ESPN.com Future Power Rankings: Hawks Stuck In Neutral

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08: Joe Johnson #2 of the Atlanta Hawks enters the court during introductions before facing the Los Angeles Lakers at Philips Arena on March 8, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It is probably a little early to be talking about the off season particularly with the labor uncertainty that surrounds the NBA. However, ESPN.com writers John Hollinger and Chad Ford have the latest edition of their Future Power Rankingsposted. Not surprisingly the Hawks dropped three spots to #19. Here is a snippet of the Hawks report:

While Al Horford, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson form a very solid nucleus, we doubt the Hawks will be able to surround them with much talent. Atlanta traded its 2010 and 2011 first-round picks to Washington for Kirk Hinrich and have gotten little this season from Marvin Williams, who was supposed to be another core piece of the foundation (and is paid like it). Jeff Teague, a 2009 first-rounder, showed plenty of promise when inserted into the starting lineup in Saturday's win over Portland but had accomplished little prior to that. 

These discussions are hard considering we don't know what the financial climate will be around the NBA come next season. There could be a hard cap, there could be a reduction in salaries, and it is possible that things might not change as much as was once feared. That last one isn't likely but at this point can anyone really rule any possibility out? 

There are also rumors that the Hawks, Thrashers, and Philips Arena could be sold to local unnamed to this point investors which would bring another unknown to the table. The existing ownership hasn't shown any interest in spending into the luxury tax. Could they in the future? Would a new ownership group go into the tax if necessary? Will that even be an option under the new CBA? Too many questions to answer this concretely but on a slow news week I wanted to throw it out there. 

Exit Question: What do you think the outlook of the franchise is over the next three years?

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