July 1st, 2010
6:47 pm

“nope. you can have the job, max contract, but i insist on a clause that prohibits you from ever posting another comment on my blog. deal?”

If I had the job, how would I be posting on your blog? Brilliant!

northcyde

July 1st, 2010
6:49 pm

LOL @ you Hawk fans…..

Joe is a FOUR time All Star. He is DEFINITELY worth the max. Can’t you tell from his buzzer beater this year that this guy wants to win?

The reason we lost in the 2nd round was ZaZa, Horford, and Jamal all played terribly, even though Joe played great

I Heart Atlanta

July 1st, 2010
6:50 pm

I love u M.C. lol no homo

MannyT

July 1st, 2010
6:50 pm

@MC–Good flow of free agency blogs!

The Hawks didn’t go all in last season because they had just come off their first winning season this century. Orlando went to the finals, then went all in. I’d say going all in after your first winning season as an ownership group is like buying an engagement ring after a 1st date. It makes sense to build carefully in the NBA where most contracts are guaranteed. Unless you get a shot at a big time player, no need to throw big cash at Eddie Curry 8-O

Bringing Joe back is the right move. Thanks MC for the ASG perspective. The cannibloggers seem to forget that Joe made 20 mil his first season here. There were few objections to that. He’s better now than he was then. For the next few years, his salary won’t be much different than the past 2. The expalantion of the selling of pick 31 makes more sense now.

I think one lesson the ASG needs is how to better market their moves. When it comes out that selling 31 is like getting the money now that they will lose this season for going over the luxury tax, it makes them look like wiser spenders instead of cheapskates. If they get a good free agent this summer, that will be huge. Check the records, aside from bringing back their own guys, JJ is the only notable free agent who has shown the Hawks any love since the 1990s. (No disrespect intended to Mo Evans, Flip Murray, & the minimum salary bigs.)

I see we once again missed our opportunity to bring Darko to the ATL :lol:
Hopefully we will set our sights a little higher.

GT Alum

July 1st, 2010
6:51 pm

Reginald, I would think they’d love for someone to take those contracts off their hands. Not sure exactly how that would impact their cap situation, but it should at least move them away from the luxury tax threshold. The problem is I don’t think there’s a lot of people who would want to take on Marvin’s contract based on his potential right now, and I don’t think we would get much back for Bibby right now. Bibby’s contract should be more valuable next offseason, when there’s only 1 year left on it. Plus, if the cap does go down with a new CBA like people are expecting, a lot of teams could be looking for expiring contracts to help free cap space.

Jim

July 1st, 2010
6:51 pm

It was the only move the hawks could have made and been a legitimate contender. No big name free agent would sign because the hawks did not have the cap space to sign one at this time. I never want to blow another team up. That was totally unnecessary.

terrell

July 1st, 2010
6:52 pm

Phil Jackson has a chance for his 4th 3 peat next year. Wow! I’d say that’s enough to come back for. lol!

MannyT

July 1st, 2010
6:55 pm

@I Heart Atlanta…you are funnier than Winston Jerome…no homo :lol:

i_am_soulstar

July 1st, 2010
6:55 pm

Good stuff MC, appreciate the objectivity.

Any light to shed on the trade rumors?

darrell starks

July 1st, 2010
6:55 pm

The only way this jj signing make sense if the hawks make a another move for a star player, other than that YOU CAN’T BRING BACK THE SAME STARTING TEAM.
BIBBY, JOE, MARVIN, JOSH, HORFORD it want work this year changes have 2 be made.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!

Jeff D.

July 1st, 2010
6:56 pm

I think Joe will reject it unless the ASG has a sign and trade ready to roll. We can’t expect different results with the same guy. I love the Hawks and I’m hoping they really want a winning team.

darrell starks

July 1st, 2010
6:57 pm

THE ONLY WAY TO WIN IS TRADE BIBBY FOR D.ROSE, MARVIN FOR CARMELO, SMOOVE FOR DWIGHT. DWIGHT HORFORD MELO JOE ROSE
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!

darrell starks

July 1st, 2010
6:59 pm

Rumor marvin and bibby for ellis i would take that trade in a heart beat.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!

northcyde

July 1st, 2010
6:59 pm

Build around Al Horford?

