Showing posts with label salary cap. Show all posts
Showing posts with label salary cap. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Future

Through two trades announced within a couple of hours of each other on Monday, Danny Ferry transformed the Atlanta Hawks from one of the most capped-out teams in the league to one that will have $30-40 million in cap space next Summer when Chris Paul and Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum and James Harden and Serge Ibaka will all be free agents. And cap space isn't just for signing free agents. It gives an organization the flexibility to take advantage of other teams' dysfunction to add quality players and assets. A numbingly cautious and predictable organization became bold and opened itself up to countless possibilities.

The Hawks are going to be far more interesting now that their ambitions extend beyond hosting a couple of second-round playoff games but greater ambitions and smart management provides no guarantee of greater success. Kevin Pritchard couldn't turn and Daryl Morey hasn't turned sound methodology into a championship contending team. Sam Presti runs a model franchise but it's got to be better than even money the Thunder don't win an NBA title on his watch. Danny Ferry was there as the Spurs saw what might be their last hurrah turn from two months of glorious basketball into playoff elimination in the course of a week. For all the ambition, talent, and hubris collected in Miami, Pat Riley and the Heat felt both accomplishment and relief in winning the NBA title. It's terribly difficult to win a championship.

Here's the thing: reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history won't be all that satisfying if the Hawks lose that series. That's the nature of fandom. Team success breeds desire for more success. For now, for the first time in a very long time*, the desires of the Atlanta Hawks and the desires of Atlanta Hawks fans are in sync. I think we have to enjoy that, embrace the possibilities or the playoff losses and the injuries (in various degrees, both will come) will won't make it feel like a better place. For Hawks fans, it is.

*I don't count the Joe Johnson sign-and-trade. That was a move made out of desperation and insecurity, one that diverted resources which could have been used for rebuilding into the acquisition of an above average player. It laid the foundation for an era of competency despite mismanagement, realized only through moving up in the 2007 lottery and drafting Al Horford to pair with Josh Smith. The Hawks didn't have a winning record until you could honestly argue that one of those two, rather than Johnson, was the best player on the team.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Seven Reasons Why the Hawks Won't Trade For Chris Kaman

Marc Stein reports:
The New Orleans Hornets are actively trying to trade center Chris Kaman, who was not with the team for its home game Friday night against Orlando as the league-owned Hornets field trade calls for him.

The Hornets have decided to shelve Kaman until they can find a trade home for him after making the decision to give his minutes to young players. Kaman had been made inactive for Wednesday's loss at Oklahoma City even though he's not injured.
1) Chris Kaman makes $14 million this season and the Hawks are still over the luxury tax line. Per Sham Sports:
[P]layers with less than two years experience that are signed to the minimum salary are, for luxury tax purposes only, counted as having the minimum salary of a two year veteran/third year player. Therefore, Greg Stiemsma's $762,195 salary and cap hit is treated as $854,389 for tax calculations, and only for tax calculations. The same is true of the first- or second-year minimum salaries being paid to Mickell Gladness and Terrel Harris of Miami, Donald Sloan and Ivan Johnson of Atlanta, and Gary Neal and Malcolm Thomas of San Antonio.
2) Related: The Hawks lost $15 million last season. That's without paying the luxury tax, receiving their share of the luxury tax paid by other teams, and playing six home playoff games. Also related: There's no one with money who wants to buy the team.

3) Chris Kaman has been good and healthy exactly once in the last four seasons. A better record than Jerry Stackhouse or Jason Collins...maybe this isn't the best example. However, I doubt present-day Chris Kaman will or should be the guy for whom the Hawks go over the tax line.

4) Chris Kaman's an okay player. So is Zaza Pachulia. So is Kirk Hinrich can play. So is Marvin Williams. So might be next year's first round draft pick. The Hawks would have to give up some combination of the four to acquire Kaman. Plus, if the Hawks choose to trade another first-round pick, it should be traded for someone better than Chris Kaman if this team's going to improve significantly.

