Joe Johnson? Gone. Marvin? Gone. Danny Ferry? A keeper

Me, I'm thinking it's about time for Danny Ferry to show us something. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

A week later, the Atlanta Hawks have been transformed. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

It took Danny Ferry a week to turn a franchise going nowhere into one with room again to grow. It took him a week to reach an agreement to send Joe Johnson to the Nets for a bunch of guys whose principal value rests in the expiration dates on their contracts. It took this general manager a week to ship Marvin Williams, enduring symbol of opportunity squandered, to Utah.

To follow the Hawks is to expect the worst, which means the initial response to this watershed Johnson deal was to figure it would be overturned on some technicality. Maybe we shouldn’t be fatalistic. At the rate Ferry is moving, he might be able to convince the NBA to replay the final seconds of Game 6 against Boston from 1988, and make it so that Dominique Wilkins (and not Cliff Levingston) takes the last shot this time.

A week ago we wondered if/when Ferry would dare to tamper with the Core Four. On Day 1 of Week 2, we got our answer. Ferry gored the Core without having to deal either Josh Smith or Al Horford, and by offloading Johnson he turned this capped-out club into one with a hangar’s worth of financial headroom.

Shedding Johnson’s contract was the only way the Hawks could get better. He makes $20 million per season, which is roughly one-third of what the NBA allows to fund an entire roster. It’s one thing if your $20-million-man is Kobe Bryant, but Johnson, over the two years since he re-upped, has sunk to being third-best among Hawks.

There are two wonders at play: That the plodding Hawks would find a GM bold enough to do what needed doing, and that he’d find such a willing partner. But the Nets are moving to a new arena in Brooklyn and they’re coming off a 22-win season and they’re looking to compete with the Knicks and Linsanity in their big-city marketplace, so they need someone of substance to pair with Deron Williams.

They’re also the property of a Russian named Mikhail Prokhorov, who is rated by Forbes the 57th-richest man in the world. Thus did super-sleuth Ferry identify the only NBA owner who could look on Johnson’s contract and not hurl.

Let’s not kid ourselves. There’s every chance the Hawks will be worse, basketball-wise, next season. On talent, a slightly diminished Johnson is still better than anyone the Nets are slated to send here. (Poor Marvin, however, won’t be missed. He might have been the league’s least essential starter.) That’s how the NBA works: To get better, you must get lucky in the draft or spend big in free agency, and the Hawks were positioned to do neither.

It wasn’t all his fault, but Johnson had become the flashpoint for Hawk failings. He wasn’t quite as good as they needed him to be, and his contract kept them from hiring better players to put around him. (Let’s not fault him for signing what was proffered. You would’ve, too.) But Johnson didn’t endear himself to fans, and it’s never a marketing plus when your biggest name is a sourball.

Neither was it Williams’ fault that Billy Knight chose him over Deron Williams and Chris Paul in 2005. But Marvin played so long here — seven full seasons — to so little effect that it became impossible to watch him without thinking of  the point guard not taken. And that, sad to say, was just like the Hawks: They’d whiff in the lottery, and they’d hand Johnson a new $120 million deal at the time they planned to de-emphasize his Iso-Joes.

The Hawks had come to occupy a terrible place: The team as constituted had gone as far as it could, and without cap room there was little hope for tomorrow. Now there is. The Hawks will have money to spend next summer, when Dwight Howard and the aforementioned Chris Paul figure to be free agents. The team with no future just traded for one.

And the new man in charge? Well, he’s in charge. In four years as Hawks GM, the best move Rick Sund made was to trade for the sixth man Jamal Crawford. In seven days, his successor has halved the Core Four and moved the immovable contract. Which would seem to make Danny Ferry an irresistible force.

By Mark Bradley

309 comments Add your comment

ansel

July 2nd, 2012
8:07 pm

falCans

July 2nd, 2012
8:10 pm

Rabiddawg1

July 2nd, 2012
8:10 pm

First. Go hawks and Ferry

cousin vicker

July 2nd, 2012
8:10 pm

Would have been nice to get Marshawn Brooks in the deal, but this was not a trade that you screw up by holding out for exactly what you want. My guess is Smith will be the next to go.

Rabiddawg1

July 2nd, 2012
8:10 pm

dublin mike

July 2nd, 2012
8:11 pm

One of the best days in a long time for this franchise. I finally have hope for the future, instead of just looking forward to an early playoff exit.