So Horford is ready to assume the “go-to-guy” role on this team? Al isn’t even good enough offensively to create his own shot yet. He, like Josh Smith, needs to be set up by somebody else, in order for them to be efficient offensive players.

One of the best games Horford played last year was the March game vs San Antonio. He consistently knocked down mid-range jumpers when the ball went to him. And he had the luxury of working against single coverage.

Why?

Because #2 was drawing all the attention, despite him having a bad shooting game ( 8 – 23 FG ). But #2 also dished out 13 assists that night, with a lot of them going to Al Horford, when the double team came to JJ, leaving Horford open for jumpshots.

That’s not to say that Al still can’t be the leader of this team. He can. He just can’t be the offensive leader. Nor can Smoove.

Just because JJ isn’t Lebron or Kobe, it doesn’t man that you should give the keys to the “Hawks car” to inexperienced drivers.

ATMAN

July 1st, 2010
6:59 pm

Looks like we are stuck with the same team?? Are any of our current players tradeable at their salaries? We need a solid/athletic big man and not a Jason Collins type pick up at the 12th hour! This group of guys have reached there limit(2nd Round). Come on Sund/ASG, give us some hope!

JJ

July 1st, 2010
7:00 pm

ATL still needs a true center as long as Dwight Howard plays for the Magic. That’s why signing Joe to a max deal is a big mistake. They should of negotiated for a lower deal, no other team can offer within 30 mil of this deal. This current team cannot get out of the 2nd round of the playoffs. Centers available: Shaq, Ben Wallace, Jermaine O Neal.

darrell starks

July 1st, 2010
7:01 pm

Nire stop playing games i no it’s you always changing names.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!

GT Alum

July 1st, 2010
7:02 pm

Jim, I think most people were worried that the Hawks wouldn’t spend the money to make them a legitimate contender. Just bringing back Joe doesn’t make them a legitimate contender.

And I would equate not bringing back Joe to what the Hawks did when they traded away Mookie and Smitty, especially if the Hawks got some assets back in a sign and trade. They would’ve still had a solid group of players.

Letting Joe go would’ve been like just trading one of those guys, which is what I wish the Hawks had done then. Trade Mookie for the pick to get JT, Grant Long probably sticks around, and the Hawks likely wouldn’t have been nearly as bad as they were. Of course, Babs also was planning to have more pieces than he did. He wasn’t expecting Long to walk away, and he wasn’t expecting Crawford and Henderson’s injuries to turn them into contract albatrosses. Oh well, that’s ancient history.

~~MAC-ToWN~~ (Area Code 478)

July 1st, 2010
7:03 pm

Do I think Joe has displayed so far that he is worth max??? No
Do I believe he has the talent to actually perform at the level you’d expect out of a max??? Yeah….I guess

If Joe decides to return to ATL, the team he helped transform from a doormat to an annual playoff team, and accept max $$$……then I think he should pound his chest and man up. He should take his game to a new level and realize he needs to play like a max and play like he REALLY cares about getting this team to an ECF or higher.

That’s the only way this will work out.

Najeh Davenpoop

July 1st, 2010
7:04 pm

From the previous blog:

“Najeh, what is with all of this negativity toward Marvin and Bibby? These are still two very serviceable players. ”

The negativity is more towards the $13.5 million they count against the salary cap. If they were each getting paid the veterans’ minimum and coming off the bench, I would have no problem with them. But $13.5 million for two players as unproductive as those two is way too much. Bibby ended last season as one of the worst starting point guards in the league, a guy who has nothing going for him other than his 3-point shot. Marvin is young and possibly could improve, but the fact that he regressed across the board after signing his new deal gives me little hope that he will ever become an above average player.

I only proposed the Marvin for Gadzuric and a first-rounder trade because of the rumors that the Warriors are interested in Marvin and that the Hawks are looking to unload Marvin for cap space. I don’t think Gadzuric is a good player, but his expiring contract can be used in subsequent trades by the Hawks to obtain players who can actually help them.