No Shaq and no more Hawks’ big spending? No shock there

Marvin Williams exults at word he's not Cleveland-bound. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Marvin Williams exults at news he's not Cleveland-bound. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

For a moment, it appeared the pleas of most Hawks’ fans would be met in one swell foop — the team would add Shaquille O’Neal while shedding the unloved Marvin Williams. But esteemed colleague Michael Cunningham has since written that the Shaq-for-Marvin sign-and-trade “appears to be a non-starter,” and this morning Chris Tomasson of FanHouse reports the Hawks “are ruling out the possibility of signing [Shaq].”

At issue here isn’t whether Shaq would have fit the Hawks — my belief was that he wouldn’t have — but the reasons Tomasson identifies for the team’s non-interest. From his report: “A source close to the situation said Thursday that Atlanta’s ownership doesn’t want to exceed the luxury-tax threshold of $70.307 million.”

And this is where it gets maddening to follow the Hawks. The Atlanta Spirit insists it will spend whatever it takes to assemble a first-class team, and then we discover there’s a ceiling on “whatever it takes.” The Hawks said money wouldn’t be a deterrent to signing the best coach available to replace Mike Woodson, but lo and behold they wound up with Larry Drew, who figures to be the lowest-paid coach in the NBA in 2010-11.

The Hawks just worked a sign-and-trade with Phoenix for Josh Childress, considered a prime bargaining chip, and they reaped this windfall: A second-round draft pick next summer and a monetary credit to be used on some future trade. (You’ve heard of the player to be named later? This is money to be spent later.)

It’s hard to criticize the Hawks for not spending in a month where they’ve made Joe Johnson the NBA’s highest-paid player, but with Johnson they had no choice. Credibility, both in the local marketplace and across all of professional basketball, was the overriding concern. But the Hawks entered the summer saying they wouldn’t stop with keeping Joe — they would aggressively pursue other big-name free agents.

Mr. Cunningham heard the same sentiments, but now he writes: “After [post-Johnson] indications that the Hawks were willing to push their payroll above the luxury-tax threshold of $70.3 million, it’s becoming increasingly clear ASG wants to avoid paying the tax.”

This, alas, is the way of the Spirit. These owners talk a decent game, and sometimes you start to believe them. But there’s no follow-through, and again you stop believing.

308 comments Add your comment

randallsdad

July 16th, 2010
9:01 am

Stotts Era

July 16th, 2010
9:02 am

how can you say we need to sign joe for credibility? We are a laughingstock for giving him the worst deal in the NBA

Dan

July 16th, 2010
9:02 am

Stotts Era

July 16th, 2010
9:04 am

sorry for getting off the topic of the post, i am just now realizing how bad this deal with joe is

just lazy management and a clueless GM

at the worst you let him go and you still have an incredibly talented young nucleus with a ton of cap space.

Benjamin

July 16th, 2010
9:05 am

I’m not disappointed (at all) that the Big Shaqtus isn’t coming to town for many of the reasons you mentioned before.

That said, I can’t say that I expected any less from the Hawks ownership in regard to this matter.

LFP6

July 16th, 2010
9:06 am

4th.

And in about 12 months time, you will see the Hawks dropped out again in the 2nd round….

Luke Cage

July 16th, 2010
9:08 am

Getting Closer to first

Jo

July 16th, 2010
9:09 am

We have a good team, maybe a #3 again in the east….maybe. However, without taking care of the physical presence needed to play with Orlando, we cannot and will not move up ever. I am sad the owners cannot see this. I was for bringing Shaq here by the way because of the respect, albeit carnavalesque, that would have been brought here along with taking care of the lack of meat at that position we currently possess.

