With the NBA season opener just 10 days away I feel like it is important to take a hard look at the Hawks roster before we going any further. As everyone here knows when talking about the roster you have to take into account Atlanta's salary situation and their to this point resistance to paying the luxury tax. Its difficult to nail down an exact salary figure for the Hawks because of the new CBA and things like Keith Benson's rookie deal being undisclosed, however Hoopinion's Bret LaGree does the heavy lifting on the salary situation and I will gladly defer to him on this matter.
I have the Hawks at $69,249,116 plus Keith Benson's rookie deal (terms still undisclosed). The Hawks have 13 guys under contract.
Remember that the league minimum roster requirement is 13 players although Bret highlights in his post some options the Hawks have. Also as long as the new CBA mirrors last season's, Atlanta need only be under the $70.3 million tax line before their last game of the season.
Now a look at the roster as I see it:
PG: Jeff Teague / Kirk Hinrich / Pape Sy
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: Marvin Williams / Tracy McGrady
PF: Josh Smith / Vladimir Radmanovic / Magnum Rolle / Keith Benson
C: Al Horford / Zaza Pachulia / Jason Collins
A quick glance of that roster reveals an immediate lack of depth in the backcourt. However, if you look at the salary numbers Bret produces, the Hawks may not be able to add a veteran player to the team without going into the tax but as long as it is calculated in the new CBA the same as the last one, they will have until the end of the season to get back under. Remember Magnum Rolle and Pape Sy are on unguaranteed contracts.
Which brings me back to guard depth and someone like Jerry Stackhouse. Its a given that Josh Smith will play some small forward and Tracy McGrady will play at both backcourt positions but if you look at it, Atlanta has only three true healthy options at guard on the roster. Compound that with a compacted schedule and you can see my concern. I don't think there is anyway that the Hawks break camp without adding another guard to the roster.
From the sounds of things, it appears Jerry Stackhouse has a leg up on getting the nod just due to the experience he would bring to the table. MC talks at length about Stackhouse in his camp report from Wednesday. At media day on Monday, Stackhouse was talked about quite a bit by his teammates and Larry Drew and none of them referred to him as a guy that was simply in camp due to an invite. MC also added that Brad Wanamaker had stood out among the young camp invitees and could be a player that might provide depth at both backcourt positions.
There is a good chance that the roster shuffle isn't quite finished and perhaps one of those glut of power forwards might not be with the Hawks once the regular season starts. They could potentially add Stackhouse or Wanamaker to partially guaranteed deals and waive them before they become full guaranteed which is the same route Damien Wilkins took last year. Due to their cap situation, Atlanta is going to have to be creative with their roster this season especially if they suffer any unforeseen injuries along the way.