LeBron James... on the Atlanta Hawks? That is a scenario that was touched on by Grantland's Zach Lowe on Friday afternoon. Before things get crazy, Lowe was not "reporting" or even "predicting" that the Hawks would be in the mix for James' services, but he paints a very optimistic picture of the potential fit that Atlanta could provide, should LeBron choose to open up his market.
The full context of Lowe's thoughts on the Hawks and LeBron can be found here, but there were a few nuggets that are particularly intriguing. To kick things off, Lowe references Atlanta's ability to clear nearly $17 million in cap room, something we've discussed at length in this space, by simply shipping Lou Williams and his $5 million-plus salary out of town. Moving Lou in a variety of scenarios would be intriguing from a flexibility standpoint, but swinging for the fences with a max-level free agent would be, quite obviously, the most "exciting" one, especially for a casual fan.
Good freaking luck trying to guard a starting lineup of Jeff Teague, LeBron, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, and Al Horford. That is a ton of shooting and creativity, and if you play stretches with Pero Antic in Horford’s spot, the degree of 3-point shooting reaches scary levels. There’s enough defense among the LeBron-Millsap-Horford trio for the Hawks to survive on that end, and Mike Budenholzer would have them playing a sound system.
Well, yes. The Hawks would be absolutely impossible to guard with the aforementioned starting lineup, and that doesn't even get into the fact that guys like DeMarre Carroll (!) would be available off the bench. Obviously, this is a dream scenario, but "good freaking luck" sounds about right.
In addition, Lowe makes reference to the "Spurs East" mantra that we certainly enjoy.
The Hawks under Budenholzer and Danny Ferry are trying to build the Spurs East, only with more 3-point shooting. (Budenholzer is a shooting zealot, and was known as Matt Bonner’s strongest backer on the Spurs’ coaching staff.) They want high-IQ players who keep the machine moving, share the ball, and shoot from range. Ball-stoppers need not apply. You think LeBron fits that vision? Duh.
Last week, Jason Walker weighed in on the hope that was afforded to Atlanta die-hards by the Spurs capturing yet another title, but it is nice to see this mentioned elsewhere. Mike Budenholzer is already one of the more respected tacticians in the game, and with a flexible, dynamic roster that already includes a star in Al Horford and fringe stars in Paul Millsap and (maybe) Jeff Teague, there is life.
LeBron James probably isn't coming to Atlanta, but #eventhehawks can dream big, and one of the best basketball minds around agrees.