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NBA PM: Atlanta Hawks Trade Fix
Posted By Bill Ingram On October 20, 2011 @ 5:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The Atlanta Hawks seem to be spinning their wheels. They have two players who are in the top five at their positions in shooting guard Joe Johnson and center Al Horford, and an All-Star caliber talent at power forward in Josh Smith, yet they seem to find their ceiling in the second round of the playoffs. Granted, they fired a very successful head coach in Mike Woodson and hired his assistant as a replacement, hoping that would be enough to push them to new heights, but the Hawks seem to be in a situation where only a significant trade will help them make the next leap.
HOOPSWORLD’s Lang Greene is based in Atlanta, and offers up his top four trades that could help the Hawks get into the ranks of the Eastern Conference’s contenders:
1. Josh Smith for Danny Granger. I know DG isn’t on the trading block (yet) but this move helps both teams. There is no guarantee the Pacers land the PF they crave (David West) in free agency, and they desperately need a young gun next to the emerging Roy Hibbert. The Hawks need another consistent scorer who can help when Joe Johnson disappears. Keep in mind we’ve seen this before with Indiana. Not too long ago they had a star SF (Ron Artest) who they traded to let a young lion (Granger) emerge. Now they have a star (Granger) with another young lion (Paul George) on deck. History has a way of repeating itself. Of course George is too green at this point for the Pacers to make the leap … or is he?
2. Josh Smith for Chris Kaman. This move has received the majority of the ink. Seems to serve a need for both teams. I’m not sold Smith can play the three full-time (inconsistent jumper, weight gain to play PF, Etc.), and neither are the Clippers, but it works for Atlanta in getting a former All-Star paired next to Horford inside.
3. Find a way to get Emeka Okafor. Since the Hornets stand a good chance to re-sign David West, there’s no need for Josh Smith. So other pieces would have to be involved and Atlanta doesn’t have anyone the Hornets need. But still Okafor is just the guy Atlanta needs. He’s everything the current Hawks aren’t (perimeter oriented, finesse, soft). A third team would have to be involved but Emeka Okafor could be a guy that pushes Atlanta over the hump. He’s a double-double machine with solid interior defense … areas where the Hawks truly lack.
4. Josh Smith for Anderson Varejao. For the Cavs, every young PG (Irving) needs a big man who can finish at the rim on the break. With Cleveland trading away a future stud (JJ Hickson) the cupboard is bare bones at PF. As for Atlanta, overall talent goes down but the TEAM gets better with Varejao because of his hustle and grinding attitude. Like I mentioned with Okafor he’s everything the current Hawks aren’t … he plays good D, gives you a double-double and doesn’t need a whole lot of touches to be happy.
Another popular sentiment is that the Hawks should use the proposed amnesty clause to rid themselves of Marvin Williams, but Lang and I are in agreement that this would be a bad move. First and foremost the Hawks are going to need him to fill some of the minutes previously owned by free agent Jamal Crawford, but also Williams has proven to be a glue guy for the Hawks. He never complains about minutes, always takes on the opposing team’s best wing player, and consistently averages double figures, with an 11.7 ppg average. Is he overpaid? Sure. But that doesn’t mean you pay him to go away.
Finally, it’s time to turn Jeff Teague loose, as Lang writes:
As for Jeff Teague, I think it’s time for the Hawks to take the training wheels off of him. It is known fact amongst guys who cover the Hawks that Teague plays much better when he doesn’t have to worry about being snatched from the game (see last season’s playoffs when he know he was going to play 40+ minutes regardless of mistakes). He’s not a star, but he is much better than what he’s shown. Plus he gives Atlanta a different look. He could potentially give them a penetrator since Larry Drew couldn’t just let him loiter on the perimeter for jumpers like he did with Bibby and does with Hinrich.
There are no quick fixes, and the number of teams who are at about the same level as the Hawks and seeking a key piece or two to really compete for a title is staggering. Finding that key piece can be a daunting task. But winning championships is not a game for the weak of heart, and it’s going to take some daring moves for Atlanta to get there. More importantly, if the Hawks do nothing they have yet another difficult and disappointing season ahead.
The High Cost Of Holding Out
One of the great ironies of the ongoing NBA labor dispute is that the longer players hold out for a better deal, the more money they lose in the effort. They didn’t lose anything when preseason was cancelled, but losing the first two weeks of the regular season was very costly, indeed. Our good friend Michael Lee of The Washington Post took some time to break down exactly how much money the Washington Wizards’ players have already lost, and the numbers tell an interesting story.
Since an NBA regular season lasts 170 days, the loss of two weeks represents 14/170th of the players’ income. Unless the the league and its players’ union can soon come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement and reconstruct another 82-game schedule, the 11 Wizards under contract — including the four players who have received qualifying offers — and their three draft picks have missed out on $3.71 million.
Wizards draft picks Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack won’t have their rookie salaries determined until a new deal is ratified and have yet to sign contracts. But the possible lost wages for those three players – based on the projected rookie salary scale for 2011-12 – would be around $362,384.
Additionally, second-year point guard John Wall has already lost in excess of $455,000, while Rashard Lewis, as the highest-paid Wizard, has lost more than $1.8 million.
It’s one thing for the players to hold out for a bigger piece of the pie, but how long can players fight over a pie that is disappearing slice by slice? There’s been some talk this week that the NBA might be able to put together an 82-game season that extends past the usual end date for the NBA Finals as part of a new bargaining tactic, but a number of venues (most notably, Staples Center in Los Angeles) are saying there’s no way they could reword their schedules to accommodate such a move.
In other words, time’s ticking.
Commissioner Out Of Commission
Apparently the cold and drizzly New York weather has taken its toll on NBA Commissioner David Stern this week, as he is out with the flu today. The word is that he’s participating electronically, via speaker call or some other wireless device.
There is a definite feeling that talks between the NBA and its players have moved in a notably positive direction this week with the help of mediator George Cohen, who is said to be putting a fresh perspective on the issues for both sides.
At this hour the news out of New York is that owners and players are close to a compromise on the critical Mid-Level Exception (MLE) issue, with it sounding like the new framework of the MLE will start at $5 million per season with annual raises over three years.
According to Yahoo!, some other critical issues are nearing resolution, with an amnesty deal on the table that would allow teams to take 75% of a player’s contract off of their salary cap for the length of the deal. At issue still is how long teams will have to pay off the player they amnesty, with owners seeking a long-term solution and players looking for a shorter-term payoff.
It looks like rookies will have new incentives built into their rookie contracts, with performance bonuses for making the All-Star team, winning Rookie Of The Year, and other accomplishments. It also seems both sides are closer to agreeing upon a 50/50 split of Basketball Related Income (BRI), which has been a major sticking point.
Now the biggest remaining hurdle appears to be how the NBA will go about leveling the playing field and punishing large market teams for spending above the luxury tax threshold. Some ideas that are on the table include limiting a players’ Bird Rights and even preventing teams that are over the cap from taking advantage of cap exceptions like the MLE.
Both sides are optimistic following today’s session, but both are also advising cautious optimism. While things are moving in the right direction, there are still issues that could derail discussions and put the 2011-12 season in further jeopardy.
Stay tuned . . .
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