Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Narrow Defense Of Doing Nothing Right Now

First, the latest rumor...

Marc Stein reports that the Hawks are:
[T]he only team with a confirmed "live" interest in O’Neal. There are limitations to that interest.
Stein, again:
Shaq, at last report, still wants assurances of a healthy slice of playing time as well as a salary that starts above the $5.8 million mid-level exception, which can be achieved through a sign-and-trade with Cleveland. No team out there, including Atlanta, is known to be willing to pay Shaq more than $2 million for next season.
Shaq for $2 million next season makes far more sense than spending the MLE for X number of years on Shaq. Not that it's any more realistic than Joe Johnson agreeing to a 4-year, $60 million extension last Summer, but, hey, it's worth a shot. Presumably, were this highly unlikely agreement to come to pass, the Hawks would increase their collection of valuable trade chits from 0 to 1 (Zaza Pachulia) were they willing to risk using Jason Collins or similar dreck the 20-odd nights Shaq doesn't dress.

It shouldn't be a surprise that retaining Jason Collins is the sum total of reported free agent activity by the Hawks following the signing of Joe Johnson to a max contract. Even someone with a terrible record for prognostication could see it coming:
Signing Joe Johnson to a max deal will necessitate making future decisions based on finances rather than basketball...
The upshot, of course, is that the Hawks probably don't need Shaq or any other famous, aged center. And not just in the "they need a backup* for Marvin Williams, a point guard** in whom we can be confident, and a capable perimeter defender*** more" sense. The up-post Zaza Pachulia reference is likely one of the few**** you'll have noticed this Summer. Odd considering the number of centers who have been speculated about. So I offer this reminder from Zaza's season review:
[T]he Hawks [are] +5.3 per 100 possessions (Off Eff: 104.7 Def Eff: 99.4) over the last two seasons (totaling 963 offensive and 960 defensive possessions) with Horford and Pachulia playing alongside each other.
Sure it would be fun if the Hawks had the financial flexibility so as to speculate about them getting involved in the fire sales of Ramon Sessions or Brandon Bass but it's also important to keep in mind what the team has. Or, to quote from my (overly pessimistic, it turned out) preview of last season:
It’s tempting, in the transactional flurry of the off-season, to assume that if a team’s not busy getting better, it’s getting worse. When all that exists is potential, reward can overshadow risk and the act of reconstituting a 47-win team fails to capture the imagination.
Locking in the core of a 53-win team in such as way as to limit its chances of someday winning a championship isn't appealing but the 8- or 10-win player the team presumably needs to compete for a top-4 seed in the East in 2010-11 doesn't appear to be available right now. Throwing more money at non-existent roster problems for PR purposes isn't going to create many future opportunities to marshal what few resources the team currently possesses in service of real improvement.

*A job which should be easily filled on the cheap.

**Could be Jeff Teague.

***Could also be Jeff Teague.

****I blame Drew's absence.


Keith Box said...

Applause! I agree. Many want the Hawks to spend money for the sake of spending money, and it just doesn't make sense. Heck! I posted my thoughts on possibly resigning Jason Collins over at Soaring Down South, and I criticized them because it would actually be more cost effective to have used the 31st pick in the draft on a 3rd big man than to spend $1.3 million on Collins. I used Gani Lawal as the example.

You made a reference in another post that not giving Shaq the MLE doesn't prove the Hawks aren't willing to pay the luxury tax. I agree with that. I have no idea if they are willing or not, but I'm betting that if they could make a deal for Chris Paul, even if it meant taking on Emeka Okafor's contract, then they would go over the tax to do it. I really doubt that deal is on the table, and there really isn't a possibility for one unless the Hawks were willing to take on Gilbert Arenas's contract and hope that he can get back to being the 8-10 win share player he was 3 years ago.

Jason Walker said...

I blame myself for the lack of Zaza attention.

Just can't match the master.

The P-Hoops love for Zaza will always be there....sort of a love emeritus.

jrauch said...

I agree there doesn't seem to be the "the guy" out there right now to fix the Hawks' woes, but given how horribly the organization has hamstrung itself in terms of resources, we don't have the ability to fill-in those lesser yet still pressing needs either.

It seems the smart personnel in the NBA are obsessed with retaining flexibility in the roster, and leaving yourself escape routes if a choice doesn't pan out. Doesn't seem like we're too interested in doing that.

Bronnt said...

The Hawks also don't have a back-up 4, so there's another need. I'm just waiting the notice that we've resigned Joe Smith for the veteran minimum.

Bret LaGree said...

Bronn --

True, and that's seems like a great opportunity to take a chance on someone young with some semblance of upside. Zaza should play the bulk of the minutes behind Smith and Horford which would allow a young player to be spotted minutes with favorable matchups.

Odds of that transpiring are probably slight, however.

Keith Box said...

Which is why the Hawks screwed the pooch by trading that 31st pick for nothing. That back up power foward slot would have been filled nicely by Gani Lawal or Jarvis Varnado.