5) The Atlanta Hawks think that Jason Collins can play in a general, rather than highly specialized, sense.

6) Though the Hawks are having a very good season, so are the Bulls and the Heat and the 76ers. The Hawks' playoff chances are a function of both their quality and the quality of the rest of the conference. The Eastern Conference is seriously top-heavy. The Hawks are without Al Horford, they don't know if he'll be back for the playoffs, and being without him has made a difference:

2011-12Off EffDef EffDiff
w/ Horford109.2100.6+8.6
w/o Horford104.2100.4+3.8

Is this really the season the Hawks should completely throw financial caution to the wind?

7) The Hawks already made their big move. They locked up Joe Johnson in full knowledge that doing so would severely limit their flexibility. Expecting a subsequent blockbuster trade or free agent signing seriously misreads the powers that be.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Amnesty Options for the Atlanta Hawks

Assuming the new CBA gets ratified by both players and owners, it will contain the following amnesty provision:
  • Each team permitted to waive 1 player prior to any season of the CBA (only for contracts in place at the inception of the CBA) and have 100% of the player’s salary removed from team salary for Cap and Tax purposes.
  • Salary of amnestied players included for purposes of calculating players’ agreed-upon share of BRI.
  • A modified waiver process will be utilized for players waived pursuant to the Amnesty rule, under which teams with Room under the Cap can submit competing offers to assume some but not all of the player’s remaining contract. If a player’s contract is claimed in this manner, the remaining portion of the player’s salary will continue to be paid by the team that waived him.
The Hawks are in a pretty terrible position with regard to the salary cap: about $7 million over the cap (counting neither the unguaranteed deals to Pape Sy and Magnum Rolle nor cap holds for the empty roster spaces) despite having just seven players under contract for the 2011-12 season and only $4 million scheduled to come off the books (and some guaranteed money to be added should the team keep its first round draft pick) after the season. The Hawks are both unlikely to pay the luxury tax and unlikely to get under the salary cap by any significant amount for either the 2011-12 or 2012-13 seasons.

What follows may be an academic exercise. The current ownership group chose to keep Randolph Morris on the roster to play 124 minutes in 2009-10 rather than pay him the $855,189 he was guaranteed and either use his roster spot on someone potentially useful or sign an additional player who might have been more productive. Admittedly, this history creates plausibility problems for the options discussed below, wherein ASG would choose to risk paying 10 times as much as Morris was due in 2009-10 for a far more useful professional basketball player not to play for the Hawks.

So, disclaiming the very real possibility that the Hawks will never use the amnesty provision of the new, tentatively agreed-upon CBA, the team has three potential amnesty options:

1) Kirk Hinrich -- Using the amnesty provision on Hinrich would be the cheapest option as his pro-rated 2011-12 salary will be around $6.5 million. Presumably, using the provision on Hinrich would be a short-term move inspired by a desire to use the MLE*, the Bi-Annual Exception, or just fill out the back end of the roster with veterans rather than the likes of Pape Sy, Keith Benson, Magnum Rolle, or their inexperienced (and cheaper) ilk. I suspect the Hawks are more likely to trade Hinrich than use the amnesty provision on him.

*Choosing to amnesty Hinrich in order to use the MLE to re-sign Jamal Crawford is probably the worst of all potential choices.


2) Marvin Williams -- If the Hawks amnesty Williams before this season starts, they'll still owe him $25 million and would be under the salary cap, but by less than $1 million and with seven roster to spots to fill. If the Hawks amnesty Williams before next season, they'd owe him just under $17 million and would be below $52 million in salary owed (not counting a 2012 first round pick's guaranteed contract) to the five remaining players under contract.

As the Hawks don't gain much flexibility by just using the amnesty provision on Williams before this season begins (though the combination of amnestying Williams and trading Hinrich might have interesting consequences), the number and type of players other teams amnesty will likely impact the Hawks' decision. If a bunch of teams use the amnesty provision immediately, then it's less likely Williams would draw sufficient interest under the third part of the amnesty provision wherein another team currently under the cap would defray some of the money Atlanta owes him. However, that might mean that Williams would draw greater interest as an amnestied free agent next summer when teams had fewer options from which to choose.

