While most Hawks fans were somewhat disappointed that the Hawks missed out on Dwight Howard, they knew that obtaining him was a long shot at best. Overall though, most Hawks fans were happy with the way the offseason turned out, with the highlight being the Summer League play of Dennis Schroeder.
But despite the kool-aid being served up by Danny Ferry, the Summer of 2013 presented ominous warning signs for future summers.
1) The Hawks still haven't proved that despite having tons of cap space, they can attract a big time or superstar free agent to Atlanta.
In 2 years under Ferry, the Hawks biggest free agent signing is Paul Millsap.
This is nothing new for the Hawks. In the last 20 years, the only significant free agents the Hawks have been able to obtain, were Dikembe Mutumbo in 1996 and Joe Johnson in 2005. Both guys were multiple time All-Stars for the Hawks. Both guys played on Hawk teams that perennially made it to the playoffs. But neither guy was a superstar talent that could get the Hawks to that next level. The bigger problem though, is that most 2nd tier All-Star caliber free agents don't want to come to Atlanta either. JJ and Dikembe were the exceptions. If this is still a problem in the future, having lots of cap space to woo a top guy, may prove to be useless.
2) The Hawks STILL haven't obtained a legit starting center since the departure of Dikembe in 2001.
Al Horford is technically the Hawks center. He plays the position well on the offensive end, due to using his quickness to get around bigger guys, or beat them down the floor in transition. He also uses his midrange jumper to score, due to centers lagging off of him. The problem, is that Horford constantly says that he sees himself as a power forward. And he obviously is getting tired of defending bigger centers.
He's a professional, so he's not just going to come out and say that he doesn't want to play center, but it is clear that he wants to play more PF. If the Hawks continue to trot out lower level centers to play alongside him, Horford's frustration of having to play center for most of his minutes, may grow more and more.
3) Do the Hawks have the ability to pull off a big, franchise changing trade?
In 2 years under Ferry, his biggest trade was dealing Joe Johnson for expiring contracts, a trade exception, and a 1st round pick.
The Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams trades enabled the Hawks to obtain the cap space they had in 2013 and gives the Hawks more "flexibility" to change up lower level personnel. They are also Ferry's crowning achievements to date. Most fans see this as the "significant franchise changing trade".
But when it came time to try to get something besides cap space for Josh Smith, he struck out before the trade deadline. Then he didn't even try to get anything back when Josh departed. No player. No trade exception. Nothing. The question now becomes, does Ferry have the ability to flip the assets he now has on hand, to obtain a player with star or superstar potential?
4) The Hawks may be too good to not get a significant player in what is believed to be a very strong 2014 NBA Draft . . . but not good enough to make any noise in the playoffs.
All indications suggest that the Hawks will barely make, or barely miss the playoffs. And that is not good.
Once the Hawks were out of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, Ferry seemed to be indecisive on what he wanted to do. Agreeing to immediately sign Korver to a long term, high end contract ( for his skill set ), seem to indicate that Ferry was simply going to overpay a bunch of mediocre players and possibly "tank" the season. But then he turns around and signs Paul Millsap and re-signs Jeff Teague, both who are starter quality players.
Those two signings, when paired with Horford and Lou Williams, pretty much guarantees that the Hawks will win at least 30 - 35 games. But because Ferry didn't go after more significant free agents, and because they'll depend on guys like Demarre Carroll and Pero Antic to possibly be in the rotation, their ceiling for wins may be just 40 - 42 games. This keeps the Hawks right where most fans don't want them to be . . . the lower middle. No satisfaction by making a decent run in the playoffs. And if they miss the playoffs, they'd need a miracle to get a top 3 seed, because they'll be good to be in the top 7.
5) When looking at the 2014 Free Agent class, do the Hawks have a legit shot to obtain a significant player?
Going into 2014, the Hawks look to have a minimum of 42 million and a maximum of 49 million in committed salary ( if team options and qualifying offers are included ). This means without a trade of some of the higher guaranteed contracts, the Hawks may only can afford a 2nd or 3rd tier free agent. This also means that Ferry will have too "wheel and deal" for the player he wants. Then you have to hope that the player wants to come to Atlanta.
So Hawks fans, the questions I present to you are these:
- What would be your game plan in order to build a stronger Hawks team in the Summer of 2014?
- What free agents would you target next summer, and which ones do you think you can get?