In his breakdown of the top 30 free agents (link requires registration), Chad Ford of ESPN.com lists Mike Bibby as No. 7 among unrestricted free agents — Zaza Pachulia and Flip Murray are included among “other notables” — and two more Hawk properties among the top restricted free agents. And now you’re asking: Two?
Yep. Marvin Williams is No. 3, and Josh Childress, who hasn’t played for the Hawks since May 2008, is No. 5. Here’s what Mr. Ford has to say about those two, and also about Bibby:
Williams: “Has as as much raw talent as anyone else in the class of 2005, but he’s been frustratingly inconsistent in his first four years with the Hawks. While he’ll probably stay in Atlanta, he’s not playing well enough to earn anything close to the $60-64 million over five years that [Danny] Granger got last fall, to contrast Williams with one small forward from his draft class.”
Childress: “Shocked many in the NBA by deciding to bolt for Greece last summer. It’s unclear whether he’ll decide to return to the NBA this fall, though it seems very likely he’ll be back eventually. But with bad blood lingering over how his negotiations went last summer with Atlanta, the current expectation is that we shouldn’t expect to see him return to the Hawks, though they still hold his rights.”
Bibby: “Had a solid season as the Hawks’ point guard, but it’s hard to see him making anything near what he’s made the past few years. The Hawks are a young team still searching for a long-term answer at the point. Bibby was a nice stopgap for 18 months, but I doubt he has a long-term future in Atlanta unless he’s willing to take much less money, especially when you factor in that the team traded for Jamal Crawford, drafted Jeff Teague and could be pursuing Jarrett Jack in free agency.”
Writing for ESPN The Magazine, Rick Bucher lists the former as the 13th-best free agent available and the latter as 10th-best. Bucher assesses each and speculates on possible destinations. (Requires registration.)
On Bibby: “His game: One of the best 3-point-shooting PGs in league. Still effective on pick-and-rolls but more of a set-up-the-offense, flare-to-the-corner type now. A defensive liability but better in a strong team concept. Is not a playmaker but doesn’t try to be one; moves the ball on the perimeter, happy to feed and play off a bona fide star.
“Right system: Thrives with passing big men, a slower pace, a player’s coach and at least one screen-setting big man. Long, athletic, hard-nosed wings are recommended so he can hide on defense.
“Wrong system: Anywhere that requires him to create shots or provide dribble penetration. A team that lacks a shot-blocker or at least one defensive-oriented wing.
“Best fits: Hawks, Blazers, Rockets, Grizzlies, Wizards, Hornets.”
On Marvin: “His game: Versatile scorer, especially now that he has developed corner 3-point range. Can isolate and score on post moves or face-up drives. Might have been Hawks’ best defender when healthy; developing into stopper for league’s growing legion of playmaking small forwards.
“Right system: Handle still needs improvement, so he needs shooters/scorers who space the floor. Good transition finisher. Would flourish with a disciplined defensive team.
“Wrong system: One built around a dominant, scoring post player, because the best part of his offensive game is around the paint, and his 3-point shooting isn’t that good.
“Best fits: Heat, Mavericks, Blazers, Pistons, Bulls, Hawks.”
Bucher also identifies three of his top 20 free agents as possible fits with the Hawks — Jason Kidd, Ben Gordon (me, I don’t get that one) and Anderson Varejao.
According to esteemed former colleague Steve Aschburner of SI.com, our fair city ranks among the NBA’s top 10 as a desirable destination. Writes Aschburner of the A-T-L: “Gotta be the shoes. NBA players historically turned road trips to Atlanta into shopping sprees for their feet at Friedman’s. Now the weather, the nightlife, the Hawks’ youth and their recent playoff runs make this city even more attractive.”
Ranked 10th? San Antonio, which has, at least check, seen four championship parades over the past decade. Ranked 11th? My favorite place in the whole wide world — Cleveland, Ohio. Ranked 12th? Boston, which according to Aschburner has never been seen as a friendly place by NBA players. Ranked last? Minneapolis, where Aschburner lived when last I checked.
So I guess we could say the author really isn’t a homer.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Marian Hossa is a highly desirable free agent. But I ask you: When isn’t Marian Hossa a free agent?
Esteemed former colleague Craig Custance, writing for Sporting News Today, rates Hossa No. 1 among this crop of NHL FAs. (Mark Recchi, briefly a Thrasher himself, is No. 23.) We can’t know where the coveted Hossa will land this time, but this much is certain:
Whichever team signs him will lose the 2010 Stanley Cup finals. Guaranteed.