Al Horford for Superman: Should the Hawks make that offer?

Switch the jerseys. Whaddaya think? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Switch the jerseys. Whaddaya think? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Dwight Howard has said he’ll opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Otis Smith, Orlando’s general manager, has said he won’t trade Howard and believes the NBA’s best center can be persuaded to re-up with the Magic. Other NBA clubs won’t sit around and wait. They’ll make offers for Howard.

Should the Hawks make an offer?

They could make a tantalizing one: Al Horford and Kirk Hinrich for Howard and power forward Ryan Anderson. That’s an All-NBA center (third team) with a Florida background who’s under contract through 2016 for a reasonable $12 million per season and a useful guard whose contract expires in 2012. The Magic could make something of that.

Or this: Josh Smith and Marvin Williams for the same two Magic men. That’s two starters — we’ll say for the sake of argument that Williams still qualifies — who are 25 years old and who are under contract through at least 2013. That’s not bad, either.

If you’re Otis Smith and you’re facing the possibility of losing your franchise player for nothing — the Magic lost Shaquille O’Neal to the Lakers the same way, the announcement coming in the Reebok tent in  downtown Atlanta the day before the 1996 Olympics opened  — you’d have to listen. Even if you’d rather not trade Howard to a team in your division, wouldn’t you have to listen?

For the Hawks, the trickiest part wouldn’t be the trade but the follow-through. Even if he changed teams, Howard’s contract wouldn’t change: He’d still be eligible to exit next summer. That possibility would be even more chilling for the Hawks than for the Magic. Orlando would lose only Howard; the Hawks would lose Howard plus Horford/Smith and Hinrich/Williams.

The Hawks would be leveraging their future on this question: Could we, in one season’s time, convince Howard that his hometown is the place for him to win his championship and this is the organization that will commit all necessary resources toward the betterment of the team?

We can accuse the Magic of many things, but we can’t say they haven’t spent. Owner Rich DeVos paid nearly $90 million for his roster this past season, an outlay that, according to Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel, put the Magic fifth in all of sports in average salary per man. The top four clubs: Real Madrid and Barcelona of Spanish soccer, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Magic have a new arena and played to 102.6 percent of capacity last season. The Hawks played to 83.6 percent of Philips Arena’s capacity, ranking 22nd among 30 NBA teams in average attendance. The Atlanta Spirit recently rid itself of the Thrashers, and money from the sale of the hockey club could mean that ownership might be willing to exceed the new luxury tax — it’s being debated in the NBA labor talks — to keep Howard.

Horfy for Howard: Would you do it?

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Howard is set to make $17 million next season. Whatever the new maximum number is, that’s what he’ll get. And if a team has Howard and Joe Johnson each making around $20 million — plus Horford/Smith at $12 or $13 million — you’ve put yourself in the Miami Heat class of salary imbalance. You’ve devoted three-fourths of your payroll to one-fifth of your roster.

Would Howard be worth such massive machinations? Yes. He has led the Magic to the NBA finals. He’s an offensive force, sure, and an even better defender and rebounder. But having Howard would require that the Hawks change their offense, which yielded little beyond jump shots last season, to a more post-oriented scheme. Could Is0-Joe co-exist with Superman? Would Josh Smith be given the freedom to roam on defense with an even bigger man behind him?

These are unknowns. What seems a given is that the Hawks as constituted aren’t any closer to the Eastern Conference finals, not with Derrick Rose in Chicago and Miami’s Big Three intact. (If Jamal Crawford leaves as a free agent, it might be Round 1 and done.) This trade would make the Hawks a real player in the East for the next 12 months, but it could turn into a one-year rental on the order of Mark Teixeira to the Braves with even worse ramifications.

But you out there who’ve clamored for the Hawks to be bold, to spend big (just not so big on Joe Johnson!) and to land a True Center above all … well, this would accomplish all of the above for at least a year. It would be daring, and general manager Rick Sund isn’t known for taking dares. But it would make the 2011-2012 Hawks worth watching, and it’d darn sure sell a few tickets.

By Mark Bradley

190 comments Add your comment

rawdawg

June 21st, 2011
11:21 am

todd grantham

June 21st, 2011
11:21 am

Yes, its me Mark.

J.J.M.

June 21st, 2011
11:21 am

Benjamin

June 21st, 2011
11:21 am

First vote and comment? A double threat?

Benjamin

June 21st, 2011
11:22 am

Crap. I was going for the rare two-fer.

Too many words, Benjamin. Too many words…

Nick P

June 21st, 2011
11:23 am

But we’re not even having a season so this is DOA.

GStateBen

June 21st, 2011
11:25 am

Makes no sense for the Magic. They already have Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas under contract. This would push them further over the cap and loaded at a position when they have other needs.

Dwight will be traded but it will likely be a team in the West (LA Lakers, Houston, etc.).

GT Trumpet

June 21st, 2011
11:25 am

7th!!! Just like Tech in the ACC last year!!!…I just made myself sad :(

Don Flamenco

June 21st, 2011
11:27 am

Marvin Williams, lol.

J.J.M.

June 21st, 2011
11:28 am

really???

