Atlanta Hawks: Capped out, left out

It’s the kind of questions I get often on Twitter: “Why don’t the Hawks pursue [insert big-name free agent]?” After I explain that they don’t have the cap space, I sometimes get the follow-up: Why don’t they trade [Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, some other player I don't like] and use that cap space?” And then I have to tell them that doesn’t work, either, because the Hawks are over the cap and have to take salary back in a trade.

The point here is, until the Hawks gain significant cap space, which they aren’t scheduled to do until 2013-14 unless the use the amnesty card, then they aren’t going to be involved with free agents who command more than the MLE. Shoot, they still may not be involved with MLE free agents until they retreat further from the luxury-tax line.

Sure, the Hawks can swing sign-and-trades (which usually is the next question I get after the two above) but those transactions are not easy. The player has to want to sign with the Hawks and then an acceptable deal has to be worked out between Atlanta and the trading partner. That’s a lot of “ifs” involved.

The Hawks made their big when they re-signed J.J. last summer. They had the choice of using him in a sign-and-trade and then making other moves to clear cap space and make a run at the big names everyone buzzes about. Rick Sund, an enthusiastic supporter of re-signing J.J., nonetheless did his due diligence and presented that option to ASG.

All parties decided to bring back J.J. at any cost. So, for now, they must hope that this group’s upper limit is not a six-game loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The reason why a lack of cap flexibility is particularly problematic under the new CBA is explained by Mark Cuban in an email to Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas:

The reality is that in the new system, cap room will have far more value than it had in the past. I realize that everyone is all freaked out about how and where free agents and future free agents are going, but it’s not just about getting one guy.

We are not saving cap room in hope of that one super special free agent being there. It’s about being in the position to improve every year and possibly add some significant, younger players next year and in future years.

What I don’t think people understand is that once a team hits the tax level the ability to improve our team is reduced dramatically. In addition, your ability to make trades is reduced. So basically, if we made the move to keep everyone together with five-year deals, the team we have today is going to be the team we have for the next five years. If we were a young team it would be one thing. But we are not a young team.

The Hawks are not as old as the Mavs but neither do they have anything close to an MVP candidate or a ring. Perhaps that changes this season, or maybe it doesn’t happen until they gain some cap space and start over.

Etc.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

469 comments Add your comment

What?

December 9th, 2011
11:59 am

Air Zaza

December 9th, 2011
12:00 pm

I hate this team.

What?

December 9th, 2011
12:02 pm

Well, this blog pretty much sums up what we all suspected:

We will have the same core until Summer of 2013 in all likelihood.

Air Zaza

December 9th, 2011
12:05 pm

I knew the lockout should have never ended. The Hawks are terrible. This is Mutombo era all over again. They can’t even land a player like Steve Nash. We need the Lakers executives because Sund needs to be fired.

Zach

December 9th, 2011
12:09 pm

If you’re Rick Sund, and you know that you’ve basically handcuffed yourself cap wise, why in the world would you trade your draft picks and young players, i.e. the Kirk trade?

BigTimeTECHFan

December 9th, 2011
12:09 pm

That’s ok, Hawks made good draft pick in Benson and he’s going to help the team.

If Coach Drew plays him and give him the chance to learn and grow, To start they don’t need much offense from him.

Astro Joe

December 9th, 2011
12:10 pm

MC, so do you get frustrated when a Hawks official suggests that the Hawks are “considering paying the luxury tax” or “considering using the MLE” when seemingly, they are no more likely to do that than Kim K. is to marry a school bus driver?

BigTimeTECHFan

December 9th, 2011
12:10 pm

PF Hortford
SF J Smith
C K Benson
SG J Johnson
PG Teague

One of the best 5 lineups in NBA, with good coach that lineup could win it all

BigTimeTECHFan

December 9th, 2011
12:12 pm

PF Hortford
SF J Smith
C K Benson
SG J Johnson
PG Teague

One of the best 5 lineups in NBA, with good coach that lineup could win it all

Add bench
M William
Hinrick
McGrady
ZaZa

Team should be awesome

Air Zaza

December 9th, 2011
12:12 pm

Benson reminds me of that dude we drafted named Solomon Jones but Benson actually a Center. abit is NBDL one at best.

