What do you do when your new GM does exactly what you want him to do faster than you expected it to happen?
It seemed so impossible and the numbers so familiar -- to everybody.
Age 31 season.
Joe Johnson is arguably one of the top five Atlanta Hawks of all time, but his solid performance never settled up with his contract or role on the team, an amazing dichotomy that drove Hawks fans to dreaming about getting his contract off the books before it choked the team into mediocrity.
Marvin Williams isn't a bad player, just nowhere near the value the Hawks must have expected when he was taken second overall in 2005, famously ahead of the two point guards the team needed (and still needs), Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
For the past two seasons, we've been told that the team has been offering Marvin around to anyone who would simply take his contract off the books. He was even targeted as a prime amnesty target for the Hawks.
The future seemed in motion, the science settled. The Hawks were going to continue to ride out the core of Johnson, Williams, Josh Smith and Al Horford until they just couldn't compete anymore.
It was a color movie on a black and white set.
When Danny Ferry was hired to replace Rick Sund, I had to take the position of wait and see. After all, the Hawks had been in caretaking mode ever since Sund's hiring in 2008. Sund's position of riding out the core by re-signing and trading away future draft picks for the services of Kirk Hinrich smacked of a lack of vision, a dog-paddling of sorts to stay afloat in the NBA playoff waters.
Culminating in the 2010 offseason re-signing of Johnson and the replacement of Mike Woodson with his lead assistant, Larry Drew, the sound of doubling down on status quo was deafening and the ultimate goal of championship fleeting. Would ownership or whatever was preventing the deals that needed to get done, well, get done?
After too-good-to-be-true rumors, Ferry did in two hours what his predecessor couldn't do in two years: Trade Joe Johnson and then Marvin Williams and re-frame the Hawks around (for the time being) Josh Smith and Al Horford.
His bold moves changed the perception and identity of the franchise immediately. He, essentially, re-created the Atlanta Hawks.
Trading Johnson when his contact (not the man, the contract) was considered the worst in the league by all kinds of analytics and analysts was liberating enough. But then to swap Marvin Williams for Devin Harris, who is owed one fewer season than Marvin, when it was said for so long the Hawks couldn't move him was a surprise.
How is it that one GM can't find any taker for a player for two years and another finds a very suitable trade in two weeks? How is it that one GM had this franchise stuck in gear and the other has re-imagined it to allow for greatness.
Don't believe it? It's not too far fetched says....(gasp) John Hollinger:
Yes, this is the real endgame for Atlanta: Not just Howard, but Howard and CP3. The Hawks are now in position to do it, and can get to that point in several different ways.
Well, either one guy wasn't all that interested in doing his job or the other is just very good at it. Or maybe both.
Maybe it's like Sekou Smith of NBA.com said when the Hawks hired Ferry:
Hiring Ferry, a home run for the franchise in every way, gives them someone at the controls who knows what an "elite" organization looks like from the inside.
So far, so very good.