The reverse is not necessarily true. Even if the majority of teams hold on to their amnesty provision, Williams' market value is at an all-time low right now so the Hawks might not benefit from a thin market of amnestied players in December.

3) Joe Johnson -- If things go south (or even stagnate) for the Hawks over the course of this season and the next, 2013 could hold massive rebuilding potential for the team. Al Horford, Joe Johnson, and Jeff Teague (if the Hawks make a qualifying offer for him) are the only players currently under contract beyond the end of the 2012-13 season.

If rebuilding becomes a reality, the Hawks would also figure to have their 2012 and 2013 first round picks under contract, plus the haul from a Josh Smith trade (as it's highly unlikely the Hawks will just let Smith leave via free agency). In such a scenario, the Hawks might have enough players on team-friendly contracts that it would make sense both to pay Joe Johnson the remaining $69 million in order to get that cap space back and pursue free agents in 2013 and 2014.

Because of that third part of the amnesty provision, there is a chance that it would make sense for a team under the salary cap to assume some of Joe Johnson's contract and defray the cost to the Hawks of using the amnesty provision on Johnson. Again, it's not that Joe Johnson is a worthless basketball player, it's just that he's not going to be worth $20+ million dollars a year for his age 32-34 seasons.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

AJC.com: Cunningham: Rick Sund Q&A

Michael Cunningham asked Rick Sund some relevant questions. Sund responded with a mix of defensiveness:
Q. Do you think this core group has peaked?

No.

Q. How can it be better?

In some ways it might be a little bit like Dallas, although we were younger than Dallas. Dallas went three straight years with disappointing playoffs and eliminated in the first round and I think that prompted Cuban the other day to grab the mic and say, ‘For all you people that didn’t believe in us . . . ‘ Because they kept their core group together including Kidd and Nowitzki and Marion and they got criticized for that quite a bit. And they got beat pretty much embarrassingly, by their standards, in the last three years. I think we have learned along the way. We will look at the possibility of making our team better. We do every year. We’ve made two major trades the last two years and we will continue to look and see if there is something that makes us better.

Q. You look at Dallas, they did make a trade that helped them so...

Yeah, well, you asked me about the core group and that’s what I’m responding to. The core group of our players have, I think, improved every single year. I’ve had that question every year, even the year I got here: Can this core group get even better? And they have, I think, in terms of ultimately the playoffs.

Q. So you are not inclined to break it up?

I didn’t say that. I said we will continue to look. Your question was, ‘Can this core be competitive again?’ I think we were pretty competitive in the playoffs. I think we can continue to do it but I think we will look, like we do every year, to see if we can do something to make our club better.
dismissiveness:
Q. Larry’s offense didn’t go the way he planned as far as getting team to play that style all the time. Do you still think this...

I don’t know. You have got to ask that question to Larry.
and a reinforcement of the organization's central delusion:
Q. Joe got the contract and he had his worst year since he’s been here. He’s getting older, he had the injury, so are you concerned...

Well, I don’t worry about the old. When I am seeing Jason Kidd and Nowitzki and the Wades and all these people in their 30s, that doesn’t bother me.
At this point, I genuinely don't care what Rick Sund says, only what he does (and even then with a number of caveats concerning the degree of authority he has in making basketball-related decisions). Hence the lack of further analysis in this space.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

