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NBA Free Agency 2016: In search of a backup point guard for the Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks need a backup point guard. We explore the market.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks have one glaring need on the roster prior to the start of free agency, and it comes in the form of a backup point guard. Atlanta does have work to do in order to re-sign Al Horford and add another wing (potentially by re-signing Kent Bazemore), but it seems more likely than not that both roles will be secured in the near future.

With that in mind, Dennis Schröder needs a backup as he takes the reins from Jeff Teague, and in this space, we will take a look at the point guard market. Let's just say that it is quite grim.

The Top Tier

In the interest of full disclosure, it would be shocking if the Hawks were able to land any of these guys. Names like Mike Conley and Rajon Rondo have been omitted for obvious reasons, but with that in mind, here we go.

  • Jeremy Lin - Lin is going to get all of the money this summer. The 27-year-old signed something of a bizarre discount deal in Charlotte before last season, but as 2016-2017 approaches, he is a clear top-five option on the point guard market. Lin brings good size and versatility to the table, but given that he might be given a starting slot elsewhere, it seems unlikely that he would take a lesser role in Atlanta.
  • Matthew Dellavedova - Hawks fans will love this one, but don't worry, he probably isn't available. Delly is a restricted free agent after a very nice season in Cleveland, and the Cavs can match any offer. The only route to securing his services would be via an overpay, and the Hawks have no incentive to do that in a way that a team like Milwaukee might. Fear not.
  • Brandon Jennings - Injuries have plagued Jennings in recent years, but he remains only 26 years old. Beyond that, he is probably the most attainable player on this list, and if healthy, Jennings would be a strongly above-average backup. His shooting (or lack thereof) would be something of a concern, but this is a talented player.
  • Shaun Livingston - Livingston lands on this list because he has a non-guaranteed contract in Golden State. The Warriors could conceivably need to move on from him in order to clear space for Kevin Durant, but in the end, he probably stays in the bay area. Livingston would be a tremendous backup in Atlanta and, frankly, he is my dream scenario, but alas, it probably isn't meant to be.
  • Deron Williams - At the age of 32, Deron Williams might consider a backup role, but I doubt it. He was largely effective last season, averaging 14.1 points and 5.8 assists per game in Dallas, and by name recognition alone, Williams might be able to land a lucrative contract as a starter elsewhere.

Veteran Risks

  • Mario Chalmers - Chalmers is best known for being yelled at by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but he was also a competent point guard in Miami. The 30-year-old is coming off an achilles tear, though, and that will lower his price. If he's healthy, Chalmers would be a very nice backup option.
  • Raymond Felton - Felton hasn't been "good" in a long time, but he isn't terrible either. The 32-year-old showed some of his upside during a playoff explosion with the Mavs this season, and Felton could thrive in a reserve role with open space like the one in Atlanta. Also, he might sign for a (very) reasonable salary without the health concerns of some other veteran options.
  • Jarrett Jack - Jack is a local favorite because of his work at Georgia Tech, and he has been a solid, steady guard for much of his NBA career. He will hit the market after tearing an ACL in January and that is where the risk comes into play, but Atlanta could do worse than taking a flyer here. The problem is that the Hawks would need to provide insurance... for a backup. Not ideal.
  • Ty Lawson - Remember when Ty Lawson was good? It doesn't feel like a long time ago, but after off-court issues in Houston and underwhelming play in Indiana, the market appears to be sparse here. He is only 28 and Lawson used to be a highly productive offensive player, but this would be a leap of faith, especially defensively.
  • Beno Udrih - Udrih underwent season-ending foot surgery in February, placing him firmly in the risk category. I've always been a fan of his game and his shooting would play well under Budenholzer, but the medicals are terrifying. Also, he's 33 years old.

The Restricted Market

  • Seth Curry - Okay, I'm cheating. Curry is best suited as a shooting guard, but given his size and name recognition, we'll include him. I would love to see the 25-year-old sharpshooter in this offense, and the Hawks don't exactly have an overflow of shooters. Because he is restricted, the price tag is probably too high but it would be fun.
  • Langston Galloway - Does anyone know what the Knicks are doing? If New York falls asleep on the job, Galloway would be a very nice option. He is only 24 years old and Galloway has been exceedingly competent under less than stellar coaching in New York. Put him in a real offense with real talent around him, and I'd like to see that.

The Rest

  • D.J. Augustin - Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to Augustin. He was horrid in Oklahoma City but very good in Denver in last season, and that follows his normal trajectory. If you catch him in a "good' phase, there aren't many backups I'd rather have. If not, best of luck. At 28, though, there is reason to believe he can be useful.
  • Jerryd Bayless - Bayless knocked down 44% of his threes last year, and if you could guarantee that he'd do that again, he'd be a no-brainer. I've always liked Bayless, but he certainly isn't a pure point guard and given what the Hawks have at the 2 (Korver, Hardaway, etc.), this might be a tough sell for pure play-making. He does have real talent and Bayless is only 27. I could sell this.
  • Norris Cole - I don't think Norris Cole is very good. He got a lot of shine on those Miami teams, but Cole has a career PER under 10 and he isnt a plus defender by any means. Throw in a career 32.6% clip from three, and I'll pass.
  • Shane Larkin - This is one of my favorite targets. Larkin is still 23 years old, but he is an unrestricted free agnet after declining a player option in Brooklyn. His small stature is concerning, but Larkin gives effort defensively and his shooting has already improved over a three-year career. It wouldn't be a flashy move, but Larkin would fit nicely.
  • Ray McCallum - McCallum is another guy that I'm not sure is any good. He's 25 and (very) exciting to watch at times, but the numbers don't appreciate his work. We're exploring all of the options, but he would be more of a fit as a third PG than as Schröder's backup.
  • E'Twaun Moore - Moore isn't a pure point guard, but he can play the position with good size (6-foot-4) and some level of efficiency. I don't expect the former Purdue guard to make 45% of his threes again, but Moore is a good, capable defender that provides the versatility that the Hawks have been vocal about appreciating recently.
  • Ish Smith - Philadelphia appreciated Smith's work in limited action a year ago, and he has gone from fringe NBA player to solid backup. Still, Smith has never been remotely efficient (44% true shooting for his career) and his speed isn't utilized perfectly on defense. The Hawks could do worse, but I wouldn't be excited.
  • Greivis Vasquez - Ankle issues cost Vasquez most of the 2015-2016 season, but he's always been solid. The 29-year-old is (very) slow by point guard standards, but he is a very good passer that can make an open shot (35% career from three). Vasquez would be a steadying influence that provides good size, and if he's healthy, he would be an average backup at worst.