Wow. Just wow. There are not enough words to explain the audacity and boldness of the trades that new General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Danny Ferry just completed.
In short, Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams leave to the Nets and Jazz, respectively, and Devin Harris from Utah, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, Jordan Farmar and DeShawn Stevenson, all from the (formerly New Jersey) Brooklyn Nets put on Atlanta Hawks jerseys in 2012-13. On the surface to a casual NBA fan, it seems like a head scratching move from Atlanta’s perspective as they seem to lose talent and load up their roster with average to marginal players. But any longtime or recent Atlanta Hawks fan will admit that this is the best case scenario to erase memories of two bad decisions by the past two GM’s, Billy Knight and Rick Sund. Let’s take a trip down (bad) memory lane. After infamously being selected #2 overall in the 2005 NBA Draft above Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and others, Marvin Williams has had a respectable career, but is seen as a bust considering his draft position. In Billy Knight’s final act as GM in the 2009 offseason, he handed out a 5 year, $37.5 million extension to Williams to the ire of most Hawks fans. This is after the Hawks advanced to the second round a year after making the playoffs as an 8 seed for the first time in 8 years and making the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics sweat en route to a 7 game series loss. It would seem to stunt the growth of the young bunch of Al Horford, Josh Smith and signed-and-traded-for Joe Johnson from Phoenix.
However, the Hawks continued to increase their regular season win total every season from 2004-05 until 2010-11 despite ugly playoff exits in the last two seasons before the latter. With Rick Sund as a puppet for the Atlanta Spirit, LLC, he handed Joe Johnson a 6 year, $119 million contract as a free agent, the largest in NBA history. The ire and handicapping of the club that ensued after the Marvin Williams contract was beaten ten-fold by this latest escapade. Hawks fans feared that they would maintain a decent level of success but would never seriously challenge for an NBA Championship with Johnson’s contract dominating the salary cap.
In steps Danny Ferry, a bold face from the front office of the Cleveland Cavaliers and most recently, from San Antonio Spurs. Realizing the magnitude of the cap space Johnson’s incrementally increasing contact would eat up, and clearly the desperation of the Brooklyn Nets to make a big splash in moving to New York state, he teamed up with an old Duke buddy, Billy King, GM of the Nets, to send Joe and his 4 years and $89 million left on his contract up the East Coast for four contracts expiring after the 2012-13 season and an extended but not fully guaranteed DeShawn Stevenson finalized on Monday, July 2, 2012 (mark that date down in Atlanta Hawks history). Not quitting there, he flipped the 2 years, $15+ million Marvin Williams contract (assuming he would pick up the player option he holds for 2013-14) for another expiring contract in point guard Devin Harris. The creativity and amazing savvy Ferry showed in completing a deal for similar salary ramifications under the NBA bylaws cannot be understated.
The results of this trade is most likely a step back for the upcoming season, as Jeff Teague, Josh Smith, and Al Horford form the new Atlanta Big 3, but vastly more financial flexibility in the 2013 offseason with so many contracts coming off the books. This means, rumors of a run at either Chris Paul or an Atlanta reunion with Dwight Howard in free agency.
This is certainly a landmark day for Atlanta Hawks fans with a lot to look forward to in the coming years and a fantastic honeymoon with Danny Ferry. The Hawks have made themselves at least 3 years closer to seriously competing for an NBA Championship and may revamp the home crowd to come out and support the home team in Philips Arena. It truly is a welcome sight for all fans of this great team.
Thanks for reading and Let’s Go Hawks!