ShamSports: Tax Payers, Trade Kickers, and Other Deadline Day Bookkeeping

From ShamSports, some details for anyone wondering if/when the Atlanta Hawks could add a 15th player to balance out the roster without paying the luxury tax:
Atlanta's trade for Kirk Hinrich did not push them into luxury tax territory, but it did push them really, really close to it. Specifically, their tax number now stands at $70,140,069, a mere $166,932 below the luxury tax. They also have little depth on the wings now, and they have only a 14 man roster, one of whom is the unsuitable Pape Sy. So if one or two players get injured, and they need to bring in some reinforcements, they will now struggle to do so. Indeed, if they want to sign someone to a minimum salary contract for the remainder of the season, they must wait until March 12th until they can do so without becoming luxury tax payers. But then, this is the team with the third highest committed salary in the whole league. They are not fiscally responsible. Oh and additionally, how do they justify giving up both Crawford AND a pick?
I suspect the Hawks gave up both Jordan Crawford and a pick because 1) the Hawks really wanted to get rid of Mike Bibby and 2) the Hawks will be interested in any deal that removes a couple million in future guaranteed salaries off the books.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Atlanta Hawks Sign Damien Wilkins For Remainder of Season

The Atlanta Hawks have signed Damien Wilkins for the remainder of the season. It's not been announced on the team's website but a press release has been sent to the outlets to which the Hawks send press releases.

Wilkins cost the Hawks $226,484 during his first stint with the team, $50,258 for each of his two 10-day contracts, and will cost (assuming my math is correct) about $515,000 more for the remainder of the season. Add it all up, and the Hawks will end up paying Wilkins about $10,000 less than the two-year veteran's minimum and will sit between $500,000 and $600,000 below the luxury tax line.

If my math is wrong, I'll run a correction once ShamSports is updated.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

SI.com: The Point Forward: LaGree: Average Hawks in Need of Financial Creativity

Given the opportunity to help fill in for the vacationing Zach Lowe, I jumped at the chance to play Nate Robinson to his Rajon Rondo at The Point Forward on SI.com. They asked me to write about Rick Sund's belief in improving by staying the same:
Given that Philips Arenas has been, on average, at 75 percent capacity this season and that the franchise has not won a second-round playoff game since 1997, deciding to stay below the luxury-tax threshold is perfectly reasonable.

The lack of creativity in spending their limited resources is less so. Does any team (at least as 2011 dawns) need Mo Evans and Damien Wilkins? Both Jason Collins and Etan Thomas? Simply limiting themselves to one aging role player per position would create some financial flexibility while freeing up a couple of roster spots for younger players capable of augmenting the core in the present and possibly providing greater value in the future.

Unless the organization is willing to accept diminishing returns from their long-standing belief in sticking with more of the same, cutting back on aging role players may be a necessary change.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Atlanta Hawks Sign Damien Wilkins

The Atlanta Hawks signed Damien Wilkins to provide nominal depth on the wing in Joe Johnson's absence. Wilkins will get the pro-rated veteran's minimum contract, which will put the Hawks within approximately $760,000 of the luxury tax line.

Why did the Hawks add Damien Wilkins?

Larry Drew:
"I think we’ll get a hard-nosed player, a guy who plays hard. A good defensive player who gives us a guy with size that can defend the [shooting guard] and the [small forward] spot. I’m more focused on his energy and the toughness that he brings and he’s a solid defensive player. That’s something you can never have enough of. We are very pleased to have him on board."
So, is there any evidence that Wilkins is a good defensive player? According to Basketball-Reference.com, Wilkins has never posted a Defensive Rating better than 110 and that came in limited minutes in 2004-05. As a point of reference, last season Joe Johnson had a defensive rating of 110. Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford both had defensive ratings of 111, the same as Wilkins each of the last four seasons.

A player's defensive rating is highly dependent on the quality of a team's defense. Wilkins was part of the league's third-worst (or 28th-best, if you're a glass half full type) defense in Minnesota last season, the 20th-best defense in Oklahoma city in 2008-09, and four Seattle teams that never ranked higher than 22nd in the league in defense.

