Sunday, October 17, 2010

No New Reason To Worry About Horford Extension

This October 15th report from Michael Cunningham has received national attention regarding Al Horford's contract extension:
Horford said there's been no movement on contract extension negotiations between his representatives and the Hawks.
The lack of movement is not a huge deal, as there remain two weeks and a day until the deadline to extend Horford passes. But it is true that the Thunder (with Kevin Durant) and the Bulls (with Joakim Noah) have already completed their extension business with stars of the 2007 draft class.

Matt Moore at
Pro Basketball Talk:
It’s a tricky subject for the Hawks, who have to simultaneously make sure they don’t lose Horford and not overpay anymore than they have to with a new CBA being, ahem, hashed out.

Horford’s worth the money though, is the thing. More so than Johnson, honestly, when you factor in production on both sides of the ball and age. Horford is a top notch defender, much better defending the post than you’d think for a guy his size, holding opponents to a 36.2 FG% according to Synergy Sports. In a league with so few legit centers, that’s an incredible job for a guy everyone thinks is undersized for the 5.

While Jamal Crawford is a vital scoring component, the Hawks are treating Horford as the priority, and that’s the right move. But time’s running out. Something’s going to have to get done in the next two weeks or Horford’s stay in Atlanta could be up in the air.
Tom Ziller at NBA FanHouse:
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports there has been no progress on talks between Horford and the Hawks, who earlier this summer signed Joe Johnson to a six-year deal worth $123 million. Suddenly shy, the Hawks are believed to be looking more toward the range of Noah's $60 million deal than Durant's $80+ million contract.

Of course, as with all decisions these days, the NBA's uncertain labor future plays a role. If the players' salaries are sliced down in a new collective bargaining agreement, Horford could command less next summer, and with restricted free agency rights Atlanta could match any offer.

That, of course, assumes part of the new CBA isn't a hard cap that makes it impossible for the Hawks -- due to pay Johnson, Josh Smith, Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams and Zaza Pachulia roughly $50 million combined next season -- to offer Horford a decent contract. Owners have reportedly pushed for a hard cap in early labor negotiations, even though a hard cap would virtually destroy the rosters of the best teams.

It's a tricky balance. The Bulls were able to get Noah down to $60 million, and that'd be a no-brainer for Atlanta if Horford consented to a discount. But he recently switched agents, and that's not the sign of someone ready to settle for security over the biggest pay day possible. If Horford is indeed holding out for max money, and the Hawks don't give it but another team offers it next summer, well, the Hawks are no worse for the wear. But if the new CBA makes it impossible, that team has lost a huge part of its success.

We seem destined to see Horford unresolved until next summer, and it's going to be a pretty frightening ride for both sides.
Frightening? Perhaps, but not entirely unexpected and certainly not unprecedented. The Hawks, remember, allowed Josh Smith and Josh Childress both to become restricted free agents in the summer of 2008. Inexplicably, the organization was quite willing to lose Childress for nothing in return. Smith, they valued more highly, but still they did not reach an agreement with him until after he signed an offer sheet with the Memphis Grizzlies. The irony is that the 5-year, $58 million deal the Hawks matched for Smith is pretty clearly the best (non-rookie scale) contract on their books right now.

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