I almost started this blog by writing that Rick Sund is a better general manager than Billy Knight or Pete Babcock ever were. But then the expression, “Damning with faint praise,” came to mind.
Pull this off and Sund deserves a statue.
Barring any breakdowns, the Hawks are about to acquire scoring point guard Jamal Crawford from the Golden State Warriors for Acie Law (who never plays) and Speedy Claxton (who’s never seen).
I know. You’re waiting for the punchline.
This is sort of like going into your attic, finding a twice-used bowling ball and an old pair of shoes with the soles blown out and trading them to your neighbor for a new lawnmower.
OK. Crawford isn’t new. He’s 29 and has played for three teams in nine seasons. But he’s a 20-point-a-game guy who can either start or come off the bench. This affords Sund tremendous leverage in negotiations with both incumbent point guard Mike Bibby and reserve Flip Murray, both of whom are unrestricted free agents.
It doesn’t mean the Hawks don’t want Bibby and Murray back. They do. But certainly any sense of desperation they may have felt to keep Bibby will be diminished. In the worst case scenario, Bibby signs elsewhere and the Hawks draft another point guard to groom Thursday night. In the best case scenario, Bibby re-signs and the Hawks rank among the deepest teams at guard in the NBA.
How does this happen?
Some of it is good fortune. The Warriors feel the need to trade Crawford and turn the show over to Monta Ellis. They also want to draft or acquire a more classic point guard. Crawford was likely headed to the bench, and there’s a general rule in sports that teams don’t like to keep former starters around as backups.
Why would they take Law? Because he’s young and cheap and still may turn out to be a player.
Why take Claxton? I don’t know. Masochism?
Seriously, even if Claxton doesn’t play for the Warriors – and they may not even want him to – insurance pays his salary and his contract expires next year. Or he retires, in which case he and Aetna are off the hook.
That’s not Sund’s problem. Most Hawks fans would be delirious, just knowing that Claxton — one of Knight’s biggest mistakes, and that’s saying something — is on someone else’s roster.
Now if there was just a way he could reverse Babcock’s last huge mistake: The Steve Smith-Isaiah Rider deal.