Written by Josh Lane
The Summer of 2013 needs to forever go down in Atlanta Hawks history as the summer Danny Ferry changed the organization.
We have a new coach, lots of new players, new staff members, and a new attitude in Phillips Arena. Needless to say, Danny Ferry has done a successful job hitting the reset button and bringing in lots of new pieces this off-season.
For me personally, the summer of 2013 is like watching the beginnings of a new franchise being built right before my eyes.
Bringing in longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer as new head coach is huge for the Hawks organization. Now I know that we have mentioned this many times earlier in the off-season, but I feel this is something that cannot be overlooked. I say this because of all the new pieces being brought in this year, he is the one responsible for getting the best use from them and managing these players and their unique skill set.
The Hawks lost two of the longest tenured players in Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia. Ivan Johnson will all but certainly not return. DeShawn Stevenson, Dahntay Jones and Johan Petro definitely won’t return. The only two players Atlanta brought back from last season are Kyle Korver, who got re-signed to a four-year deal, and Jeff Teague, who also has a new four-year deal after the Hawks matched his offer sheet extended by former coach Larry Drew and his new Milwaukee Bucks.
On the flip side, the list of players that Atlanta managed to bring in is quite lengthy if you haven’t been paying attention this off-season. The one signing that stood out to me the most is the signing of Paul Millsap.
Millsap is an extremely effective player that came at a very reasonable cost ($9.5 million over two years). Yes, getting Teague back at the cost of $8 million per is really good, and managing to bring back Korver for $6 million a year seems like a steal, but the Millsap signing made me jump out of me seat!
Millsap may not be the explosive and athletic player that Josh Smith is, but he plays smart and within himself. In fact, many don’t realize that Millsap led the Jazz in +/- last season. This guy hustles, has a high basketball I.Q., and best of all helps covers one of our biggest problems last year in rebounding.
Pairing Millsap with Al Horford means Atlanta will have two interchangeable players in the post that can both hit the mid-range shot and make smart, great passes. But before I go on talking about the future fun of watching these two players, lets talk about the two-year, $19 million deal that he signed. Ladies and gentlemen this is a steal for a player of Millsap’s caliber. We are essentially paying the price of a 2000 Honda Civic for a 2013 Mustang in return. So not only is Atlanta getting him at a heck of a price, but they are remaining financially flexible in the future in case they want to add another piece.
Signing Millsap was such a great deal, and it’s going to help the Hawks in so many ways which is why this was my favorite move of the off-season.
Below are some comments from other NBA writers across the web on the Hawks’ acquisition of Millsap:
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com: Good deal. On one hand, the Hawks seemed to be poised to finish among the East’s upper-middle class, a neighborhood they’re quite familiar with. But both the term and size of Millsap’s deal make him a nice value play and a whole lot cheaper than paying Josh Smith, who’s a better defender but no more efficient as a scorer.
Andrew Han, ClipperBlog: Great deal. Millsap must have noticed that aside from Dwight Howard, all the early free agents to be picked up were wing shooters; the en vogue “3-and-D” players. The Hawks were able to swoop in and snatch one of the best power forwards available this offseason. Millsap gets a fair per-year salary and Atlanta keeps its long-term cap flexibility intact.
Andy Larsen, Salt City Hoops: Great deal. Millsap is a plus-minus superstar, earning the second-best adjusted plus-minus in the league in 2011-12. While his numbers regressed somewhat for the Jazz last season in a smaller role, his production still justified more of a payday than this. At only $9.5 million per season, the Hawks (and their fans) should be thrilled.
Danny Nowell, Portland Roundball Soc.: Good deal. In fact, a great deal. Paying $9.5 million annually for a starting power forward of Millsap’s efficiency is good. A two-year deal is good. Replacing Smith with a less volatile player for $5 million less a season is good. All those goods add up to a great.
Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball: Good deal. It’s very difficult to give out a bad two-year deal. Even if the Hawks are still trying to figure out which pieces they want to rebuild around in February 2015, Millsap will be an expiring contract who might net Atlanta an asset. Or he’ll be a useful role player on a young, budding roster. Win-win.
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: The Hawks got Paul Millsap at a bargain price (two years, $19 million), just as the Pacers reeled in one of the Knicks’ best value players — Chris Copeland, who has size and can shoot — on a reasonable contract (two years, $6 million).
Bo Churney, HawksHoop: Millsap signing with Atlanta for two years, $19 million. The Jazz were a point better with Millsap on the floor than with him on the bench last season and were almost 10 points worse when Al Jefferson was on the floor rather than on the bench (via Basketball-Reference). Jefferson’s contract with the Bobcats, though? Three years, $40.5 million.