Carley

July 16th, 2010
9:09 am

Joe Johnson is a wanna be super star. He is a bal hog that thinks the hawks revolve around him. In which it doesnt. At the end of the season last year he made a comment F the atlanta fans I dont need them. Then we resign him for one of the worst deals ever made? I am a true hawks fan and I hate to say the Hawks have no chance this year. Not just because of the die hard trio on the heat, but just because of bad descions made on the owners rookie coaches and the ball hog JOE JOHNSON.

Mark Bradley

July 16th, 2010
9:09 am

Kudos, randallsdad. This isn’t your first “first,” is it?

JTH

July 16th, 2010
9:10 am

Atlanta Spirit is a joke. Now they saddled themselves for years with a huge contract for the most overrated player in the NBA. Goodbye any hope of ever winning the championship.

Mark Bradley

July 16th, 2010
9:10 am

I’ll defend the Joe Johnson contract. Even though I doubt I’ll be defending it in 2014.

Stotts Era

July 16th, 2010
9:11 am

I disagree with ‘joe is a ballhog’ Woodson had no offensive plays in his playbook forcing Joe to do what he did.

Luke Cage

July 16th, 2010
9:11 am

Oh well, guess another embarassing 2nd round sweep will be coming

Luke Cage

July 16th, 2010
9:12 am

ASG needs to realize in order to win you have to spend money. If you spend nothing, you get nothing.

Stotts Era

July 16th, 2010
9:13 am

i wanted Joe the next 3 years too, but its not worth the 3 years after that

dap01

July 16th, 2010
9:13 am

I am happy with the offseason. The Hawks gave the max money to JJ. That makes me happy. Even though we will be unable to add to the team for 6 years, I am happy that the Hawks can achieve being average. Average is good. We don’t even need a center on the roster to be average. Heck, Centers actually cost money.

We really don’t need to draft anyone because we can just send them overseas and pretend that we have them. We don’t even need a center on our summer league team.

Hawks73

July 16th, 2010
9:15 am

It’s amazing that these bozos were approved by the NBA to own a team. They clearly are the biggest “bait & switch” morons to have ownership rights. It sickens me to hear anything that comes from this camp…just pathetic.

It’s one thing to play poker with other teams and GMs, but to try to pan this ridiculous dupe to the fans of your team is PATHETIC! There is a reason J.J. would only sign here for MAX money and why other free agents will only sign here for top dollar…The Atlanta Spirit Group…AKA…Snake oil salesmen.

Stotts Era

July 16th, 2010
9:15 am

as long as the ASG owns this team we will be in a cycle…..suck…build up to 2nd round of playoffs…..suck…..build up to 2nd round

we are about to suck again

Dan the Nerd

July 16th, 2010
9:15 am

I’m not sure I follow your logic and am concerned that I understand what the Spirit group is doing….

If they could become assemble a first class team, they would pay the tax. I do not think there is anyone available that will turn them into a first class team. Heck, someone like Shaq might even hurt the team. In this case, they would be signing a player just to mollify the fans.

Knowing Atlanta, the fans would then use that “big signing” against managment next summer to illustrate how clueless they are.

Personally, I like the moves they have made. I would have loved to see Chills playing here next season but we all knew that wasn’t going to happen. I think Marvin in a motion offense can excel – as will Al and Josh. The big question is can the Teague run the team – JJ can take a lot of weight off his shoulders for the 1st half of the season but by Feb, he better have it figured out.

Jeff

July 16th, 2010
9:15 am

Looks like the Hawks and the Braves have the same ownership issues. They both say they will spend whatever it takes to win and then put a cap on it. Atlanta sports teams have the worst ownership in Sports. Thank God we have Arthur Blank. I wish he owned the Braves and Hawks.

gadawgs

July 16th, 2010
9:21 am

What a complete farce ASG is! I am not one to sit back and tell someone how to spend their money but do not do as they did and say we will do what we have to do to assemble a first class team and not do it. First they went cheap with Drew. Then they signed when the game is on the line no show Joe to a max contract (which everybody keeps saying they had to do, I disagree). But if they were going to bring him back at least get him some more help. I’m sorry he is not a number 1 guy in this league (even though he is now making number 1 money). Now they are standing pat because they do not want to go over the luxury tax. That’s fine ASG but guess what, people like me who have a choice where to spend their hard earned money and my guess it will not be at Phillips SUPPORTING your team. Between getting hammered in the second round for the second year in a row to this summer’s fiasco ASG has thrown away all of the goodwill and momentum they had built up. What a joke!

