State of the Cap: Atlanta Hawks
2010/11 Atlanta Hawks Payroll: $47.6 million
2010/11 NBA Salary Cap: $56.1 million
Roughly: $8.5 million under cap
The Good: It’s not hard to find the best bargain on the Hawks. Al Horford continues to shine, making his first all-star team in just his third season. He nearly averaged a double-double this year with 14.2 points and 9.9 rebounds. He also added 1.1 blocks per game and shot an excellent 55% from the field. Horford is a solid, steady presence in Atlanta’s front court and their best option to score in the post. He has one more season on his rookie contract and he should certainly expect a large pay raise when the summer of 2011 comes around. There will be a lot of teams lining up for that kind of play at power forward.
Last summer, Atlanta got rid of the useless Speedy Claxton and picked up the very useful Jamal Crawford in a trade with Golden State. He ended up as the second leading scorer on the team and won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. Normally a poor shooter, Crawford managed to hit a respectable 45% of his shots from the field and 38% from the three point line. He’ll be paid $10 million next year, which is pretty high for a bench player, but it’s the final year of his contract. Combined with his stellar play, that makes Crawford a very tradable asset to have.
The Bad: Last season, Marvin Williams looked like he was slowly turning into a pretty decent player, prompting the Hawks to give him a 5 year, $37.4 million dollar contract extension. Now, after an unflattering year, that deal looks to be rather overpriced. Marvin’s scoring average dipped to 10.1 and his three point shooting was a terrible 30.3%. He contributes a little on the glass, but there just isn’t a big enough roll on this team for Marvin to earn that kind of money. He needed to continue to develop in the right direction and that just didn’t happen this year.
Zaza Pachulia is a tough, hard-nosed center who can really take a beating in the paint. Unfortunately, his stats and minutes have also taken a beating. Formerly a starter, Pachulia was reduced to a reserve role and only managed to find 14 minutes a game this year, which obviously contributed to his weak averages (4.3 points and 3.8 rebounds). He doesn’t make that much money as he’ll receive $14.2 million over the next three years, but the team could use a little better effort for that sum of money.
The Future: With Horford and Josh Smith, Atlanta has one of the best tandems at forward in the league. Smith improved his game yet again this season. His scoring (15.7), rebounding (8.7), and shot blocking (2.1) were there as before, but his 4.2 assists per game were a career high, as was his 50% shooting from the field. Perhaps the biggest way he improved wasn’t in something he did but something that he didn’t do; shoot three pointers. Smith used to shoot one or two threes a game despite only hitting 26.6% of them over his career. This season, the three point attempts dropped to almost nothing, making Smith a much more efficient scorer. With three years and $37.2 million coming his way, Smith will need to be a leader and an important crunch time player that helps the Hawks win games, especially if Joe Johnson isn’t around.
That is the real story for Atlanta this summer. Will they be able to convince Joe Johnson to stay? If he goes, they won’t have the cap room to try and replace him right away and they would have to lose some assets to bring in a comparable player. Johnson is extremely important to this team as a consistent and efficient scorer and their go-to guy when the game is on the line. If they lose him, they could become a bad team in a very short time frame. To help keep him, the Hawks might have to make a big trade to bring in the right kind of talent that will improve the team. An upgrade at center or point guard would be very welcome. Mike Bibby isn’t paid a ton ($5.5 and $6.2 the next two years), but he hasn’t played very well either. 9.1 points, 3.9 assists, and 41% shooting won’t impress anyone. Bibby is only there because the team couldn’t attain anyone better and he is starting to show is age. An upgrade in the back court to take some of the pressure off of Johnson, plus a whole lotta Benjamins, might be just enough to keep Johnson in town. As long as LeBron, Wade, or Bosh doesn’t talk him out of it.
take it easy on Marv.. this past season is probably just a fluke, the dude is only in his early 20's,he has much more room to improve.
why do you call horford a forward when the hawks starting line up is
Harford and smith just dont work togather on defense just like its in minnesota with Big Al and Kevin Love
They need to move one of them ..
Response to mj23bulls:
Horford is a clear-cut PF who has been forced to play C because of the Hawk's lack of skilled big man. He plays that position solely because he is their biggest force in the paint on both ends of the floor. If Horford did play with a good C, I believe his numbers would probably improve seeing how the defense wouldn't have to focus on him so much. He had a very impressive year playing out-of-position and by doing so, just proves to other teams how combo of a big man he is.
So in regards to your post, just because he played C doesn't mean that was his natural position.
According to the hype, Williams was supposed to have been WAY better by now. I think he was overrhyped at North Carolina and probably should have stayed to develop his game. I believe that if a player's rookie contract allows for 3 years of improvement, that player SHOULD be the franchise player or very close to being pegged that if they want that big contract extension afterward. Nowadays in the NBA, teams aren't going to wait for rookies to blossum for years and years. They want improvement and fast! I just think Marvin will always be a solid role player/contributor at best in this league and he may never be able to put together the impressive type of season like how people expect him to.
in response to fresh the fan:
but in the aspect of the hawks, horford is a center, and he'll be a center for the rest of his career. josh smith is more effective as a PF, and if the hawks want to keep both, horford will have to play center. also with the league the way it is today, horford's size makes him a center. It's very difficult for teams to find a solid center, and horford has the ability to take centers away from the basket, and the athleticism to take advantage of slower centers like kendrick perkins. also, centers are getting more and more athletic, and the traditional bruising big man is getting more and more scarce. Dwight Howard is the best center in the league right now, and he's among the most athletic players in the league. Also, the hawks are a very athletic team, and if they were to get a big man who can't run the floor, their effectiveness will decrease.
also, their athleticism is what pushed the celtics back in 08 to a full 7 games.
Are my squad being that I live in Atl and have gotten attached to them. First off, Al is not a C and I would love for Whiteside to drop to the Hawks, not saying he is the answer but he does have a better combination of size, length, and athletic ability than Al. Bibby is hard to judge because I love what he did for the Hawks in past years but he would be better playing Craig Hodges or John Paxson off the bench at this point in his career but I don't think the job should be given to Teague and he definitely has not earned it. So, I really don't know where the Hawks are to go with the PG position considering there is really not a guy that will be available at #24 that looks to add to what they already have. As for Marvin Williams, Marvin is a bust when you compare him to other SF's that have gone in his range like Carmelo and Durant. He is even a bust compared to people drafting long after him in the same draft like Granger. Hell, I think Damion James would be a better SF for the Hawks than Marvin and even as inconsistent as Stanley Robinson is I think he may be just as good as Marvin in the NBA. Go Hawks
No, not having KG is what pushed the Celtics to a game 7 in '08.
Like I said, Horford is a PF who plays CENTER on the Hawks because his abilities allow him too. He's not a natural center but he's adjusted to the duties pretty well. It was the same way for the aforementioned Dwight Howard in your post seeing how Dwight came into the league as a power forward and how he grew into a center. I still don't think Horford is a natural center yet though his offensive skills allow him to be. He's better suited to guard 4s, not 5s even though he can get away with it because there aren't a whole lot of dominant 5s in the league.