GM Rick Sund said the Hawks still “have never been a taxpaying team and our goal is not to pay the tax,” an approach that essentially means the team is out of the running to re-sign Jamal Crawford or use the free-agent guard in a sign-and-trade transaction.
“It’s going to be difficult to sign Jamal in a straight signing transaction,” Sund said. “We are looking at other alternatives, of course. You always look at everything but it’s not nearly as easy as if you had four months. Four days instead of four months makes it more it more difficult.”
Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that the Hawks, Knicks and Warriors are discussing a three-team trade. SI.com’s Sam Amick later reported that the Warriors are not involved in the discussions.
The bottom line, though, is that any transaction which results in the Hawks paying the tax remains doubtful.
The only way a straight sign-and-trade with the Knicks is plausible is if the Crawford’s starting salary is low enough that the salary Atlanta takes back doesn’t result in a tax penalty. Howard Beck of the New York Times reports that the Knicks want to sign Crawford for the $2.5 million “mini” mid-level exception. Beck also notes that the Knicks have several players who are not eligible to be traded now because the just signed their contracts.
So all those factors mean a sign-and-trade with the Knicks is out. And, obviously, the Hawks also have no chance of re-signing Crawford or any other free agent making more than the minimum as long as they decline to pay the tax.
Sund didn’t completely rule out the Hawks eventually paying some tax but he noted that most teams are backing away from doing so, especially since the tax penalties increase in the third year of the new CBA.
“You never say never,” Sund said about paying tax. “Anything can happen in regards to trades.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat