It seems to be all quiet on the Centennial Olympic Park Drive front. Nothing but murmurs from the Atlanta Hawks front office regarding who they might and might not target this off-season, which should come as no surprise to those who have seen the warning signs from the new regime.
With Chris Paul presumably off the market, after agreeing to a reportedly $107 million contract over five years, the Hawks will have to look elsewhere to build their semi-barren roster.
Though talks still have been ongoing between the Hawks and Dwight Howard’s camp, it seems increasingly unlikely that he will return to play in his hometown. He has already met with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors, as well as Atlanta about possibly joining their teams. More recent reports are that the Rockets would want to bring in Josh Smith to pair with Howard, which would probably require the use of a sign-and-trade with Atlanta sending Omer Asik and/or Jeremy Lin to the home of the Highlight Factory. Though Josh Smith returning to the Peach State has not been completely ruled out, he has already been courted with a big offer from Detroit.
The Hawks reported still have interest in some of their own. Zaza Pachulia still values the place he spent eight seasons in, as SDS Writer Brandon Barnes points out. However, he still may return to Atlanta for longer, as David Aldridge tweets.
Milwaukee, Portland, San Antonio join Hawks as suitors for Zaza Pachulia, per source. Pachulia recovery from Achilles surgery on schedule.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 1, 2013
Tyreke Evans also reportedly met with the Atlanta Hawks on July 2. He has reportedly been offered, and accepted, a four-year, $44 million contract from the New Orleans Pelicans as a restricted free agent. He last played with the Sacramento Kings. Evans hasn’t been able to replicate the production he had his rookie season in 2009-10, partially due to recurring plantar fasciitis and positional uncertainty, but has a chance to shine if made the key figure in someone’s offense.
Corey Brewer is also garnering interest from many teams, including the Hawks. Marc Stein had the first word on Twitter:
Word is Corey Brewer, on top looming sitdown w/Rockets, drawing interest from New Orleans and Atlanta as well. Also: Denver wants him back
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2013
Brandon Wright of the Dallas Mavericks may also be in the Hawks radar. Wright started to blossom with the Mavericks this season in the last year of his rookie deal. Heck, his similarity score ranks him closest to Danny Ferry as a player. It’s a match made in heaven.
Even after locking up Kyle Korver long-term, the Hawks should still look for a small forward on the market. Two names that the Hawks could be after are Andre Iguodala and Andrei Kirilenko, who would both have a larger impact than Corey Brewer. Both are masters of the all-around game, contributing in many areas of the box score. Judging by the draft, Danny Ferry is not afraid to bring in a large number of international players. Iguodala was already offered a four-year, $52 million dollar contract, only to have it rescinded after the Kings could not get a quick answer from his party. Kirilenko had a nice return to the NBA last season but is on the wrong side of 30 and is likely looking for the last multi-year contract of his career. It’s not often you have two defensively stout wings with the ability to record a 5×5 on any given night on the free market. This is definitely an opportunity the Hawks may not be able to pass.
One surprising name that the Hawks could swoop in and pick up for cheaper than expected is Andrew Bynum. Although the new Hawks brass seems intent on developing a hardworking and cohesive group on the floor, as well as in the locker room which Bynum may not quite fit into that perfectly, he is still one of the most talent players in the NBA. In every season that he has played in since 2007-08, he has posted a PER of over 20. In 2011-12, he had his best season to date with almost 19 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in 30 minutes per game. He can be one of the most dominating defensive players in the league with his large 7’0” 285 lb. frame and is still only 25 years of age. Al Horford seems to appreciate the luxury of having a large body to help him bang in the post. The injury concern is very real, and a contract offered to him would most certainly need a way out under a crippling albatross mess if it were to turn into that, such as a team option or early termination option. But if Bynum just wants to repair his image of a somewhat wacky and injury-prone budding star, he would be wise to take a non-risk contract with a team that can add support around him.
The fact that the Hawks have had free agents the caliber of Dwight Howard as suitors represents a big step to the big table of the National Basketball Association. The future is very bright, regardless, though the process may seem very slow.