BigTimeTECHFan

December 9th, 2011
12:15 pm

Benson reminds me of that dude we drafted named Solomon Jones

Benson is more like K Garnett, play the dude and in 3 years he will be a beast. Benson stepped up and dominated the best bigs he played against in collage, S Jones would fade if he was matched up with true big

Slimjr

December 9th, 2011
12:16 pm

“I think the Hawks will make an offer to Jamal. I don’t think it will match what he can get on the market. ”

So JC1 walks and we get nothing? Not a surprise in this sports town…..

At least I will continue to save money, just like you Mr. Sund….. lol

Michael Cunningham

December 9th, 2011
12:16 pm

@Astro Joe: “MC, so do you get frustrated when a Hawks official suggests that the Hawks are “considering paying the luxury tax” or “considering using the MLE” when seemingly, they are no more likely to do that than Kim K. is to marry a school bus driver?”

haha. frustrated? naw. at the risk of getting ripped for saying this again, i don’t get emotionally invested in any of it. but i understand why it frustrates my blog people, so i try to get answers. i get frustrated when they are reluctant to provide the answers i think you deserve.

Air Zaza

December 9th, 2011
12:17 pm

@ BigTimeTECHFan

Lay off the trees my friend. KG like? smh. S. Jones more better and he was extremely raw. Benson will spend a lot of time with Pape Sy in the NBDL.

What?

December 9th, 2011
12:19 pm

“I think the Hawks will make an offer to Jamal. I don’t think it will match what he can get on the market. ”

We don’t need another guard. We need legit 7 footers who commit hard fouls.

Air Zaza

December 9th, 2011
12:20 pm

MC, have the Hawks ever thought about blowing it up and relocating? Can we get a franchise to move here like Minny or OKC. Franchises with a future and are exciting to watch.

Tremaine

December 9th, 2011
12:21 pm

@ BigTimeTECHFan

Let me smoke with you?

Slimjr

December 9th, 2011
12:22 pm

Jeff T. is going to have a break out season! An Allstar this year if he finds a jumpshot!!

Just stay away from them stiffs in the paint and he will be good ta go..

The Hawks are going to surprise you EXPERTS!!

@Fredo

December 9th, 2011
12:23 pm

Thanks MC for asking the questions that your peers on other beats don’t seem to get around to. You are the best.

mountain_jim

December 9th, 2011
12:25 pm

ProBasketball Talk said this morning that Watson is expected to sign with the Wizards.

Tremaine

December 9th, 2011
12:26 pm

@ Slimjr

Starting five will do alright with Teague at point. Our lack of a bench will blow the game though.

Tremaine

December 9th, 2011
12:27 pm

Dan Gilbert was right, should just name the other 25 teams the Washington Generals.

Slimjr

December 9th, 2011
12:27 pm

Larry Coon?

Dayum!…I’d have to see the judge to add an alphabet..Say like an “L”.. Cloon sounds and looks so much better…. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John

December 9th, 2011
12:27 pm

I think Jamal is a good player, but with the emergence of Teague and with Hinrich on the bench, I actually think the Hawks may be better without him. I think he stagnated an already stagnant offense at times. With him gone, I think JJ and Marvin will both have big bounce back years. We don’t have to have an 18 ppg scorer of the bench. His defense was terrible. The Hawks really were not much better with him as sixth man as they were when Flip Murray filled that role. I am saying this as someone that likes Jamal and thinks he is fun to watch. However, I really think losing him opens up more minutes and opportunities for others. Jamal seemed to excel when everyone else was playing poor, so I think it inflated how good he actually was.

Slimjr

December 9th, 2011
12:30 pm

“DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS” unknown Author..

Bye Bye Jamal…Nice watchin ya…..

Michael Cunningham

December 9th, 2011
12:31 pm

@mountain_jim: “ProBasketball Talk said this morning that Watson is expected to sign with the Wizards.”

thanks. . . updated.

Michael Cunningham

December 9th, 2011
12:32 pm

@Fredo: thanks for reading and giving a flip what i have to say . . .

Slimjr

December 9th, 2011
12:32 pm

“Dan Gilbert was right, should just name the other 25 teams the Washington Generals.”

Mr. Gilbert is just still pissed about the “DECISION”! His team what reverted 40 games? lol

Tremaine

December 9th, 2011
12:35 pm

@ Slimjr

Regardless if Gilbert is pissed or not, he is still right. The rich get richer while we get old man McGrady. SAD!!!

Astro Joe

December 9th, 2011
12:39 pm

Update ProBasketballTalk says Watson is expected to sign with the Wizards. (H/T to blog commenter mountain_jim)

No problem, Pape Sy is our 3rd PG.