June 21st, 2011
11:30 am

If there is any justice in this world, the Hawks will not be able to do this because they will not have any fan-based rvenue next season. The Atlanta Spirit do not deserve the support of the fans.

Grantdawg

June 21st, 2011
11:30 am

They ought to, they need to, but in the end they won’t.

GT Trumpet

June 21st, 2011
11:30 am

But in reference to the trade, I really believe we need to mix things up and get a real center. The Hawks have no real center, except for Smith when he actually decides to drive the ball. Having a big man like Howard in the center would open up Teague for jumpers, provided what we saw in Round 2 wasn’t luck. I like the trade, even if we only get him initially for a year. We could convince him to stay.

Mark Bradley

June 21st, 2011
11:31 am

Kudos, rawdawg.

Paul

June 21st, 2011
11:32 am

Nice idea, Mr. Bradley, but the Hawks can’t make this move. No way they would be able to sign Dwight, who has already expressed a special hatred for the Hawks. Morgaging our only All-NBAer (Horford), who appears to be a lifetime Hawk, for a one-year shot in the dark is not a great move.

Although Josh Smith and J. Johnson have at times appeared immune to the post, Howard would inhibit Smith’s special abilities – blocks and rebs.

This is also completely antithetical to Sund’s “It worked in Detroit” model of overpaying role players.

Contrarily, I do wish so badly for one season with Teague, Hinrick, Johnson, Smith, and Howard. That would be a “magical” season.

Bill

June 21st, 2011
11:33 am

Get’er done!

ryan

June 21st, 2011
11:33 am

Atlanta has the players Howard says he would like to play with Josh Smith the Lakers still does not want to give up Andrew Bynum that is what Orlando will ask for Hawks might be willing to give up Horford for Howard but come on this is ASG .

Johnny

June 21st, 2011
11:35 am

I’m sorry, but this is a classic case of over-valuing your own team. Maybe a deal like Horford AND Smoove for Howard AND taking on a bad contract, like Quentin Richardson’s, but the Magic have a much better deal option in Bynum because he is a Center, unlike Horford who really wants to play PF.

MistaGamer

June 21st, 2011
11:35 am

Yes please, they can have Hoford and his “perceived” value for Dwight. Josh and Dwight, playing in front of the hometown with Teague breaking down the defense??

I will re-up my seasons tickets yesterday!!! lol

Johnny

June 21st, 2011
11:37 am

LA would give up Bynum in a mili-second for Howard, it’s just it’s so early in the negotiating process, the Magic are probably trying to figure out which bad to terrible contracts (preferably Hedo Turkoglu or Gilbert Arenas) they can send to LA w/ Howard.

brandon

June 21st, 2011
11:37 am

I would not want to give up Horford. The guy can play, and I think he’ll only get better.

Johnny

June 21st, 2011
11:42 am

A much better trade idea would be seeing if the Lakers would part with Pau Gasol for Joe Johnson. The Lakers front line is impressive, but there’s no support for an aging Kobe Bryant. Joe would give major scoring/minutes relief for Kobe throughout the next 3 years (that’s how many more years the Lakers are paying the aging superstar).

KBP

June 21st, 2011
11:45 am

Yes, do this deal(Al & Kirk) and pull a Brad Childress and pick Dwight up at the airport.

Paul, Dwight would enable Josh to get more rebounds and block more shots because Dwight would be the opposing team’s primary concern on the boards thus freeing Josh up all the more. They would complement each other well as weakside help defenders in the post.

ATLFAN

June 21st, 2011
11:45 am

HMMMMMMMMM Let me think Dwight for Al… well yeaaaaaaaa.. we love you Al but see you later.

Dawglasville

June 21st, 2011
11:46 am

Josh and Marvin, so fast it would make someone’s head spin. You bring in Howard and Josh goes no where near the paint. Again,

Teague (for offense), Hinrich (defensive stopper and is an outside threat), Joe at 3, Horford (can hit that mid-range jumper most of the time), and Dwight.

dap01

June 21st, 2011
11:47 am

The Hawks only move will be to sign a veteran center from what is leftover before the beginning of the new season.

Zing

June 21st, 2011
11:49 am

Mark:

With this ownership group, I’m expecting a Josh Smith for expiring contract(s) trade. Hawks are not going to get better, unfortunately, while the JJ contract weighs them down. (What a bone-headed move that was).

Obama=Feces

June 21st, 2011
11:51 am

Can we trade Al Horford to Winnipeg to get back our THRASHERS?

BigTimeTechFan

June 21st, 2011
11:53 am

I would do both deals for the 1.
Hortford, Williams, Hinrich, J Smith for Howard and Anderson

Lineup would be:
Teague
J Crawford
J Johnson
D Howard
Sign a FA power forward
Draft A Small forward / Wing player

South ga boy in the atl

June 21st, 2011
11:53 am

Mark, wish this were possible but it’s too high risk for Sund and the ASG. If they didn’t get him signed long term Sund would never get another job. Unfortunately, we have to be more realistic as Hawks fans. I’ll settle for moving Josh for a true center and if we can move Marvin for a backup SF then I’ll be satisfied. JJ NEEDS TO MOVE TO SF AND BRING KIRK IN AT SG

Ted M

June 21st, 2011
11:53 am

Even if they made the trade and were willing to pay Howard the max he’d still leave for another team he deamed more worthy of winning a title.

