We've written about the Hawks financial situation as it relates to Jamal Crawford recently, and reached the conclusion that the Hawks couldn't afford Jamal because it would easily take the team into the luxury tax area, and since that has been forbidden territory in years past, it seemed a fait accompli that Crawford would go just as soon as interest in Mr. Four Pointer started cooking.
Well, here we are and Jamal's popularity has likely never been higher. Kris wrote about it earlier and the Real MC over at the AJC has an updated look at Crawford prospective landing spots, and whereas he lists other cities as possible destinations, the door hasn't quite yet been slammed shut on a return, even with the tax consideration.
The Hawks still want Jamal and he's still open to a return but the chances of that happening depend on if the Hawks decide to pay the luxury tax. Considering the market, re-signing him would require paying the tax.
And understand that Crawford defines being wanted as at least being courted, financially, to be a part of the team, a place the Hawks have obviously not yet stepped.
But the question is---would the Hawks consider paying the tax to bring Jamal back?
The first thought is why would the Hawks do something they have never done before (pay the tax) to not even move the needle forward, theoretically, towards a championship. Signing Jamal and paying the tax for that would mean paying a premium to simply maintain the status quo.
Offhand, you wouldn't believe the Hawks would have the stomach (or the pocketbook) for it, but consider that, while they haven't been aggressive in the past in the secondary free agent market that has been historically overpriced (mid-level tier FAs, for example), they have overpaid their own free agents to keep the continuity and progress.
Consider two offseasons ago, when Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, and Mike Bibby cashed in and, famously, last season when they did what it took, against the howling of We, The People, to make Joe Johnson the biggest winner in the deepest NBA free agent pool ever.
Would it be a huge stretch to see the Hawks dabble in the tax pool to maintain what they've built? Maybe not as much as first glance might have suggested.
MC also notes that the Hawks can SNT Crawford, but that, with the exception of Indiana and New Jersey, everybody else interested in Jamal, reportedly, is over the cap and would have to send salaries back to Atlanta, again putting them over the tax.
In the case of NJ and IND, the Hawks could take back zero dollars, getting one of those teams Crawford, Jamal his money, and the Hawks a trade exception that would not force a tax payment.
This is why it makes no sense to speculate on the Hawks doing a sign-and-trade with Jamal involving teams over the cap unless you also know the Hawks are willing to pay the tax. It's still not clear if they are going to make that leap.
The most likely scenario is still Jamal leaving without involving the Hawks at all, but maybe not as much a no-brainer as first considered. My gut says they won't have the $$ to do it, and if it was a no-doubter they would have let Jamal know by now, which might mean it's already too late for anything but a tax-friendly trade, if that works out.
Exit Question: What say you? How do you think this plays out? Take the poll! (For simplicity sake I left out the SNT options)