Mike Woodson is a coach, and every coach wants more and better players. On Monday, as the Hawks welcomed Jamal Crawford to Atlanta, Woodson spoke of the Hawks’ four key free agents and said this was how many he wanted to see back here.
“All of ‘em,” he said.
This is how ambitious Woodson is: He wants to keep the four free agents — Mike Bibby, Flip Murray, Zaza Pachulia and Marvin Williams — plus add “another veteran big, and there are some out there.” But that’s a coach talking, not a general manager. And Rick Sund might have a more pragmatic take.
Me, I can’t see any way the Hawks keep all four. Nor should they. With Crawford and Jeff Teague in a mix that already included Joe Johnson, there wouldn’t be enough minutes for both Bibby and Flip. And if Bibby returns to start, then Crawford becomes Flip and Flip becomes Acie Law, who barely played, and Teague becomes Thomas Gardner, of whom some of you haven’t even heard.
A reasonable scenario is for the Hawks to keep three of the four. There’s a chance Williams will sign a one-year qualifying offer, which would keep him here for next season but enable him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and one of the two guards should be amenable to sticking around.
Zaza is a tougher call. The rumor is that San Antonio is interested, and that’s a great organization. But the Hawks might even have a fallback there. If Zaza leaves, then the Australian power forward David Andersen, who played last season for Barcelona and whose NBA rights the Hawks hold, could well become a person of interest.
Keeping three of the four would be good. Two of four would be acceptable. One of four would be a net loss, but the belief here is that the Hawks will do better than that.
Woodson: “It’s going to come down to money. You know that. You just hope it’s not a case of a guy [determined to take the highest offer]. Because we’ve built something here.”
And they have, as hard as it might be for some of us long-suffering Hawk watchers to admit. This is a good team, and it has a chance to be better still next season. On Monday the newcomer Crawford spoke with unbridled enthusiasm about joining “an up-and-coming team,” and when last could any new Hawk say that and mean it?