McGrady may not have the ability to dribble-penetrating ability that Atlanta so desperately needs, but he’s an incredibly cost-efficient addition capable of hedging against the seemingly inevitable loss of Jamal Crawford. The Hawks aren’t in a position where re-signing Crawford makes financial sense; they already have $66 million in salary committed for this season and $62 million committed next year, meaning that Crawford’s deal would likely push a solid — but firmly non-contending — team over the luxury tax line. Even beyond the practical consideration of overpaying a dwindling, inefficient scorer like Crawford, the financial realities for a tax-averse team like Atlanta make a re-signing a virtual impossibility.John Hollinger's player profile of McGrady (Insider) provides further reason for measured optimism:
Such is the reality for a franchise that presented Joe Johnson with a golden effigy on the first day of free agency last season, invested in Marvin Williams to the tune of $8 million a year, and took every shortcut there is to take in team construction.
All of which makes McGrady — who will join the Hawks on a one-year, minimum salary deal — an oddly reasonable signing.
For the league minimum, this is very likely the best the Hawks could possibly do. McGrady isn’t what he once was (and certainly isn’t Crawford), but this is a smart, economical move for a team with such a cluttered cap sheet.
McGrady was an intriguing player to watch last season because of the huge variance in his play from night to night. There were games when his legs were back and it looked like the old days -- soaring over defenders for jumpers, driving and finding open men, or dunking at the rim. Other nights you wanted to run out on the court and give him a Segway to get around.If Larry Drew can spot McGrady with anything approaching the alacrity with which he used Jason Collins for much of last season, the Hawks may have another interesting low-minute impact player. Maybe McGrady's comeback season in Detroit suffered from too much playing time and, if he doesn't have 1600 good minutes in him, he has 800.
Then there's the chance that signing McGrady signals something of a philosophical shift for the Hawks. Collins, reportedly, will return on a third consecutive one-year deal. Earl Watson, his value heavy on the defensive end as well, may serve as the injured Kirk Hinrich's understudy. And trading Jamal Crawford for Ronnie Brewer, whether it comes to pass or not, is emphatically not a typical move for this franchise.
Now, any or all of these signings come with a price. Namely, that none of these guys can shoot. But the Hawks should, with Josh Smith and Al Horford and (a healthy) Joe Johnson and (an on-court) Jeff Teague should be able to get away with having a defense-first player on the court at all times. Smith and Horford, in particular, have carried a heavy defensive workload to keep the Hawks a league average defensive club the past two seasons. Who knows what they could accomplish with a little help on the perimeter? A lighter defensive workload might even make a positive impact for them, and the team, on the offensive end.