ASHCAN.

July 16th, 2010
9:26 am

Blank suck too.your right worst ownership and divided fans.

Bird Sale

July 16th, 2010
9:26 am

I told you guys 3 weeks ago that the JJ signing and everything else that the ASG do is designed to SELL THE TEAM.

Now there is a “report” out of Vegas that a LLC corp. is requesting a new stadium be built for an NBA team that they already have under agreement.

Hmmmmm….wonder who that could be????

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley and Paul Judge, Ph.D., Aaron Binion. Aaron Binion said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: No #Shaq and no more #Hawks big spending? Big shocker, huh? http://bit.ly/9IfIT8 [...]

No shaq

July 16th, 2010
9:30 am

Shaq’s old and washed up—he’d be a big waste of money. The hawks wasted $120 million on an average shooter in joe johnson and now are stuck at 3rd place in the east and a quick exit from the playoffs again. Atlanta = loserville.

Jon

July 16th, 2010
9:31 am

I actually think this is a smart move by ownership, and I know I’ll take flak for this but hear me out. Why should we make a move for average (Brad Miller) or over the hill (Shaq) centers when there is a pretty good free agent class coming up in 2011 that would could be in play for. We have the trade exception from the Childress trade Jamal and Mo are in the final years of their deals and Bibby will be an expiring contract next year that we could probably move. So let’s hope that their thinking long term here and wanting to only go over the luxury tax for a good player, or maybe even a great player one would hope, and not just an average one.

Hawk Str8Talk

July 16th, 2010
9:33 am

You can defend the Joe Johnson contract, Brother Bradley, but I think you enable the franchise when you do so. You’ve watched this franchise enough to know that they were talking a game. They’ve been doing so for the past 3 years – their actions have invariably bended toward cash strapped ownership. The only times they haven’t is to give the ‘core’ money to keep us above average. What I can’t understand is why you are still buying parts of the talking points without challenging the entire picture. This contract is only defendable if you go all in and spend enough to get the rebounding, post and perimeter defenders, a legit starting 3 or backup 3 and a point guard to actually run this team. This team is devoid of true leadership (I’m not convinced that Al or Larry Drew can be the leaders we need when times are tough). So, with all those holes, signing Joe to the largest contract and bidding against yourself to do so is really lazy bad management. I’m not even convinced that there was ONE team that was going to pay Joe the max. So, at a minimum, you wait for an offer to come in before you pay him the max.

As we’ve seen, Joe Johnson was never going to leave any money on the table. So, the tactics that was smart with Josh Smith is now out the door and we want credibility for stepping up to pay Joe when his performance doesn’t deserve it. That’s exactly why the Hawks are trending closer to Clipper-esque management than any of the title contenders. I would hope you wouldn’t endorse any part of it.

$ BILL

July 16th, 2010
9:34 am

SPIN-SPIN-SPIN! That’s all the SORRY ASG does. There’s no reason to follow this team.

Hawk Str8Talk

July 16th, 2010
9:34 am

I also believe that this contract will eventually cost you your two true cornerstones in Josh Smith and Al Horford. That’s the sad part…

Reality Check

July 16th, 2010
9:36 am

Mark, I do think that Management was in a non win situation with the Joe Johnson contract. If you do not give him max offer fans call the owners cheap and the team would bottom out. However, after hiring the cheapest coach from the previous staff they do not look so good. The status quo with basically the same roster that got run out of the playoffs lsst year gives fans no hope. Boston, Miami,and Orlando are all clearly better and Chicago has a lot more potential to move in the fourth seed. Hawks may be a 5th or 6th seed with no room to go up. I do not know if Shaq would be a good fit but would jump at the S&T just to see some change.

