Several GMs believe the Hawks won't be able to keep Johnson ($18.5 million in 2011-12), Josh Smith ($12.5 million in 2011-12), Marvin Williams ($8 million in 2011-12) and Horford ($10 million in 2011-12) together past this season for financial reasons.Obviously, trading Josh Smith because you gave Joe Johnson (and, to a lesser extent, Marvin Williams or Mike Bibby) a ridiculous contract makes no sense. Perhaps Smith's recalcitrant behavior is incurable. Then again, investing in a proven NBA coach, himself hypothetically a bit of a disciplinarian, might have been a cost effective manner of maximizing the team's investment in the only player on the roster who could possibly become a franchise player.
While Horford's new salary won't push the Hawks into the luxury tax, it will put them very close. The move means they won't be able to afford to re-sign Jamal Crawford, or replace him with a similar salaried player next season, without incurring the tax.
That situation is already leading to speculation that GM Rick Sund may be forced to put Smith on the market soon. Sund briefly flirted with trading Smith last summer, before pulling back. While no one is claiming he's been made available yet, a number of GMs around the league expect his name to be in the mix by the February trade deadline.
Williams would be the Hawks' first choice to move, but he didn't get a lot of bites when he was available this summer. That could push them to see what they can get for Smith.
A number of teams including the Knicks, Nets, Pistons, and Suns have shown interest in the high-flying forward in the past. It will be interesting to see if talks heat up as we get closer to February.
ShamSports is back online now so I can, as close to officially as possible, note the 2011-12 salary commitment of the Atlanta Hawks (assuming Horford's deal is for $12 million per year) as $65.245 million for eight players and the 2012-13 commitment as $62.77 million for seven players.
That latter number should put Mike Bibby's expiring contract in perspective.
In news related to filling out a bench cheaply and possibly even productively, Nick Fazekas will be the first pick on the D-League Draft tonight. Click through and you'll see that I did not get a mention in (friend of the blog) Rob Mahoney's piece. There is much work yet to be done.