Portfolio review: At 17-9 the Atlanta Hawks are where they have been the past several seasons, stuck somewhere in the middle between the Eastern Conference's elite and bottom dwellers, with a large gap separating them in both directions.
Capped out for the foreseeable future, the Hawks would appear stuck in purgatory–good enough to make the playoffs, but not a threat once there–unless one of their players buck a trend of marginal, incremental improvement and takes a giant leap, or a major roster overhaul.
Prime assets: Al Horford is the lone untouchable asset barring a Dwight Howard trade demand to Atlanta, leaving forward Josh Smith as the best trade chip the Hawks have. Smith is 26, a borderline All-Star, and still retains enough potential to leave some wondering if there is one more level of play in him.
Smith has two years at $25.6MM remaining on his contract, a very reasonable deal that matches up well with other similar borderline All-Star players (think Monta Ellis) and change. And enough talent to inquire about younger, promising but flawed players like DeMarcus Cousins. Smith remains the lone trade chip that could bring drastic change.
Worthless stock: Joe Johnson is untradeable, tying up significant cap resources and stifling all roster flexibility. The only solace the Hawks can take is his apparent All-Star production and the amnesty provision as insurance for the moment he shows decline.
Marvin Williams is overpaid at $7.5MM this season, but not significantly so. Ideally he would be used as a moveable contract to attach to a young, cheap talent to make salaries work. Unfortunately the Hawks lack such assets.
The Rest: Kirk Hinrich has one year left on his deal in a market that values expiring contracts less than one would think. Jeff Teague might be worth a late first rounder and his room for growth is probably better than anything the Hawks could get in return.
If the Hawks ever decided to blow things up, the combination of Teague and Smith, along with amnestying Joe Johnson, might return enough cap space and prospects to begin rebuilding with Al Horford in earnest.