This has to be the worst run franchise for a team that managed to win inspite of the bumbling ownership group. MB, what are your thoughts on any change?

SteveW

July 16th, 2010
9:37 am

46-36 is probably about right this year, if we sign a couple of good bigs and we stay healthy. With Miami, Chicago and the Bucks passing us, and the Celts signing Jermaine O’Neil, I think we are realistically the 6th seed in the East – way to go ASG! Hope Barnes doesn’t go to Chicago, or we have more trouble.

We should have 5.3m to spend under the luxury tax – ASG – don’t forget you promised to spend the 3m from draft day on a big – spend it! Mark, Micheal, Jeff, please hold ASG’s feet to the fire until they spend that 3m (hopefully wisely) for the fan’s sake.

SteveW

July 16th, 2010
9:39 am

I don’t see a 2nd round playoff exit – 1st round playoff exit unless we pull a major surprise in signing or trading – and then we lose Jamal probably to keep Horford. Well at least we have Gladyr and Sy to take Jamal’s place on the cheap.

matt r

July 16th, 2010
9:40 am

We should have called Joe’s bluff… do we really think other teams were actually beating down his door with max contracts after his playoff performance?

Jim

July 16th, 2010
9:40 am

I like Shaq – but the price is too high and he can’t get us a championship. I think Childress is overated and not worth the money the Suns gave him. No sense in spending the money if you can’t improve the team. Don’t panic and don’t just give Marvin away.

Riggodeaux

July 16th, 2010
9:40 am

Mark, ASG had ‘no choice’ re: Joe? Are you kidding? If you look rationally at the Joe Johnson contract, its indefensible. ASG, short on money, grossly overpaid for a second-tier NBA star, at a time when two first-tier NBA stars [DWade and LBJ] took less money [admittedly, in a favorable tax environment] to join together at a time [2010 free agency] when a smart NBA executive [Riley] cleared cap space to take advantage of the 2010 FA opportunity. And got a first-rate post player [Bosh] to join in. Its a shame ATL, a location attractive to NBA talent, couldn’t position themselves to compete [and position was a multi-year process, as Miami saw]. They didn’t, and won’t so long as they wear the collar of Joe’s contract. As Forrest’s mama told him, stupid is as stupid does.

PMC

July 16th, 2010
9:42 am

Really though, this would be like buying jewelry you don’t need.

It’s pointless. No one out there that the hawks can afford is going to make them a better team. It makes economic sense to go with the guys that got them 53 wins last year.

They overspent the entire world on Joe Johnson so they don’t have money to spend to get the point they need or the Big. That’s life.

THey can still be the 3rd seed in the East without much trouble really. Boston doesn’t care about the regular season. They can still beat the Bulls with who they’ve got.

dap01

July 16th, 2010
9:42 am

MB: Is Kwame Brown out of our salary range?

We have been lied to as fans.

SteveW

July 16th, 2010
9:46 am

I don’t think the franchise has the money or the will to even sign an aging, over the hill Brad Miller to help this team. And is Brad really any improvement over Joe Smith other than the fact that he’s bigger and can guard Dwight 5 minutes per game, to keep Horford from getting thrashed?

I think we’re looking more towards 38 yr. old Kurt Thomas territory – then Aminu because he’s a Techie (who I like) and Richard Dixon. Man I hope I’m wrong. At least get Kwame and Tolliver – that would at least breed some hope in the fan base.

PMC

July 16th, 2010
9:48 am

This is simply pennance for employing Billy Knight as GM. Anytime in any sport when you have a lottery pick you have got to hit it. Billy was HORRIBLE and they let him have what 3 lottery picks and he blew all 3?

Thank them for having less judgement than they have spending money.

