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Where and how much should the Hawks spend this free agency?

That ping you feel in your stomach? That yearning for you don't know what? Oh that is NBA free agency, and it has begun.

How much the Hawks should pay is almost as important as who they should get. With all the holes the Hawks have, it is not simply target and sign. The whole thing is a tight rope to get the best player that is the best fit for the least amount of money all while knowing that the best players are being pursued the most. It is a dangerous game of filling needs and overpaying. And I am not going to lie, it freaks me out. The Hawks could make or break quite a few seasons not only with who they sign but how much they sign them for.

And now I am nervously sweating...

For this post, I am assuming anyone and everyone that is restricted and unrestricted is not with the team. Even though qualifying offers have been extended for the likes of our defensive specialist Mario West (sign and trade?).

So here you go the needs for the Hawks in free agency 2009.

A true point guard.

Remember when Joe Johnson was going to play point guard and instead of that working out the Hawks just created an offense where true point guards are unnecessary? Yea, that was awesome.

Well, Joe, Jeff Teague, and Jamal Crawford are not true point guards. I have hope for third year Teague becoming one but not so much rookie Teague.

For the Hawks to push the pace, distribute down low, and create better ball movement a passing point guard that can drive the lane would be a huge asset.

For those clamoring for Bibby to anchor that position, I am a bit perplexed. Bibby is not a true PG. He is a three point specialist that can handle the ball and throw alley hoops with above average touch. He cannot however defend other point guards or penetrate. Bibby could stabilize the position but not improve it.

Three decent names come up to fit the bill. Ramon Sessions, Jason Kidd, and Andre Miller.

  • Scale of 1 to 10 need for the Hawks: 6.5

This goes up of course if the Hawks ran an offense that required a point guard. Still, with unknown that is the Hawks first two acquisitions, a known quantity like Bibby might be what is best if not totally filling the need. We do not want to be forced to give up a second round pick for Anthony Johnson in mid January again.

  • Scale of 1 to 10 willingness to pay: 4

The Hawks drafted Teague to be their point guard of the future whether others think that is a possibility or not. They cannot put a lot of money long term in this position. Neither Jason Kidd nor Andre Miller will probably get long term deals, but their services may require extreme over payment for diminishing returns.

Starting small forward

The Hawks need one. They tendered a qualifying offer to Marvin Williams. It is certainly sizable enough (7.3 million) for Marvin to be tempted to accept and play out his contract if no long term deal fits his liking.

Until that or a contract agreement/sign and trade happens, the Hawks do not have a small forward. And looking from that perspective, Marvin is not a bad fit at all. He is 23, still improving, a good defender, and has the emotional investment of many fans. Nothing wrong with Marvin at the right price, but is the need worth pushing up the willingness to pay?

If it is, let us expand our search. Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Hedo Turkoglu, and Shawn Marion all could be other options. Everyone but Marion is poised to make more money than Marvin. And everyone but maybe Marion probably do not have Atlanta in their top three choices which would require some over payment by the Hawks. Plus, all three of those guys are working with the always treacherous playoff inflation bump in their contract after a good performance for 20 games that it just happens everyone saw.

  • Scale of 1-10 need for the Hawks: 7

The Hawks have at the very least secured a small forward by tendering the QO to Marvin. The team gets him for a year or can orchestrate a sign and trade for another starting three. Finding a long term answer is not the teams most pressing need unless they believe they have a chance and are sold on Hedo Turkoglu. I am doubtful on both accounts.

  • Scale of 1-10 willingness to pay: 7

The Hawks have little money invested in this position right now. Atlanta should be willing to spend a decent amount (7ish million a year for Marvin) simply based on the investment they have already put in him. With all the great small wing players the Hawks face, they cannot skate by hoping Mo Evans can start for 82 games.

Backup center

Shoot, some say the Hawks need a starting center. And since very few are sold on whether Solomon Jones can run without falling down, a backup big man is vital. Zaza loves Atlanta, but he is uninterested in giving the city a hometown discount. And I do not blame him. What the Hawks need though is hustle, rebounding, and a little dirty play. Zaza gives all of that, and the fans love him. But if someone can do those things better, the Hawks would be remiss not to take a look.

Marcin Gortat, Anderson Varegjao, and Antonio McDyess all can do things better than Zaza. The most difficult to acquire may be McDyess even though he might come cheapest. Gortat and Varegjao are fixing to be over paid and the question is if the backup center position is worth it.

  • Scale of 1-10 Hawks need: 10

Yea, I do not want Solomon Jones backing up Al Horford.

  • Scale of 1-10 willingness to pay: 5

It is tough to spend 3 million more a year when Zaza is perfectly serviceable, but the word around Orlando is that they will not match a contract of more than five million a season. A lot of teams have shown interest in Gortat publicly so this may be the case where one Eastern European center overshadows the other so that the Hawks can once again lock up Zaza at a very reasonable rate.



Are there other more pressing needs? Where would you spend the money? Do you stay up at night thinking about this stuff? Oh, that is just me? Ok.