Now that resigning Joe Johnson is a mere formality, it is time to start looking other moves the Hawks can make to make this team a legitimate championship contender now. Michael Cunningham of the AJC pointed out a couple of days ago that the Hawks are willing to add the necessary pieces to make them a contender in the East.
More after the jump.
With Joe Johnson coming back to Atlanta with this monstrosity of a contract, the Hawks have no choice but to make another big move in an attempt to push this team over the top. The contract Joe is signing will likely prevent them from being able to do this three years from now. The have given themselves a narrow window of opportunity by hitching their trailer to Joe Johnson’s truck. The one area that many fans have lamented over ever since Mookie Blaylock was in Atlanta is the point guard position. It could be that the point guard Hawks fans have wanted ever since the 2005 draft might actually be available.
Chris Paul may very well be on the trading block. He is voicing his frustration with the current situation in New Orleans. Portland and New Jersey apparently made aggressive offers to get Chris Paul, but they were turned down by the Hornets. I don’t know what Portland was offering, but New Jersey’s deal appeared to be centered around the 3rd pick in the draft. The general feeling out there is that if New Orleans deals Chris Paul, they will want that team to take Emeka Okafor’s contract with him. Would you be willing to do that? Considering the situation the Hawks are in, their salary cap structure is already wrecked in the future by the Joe Johnson deal. If it means we get Chris Paul now, then I would take Emeka’s albatross of a contract. It will take a good load to get Chris Paul. Would they be interested in Josh Smith as the center piece for any deal to get Chris Paul? If the Hawks could pull this off, then they could very well shift the balance of power in the Eastern Conference. This would help combat the possibility that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be teaming up in Chicago. The Hawks would be a very dangerous team with Chris Paul and Joe Johnson in the back court along with Al Horford in the front court. You would be hard pressed to find a better threesome than that.
The other big name that may be on the trading block is Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets have offered Carmelo a 3 year, $65 million extension. If he doesn’t sign it, then they will likely try to trade him rather than lose him for nothing in the off season. Carmelo is a tremendous scoring small forward. He would definitely fit the role of being the go to scorer that Joe Johnson can play the secondary role to. My biggest issue with Carmelo is that he is a black hole offensively. Only 10% of his offensive possessions end in an assist. Like any deal for Chris Paul, the player that would likely have to be the center piece in any deal is Josh Smith. A trio of Carmelo Anthony, Joe Johnson, and Al Horford would be tremendous, but the one flaw with that trio is the same flaw the Hawks have had for several years. Who is going to distribute the ball? For this reason, Carmelo would be a clear second choice to getting Chris Paul.
Those are the two big name guys that could be available via trade. Are there any other players that could help push this team over the top that could possibly be traded? One player that is intriguing is Gilbert Arenas. This guy has a horrible contract, but at this point, I don’t think the contract matters. When he’s on his game, Gilbert Arenas is a very explosive scorer that can also distribute the basketball. This is a player that has averaged more than 21.0 P/36 and more than 5 A/36 in five of the past six seasons. The downside is that Gilbert is a shot chucker most of the time, and he’s very inefficient as a scorer. When the Hawks traded for Jamal Crawford last year, they got a player who was a shot chucker that had the skill to be a lot better than what he was. Jamal Crawford proceeded to put up the best season of his career as a 6th man on the Hawks team. Could Larry Drew convince Gilbert Arenas to play within the offense and get him to produce the way Jamal produced last season? The other issue is injuries. Gilbert has not played a full season in three years. His decline in play will likely be sharper than Joe Johnson’s over the life of his contract. Plus, what would the Hawks have to give up to get him? This is a less convincing deal for me. I can see the upside if Gilbert reigns himself in and stays healthy, but this is a deal where the downside outweighs the upside.
There have been rumors that the Hawks are shopping Marvin Williams. The latest rumor has the Hawks talking with Golden State about a Marvin Williams deal. The two players the Warriors are rumored to be looking to possibly move are Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis. Andris is a strong rebounding big man who is limited offensively. If no other moves were made, he would give Al Horford a solid back up center that can rebound the basketball. Monta is an explosive scorer that has a tendancy to dominate the basketball. He’s not really a point guard, but he would have to be slotted into that position in Atlanta. Much like Jamal and Gilbert, he would have to come into Atlanta and have a career year from an efficiency standpoint to be worth it. You could possibly slot him into the shooting guard position if they decide to make Joe a small forward after dealing Marvin.
What to do with Josh Childress?
The Washington Wizards are apparently after Josh Childress this off season, and the Hawks could present them with a sign and trade opportunity. It is very unlikely the Hawks will resign Josh now that they are keeping Joe Johnson, so Josh could simply sign an offer sheet and call their bluff. If the Hawks bring him back in, it is very likely he will remain an unhappy player in Atlanta. Washington doesn’t have much to offer. If the Hawks decide to make a trade for Arenas, then Josh could be a part of the package they put up. The only other players that would likely be considered by the Hawks in a sign and trade deal are Kirk Hinrich and Javale Magee. Kirk Hinrich is a solid combo guard that can defend both positions. He would give the Hawks some depth at the point guard position. Javale Magee is a big man who played limited minutes but blocked a very high percentage of shots. He is a player that could become a starter down the road if he can round his game out.
The MLE Big Man
I’ve already mentioned Big Z as a possibility for the MLE, but there are some others. Shaq reportedly had narrowed his list to Boston and Atlanta before possibly deciding to stay in Cleveland. Other names that could be had for the MLE include Kurt Thomas and Nazr Mohammed. It is very unlikely the Hawks will be able to get a starting center good enough to push Al to the power forward spot with the MLE.