Section 303

December 9th, 2011
12:40 pm

Sucks that Watson is not coming. I think he could have helped.

Sounds like we are looking like a team that might be made up of a lot of D-League players. It’s very doubtful the Hawks sign anyone else that matters, after T-Mac. No way Jamal is staying here. So, if I’m a D-League player, I got to be a Hawks fan at the moment. Not only are there jobs to be had, but playing time to be had.

I really hope that Sekou is wrong and the Hawks do not “hit the skids” this season. Looking at our lineup, however, makes me think he is right. To quote the two fans sitting at the diner in the movie Major League “These guys don’t look too f’ing good.”

ryan

December 9th, 2011
12:40 pm

Well there goes Watson it does look more likely now the Hawks are going to stand pat what else is news ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Slimjr

December 9th, 2011
12:40 pm

Grady is going to surprise yall! He said he feels the best in years! Awesome! We already know what he can do even if hes lost 5 inches on his vert and a step or two off the dribble..Going to be very effective.. You’ll see.. He’s heady now..

Slimjr

December 9th, 2011
12:42 pm

Looks like Sund took his holiday break early! lol

He’s basically done for now…………..Oh well……

darrell starks

December 9th, 2011
12:42 pm

Current roster will not compete.
The Hawks will not have a bench at all.
Asik, Brewer, for Jamal
make it happen Sund.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!

honest_abe

December 9th, 2011
12:44 pm

Trojan

December 9th, 2011
12:45 pm

Who is going to back up Teague at PG until Hinrich comes back in February?

darrell starks

December 9th, 2011
12:45 pm

STARTER TEAGUE, JOE, JOSH, HORFORD, ZAZA

BENCH ?, T MAC, MARVIN, ?, COLLINS

RESERVE PAPE, BENSON

STREET CLOTHES MAGNUM, WANAMAKER

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!

Slimjr

December 9th, 2011
12:46 pm

JJ can play the pt and move Grady to the two…

What?

December 9th, 2011
12:48 pm

I think Sund intentionally shows interest in outside players every offseason to get Hawks fans excited.

Then he resigns the same players to minimum contracts.

G-Dot

December 9th, 2011
12:49 pm

MC What happened to David Lighty? Is he coming to camp?

Jeff.Joe.Josh.Leuer.Bogut

December 9th, 2011
12:51 pm

copied & pasted from Mr. Starks
STARTER TEAGUE, JOE, JOSH, HORFORD, ZAZA

BENCH ?, T MAC, MARVIN, Benson, COLLINS

RESERVE PAPE, BENSON

That bench should happen NOW. Problem with Collins is he is always injured. And Zaza is a backup. To get a starter we have to give up something, hint hint. If [player X] value hasnt taken too much of a hit.

Tremaine

December 9th, 2011
12:54 pm

Trojan

December 9th, 2011
12:45 pm
Who is going to back up Teague at PG until Hinrich comes back in February?

Slimjr

Astro Joe

December 9th, 2011
12:54 pm

Kind of funny, a bunch of bloggers seemingly enjoy watching young players develop during the season. Well, now you get to watch Rolle, Benson and Sy over 66 games. Who cares about vets who know how to play the game (and manage the personal aspect of NBA life), let’s enjoy watching these young guys learn their craft in 5-10 minute increments during the season.

Michael Cunningham

December 9th, 2011
12:55 pm

@G-Dot: “MC What happened to David Lighty? Is he coming to camp?”

good question. . . his agent won’t say. we will find out here in a couple hours.

Slimjr

December 9th, 2011
12:56 pm

Looks like Sund has put up his gone on Vacation sign….lol

Rufus1

December 9th, 2011
12:56 pm

I am upset about these 2 players….

Dunleavy 2 year 7.5mil and Shannon Brown 1 year 3.5mil…I am more upset about Dunleavy because we need a shooter and he is very good.

What?

December 9th, 2011
12:57 pm

Could the fact the ASG has to help pay for Hornets’ payroll contribute to fact they won’t go into LT?

ryan

December 9th, 2011
12:58 pm

I would accept the Crawford for Brewer and Asik deal Sund needs to something because Orlando may be getting Big Baby .

Slimjr

December 9th, 2011
1:01 pm

“Pape Sy is our 3rd PG.”

I guess he’s the backup for Teague now?

Have not seen this dude play.. Don’t know much about his game.. I hear he’s very quick off the dribble?