Marvin Williams will remain a Hawk, according to a report by Marc Spears on Yahoo! Sports. Hawks general manager Rick Sund would not confirm a deal had been reached Wednesday night, but the sides seem very close to a signed contract.
(Indeed, that’s the word Williams used in a text message to AJC colleague Sekou Smith on Wednesday — “close.” And Williams told Sekou via text he’s hopeful something works out.)
The proposed contract, Spears reported, is for “about $40 million over five seasons,” although that $40 million is believed to include incentives. As a restricted free agent, Williams could have accepted the Hawks’ qualifying offer of $7.5 million and become an unrestricted free agent in July 2010. A long-term agreement would mean the Hawks have locked up a 23-year-old who averaged 13.9 points last season and is still regarded as a developing talent — and have done for essentially the qualifying offer times five.
If Williams does stay, the Hawks will have retained three of their four key free agents — Mike Bibby and Zaza Pachulia have re-signed, and Flip Murray now seems surplus to requirements — and added guard Jamal Crawford in the same offseason. And that would make this just about the greatest summer in Hawks history.
Assuming Williams re-signs, the Hawks would enter the 2009-2010 season having kept seven of their top eight players from a team that won 47 games and finished fourth in the NBA East. At a time when the three teams that finished above the Hawks — Cleveland, Boston and Orlando — have made major offseason acquisitions, Sund had to hold his core together if the Hawks were to stand any chance of moving upward. And it appears he has.
The belief here was that the Hawks would consider this summer a success if they re-upped two of the four free agents and a windfall if they could keep three. They’re close to doing that now, and this city is that much closer to having a NBA team that we can view as a team capable of reaching the Eastern Conference finals, something the Hawks have never done.
The work doesn’t end here. Joe Johnson will become an unrestricted free agent and Al Horford a restricted free agent next summer. But Sund, who was hired 13 months ago, is within one signature of having not just passed a difficult test but aced it. And when last could we say that about any Hawks GM? Like, ever?