Posted: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 23, 2013
By Jason Walker
On the surface, the Hawks and Mavericks appear to have had similar offseasons. Both inked several secondary players to contracts of varying lengths after striking out with the big-name free agents, all while maintaining major flexibility for next summer and beyond.
The difference: Atlanta signed good players (mostly) on the right side of the aging curve at great prices. Jeff Teague will make only about $1 million more per season on average than Jose Calderon over their respective four-year deals; Calderon is almost 32 and it's been years since he was able to guard anyone or get into the lane. Teague just turned 25 and still has some upside.
Kyle Korver might be "too old" for a four-year deal at 32, but the value of his contract declines each season, and he brings the one skill - shooting - that ages better than any other. And I have no idea how Danny Ferry brainwashed Paul Millsap into accepting a two-year, $19 million deal.
(Sidenote: Interesting catch by Lowe that Mark Deeks and ShamSports.com has the Korver contract as declining in value over the course of the deal, starting at 6.7M this year and declining until 5.2M his last year.)
And Lowe is absolutely right -- it's the type of off-season that we should celebrate, though not as gigantically as if the Hawks had managed the near statistical improbability of landing Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
As Lowe also notes, there is not an un-tradable deal in the bunch -- not that tradability is a large issue since Ferry has already shown any deal can be shed, but the Hawks are in a still-strong financial position this year and moving forward. The Hawks can easily deal one of the the mid-level deals and still be withing striking distance of a max offer next offseason.
And while Lowe is talking specifically about free agency, it's worth noting that the Hawks made a very good hire for their team by bringing in Mike Budenholzer, who shares the same vision as Danny for the team, a critical piece of synergy for any franchise.
Ferry also turned in an amazing draft in which -- and I can't highlight this bit of draft wizardry enough -- he traded up from 18 to 16 and actually received an extra pick for doing so. Meanwhile, he got one of the darlings of the Summer League with one pick (Schröder) and a legit seven footer who defends the rim and has an amazing head of hair (Lucas Nogueira) with the other.
Many will shrug at the notion, but consider that free agents like winning organizations and money together above all else -- the Hawks need to remain a playoff team while being in a position for enticing others to come, accumulating assets, a la Daryl Morey of the Rockets, to pounce when the right deal or player comes along.
Great draft. Solid acquisitions. Sensible coaching hire. Maintained financial flexibility. Those are four checks in the right column. It may not sexy to sell fans on "Witness the Competence", but winning does sell, and this is how you do it consistently.
The Hawks have a winning front office that is showing patience and direction. I'd say that's worth two winning offseasons right there.