Let’s take a look at how the Hawks are doing. Last season, despite losing their star center Al Horford, they won the equavalent of 50 games (with a little rounding). They gave the Celtics a bit of struggle in round one of the playoffs but went home early. How are they looking for next season?
Added: Devin Harris (trade), Kyle Korver (free agency), John Jenkins (draft pick), Lou Williams (free agency), Anthony Morrow (trade), Jordan Williams (trade), Johan Petro (trade), DeShawn Stevenson (trade), Mike Scott (draft pick)
Lost: Joe Johnson (trade), Marvin Williams (trade), Willie Green (free agency), Jordan Farmar (acquired by trade, bought out), Tracy McGrady (free agency), Jason Collins (free agency), Erick Dampier (free agency), Jerry Stackhouse (free agency), Jannero Pargo (free agency), Vladimir Radmonovic (free agency), Ivan Johnson (free agency), Kirk Hinrich (free agency)
Clearly the Hawks had a huge overhaul this offseason. Only Josh Smith, Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, and Jeff Teague are returning Hawks from last season. I have to say that this overhaul, while generally praised by most around the NBA, was very poor. The Hawks lost their best player from last season, Marvin Williams, and their fourth best, Joe Johnson and received no player that can make up such a difference. Kyle Korver was probably their best addition, but the chances of him playing substantial minutes on a team loaded with guards seems low, so his impact might be diminished. With the additions of Devin Harris and Lou Williams, the Hawks have a huge glut of average point guards; and had to get rid of a star forward and an above average shooting guard to do so. That seems like quite a paltry return for their “rebuilding effort.”
To be fair, the Hawks cleared tons of cap space and might be able to pry Chris Paul away from Los Angeles next season because only Horford and John Jenkins are on contract for the 13-14 season at this time. But, as we’ve discussed plenty of times, stars are attracted to other stars and winners. The Hawks, minus Williams and Johnson, are far from a team that can be a winner this year or compete with the Clippers for Paul’s decision. The pick of John Jenkins was also not a bad one, even if he complicates the guard situation more in Atlanta.
The bottom line for Atlanta this season will be that they can be a fringe playoff team while inevitably having to deal with the trade demands of soon to be free agent Josh Smith. My prediction? The Hawks will be a playoff team next season and a bottom dweller in 2013-2014.