Maybe resign Kirk, find someone serviceable in free agency to play the 3, and look forward to next year and try to pair Josh, Al and Dwight

day old fries

July 2nd, 2012
8:11 pm

Mr. Daniel John Willard Ferry…I Love You!!

Aaron

July 2nd, 2012
8:12 pm

Dwight Howard time.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2012
8:13 pm

Kudos, falCans.

falCans

July 2nd, 2012
8:13 pm

WOW MY 1ST “FIRST” @ Mark im hoping Horford for iggy is a possibility and devin harris for a real center. wiahful thinking ?? maybe but how likely are we to keep devin harris this season??

falCans

July 2nd, 2012
8:14 pm

cousin vicker

July 2nd, 2012
8:14 pm

Don’t get your hopes up for Howard guys. It’s pretty well known he doesn’t want to come here.

Cashville

July 2nd, 2012
8:15 pm

Didn’t think anyone except the Knicks would take that albatross.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2012
8:15 pm

I wouldn’t trade Horford now.

Benjamin

July 2nd, 2012
8:16 pm

Sixteenth or so, I’m guessing…

Also, to coin Lenny Dykstra from the day the Phillies traded Von Hayes to the Angels in the early nineties: “Great trade[s]! Who’d we get?!”

falCans

July 2nd, 2012
8:16 pm

First Dimitrof now Ferry… Has our curse been lifted???

falCans

July 2nd, 2012
8:17 pm

@ Mark are we planning on “flipping” the devin Harris contract or is he our pg/sg for 2012??

barry stern

July 2nd, 2012
8:18 pm

FIRE DANNY FERRY -
In one week, what he has accomplished – no way he EVER has a better week. Push him out the door before the Hawks malaise takes affect.

falCans

July 2nd, 2012
8:20 pm

Maybe AL and some of our expiring contracts for Howard?? Before the season starts lol im soooo excited!!! Havnt felt this way since Falcons Drafted Vick…no wait Julio!! hahaha

Hollinger

July 2nd, 2012
8:20 pm

Enter your comments here

MaxxHawk

July 2nd, 2012
8:22 pm

Im really trying not to wake up, I always wake up at this part….

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2012
8:22 pm

Kudos recount! Ansel takes the checkered flag.

clutch

July 2nd, 2012
8:25 pm

Now the hawks really will be sorry and all you guys are happy. Lets wait and see what players we can pick up first before you start cheering. Also, all you guys applauding ferry now, please dont come on hear crying next season.

GT Trumpet

July 2nd, 2012
8:26 pm

Jason Brooks

July 2nd, 2012
8:26 pm

NBA Executive of the Year. Hands down. He could re-sign Jon Koncak and still win the award. Brilliant.

Max

July 2nd, 2012
8:27 pm

Mark,

Are the Hawks looking at keeping Harris or trading him before the season?? Same question for any of the 4 expiring contracts coming from NJ. Thanks

Rabiddawg1

July 2nd, 2012
8:27 pm

Let’s just forget the cp3 and Howard to Atl. There is no way they want to play in Atlanta. Why would superstars want to play in front of 1300 raucous fans every night. With that being said, extremely happy today with what DF has done.

haha

July 2nd, 2012
8:27 pm

What is there to get excited about? this team took a step back several years.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 2nd, 2012
8:29 pm

Congrats to DF for making the moves that needed made. Now he is tasked with selling this franchise as a place for FA to call home. If the fanbase can show up and show this ragtag team some love perhaps that helps, but today is the day to celebrate the ridding of two mediocore players! Congrats again DF!

Change = good

July 2nd, 2012
8:29 pm

Hawks can trade for Dwight Howard. Orlando will lose Howard either way, why not trade him and get something in return?

ignition

July 2nd, 2012
8:30 pm

Happy Days… Hap Happy Days…

Change = good

July 2nd, 2012
8:31 pm

Smith can convince Howard to come to Atlanta!

Bill

July 2nd, 2012
8:34 pm

GREAT job..Ferry

Now Braves need to fire Wren and get a very good GM. That way all three teams would be on target.

LT

July 2nd, 2012
8:34 pm

Hawks should extend Josh Smith and wait until free agency next season and push for Dwight. They have a decent PG, so instead of trying to get and overpaying for CP3, extend Teague and try to get a good wing player like Monta Ellis. AND Horford would be back in his original position.

