Offseason Outlook: Atlanta Hawks

Guaranteed Contracts


  • None

Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Free Agents / Cap Holds

Draft Picks

  • 1st Round (17th overall)
  • 1st Round (18th overall)
  • 2nd Round (47th overall)
  • 2nd Round (50th overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary: $18,583,800
  • Options: $0
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary: $3,913,615
  • Cap Holds: $73,084,636
  • Total: $95,582,051 

If there are any questions about Danny Ferry's abilities as a general manager, what he does this summer will probably answer them. The Hawks enter the offseason with as much of a clean slate as any team can have, with the exception of an expansion franchise. Twelve players on the team's 15-man roster are free agents, and even coach Larry Drew's contract is up. The Hawks have left the door open for Drew to return, but it looks like both sides have moved on, meaning Ferry will likely have to pick a new coach to lead a team that promises to look much different when the 2013/14 season tips off.  

Atlanta will have enough room for a pair of max-contract free agents, even if they're Dwight Howard and Chris Paulwhose maximum salaries are the largest of any free agents on the market this summer. Not surprisingly, it appears Ferry's first order of business, after resolving the coaching situation, will be to see if both D12 and CP3 are interested in forming a super-team with the Hawks.

It would make the summer relatively easy for Ferry if he could land the two most sought-after free agents, but Paul, in particular, is a long shot. The Hawks will have plenty of competition for Howard even if the big man is interested in returning to his hometown, so it seems there's a strong chance that neither will wind up in Atlanta. That puts the onus on Ferry's abilities as a talent evaluator. Nobody else on the market is indisputably deserving of a max deal, and that includes Atlanta's in-house candidate, Josh Smith.

The 6'9" forward believes he's deserving of the max, and while Ferry and company like him enough to have offered him an extension prior to the season, it doesn't seem like they share Smith's view of his abilities. Other unrestricted free agent options include Andrew BynumAl JeffersonDavid West and Paul MillsapAndre Iguodala and Monta Ellis could be in play if they decline their options. Top restricted talent includes Brandon JenningsTyreke EvansNikola PekovicTiago Splitter and the Hawks' own Jeff Teague.

It sounds like the Hawks are high on Teague, and, along with Smith, he'll be relatively easy to evaluate since he's been around the team for so long. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Hawks sign Teague as soon as they have a definitive answer from Paul. After CP3 and Jennings, Teague is probably the best point guard on the market. He's probably not a maximum-salary player, so unless another team decides to overpay, Atlanta shouldn't have much trouble bringing him back into the fold.

The most talented player available, other than Howard and Paul, is probably Bynum. Of course, he comes with a significant caveat surrounding the health of his knees. If Ferry and the team's medical staff are confident that Bynum can regain and maintain full health, they might offer him the max, but that's a big "if." Really, unless one of the other free agents wows the Hawks, the team is likely better off pursuing smaller deals. That way, Ferry could fill out more of his empty roster space with players who command more than the minimum salary. Depending on how cheaply Ferry finds his talent, he may decide to leave enough cap space open for a run at a superstar from the better-stocked 2014 free agent class. Ferry could also decide to go with a bunch of one-year deals, a la the Mavericks this past season.

Whatever Ferry does, he'll be doing it with Al Horford in mind. Horford is owed $36MM through 2016. The contract is reasonable, if not a bargain, so Ferry could probably find a taker if he wants to trade Horford, but there's no indication he'll go that route. The former No. 3 overall pick is no superstar, but he is the building block around which this team will be constructed. His skills present Ferry with an intriguing choice — Horford can play power forward in a traditional lineup that bucks the small-ball trend, or center if Ferry wants to embrace the philosophy of an increasing number of teams.  To a lesser extent, Lou Williams will factor into Ferry's thinking as well, since he's under contract through 2015.

John Jenkins, the 23rd overall pick from 2012, is set to return as well after spending the better part of his rookie season in the rotation. The Hawks have four draft picks this year, but I wouldn't expect Atlanta to keep all of them and bring four rookies aboard, unless Ferry decides to roll the team's cap space over to 2014.

The summer ahead is a defining one for the franchise, but it may only be the first step. Unless Howard or Paul arrives in Atlanta, there's no one who automatically propels the Hawks into the title picture for next season. After years as a mediocre playoff team that never got past the second round, the Hawks probably won't be content to pin their hopes on a long-term plan that doesn't include a superstar. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Hawks enter next summer with plenty of cap space as well.

Cap footnotes

  1. When the Hawks waived Tyler in March, his contract included a $100K guarantee for 2013/14.
  2. Scott's contract becomes guaranteed for $100K next season if he's not waived on or before August 15th.
  3. The qualifying offer for Teague, the 19th pick in the 2009 draft, is $3,469,568, which is less than 250% of his salary in 2012/13. The cap hold for a former first-rounder who made less than the league average salary in the fourth season of his rookie-scale contract is always the greater of those two amounts in the summer after his rookie deal expires.
  4. The qualifying offer for Johnson, originally signed as an undrafted free agent, is $1,202,744, which is less than 130% of his salary in 2012/13. The cap hold for any Early Bird free agent who's not coming off a rookie-scale contract — deals that are reserved only for first-round draft picks — is always the greater of those two amounts.

Storytellers Contracts and Sham Sports were used in the creation of this post.

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