It still doesn’t look like the Hawks are going to offer Jamal Crawford the kind of long-term contract extension he’s looking for, and it still looks like an extension for Al Horford will be GM Rick Sund’s priority when he returns from vacation.
The Hawks can offer Horford an extension that starts in 2011-12 and is worth up to $82 million over five years. The deadline for a deal is Oct. 31.
The incentive for the Hawks to offer Horford the extension is to prevent him from becoming a restricted free agent next summer and signing an offer sheet they’d have to match to keep him. Signing Horford to an extension now would provide cost certainty. It also would provide security for Al, who would get a big-money deal without doing the RFA song-and-dance.
But the uncertainty cuts both ways for the Hawks. The next CBA could be more favorable to owners, and the maximum offer sheet available to Al next summer could be significantly less than $82 million. The same could be true were Al to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2012.
The potential risk for the Hawks in skipping the extension and letting the market dictate Al’s worth is he might become disgruntled. But I doubt that would happen, as Al seemed to understand it’s just business when I talked to him last: “I really can’t get too caught up in that. I really just have to go out and play. If something happens and I get an extension, great. If it doesn’t, I just have to keep playing and keep getting better.”
The money train just keeps on rolling for the Hawks, with each expenditure maintaining their proverbial “core” but squeezing their resources and roster flexibility. They paid Bibby and Marvin last summer. They paid J.J. this summer. They may have to pay Al now or next summer.
The AJC’s Mark Bradley calls it the increasing price of NBA success. Or, as one NBA exec joked, nothing ever stays the same for a good team because everyone wants to be paid or and nothing ever stays the same for a bad team because everyone is subject to being fired or traded.
Sund’s philosophy plays into this, too. For the most part he lets his employees finish out their contracts before offering new deals (or not). When Sund was Seattle’s GM, Ray Allen had to hit the open market before securing a deal he liked from the Sonics. Rashard Lewis become an unrestricted free agent and ended up in Orlando.
The most recent exception to Sund’s reluctance to extend vets is, of course, the maximum extension offer for J.J. last summer. But J.J. seems to be an exception to Sund’s general rule. Sund has been consistent in his belief that J.J. is a franchise cornerstone whom the Hawks couldn’t allow to walk if they hoped to maintain their momentum. ASG was on board with that sentiment and J.J. got his max deal this summer.
Sund is a Crawford fan, too, and why shouldn’t he be? Jamal made him look smart for swinging that trade, and while it’s not like the Hawks gave up much to get him, it was no sure thing Jamal would work here. It did work–so well, as it turns out, that Crawford had a big year and now is angling for one last big contract. Success is expensive.
As for Jamal’s value on the trade market, I’m told at least three teams inquired about his availability before the pay-me-or-trade-me news came out but were rebuffed by the Hawks. I’ve got to think Sund will try to re-establish those talks now and listen to any other offers that come in. I know there’s some sentiment to just deny Jamal the extension and have him report to camp (and he would), but would it be a good look for the Hawks to have an unhappy camper?
– The Hawks are expected to sign free agent center Etan Thomas within the next few days. The one-year deal would be worth the ninth-year vet’s minimum of $1.2 million, though the league would reimburse the Hawks for any amount above $854,389.
–The report saying Pape Sy reached a buyout agreement with Le Havre is inaccurate. It still could happen, and soon, but there are some significant financial issues to work out.
– Hawks single-game tickets will go on sale Sept. 27.