Monday, November 01, 2010

The Point Forward: Lowe: Hawks Follow Mistake With Good Deal

Zach Lowe commends the Atlanta Hawks for extending Al Horford but, quite reasonably, ponders what the team could do to improve:
Al Horford is off the list of potential 2011 free agents. The 24-year-old big man agreed to a five-year, $60 million extension with the Hawks on Monday, earning him the same money as Chicago’s Joakim Noah, about the same as teammate Josh Smith and a tad more than some other quality bigs, including Andrea Bargnani. And the Hawks have managed to lock up Horford, just 24, without overpaying him. With an average annual salary of $12 million, Horford will make less than fellow bigs David Lee, LaMarcus Aldridge and Emeka Okafor.

It’s a fair deal. Unfortunately, like everything else the Hawks do for the next half-decade, it must be viewed in the context of the disastrous $124 million contract they gave 29-year-old (!) Joe Johnson just a few months ago. With Horford locked up, the Hawks, as constituted now, won’t have any significant cap room until after the 2013-2014 season. The cap this season is nearly $58 million, and though a significant salary rollback in the new collective bargaining agreement might give the Hawks a little bit of relief next season, it’s hard to envision a rollback large enough to change their cap situation in any major way.


So, essentially, this is the team. And it’s a good team — one capable of winning 50 games every season, and one that should see Smith and Horford get better over the next few seasons. The Hawks are counting on that sort of internal improvement to make them a title contender and not just a solid playoff team. They’ll need Marvin Williams, under contract through 2013-14, to find a more varied offensive game even as he continues to lose minutes this season to Jamal Crawford. They’ll need Jeff Teague to be a competent NBA starting point guard next season. And they’ll need to be creative with the draft and the mid-level exception, which they did not use last summer.

The Hawks’ biggest fault was re-signing Johnson to a max deal. The argument that “we had to sign Johnson or lose him for nothing” just doesn’t hold water. Teams never have to do anything. There is always an option, even if that option is losing Johnson for nothing, or maybe just a trade exception and a future first-round pick. Because those options are better than the alternative: crippling your team’s cap situation for a half-decade.


Rufus1 said...

Signing Joe was a MUST.

Not signing Joe would have beed more destructive to the teams future, by the loss of attendance and apathy.

The lose of Joe would cause a 15-20 games decrease in wins and a 7000 person decrease in attendance.

7000 people at $50 a ticket over 41= $14,350,000 in ticket sales alone. That doesn't include food, merchandise and advertising. Joe's lose could amount to over 30mil a year in revenue for this team, in this city. Unless they could sign a player of equal caliber, they had no choice.

They did have a choice in signing AL. We have 3 PF that start for this team already. In the offseason we could have signed a true center like Prizbilla and signed jamal to an extension.

Every article I read about the Hawks talk about Joe's contract and how bad it is, but he would have recieved a max deal from every team that wanted him....So why are the Hawks so dump for signing their best player on a 53 win team.

PS... Bosh(overrated), Boozer(injury prone and no defense), Amare(injury prone and no defense) , Lee(overrated system player) ,are equally over paid...BUT NO ONe CALLS THEIR MANAGEMENT STUPID.

(The Bulls are also paying Deng 13mil a year, and the Hawks management are the "Dumb Ones")

Rufus1 said...


Bret LaGree said...

Rufus1 --

If you believe that Joe Johnson is the Hawks' best player, will continue to be the Hawks' best player, is worth 15-20 wins a season, and is a major drawing card then the contract makes sense.

You believe that, the organization appears to believe that, and no one else does (especially regarding beliefs #3 and #4 above).

Which is a large part of why I value and appreciate your presence here.

Rufus1 said...


I appreciate the opportunity to express my thoughts.

jrauch said...

Problem with contracts is you're paying for future performance, not past performance. Its a tough gauge, no question about it.

Al as a 24-year old post player has a lot of upside. As does Josh Smith and Marvin (though his contract will be another anchor on the roster for the coming years).

But JJ as a high mileage, 29-year-old shooting guard, who's never in the top 20 in PER, who can't get to the free throw line reliably, and isn't exactly the glue holding that locker room together. Oh, and he's been awful in the playoffs.

Why you pay that guy $124 mln for the next 6 years is beyond me.