Monday, July 21, 2008

Josh Childress Really Doesn't Want to Re-Sign

Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Josh Childress is in Greece today to meet with Olympiakos to discuss a 3-year, $20 million contract. Discussions might move quickly into consummation:
Childress, 25, is so flustered with the Hawks’ refusal to make a sign-and-trade deal to another team, one source familiar with his thinking believes there’s “better than a 50-50 chance” he’ll sign with Olympiakos. The team also will cover the Greek taxes for Childress, making it even more lucrative.

“Unless he just gets there and doesn’t like it at all, I think he’s going to go,” one league source said.
This, I guess, is what happens when a weak dollar conspires with incompetent management. Not that the Hawks want to lose Childress. It's more that Atlanta Spirit is unable to run the franchise in such a way that a player with options wants to stay any longer than mandatory due to the misfortune of being drafted by the Hawks. Or, as the more objective Wojnarowski puts it:
Childress’ talks with the Hawks have yet to gain traction because Atlanta officials have made it clear their first priority is to resolve negotiations with forward Josh Smith, their other restricted free agent. Privately, Childress has expressed little enthusiasm in returning to play for the organization, sources said.

The Memphis Grizzlies are the only remaining team with enough salary-cap room to make an offer exceeding the $5.6 million mid-level exception, and they so far seem content on saving their money for next summer. Several NBA GMs interested in Childress said they wouldn’t make a mid-level offer to him because they believe the Hawks would match.
Sekou Smith, in his most recent blog post, recounts a rather telling conversation he had with "a member of the previous Hawks’ front office administration" (He means Billy Knight, right?) last fall:
A member of the previous Hawks’ front office administration famously argued me down (to the folks who saw us debating the topic at least) before a preseason game that there was no way Smith or Childress should get extensions last summer or fall because the Hawks hadn’t been to the playoffs, as if they alone were responsible for it not happening prior to our verbal showdown.

“If you feel that way,” I told him, and this is a direct quote “all of you clowns should resign on the spot or be fired for making colossal mistakes with choice draft picks most teams would die for.”
I agree. It's one thing to screw up top 5 picks in consecutive drafts. Or to trade two draft picks for the opportunity to build your team around the fourth-best player on a good team. Or to demonstrate a willingness to punt the position of head coach for half a decade. But to get no value out of possessing the rights to an above-average player who is a restricted free agent is a new frontier of ineptitude.

I hope to have more coherent thoughts as the day unfolds. Other people already do, though...

Kelly Dwyer's (apparent) early-to-rise, strong, Midwestern work ethic is already manifesting itself on this subject:
Unless a flukish thing happens (like Davis opting out of his deal with Golden State, which allows the Warriors unanticipated cap space to sign someone like Corey Maggette for above the MLE), it really is mid-level exception money or bust for these guys. The average salary. The middle class.

And Josh Childress? He's upper middle class. His parents own two German cars, but you don't need to drive past a gate to get into his neighborhood. And yet all he can grab, at this point in the free agent game, is the MLE, or hope that a team like Atlanta (smartly allowing both Childress and Josh Smith to create their own market) can finagle a sign-and-trade that would make the Hawks happy while still securing Josh seven or eight million a year.

Not bloody likely. He's an odd package who is likely undervalued by most team mainly because he doesn't stand out, or possess any single skill that is on par with an All-Star skill set. He just does everything, and quite well, but nothing overwhelms you. And that's hard thing to sell to your owner, your cap guys, and your fan base: "Josh didn't start a game for a team that won 37 games last year, but he's also not below-par in any area I can think of! Dial 1-800-4NBA-TIX!"

Marc Stein's thorough report from Las Vegas includes a section on Josh Smith:

Josh Smith's increasing reluctance to return to the Atlanta Hawks has little to do with Mike Woodson, despite repeated media suggestions that Smith is eager to play for a new coach.

Smith and Woodson are fine, one confidante insists. Smith's frustration with the Hawks is the slow-moving state of negotiations, with Smith apparently still waiting for a serious contract proposal nearly three weeks into free agency.

Not that this is a grand surprise given the Hawks' rep for spending or a quandary exclusive to Smith. The only team in the league with salary-cap space to throw at premier restricteds such as Smith, Charlotte's Emeka Okafor and Chicago's Luol Deng is the Memphis Grizzlies, who have no plans to make their money available this summer, preferring to focus on trade possibilities. So the Hawks, Bobcats and Bulls are naturally proceeding slowly and conservatively, figuring that their prized assets have limited leverage.

Which is true. Threatening to sign a one-year qualifying offer that would lead to unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2009 is pretty much the only way Smith can apply pressure on the Hawks now.

Yet I suspect the sign-and-trade chatter will begin to pick up, maybe in all three cases, with Smith said to be especially eager to move on.

I wonder, for example, if my coaching pal who asked me why the Dallas Mavericks aren't trying to assemble a deal that features former ACC player of the year Josh Howard going to Atlanta in some sort of package for Smith isn't onto something.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

I guess this answers my question about what leverage Smith and Childress have over the Hawks. Oh man. This franchise is somehow heading for an even worse disaster than it has been in the last 10 years. Can we just move the Hawks to Seattle already so Atlanta sports fans don't have to waste their time with the franchise anymore?

CoCo said...

I hope Chills leaves. I really do. I continue to be reamazed (not a real word) by how incompetent the Atlanta Spirit is

tha DJ said...

i'm so tired of being sick and tired of the incompetence of the atlanta spirit group, it is really a travesty seeing them destroy the potential of the atlanta hawks, we the fans should stage a protest or petition to get the ASG fired. everybody.

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