Did the Hawks Just Throw in the Towel?

Buddy Grizzard —  February 21, 2014 — 7 Comments

In what has become the rule, rather than the exception, yesterday’s NBA trade deadline was yet another snooze fest. The only GM who made a significant move was Larry Bird, who traded the expiring Danny Granger, whom the Pacers were unlikely to retain, for Evan Turner, who is averaging over 17 points, six rebounds and almost four assists per game.

One team that did NOT make a significant move was the Atlanta Hawks. Danny Ferry traded the rights to Cenk Akyol, a former 2nd round pick who will never play in the NBA, for Antawn Jamison, who may never play for the Hawks. With Real GM reporting that Cartier Martin has been signed for the balance of the season and Micah Hart reporting that Jared Cunningham has been recalled from the D-League, it’s possible the Hawks have already waived Jamison.

There was a lot of confusion on Twitter and message boards last night about the purpose of the trade, since Adrian Wojnarowski with Yahoo! Sports tweeted immediately after that a buyout was possible. The purpose, from the Hawks’ perspective, was explained by Brad Turner, the L.A. Times beat writer for the Clippers:

The Hawks essentially sold part of the team’s cap space to the Clippers for cash. The Clippers also executed a similar trade, sending Byron Mullens to the 76ers for a conditional future 2nd round draft pick. These two trades took the Clippers’ front line from thin to perilously thin, but help could be on the way. ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted after the trades that former Hawk Ivan Johnson could join the Clippers on a 10-day contract:

This brings us to some questions regarding Ferry’s inactivity. It has been speculated that the Hawks did not sign Johnson in the offseason because he was seeking a deal in the range of the mini-midlevel exception (around $2 million). If Johnson and the Clippers are now discussing a 10-day contract, the price has apparently come down. The Hawks still had about $1 million in cap space after absorbing a pro-rated amount of Jamison’s $884,293 salary for this season, prior to signing Martin. Why wouldn’t Ferry use that cap space to sign a front-court bruiser like Johnson to supplement a front line decimated by injuries?

After Al Horford and Pero Antic were lost to injuries, Gustavo Ayon appeared to be coming on strong, recently posting a double-double against the Raptors while holding highly-regarded center Jonas Valanciunas to a single basket. But now Ayon’s durability issues, which I noted in the pre-season, have cropped up again. Elton Brand, whom coach Mike Budenholzer has preferred in a reserve role, has been pressed into starting duty. Paul Millsap and Mike Scott, neither of whom is large for a power forward, are now forced into spot duty at center. How long until more Hawks front court players break down due to a lack of depth Ferry has done nothing to address?

Some consider Johnson a bad culture fit for the Hawks. The fact is, he’s gone toe-to-toe with every elite center in the NBA, from Dwight Howard to Roy Hibbert to Marc Gasol, and has not been found lacking. Should Ferry fail to bolster the Hawks’ front line, regardless of any ancillary considerations such as culture, it can only mean one thing. It would mean that something other than winning, i.e. draft position, has become of greater importance to the Hawks’ front office.

Buddy Grizzard

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7 responses to Did the Hawks Just Throw in the Towel?

  1. CORRECTION: @atlhawksfanatic advises me on Twitter that the Hawks acquired Jamison via a minimum salary exception, not cap space. According to @atlhawksfanatic, the Hawks presently have no cap space since the Disabled Player Exception for Al Horford has a cap hold. Basketball Insiders’ salary page for the Hawks, maintained by the great Eric Pincus, has the following notes:

    “Approximately $1.7 million in maximum cap space (on renouncing disabled player exception).”

    Read more at http://www.basketballinsiders.com/atlanta-hawks-team-salary/#Lux1qHkCPRgp1hO3.99

  2. Lol, take a breath Buddy. The Hawks didn’t sell their cap space. They have a disabled player exception, which allows them to sign a 16th player for up to $5.25 million completely independent of their cap space (hence the term “exception”). Glen Davis and Earl Clark were just waived, and as you mentioned Ivan Johnson is also available. The $5.25 million which the Hawks will be able to offer these guys is far more than any other team will be able to offer, so there’s no need to panic. We will either sign one of these guys using the DPE, or we will use the cash the Clippers gave us to buy out Cunningham’s contract and use the resulting cap space instead. The Hawks are fine.

  3. Ferry has been throwing the Hawks in the tank ever since he got here. The promise of “Re-tooling” instead of “Rebuilding” has proven to be untrue. He should have just said he wanted to get rid of the entire Atlanta Hawks team he inherited so that he could draft or sign ALL 15 players that He wanted and call it 100% his team.

    He did a great job “Re-tooling” the Cavs to help Lebron win Championships there!!! He brought in and drafted no good players, drove Lebron out of town and the Cavs have never recovered since!

    Writers talk about the Joe Johnson trade as a huge success. The Hawks cut all 6 or 7 1 year contract players received from the Nets. They drafted Shroeder who looks like he wont be the player we thought he would. Now the Nets are looking great, going to make a playoff run, have Joe Johnson leading the way and AGAIN an ALL STAR and we will not get a great 1st round pick from them now! Great job on that trade!

    Cap Space = No Superstars. Draft picks = No Superstars or even All Stars. Nets win trade easily!!

    Now our Hawks will tank and get a decent pick in the draft. Let’s see what Ferry does. Most of us in ATL predict we will get the next Anthony Bennett, Jen Vesely or Darko Milicic. Can’t wait!!!!!

  4. CORRECTION AGAIN:

    Bo Churney ‏@bochurney 11m
    Hawks officials have confirmed to me that the Antawn Jamison trade was facilitated with pure cap space, no exceptions used.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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    […] recently pondered if Ferry’s inactivity indicated that the team had thrown in the towel on this season. The […]

  2. 2014 Review: Gustavo Ayon | HawksHoop - June 4, 2014

    […] for a non-guaranteed contract down the road (assuming another team doesn’t pick him up). I warned at the trade deadline that Ferry’s failure to address the lack of front court depth could […]

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