Perhaps Wilkins kept those bad defenses from being even worse. BasketballValue.com has on/off data for Wilkins from the past three seasons (this is defense so a negative differential is good):

SeasonOnOffDiff
2007-08111.4107.8+3.6
2008-09108.7108.9-0.2
2009-10111.1111.8-0.7

82games.com has on/off data going further back:

SeasonOnOffDiff
2004-05114.1109.9+4.2
2005-06114.1116.5-2.4
2006-07113.4109.9+3.5

The only time Damien Wilkins has had a measurable, positive impact on his team's defense he played for a legendarily bad defensive team. Still, one can find references to Wilkins's defensive aptitude. Kevin Pelton and Bradford Doolittle have, respectively, referred to Wilkins as an "above-average" and a "solid" defender in the past two editions of Pro Basketball Prospectus despite Wilkins grading out at -3 (on a scale that runs from +5 (good) to -5 (bad)) according to Doolittle's NBAPET skill ratings in both books.

As for the rest of his game, Wilkins is a poor shooter from everywhere except the free throw line, an average-at-best rebounder compared to shooting guards, a significantly below average rebounder compared to small forwards, and has been more likely to turn the ball over than earn an assist over his six-year career.

But hey, he's 30 years old, and is a recognizable name in at least two cities, one of which still has an NBA team.

In short, the addition of Wilkins is unlikely to help anyone other than the guy who sells Pape Sy his suits.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Other Part of the CBA Dispute

Will take place between the owners. As Matt Ozanian of Forbes explains (HT: Kurt Helin at ProBasketballTalk):
Tying team payrolls to league-wide revenue (currently about 50% of total revenue goes towards player compensation and benefits in each of four leagues) has served to make high-revenue teams enormously profitable and low-revenue teams unprofitable, or marginally so, relative to their rivals. The growing distortion in profitability has resulted in a bigger gap in team values…

The NBA had total operating income of $234 million during the 2008-09 season (our 2010 valuations and profits will be published in February). But three teams (Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons) accounted for 64% of the league’s profits and 12 teams lost money.

...

The conventional wisdom is that salary caps benefit poorer teams. But in reality they benefit richer teams more. The owners know this, of course. Which is why the real bare knuckles fighting in the current collective bargaining negotiations in these three sports is among owners.
Whether the Hawks are still losing money or breaking-even at this point in time, it's important remember that, should the Hawks cross the luxury tax line (they are less than $1.5 million below the tax line), not only would they have to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax for their spending above the line, they would forfeit their one-thirtieth share of the luxury tax money that goes to all teams under the luxury tax line.

Given the realities of Atlanta as a basketball market (even ignoring any self-inflicted limitations of the market created or exacerbated by this ownership group), it's difficult to imagine a scenario wherein it makes financial sense for the Hawks to go over the luxury tax line given the current structure of the CBA. Of course, that's also an argument for not getting so close to the luxury tax line and handcuffing the organization on the court for years to come.

Monday, November 15, 2010

ESPN.com: Stein: Testing the Early Trade Winds

Marc Stein reports the Sacramento Kings offered the Atlanta Hawks Jason Thompson for Jeff Teague:
It wasn't long ago that Thompson, selected with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2008 draft, and Spencer Hawes were being touted as the Kings' frontcourt tandem of the future.

Now?

Thompson is averaging just 15.4 minutes per game off the bench and has been shopped by the Kings, who according to one source with knowledge of the talks offered the 6-11, 250-pounder to Atlanta in a deal featuring young point guard Jeff Teague. The Hawks declined.
I presume the Hawks declined the offer (assuming that "featuring" means that Teague and Thompson were the two best players in the proposed deal) because of the lack of cover this would leave the Hawks at the point rather than any satisfaction in Josh Powell's performance. If you're going to use a horrible defender as your backup power forward, I suspect you'd rather he be a younger player who can score than an offensive black hole.

Another reason the Hawks may have turned the deal down: unlike Powell or the two-headed third-string center monster, they'd have had to pay Jason Thompson's entire salary this season and the next. Bad contracts limit a team's options in lots of ways.

More from the other perspective courtesy of Tom Ziller at Sactown Royalty

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.