The problem is in BOTH sports…. who they had making personnel decisions.

You can’t expect to win or succeed when you have the wrong people employed.

JC

July 16th, 2010
9:48 am

Shaq has nowhere to go! Golden State has tons of bigs! Cleveland really wanted Marvin! Maybe I didn’t expect all of these deals, but you gotta make one. I was one who thought a sign and trade with JJ really made sense. Dallas was brought up and I would have loved to get Caron to play the 3 and one of their bigs (they already moved Dampier). Sign Dampier, after his contract is bought out, or sign Shaq outright. He will not be as demanding when he sees that his options are gone. I love Al but he does not match up defensively on some nights. Keep Marvin if you want but don’t just stand pat when you know your team is not the best! That’s not inspiring!!!

Mr. Obvious

July 16th, 2010
9:51 am

Shaq changed his mind about playing for Atlanta, because he said he wouldn’t feel safe here and doesn’t want to have to deal with all the aggressive panhandlers.

El Mattador

July 16th, 2010
9:51 am

What is the point of signing Joe and nobody else? We have no shot of beating the Magic, Heat, celtics and most likely the Bulls with our current roster. The owners are a joke. Joe is not going to perform well in the new offense and we are destinede for a first round loss. We were better off trading Joe or not signing him and letting our team bottom out. I take that back. We will be better off with a competent ownership.

SteveW

July 16th, 2010
9:53 am

BTW – with the money the Knicks, Bulls and Nets had to spend, yes I do think JJ would have had 3 max deals the 1st day of Free Agency. Amare the microfractured knee at 5 yrs. 99m? Carlos the injury waiting to happen Boozer at 5 yrs. 80m? Rudy 1 dimensional Gay at 5 yrs. 83m? Yes, JJ would have gotten max money in 1 Hour in Free Agency – no doubt – no bluffing and ASG knew it. Their best chance was for JJ to sign at 4 years 60 mill. before the season.

Want to know why JJ tanked in the playoffs 2nd round? Same reason LeBron did. I can either bust my tail, risk a knee injury going into the FA market and lose 100m or I can take it easy and make 9 figures in a few days – it’s easy – and I don’t blame them – but it is terrible for the fans.

Justin

July 16th, 2010
9:53 am

Mark, Don’t we have to reassess the JJ signing in light of the fact that the Hawks are unwilling to go over the luxury tax threshold? I mean, if the Hawks are unwilling to go over that threshold, giving JJ the biggest contract in the NBA seems to be a pretty bad move. A really bad move. Now we’re already seeing the effects in assets getting traded away for nothing and free agents that we won’t sign because it puts us over the luxury tax line.

Want a winning team!

July 16th, 2010
9:56 am

This all shows that Larry Drew is Through before he even started! The owners of the team have “Spirit” in name only!

Mr Phil

July 16th, 2010
9:59 am

Mark, the problem as I see it is that Shaq wants too much money and wants to start (based on Michael’s other reports). Paying Shaq more than the Mid-level and promising him a starting spot is a bad move in itself. And giving up a player who still has some value on top of that is a worse move.

What is the problem here?

Herschel Talker

July 16th, 2010
9:59 am

They can’t exceed the luxury tax threshold because they moronically gave JJ a max contract. F’ing morons.

Justin

July 16th, 2010
10:00 am

Also, Mark, can you explain who the Hawks’ credibility is on the line with in relation to JJ? And how is their credibility not on the line when they give Joe Johnson the biggest contract in the NBA? Instead of just looking cheap, now they look cheap, desperate, and dumb to a lot of the NBA community.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 16th, 2010
10:00 am

The contract made JJ the highest paid player in the NBA? Holy cow, that is embarassing! Now this news? The Hawks were mocked for being a pathetic Franchise when they won 13 games and now deserve to be mocked for not putting the finishing touches on a team that will be 4th best in the East AND having the highest paid player in the league. Pitiful!