PG – Jeff Teague
SG – Monta Ellis
SF – Josh Smith
PF – Al Horford
C – Dwight Howard

That’s a nice starting 5 right there.

Mark Bradley

July 2nd, 2012
8:36 pm

I don’t know what the Hawks plan to do with any of the guys they’re getting. Jordan Farmar and Devin Harris are both point guards, and I’d guessing at least one will stick. Anthony Morrow is a jump shooter, but they just drafted John Jenkins.

Kevin HAWK

July 2nd, 2012
8:36 pm

Can you imagine the excitement in this city with a chris paul, josh smith and dwight howard line up!? wow there is so much hope and excitement pumped into this franchise …Thank you Ferry!!!

tyger

July 2nd, 2012
8:38 pm

B careful what u wish for….

ATL fragile market…
Arena half empty with winner…
What expect u with loser?…

LD right guy for 20 win team???
Anyone going to pull knife outta his back?
So, what next?

Draft weak…no superstars there just role players….
Free Agency – not fat as Chris Paul, he’s old news…

Horford for Superboy??? Really?…
U really going to bring that drama queen to us…
At first sign of adversity, Superboy turns on Smoove…
Or Smoove turns on Superboy who turns on Coach…

Sounds more like Housewives of Atl than championship…

Only in Moultrie

July 2nd, 2012
8:40 pm

i wonder if ferry just read the archived comments from hawks’ ajc articles for the last 3 years and acted on what he read. hopefully he will continue to do a good job of getting the right pieces.

falCans

July 2nd, 2012
8:41 pm

Trade horford and or teague now for Howard…. If were really hungry (championship)..
..why wait?? lol @ Mark that hurts man.. this was my first first and u just ripped it away along with my heart -_-

Only in Moultrie

July 2nd, 2012
8:41 pm

i hope we don’t trade josh or al. if we want dwight, why not just wait 1 year and get him as a free agent? good luck scoring in the paint against those guys.

cantondawg

July 2nd, 2012
8:41 pm

Great move but i get a feeling we’re gonna take one step back this year before we take two steps ahead next year.

Brilliant

July 2nd, 2012
8:44 pm

The rumor is Horford + Teague + Nets first round draft pick for Howard and then use cap space to sign Paul next year.

Wardo

July 2nd, 2012
8:45 pm

I love Danny Ferry!! He is my hero!! I hope he keeps the broom a sweepin’!

Marcus

July 2nd, 2012
8:50 pm

Looks like we have
3 PGs – Teague, Farmar, D. Harris
3 SGs – John Jenkins, A. Morrow, D. Stevenson
0 SF – (pending moving J-Smoove down in postionor a tall SG to this spot in a small lineup)
3 PFs – J-Smoove, Jordan Williams, Ivan Johnson (potentially)
2 Cs – Zaza, Horford, J. Petro

I don’t think Danny is done … we need SFs, even if just to get through 2012-2013.
He must have picked up some Vulcan mind tricks in S.A. …. dude was probably a terror at the poker table and the nightclubs ….

Dawg Haus

July 2nd, 2012
8:53 pm

Way to go, Danny! Talk about taking care of business. This guy is certainly a keeper.

Marcus

July 2nd, 2012
8:55 pm

blog monster?

recap: Glut of SGs, PGs, PFs (3 each) no SF to speak of, unless Smoove drops to the ‘3′. Zaza and Petro would be the options at Center.
If Ivan signs (included in above count of PFs), no more trades of existing Hawks, and all of todays’ trades remain as-is, we have 2 spots to fill to meet min. roster count.

dean

July 2nd, 2012
8:56 pm

Hmm. I might get interestd again.

Wayne stuck in AL

July 2nd, 2012
8:56 pm

Now if only we could trade Gearon and Levenson for new owners

Mo So

July 2nd, 2012
8:58 pm

more of the same in 2012-13—the hawks will suck again, make the playoffs, go out in round 1. Danny ferry?? with the moron owners, will not make a difference—book it!

Sage of Bluesland

July 2nd, 2012
8:58 pm

Ferry is at least trying to do something to make a change in this pathetic core of a team. I support the continued exploding of a failing roster….and to rebuilding it the right way…in the lottery again and this time with some luck and better decisions.

I trust DF more than any Hawks GM I’ve ever seen in my life (over 40 years)…and this is after only one week.

Keep up with the dynamite; trade the overrated Al Horford before it’s too late. Trade them all so we can rebuild the right way.