TrueHoop: Ford: Hawks' Next Move?

Chad Ford on what less than zero cap space through at least 2013 might mean for the Atlanta Hawks:
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.

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.
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.

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.

AJC.com: Cunningham: Hawks, Horford Agree to 5-year, $60 Million Contract Extension

Michael Cunningham reports that the Atlanta Hawks have agreed to a 5-year, $60 million contract extension with Al Horford:
Atlanta’s All-Star center and his agent, Arn Tellem, met with the team this afternoon finalize the deal, which also is expected to include performance incentives. The sides had until the end of business today to reach an agreement or Horford would have become a restricted free agent next summer.

“It happened like I’ve been predicting–down to the wire,” Horford said today after practice. “When we finally kind of agreed on everything, I was super excited.”

Horford’s deal is similar to the contract extension signed by Bulls center Joakim Noah, whom he teamed with to win two NCAA championships at the University of Florida. The Hawks selected Horford with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 draft while Noah was picked No. 9 by Chicago.

The Hawks and Tellem opened negotiations at the start of training camp but there was little movement in talks as recently as two weeks ago. With the deadline approaching, the two sides met this weekend and worked out a deal.

“From the moment he arrived in Atlanta, Al has been a large part of our success,” Hawks GM Rick Sund said in a statement released by the team. “The winning tradition he brought to the franchise as a rookie out of Florida has extended to three consecutive playoff seasons in a Hawks uniform. In addition, he was deservedly recognized as an All-Star last year, and we certainly look forward to his continued development as we move forward.”

Horford was eligible for an extension for as many as five years and as much as $82 million under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires in June. The final terms of the extension could possibly be altered when the league and players agree to a new CBA but Horford would have a contract that must be honored.

Horford has said all along he hoped to sign an extension because he likes Atlanta and his teammates and believes the team is headed in the right direction.

“It’s great to be able to get it done and have peace of mind,” Horford said. “It makes me able to come out and just focus on basketball, which is my priority to begin with. So I’m happy about that part.”
The Hawks now have eight players under contract for next season. Depending on the details of Horford's extension, the money due those eight players will be somewhere north of $60 million. The 2010-11 salary cap is $58.044 million.

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.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Atlanta Hawks Exercise Third-Year Option On Jeff Teague

Read the amusingly post-dated press release. Teague's 2011-12 salary will be $1,579,920 bringing next year's salary commitment to $52.45 million for seven players. That figure will rise (as will the number of players under contract) once Al Horford's contract extension gets done.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

FanHouse: Tomasson: Rookie Contract Extension Deadline Extended

Good news if one assumes the Hawks will never pass up an opportunity to take a little more time to make a decision:
NBA teams will have one extra day this fall to make what could be some tough decisions on contract extensions.

NBA senior vice president of basketball communications Tim Frank confirmed Thursday that teams have until Nov. 1, rather than the usual Oct. 31, to make decisions on rookie contract extensions. The extra day is because Oct. 31 falls on a Sunday, so the deadline reverts to the next business day.

The deadline affects teams deciding whether to pick up the third- and fourth-year contract options of players drafted in the 2009 and 2008 first rounds and whether to sign players selected in the 2007 first round to extensions or let them become restricted free agents next summer.
Most prominently, this affects Al Horford but Jeff Teague's third-year option falls under this provision as well.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pape Sy Contract Details

Michael Cunningham reports that the Atlanta Hawks signed Pape Sy to a three-year deal, with the first year fully guaranteed for the rookie minimum of $473,604. That brings the team's 2010-11 salary commitments to $68,883,805, leaving the Hawks $1,423,195 below the luxury tax threshold with one open roster spot remaining. The buyout agreed with STB Le Havre was approximately $125,000.

Cunningham also quotes Rick Sund on the subject of Sy spending time in the D-League. Sund:
"It gives us another young guy who we can develop and maybe send to the D-League and get some experience. He could help us down the line."
Though any expectations should be seriously tempered and flexible due to Sy's limited production in limited minutes in both France* and summer league, keep the words Sund used, especially "could" and "down the line," foremost in the mind when forming them.

