Marvin Williams is the least essential Hawks starter. He scores points and takes rebounds but seems to leave no imprint on games, and one of the reasons Joe Johnson gets the ball with three seconds on the shot clock — or, worse, Josh Smith gets it 25 feet from the hoop — is that Marvin, four years a pro, still won’t assert himself.
I want to see Marvin not assert himself elsewhere next season. I want the Hawks to re-sign him — he’s a restricted free agent — and ship him and Acie Law to Washington for Caron Butler and Javaris Crittenton. The Wizards are looking to cut salary, so that part would work for them, and they’re also looking to get younger. Williams turns 23 on Friday; Butler is 29. (See ajc.com photo gallery.)
Butler is a small forward with deep range and — key point — a ton of self-assurance. He wants the ball when the clock’s ticking low. He averaged 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists last season to Marvin’s 13.9, 6.3 and 1.3.
My biggest complaint has been that too much of the Hawks’ offense begins and ends with Johnson. (”Iso-Joe,” as clever bloggers have dubbed it.) Butler would lighten that load by making plays of his own — Marvin, as we know, makes few plays — and would provide cover should Mike Bibby leave as a free agent. A team could make do with Flip Murray as its starting point guard if he has Johnson and Butler at 2 and 3.
This trade need not be a loss for the Wizards. In a city where he isn’t known mostly for not being Chris Paul, Williams still could develop into something more than a team’s fifth-best starter. (Not so long ago, he was considered the most gifted player of his draft class.) But it hasn’t panned out for him as a Hawk and, with Johnson and Smith and Al Horford ahead of him now, it won’t ever.
Butler would upgrade the Hawks at one of the two positions that could stand upgrading. The other is point guard, and that’s more problematic. Bibby, who’s an unrestricted free agent, might not want to play for half what he made last season and could well leave. (Law’s time here seems done.) Flip, whom the Hawks will surely re-sign, is best deployed as a scoring sixth man, not an orchestrator. That’s where the draft comes in.
There’s not a Paul or a Deron Williams to be had, but there are some promising guards who figure to be available at No. 19. Eric Maynor of VCU could be there. Patty Mills of St. Mary’s could be. And Ty Lawson of North Carolina, who seemed slotted to go in the lottery, has been dropping in the mock drafts. He could be there, too.
The Hawks are getting close to something good. They don’t need to be taking the long view now. Caron Butler will make $21 million over the next two seasons. That’s a reasonable price for the guy who could bring the Hawks that much closer to Orlando and Cleveland and Boston.