Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Atlanta Hawks Trade Mike Bibby, et al. For Kirk Hinrich

The trade: Mike Bibby, Mo Evans, Jordan Crawford, and Atlanta's 2011 first-round pick for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong.

There is more to this deal for the Hawks than Kirk Hinrich not being Mike Bibby. Though not the player he was, say, four seasons ago, Hinrich is still younger and better than Bibby today and Hinrich's strengths will not be as redundant while playing alongside Jamal Crawford.

Hinrich has a well-deserved reputation as a good defender and, even accounting for the diminishing effect of age, he will likely be more effective defending in front Josh Smith and Al Horford than he was in front of Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee. It should be remembered though that, even at his defensive peak, was never a great defender of point guards. His greatest strength was defending bigger guards where his long arms and tenacious effort off-the-ball made up for his lack of quickness (at least a lack relative to the league's quickest point guards) in ways those skills couldn't when defending point guards. Hinrich will pick up much of the slack Bibby left his teammates to deal with on the defensive end but won't do much to solve the problems caused by Crawford's (arguably worse) play on that end of the court.

Offensively, Hinrich should be (at least once he picks up the offense) able to match Bibby's contributions. Over their careers, they're both 37.9% three-point shooters. Going back to his time at Kansas, Hinrich has always been a far better shooter when spotting up than when coming off screens so he should feel comfortable playing off Joe Johnson, Crawford, Josh Smith, and Al Horford.

As for when the ball's in Hinrich's hands, unlike Bibby, he hasn't seen his assist rate crater yet. Hinrich's two-and-a-half years younger than Bibby and it's fair to assume that he'll be more dynamic as a pick-and-roll ball-handler than Bibby. If so, running pick-and-roll with the first unit might actually turn into pick-and-roll occasionally rather than just pick-and-pop. The flip side of that is that Hinrich will probably turn the ball over more often than Bibby.

Trading Mo Evans likely means more Damien Wilkins but if it means less Mo Evans plus Damien Wilkins, then it might help the Hawks marginally. When Jordan Crawford saw his playing time decrease upon Joe Johnson's injury, it appeared he was on the typical young Hawk career path. Who knows what kind of player he'll become but it's hard to envision him becoming a useful player here. Same goes for whoever the Hawks would have picked late in this summer's draft. For his part, Hilton Armstrong figures to slot in alongside Josh Powell and Etan Thomas to form a triumvirate of useless big men on the end of the bench.

Financially, the addition of Hinrich adds a few hundred thousand dollars to Atlanta's 2010-11 (though the Hawks remain approximately $200,000 under the luxury tax line) and 2011-12 payroll but his expiring deal should be far easier to deal than Bibby's after this season or during the next should the Hawks wish to do so. The inclusion of Crawford the Younger and the 2011 first-round pick will save the Hawks some future guaranteed money as well.

Hinrich is no longer good enough to make a real difference over a 25-game stretch but his good qualities will help the Hawks defend on the perimeter and may well make a positive difference for the Hawks in the matchup calculus of a seven-game series.


DirtyDirty said...

Nice balanced story from a professional Hawks blogger...I'm impressed you were able to wipe the spittle away from your mouth, ya Jayhawk!

I respect the Hawks' effort to do something (ANYTHING, please God!) to improve on previous years' efforts, but this trade seems like a lateral move. In essence, smoke and mirrors to distract Hawks fans from another first-round playoff series loss.

Hopefully, the trading away of young talent and future talent won't come back to bite them in the butt too bad. Perhaps this trade foretells a new freewheelin' & dealin' front office that will look to spend more on attracting big-name talent after the new CBA?

Bret LaGree said...

DirtyDirty --

Semi-professional Hawks blogger.

There is no doubt the Hawks are getting credit on this deal both for how horrible a decision it was to re-sign Bibby for that much, for that long, and for their poor record in drafting and developing players which rather undermines the positivity of adding a decent defensive guard and subtracting Bibby.

It'll be tough to spend more. They're a rounding error from the luxury tax line. There's always hope, however specious, that they'll start to spend better. More likely, they continue to trade old for slightly-less-old and overpaid for overpaid.

Lori Green said...

"For his part, Hilton Armstrong figures to slot in alongside Josh Powell and Etan Thomas to form a triumvirate of useless big men on the end of the bench."
Hilarious and, unfortunately, true. Good analysis. This is Josh who supplied the ticket to Hawks-Clippers contest that ended in Shakespearean fashion. Cheers.

Unknown said...

So, you know what I think...NOT A CHAMPIONSHIP MOVE. Changes absolutely nothing with regards to moving up even past the Knicks in the pecking order of the Eastern Conference, so it stinks. Why not get rid of Jamal Crawford and try to get a starter that matters? So, yes - we can survive with Teague and Jordan. And we have no draft pick next's just sickening how badly this organization has played this.

jrauch said...

To be fair, as Bret pointed out, its not as if the organization has placed any value on draft picks at all.

Sund has yet to draft anyone who's even a role player contributor on the team, and he'd rather spend picks on people like the third best Ukranian three point shooter, and a French guy who's Youtube highlight reel is set to an aria.

Unknown said...

Hinrich is an upgrade over Bibby at PG. There is no denying that; however, this trade still leaves me uninspired as it is not much more than a comical attempt to convince fans that the Hawks are actively pursuing a championship. Adding Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong does very little to close the massive gap between ATL and the top teams in the East. The fact that the Hawks were unwilling/unable to do more is remarkably frustrating. Maybe we should have just paid Joe more...

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