*To be fair, Sy played almost as many minutes as Etan Thomas and Jason Collins combined last season, albeit in the France.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jamal Crawford, Al Horford Contract Extension Roundup

At Ball Don't Lie, Kelly Dwyer aptly explains why Jamal Crawford should want a new deal or a new team and why the Hawks shouldn't offer an extension:
You see, the Hawks have declined to offer last year's Sixth Man Award winner a contract extension, which I think they're right to do. Assuming they pass on trading Jamal, the Hawks would have traded for the best two years of Crawford's prime, while admittedly paying a hefty price (right at $20 million, over two years) for the rights to it. Extending this guy beyond 2010-11 at anything more than half of what he's making now would be a bit daft.

But Crawford, assuming he and his representatives start to do a better job of keeping their wishes under wraps, is well within his rights to try and push for a deal (or new deal, with the extension) before training camp hits. A full season with a new team would allow for that new team - provided some approximation of the current salary cap rules carry over to the next Collective Bargaining Agreement - to go over the salary cap limit to re-sign him after this deal expires. And Crawford - a one-dimensional player who would be 31 at the time of his free agency - doesn't want to be seeking out a new deal amongst what few teams have salary cap space next summer.
Mark Bradley sees Crawford's demand as a microcosm of a franchise in competitive and financial limbo:
There was a time when the Hawks seemed a rousing success story: A team of young guys growing up together and learning to win. What we’re seeing is that NBA success carries a higher and higher price. A franchise cannot hold its core together for years on end without paying dearly, and paying dearly essentially means overpaying. The Hawks overpaid Johnson because they had no real alternative: To lose him would have meant losing much of the credibility they’ve spent the past decade trying to re-establish.

The price for credibility, alas, was flexibility. The Hawks have almost none. To give Jamal Crawford what he wants would be throwing more big money at a shooting guard already past 30 in the same offseason that has seen them lavish a six-year contract on a 29-year-old who plays the same position. To trade Crawford would be to weaken the team he helped lift from 47 victories to 53. There might be a happy ending to this latest Hawks tempest, but I’ll be darned if I see it.
Sekou Smith concentrates on how Jamal Crawford and Al Horford are linked in terms of the Hawks' financial future and how the team's actions show they're already planning to be without Crawford by the start of the 2011-12 season:
Muddying matters even more for the Hawks is the status of All-Star center Al Horford, who is eligible for an extension of his rookie deal (and according to HT sources will receive a near-max extension offer before the Oct. 31 deadline).

If the Hawks are forced to choose between Crawford and Horford, Crawford might as well pack his bags and be prepared to move on for the fourth time in four years (and there is no indication that the Hawks intend to hand out lucrative extensions to both players, especially after they spent $124 million to keep Johnson this summer).

No one can dispute the impact he had on the Hawks and the fact that with him they remain a dangerous team in a stacked Eastern Conference playoff chase. But making extension/trade demands surely won’t endear him to the fans or to an organization that is extremely sensitive about its already fragile public image. It’d also be a terrible welcome-to-the-job gift for Hawks coach Larry Drew, whose relationship with Crawford was rock solid last season.

But the first sign that his idea of his value and the Hawks’ perception of his value didn’t jive is when second-year point guard Jeff Teague became the first option to replace Mike Bibby as the starting point guard instead of Crawford.

If Crawford backs down from his stance and shows up to training camp with the Hawks, he’s tossed whatever leverage he might have had in the trash can and basically accepted the fact that he’s the most expendable person in the organization. Truth be told, the Hawks already have his replacement under contract. Rookie guard Jordan Crawford would just have to be rushed into duty a little sooner than perhaps expected.
Smith's solution? Crawford and Josh Smith for Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith.

It's an interesting hypothetical, one which, were it to come to pass would certainly challenge the idea that defense wins championships.

