NBA Free Agency: Josh Childress Amnestied By Phoenix Suns; Back To the ATL?

Needs.

The Phoenix Suns claimed Luis Scola off of amnesty waivers Sunday afternoon. To be able to do that, they had to amnesty one of their own contracts and Josh Childress was the one they chose to eliminate.

Childress never caught on with the Suns, going from rotational player to afterthought, averaging only 14 minutes per game last year in Phoenix and playing 88 of a possible 148 games as a Sun.

His sudden availability makes a Hawk fan wonder: Could Josh Childress come back to Atlanta?

As far as team need, there is a fit there. The Hawks, after dealing Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, are suddenly shy at the small forward position. New acquisitions DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Morrow and Lou Williams all are better suited for the shooting guard post and reported-to-be-Hawk-soon Kyle Korver is listed at small forward but likely not a candidate for the tough defensive minutes the team needs at that position as well.

So what about Childress? Well, assuming he clears amnesty waivers, in which the Hawks cannot participate because they are over the cap, the Hawks could look to bring him in on either a minimum contract or to their Biannual Exception, which starts at a max of 1.9M the first year.

When in Atlanta, Childress was an exceptional offensive rebounder from the small forward/shooting guard position, ranking second among all small forwards with 70+ games played at 20 minutes per game. Childress also shot an impressive 57 percent from the field, thanks to attempting a large percentage of his shots at the rim.

Childress, in '07-'08, his last year as a Hawk, attempted 5.4 shots per game at the rim. This ranked Childress seventh among all small fowards that season. The top six were LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Gerald Wallace, Richard Jefferson, Shawn Marion and Ron Artest.

Those 5.4 shots per game at the rim represented a whopping 72 percent of his shot attempts, his highest percentage to date at that point, meaning that Childress had been put in a role where Mike Woodson felt best suited him -- and Woody was probably right.

Childress reportedly bristled at his super-sub status and the place that put him in the locker room with his teammates. Down in the dumps about his role and the relationship between his teammates, allegedly, then came the indignity that is the restricted free agency process.

Childress went away to Greece after Rick Sund played hardball just like he did with Josh Smith, forcing the players to go find their own market. Childress famously refused to sign the one year tender or the long-term deal offered by the club, and also declined to play out his restricted year and then become unrestricted the next offseason. Sund steadfastly refused to trade unless his desires were met, which didn't occur until before the 2010-2011 season, when the Hawks signed and traded Childress to Phoenix for a couple of second round picks. Childress signed for 5 years, 33 million dollars, finally getting the USD he had long sought.

But Phoenix wasn't a good fit and never got to the same level of play experienced under Woodson in ATL. This may not have been much a surprise given that Childress' advanced numbers, even with the Hawks, indicated his teams were always better with Josh off the court. Now he'll be looking for a new home even if the Suns are likely to pay most, in not all, of the bill on his contract.

So what about Atlanta?

Joe Johnson is gone, so is Marvin Williams. With those two out of the locker room and a new regime in Danny Ferry in the front office, would Childress consider coming back to the ATL? Moreover, would Ferry look back to how Josh was used and think that what he did well, offensive rebounding, hustle play and finishing around the cup, along with his length defensively, would fit the current needs of the team at the small forward position?

Exit Question: Would you be excited to have Josh Childress back as a Hawk -- and if so, for what cost?

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