Monday, July 05, 2010

Equal Time

SI.com's Ian Thomsen offers a dissenting view from the majority of analysts and commentators, calling the Hawks' decision to give Joe Johnson $119 million over 6 years "a smart play."

Thomsen:
The Hawks made a pre-emptive move to keep Johnson by offering him close to $30 million more than he could find on the open market. The deal, to which he verbally committed Sunday, will be criticized as too much money for a player who isn't viewed among the top 10 in the league.

But it is a smart play by Atlanta, which couldn't afford to lose him. The presence of their four-time All-Star and team leader enables the Hawks to approach next season with confidence of reaching the second round of the playoffs for a third straight year. Johnson's raise next season will amount to not quite $2 million, so for the short-term he won't have a disastrous impact on the Hawks' payroll structure.

Had they lost their 29-year-old shooting guard, the Hawks would have surrendered the momentum they've developed around him while improving their record each of the last five years. Consider this an example of a team spending money in order to make money. Apart from the calf injuries that cost him 25 games in 2006-07, Johnson has been a durable star who -- like Ray Allen and other stars in their 30s -- could be moved to a contender over the latter half of his contract, if necessary.

4 comments:

Eric said...

Bret,

I'm curious as to your thoughts of this deal if the Hawks are indeed willing to go above the luxury tax threshold and add some more key players. I'm not sure who they could get for the midlevel, but I would think Haywood is a possibility, perhaps some other big men. They could also deal Marvin if they needed to. My point is this - if the ASG is really taking the "Cuban-like" approach to running this team and is willing to continue to add payroll, is this still a horrendous deal? Or is this just a deal to keep their best player (I still think Horford could surpass Johnson in production; he already has in leadership)?

I still don't like the deal, but if they are willing to re-up Childress and add more players, then maybe - JUST MAYBE - it makes sense.

- ES

Bret LaGree said...

Eric --

I don't know what they'll do. I suspect that if they add salary it will be accompanied by getting rid of the unpopular (with fans) players (Bibby and Marvin Williams) they overspent on last Summer.

It would make more sense (to me) were they to go over the luxury tax line this year with Childress playing on his qualifying offer than with using the MLE on someone or picking up a bad contract like Biedrins has. Right now, they're on the hook for $60 million to 8 guys for 2011-12 and have to extend Horford.

I have no idea where this money would come from which is why i suspect that they've included the caveat on spending money for "the right player." Then again, the main reason paying the luxury tax might be a necessity to win a second round game is an inability to identify the right players and paying heavily for familiar players.

Now, if they do add players, I still think another big gut should be well down their list. Just play Zaza and Horford together more often and you've got a good, reasonably priced 3-man post rotation. Adding a guy who can't play with Zaza and would possibly push Josh to the 3 seems counterproductive to me.

jrauch said...

It still strikes me as ownership being full of it. If they willing to open the purse strings, why not make a move at the trade deadline last year to add someone who might be a good fit for the stretch run? Someone to counter Dwight Howard perhaps?

I'm dreading the last three years of this deal.

Peter said...

Realistically, is any team going to take Bibby?