At Pro Basketball Talk, Kurt Helin underlines Al Horford's importance to the Hawks and how the league's economic structure works to his advantage:
The question is how much to pay him -- Smith reports a near max deal is coming. Is that fair market value? Depends on how you look at the market. If Rudy Gay is worth max money in Memphis, then Horford is in that ballpark. If you are of the opinion that only the Kobe/LeBron one-named guys who can fill a building are max guys, than no. But then you hate the whole economic structure of the NBA (and probably are an owner). Either way, Horford is in for a big payday.

Horford averaged 14 points a game last season on a team that barely ever runs a play for him. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith get all the shots, Horford shoots a good 55 percent but can't get a touch for long stretches. Maybe the motion offense new coach Larry Drew is bringing in will change that.

Horford can also defend. People that only saw him try to stick with Dwight Howard in the playoffs may dispute that, but that's unfair. First, nobody defends Dwight Howard well. Second, Horford is charged with protecting the rim on a team where the defensively challenged Mike Bibby and Johnson are your starting guards. There are guys slashing into the lane with impunity. Horford does a lot to keep order down there, as much as you could hope for.

Horford may really be a four, in the sense that you can put a Pau Gasol or Chris Bosh at the five but they are really fours, too. Not that Horford is quite on the level of those two, but the step down isn't as far as people think. He's good, just in a place where his skills have not been well utilized. Maybe that will change.
Kelly Dwyer advises the Hawks that they have options when it comes to extending Horford:
Unless you feel as if Al Horford(notes) is some tempestuous cry baby who couldn't handle the perceived shame of not being handed a barely bargained-on contract before the Halloween deadline, why bid against absolutely nobody else for his services? Why not let the market - those who have money, those who are willing to blink first and offer money knowing you could match the offer - do the work for you? And, better yet, why not wait until the NBA's salary structure is more to your liking, Atlanta, with revenue sharing likely tilting more in the league's direction, and with a lowered salary cap?

(Because, come on, the league is just too far down this road to try and shoe-horn a hard cap in. Owners might talk a big game about wanting it, but beyond all else, they also want to win, and stroke that ego. Which is why they overpay players in the first place.)

Al Horford is not a tempestuous cry baby. He's an exemplary worker who I have ranked in the top five at his position, despite the probability that this man is playing out of position. He's about as professional as professionals get, and he's only entering his fourth season. And with the idea that the Hawks could actually deign to feature him offensively this season, he can only get better. Which would, in turn, drive up his price, I know.

But if you're due to sign him to a "near-max" deal, that's about the most another team can sign him to next summer. And that's even if the NBA's salary limits stay in the same range (which they won't). Even if he was an unrestricted free agent this summer, the most another team could sign him to would be a "near-max" deal, a deal that you would no doubt match. So why force it now, when you can sign him to something that, I don't know, could allow you some freedom financially in the wake of the nuttiest NBA contract extension since ... well, wait a week.
Lang Greene thoroughly summarizes the situation at Hoops World and concludes that the Hawks hold all the leverage with Crawford:
The Hawks hold all the leverage at this point. The organization has until June 30, 2011 to extend Crawford to a new deal.

Taking their time allows the franchise the opportunity to analyze Jordan Crawford's long term potential and allow next season's trading block to fully materialize. Patience also allows the team's performance and whether it has peaked to be assessed and lastly a slow approach allows the squad to square away Horford's contract situation --- which is the biggest priority currently on the agenda.

Friday, August 13, 2010

ShamSports: Creative Financing in the NBA, 2010

There's little Hawks-related in this epic post outside of a mention of no-trade clause Jason Collins has by virtue of being a player on a one-year contract whose team will have early or full Bird rights on him at the end of the season and the use of Joe Johnson's contract as an example of the opposite of creative financing but it's a must-read for salary cap heads and/or anyone wishing to read the greatest explanation yet of how the Miami Heat got so far below and then so far over the salary cap in the same off-season.