The Hawks have lots of options this off season. Unfortunately, most of them feel like Hawks bench players.
The Mario West
Sign Mike Woodson and Joe Johnson back. Move other pieces around (Teague in Bibby out) and make draft picks. And BAM! We are guaranteed not to suck.
After all, what is wrong with second round sweeps and fifty win seasons? Internal growth is still possible for our front court, and at some point, that will transform the offense from within.
Listen, Mario West is not that good at anything on the basketball court, but we keep him anyway. Why? Because we know what we are going to get from the guy. And yea, that may be fouling a three point shooter or getting blown by off the dribble, but at some point, that energy and familiarity is going to light a fire from within and make this Hawks team better. One thirty second stint at a time.
The Zaza Pachulia
The main complaint about bringing Joe back is that the ceiling with the team is maxed out so crippling the organization with a (close to) max contract would be bad. Especially when historically, players of Joe's ilk have production fall off quite rapidly.
No one can deny losing Joe would mean this team would change and it is hard to guarantee, let alone assume, that the Hawks would come out better off in the short term, but the idea that pieces exists that moving forward offer a better chance for better success seems to make sense.
Unless you are a Joe Johnson hater and do not want the guy back for Mo Evans money, a large part of this argument centers around Joe making a lot of money. He will make a lot because other people want hm. Correction, he will make a lot because people have money to spend and this is the NBA. Want has nothing to do with it. That being said, if more than one team wants Joe, sign and trade becomes quite the leverage tool. And really, when you can swap Joe Johnson for Kirk Hinrich you got to do it.
Listen, no one wants to just trade away Zaza Pachulia. Not after all the memories, the love fests, the misspelled jersey, the fist pumps, the half-beards. Why get rid of a guy that driven my Hawks fandom for so long? And the answer would be that the reputation he has built up far exceeds any benefit on the court. Would my fandom take a hit? Certainly. There would be tears. There would be lack of direction, but what might happen, is years down the line, I might actually have a favorite player who can jump. And that would be a sight to see.
The Jason Collins
Al Horford and Josh Smith are both power forwards. Al Horford can play center at a high level. Al Horford is not a center. Both of these men are still getting better and could be much better simply with a better offensive scheme. They have high trade value.
The two guys everyone gets excited about when they talk Hawks future are Horford and Josh, but elite teams need a true center. I mean Jason Collins has an NBA job for reason. Large men who can touch their toes and run are tonight commodity to find.
The Jamal Crawford
The Hawks are talented. Every last one of the starters (minus Bibby) could play better (or at least more efficiently) offensively under a different coaching scheme. Something different could happen on defense if the Hawks played toward their advantages instead of simply trying desperately to cover up their weaknesses. And Atlanta was really good this year. Get a new coach. Problem solved.
Did Jamal Crawford really do anything different this year than years past? No, not really. Maybe a few more four point plays, but overall, he had a more defined role on a winning team. Sometimes, all you need is new direction and what you used to do the exact same somehow becomes better. Especially when what you used to do was coached by Mike Woodson.
The Randolph Morris
The Hawks could spend money. I know that sounds weird considering the team had one of the lowest payrolls for a playoff team and by far the lowest per win in the Eastern conference. The team cannot go for a max guy due to the salary cap, but they do have both the bi-annual and mid-level exceptions to work with. They could trade away Jamal's expiring deal and in return take on more contract years of a very good player.
Sometimes, you see an opening and say "Lets give Randolph Morris a two year guaranteed contract to wear a suit." You just need to spend the money because you are afraid it will go away. Do mid-level signing often work out terribly? Sure, but sometimes you just need to spend the cash. It does not always work out, but million dollar bench players only work for so long. Like only in the preseason.
Could these options mix and match? Sure, but in the black and white world of blogging, which one are you rooting for?