Since taking the general manager job last week, Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry has pulled off the most drastic makeover of the off-season thus far.The Atlanta Hawks have been a respectable if unspectacular team the last five years, making the playoffs every season since 2008.
They built a team slowly through the draft, but this year it became clear that a Joe Johnson-led Hawks team would never be a real contender in the East.
This week, though, Atlanta has taken the first steps toward a prosperous future that could include Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
First. Ferry somehow found a suitor for six-time All-Star Joe Johnson, a shooting guard past his peak who was still owed $89.3 million dollars over four years.
Looking to appease unrestricted free agent Deron Williams, the Brooklyn Nets agreed to send the expiring contracts of Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro and Jordan Williams, as well as DeShawn Stevenson and the Houston Rockets’ lottery-protected first-round draft pick in 2013, which Brooklyn owned.
Though that seems like a lopsided deal at first, the end result is hugely favourable for the Hawks. They shed the massive contract of a 31-year-old player and will have a ton of salary cap flexibility to offer superstars max contracts.
Later in the day Monday, Ferry stuck gold once again. The Hawks agreed to trade big man Marvin Williams, still owed $15.8 million over two years, to the Utah Jazz for point guard Devin Harris, who is entering the final year of his contract at $8.5 million, according to ESPN.
The deal accomplishes two things for the Hawks. First, Atlanta gets rid of Marvin Williams, who never became more than a mediocre forward after being drafted No. 2 overall in 2005. Second, the Hawks acquire a solid starting point guard in the last year of his contract, again giving Atlanta maximum flexibility.
So what’s the end goal for Atlanta? Well, first, the Hawks instantly become a player in the Dwight Howard saga, and Ferry reportedly is willing to offer two-time All-Star centre Al Horford and speedy point guard Jeff Teague, among other pieces.
Even if Orlando doesn’t agree to the trade, Atlanta will have the salary cap space to offer Howard and one other player a max contract in the summer of 2013 — and after Chris Paul declined to sign an extension with the Los Angeles Clippers, Ferry will likely try to pair Howard and Paul in Atlanta with Josh Smith and Al Horford.
Like it or not, we’ve entered the era of the superteam in the NBA, and if Atlanta can assemble a team built around those four players, it could be the most dangerous of them all.
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