The only way it would workout is if the Hawks won the title next yr and they’d find a way to blow that.

Nevertheless I say do the trade if possible.

Ted M

June 21st, 2011
11:55 am

They should also pursue a trade of Kevin Love. That franchise is pretty stupid so they might let him go.

tckr83

June 21st, 2011
11:56 am

Nice idea… I don’t think that’s enough to make the Magic bite on a deal for the leagues most dominating center however. And if the Hawks were able to get a desperate Magic to bite with no other better options out there… I’d feel much more comfortable on holding onto Howard after next year if ASG wasn’t in the ATL. They’ll “f” it up somehow. It’s almost certain.

It would be nice to have Dwight, instantly propping the Hawks up to that next tier in the NBA… And after I’ve seen 108 combined seasons in my lifetime of the Hawks, Braves, Falcons and Dawgs with only 1 championship (1995 Braves)… that would be nice.

Months ago

June 21st, 2011
11:57 am

I said this months ago. Trading Horford to Orlando would give Orlando a star as well as someone their fans are familiar with from his college days. Josh and Dwight together would be the scariest duo in the paint. Give them whoever else they want from the bench. Including Marvin or Crawford via sign and trade. If the CBA allows.

SB75

June 21st, 2011
11:59 am

Been saying for months the Hawks should make that offer, although I had Marvin in the Package and not kirk.

Jamaaliver

June 21st, 2011
12:00 pm

I prefer going after Gasol, Bargnani or even Charlie Villanueva. All of whom we have a greater chance of keeping long-term. Seeing Gasol with two rings, but in need of a fresh start…he’d be a perfect addition. I think he’d mesh well with Horford for the most dynamic frontcourt in the East.

And we could probably get him for J-Smoove and change.

teewest

June 21st, 2011
12:01 pm

Markus i was about to agree with you but my cat Clyde Boogie, said the Hawks would find some way to mess that option up as well. sorry

Ted M

June 21st, 2011
12:02 pm

If Marvin is in the trade the Hawks would have to sweeten the pot w/$10million so that won’t happen.

Joey

June 21st, 2011
12:04 pm

Mark Teixiera

June 21st, 2011
12:08 pm

Sweet Old Buck

June 21st, 2011
12:10 pm

All of us can dream. On the other hand this might be a hallucination.

hawk joe

June 21st, 2011
12:12 pm

You are dreaming if you think the Hawks have the assets to get Howard. I agree that they should deal Horford rather than Josh. Al seemed to disappear in the playoffs. Horford for Robin Lopez is something that could actually happen. Hawks need true center to stop deluge of points in the paint for them to get better.

tom

June 21st, 2011
12:13 pm

Why would Howard want to come to Atlanta. Maybe to party. Hawks are not quite as screwed up as the Thrashers. Close. This team will never win a championship. They have proven they will not spend the money to get a quality coach and a true Superstar. Wasting your time talking about it.

Chris

June 21st, 2011
12:14 pm

How about a bucket of extra crispy for the whole team.

Larry

June 21st, 2011
12:20 pm

Trade Joe Johnson and another player for Howard. We get rid of the most ridiculous contract in the NBA and the Magic has an NBA All Star under contract for several years cushioning the blow of getting nothing for Howard.

Even if we can’t resign Howard after this year we still get the best center in the game for a year and rid ourselves of a contract that will handcuff this franchise for years!

I know, pipe dream! Orlando couldn’t possibly be this gullible!

PMC

June 21st, 2011
12:20 pm

As if that would actually happen but are you for serious mark?

Any team in the league would do that. Even for one year.

Starve ASG

June 21st, 2011
12:21 pm

Hawks??? Who are they? As far as I’m concerned anything owned by ASG disappeared when the Thrashers were shipped off to that outpost in Manitoba.

PMC

June 21st, 2011
12:23 pm

Wasn’t it Rick Sund who decided to re up Marvin Williams and give Joe that assinine contract?

Why does he get to continue making deals of any kind? Because he washed off Speedy?

Dominique

June 21st, 2011
12:24 pm

The Hawks WISH the Magic are that dumb, if they trade Howard to us they can have anybody they want off our roster!!! He’s not coming here, I say he goes to L.A., he wants to win, not become part of the Hawks lousy franchise!

tckr83

June 21st, 2011
12:28 pm

Unfortunately… I only see the relationship with ASG and Hawks fans getting worse in the future. Hopefully to the point where they HAVE to sell! Do they seriously not realize how much they are despised by their own fanbase (ASG)? Why would they want to stay owners and not sell?

The only realistic way the Hawks could’ve gotten better was through the draft this offseason… seeing as how we traded our 1st rounder… But don’t worry! The Hawks FO is JUST NOW re-adjusting their evaluation process to have their 2nd round picks actually make the team! Makes me feel real confident!