October 3, 2010

Atlanta Trades Continued

In my last post, I theorized that the Hawks wouldn't be as good as last season, due to the bevvy of new teams emerging with upgraded rosters (Chicago, Miami, and even Milwaukee). Along with Boston and Orlando, the eastern conference landscape looks to change drastically for Atlanta, unless they make positive changes of their own.

Unfortunately, while a swap of Crawford for Iguodala would make the Hawks slightly better, it wouldn't be enough for them to compete for a top seed. Not to mention (that much like I stated then) Iguodala's deal is worth nearly 2.4 million dollars more than Crawford's (and runs four years), which would most likely put Atlanta over the NBA luxury tax, not only this season, but three seasons after that. 

This issue can be remedied however, if the Hawks can find a suitor for Joe Johnson's albatross of a contract. Fortunately, this may not be as difficult as some people think. 

Dallas has been looking for a top-tier shooting guard to compliment Jason Kidd with, in the back-court. And while I by no means consider Johnson a top-tier player, the general consensus, is that he is. 

Back in June, the Mavericks explored options with the Hawks to land Joe Johnson. But for the most part, they didn't have much to entice Atlanta into committing to any trades (unless they were willing to part with both Rodrigue Beaubois and Jason Kidd). 

Since then though, Dallas has managed to acquire one intriguing prospect. Here's one move that could certainly benefit the Hawks (in the long run):

Trade with Dallas Mavericks

Atlanta sends swingman Joe Johnson (on or after December 15, when trade restriction expires) to Dallas, for center Tyson Chandler and guard DeShawn Stevenson. 

Why Atlanta does this? 

It's true that a deal centered around both Chandler and Beaubois, or even Chandler and Tim Thomas (for financial implications) would be better, but it's unlikely Dallas agrees to either of those deals, as scenario a) implies them being stripped of a potential replacement for Kidd, and scenario b) thins out their front-court (behind Heyward and Nowitzki, there wouldn't be very much contribution off the bench). 

It's also true that the combined contracts of Chandler and Stevenson are worth about 500,000 dollars more than Johnson's, but here are a few reasons this is actually better:

1. Chandler and Stevenson's deals expire after 2010-2011. Along with Jason Collins, Maurice Evans, Josh Powell, and Etan Thomas (and if you count the team's option on Jeff Teague) that makes eight contracts coming off the books. In short, the Hawks' pay roll at the end of 2010-2011 would be $32 million dollars, as opposed to 50 (giving them more money to re-sign key players, like Chandler, Al Horford, etc).

2. On a per-minute basis, for the position he plays, Chandler's been the more productive of the two (than Johnson). At least for the better part of their careers (as both a Bull and a Hornet). And while Chandler has been the lesser player the last two seasons, the dip in production was more likely a result of him having sustained injuries (he missed a total of 68 games the last couple years). With him back in form (and this being a contract year for Chandler), there's more than enough reason to believe he could very well get back to his old rebounding, shot-blocking, efficient-scoring self.

3. Chandler fills a need. At the moment, the Hawks are playing two of their starters out of position (Josh Smith at power forward and Al Horford at center). So, while that frontcourt might dominate against some of the league's lesser teams, it'll struggle against the bigger, more intimidating ones. With Chandler in the line-up, Horford could be slid over at the four, and Smith at the three. Considering the earlier Crawford for Iguodala trade, the starting unit could look something like this:

G Mike Bibby/Jeff Teague
G Andre Iguodala
C Tyson Chandler
F Josh Smith 
F Al Horford 

With Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans, Zaza Pachulia, DeShawn Stevenson, Marvin Williams, and either Bibby or Teague, being Atlanta's main rotation players. 

Why Dallas does this?

1. The consensus opinion on Johnson, is that he's more productive than Chandler, even though he's not. 

2. The team has a hole to fill at shooting guard, whereas they're log-jammed at center (Brendan Haywood figures to get a majority of those minutes; Chandler would be vastly overpaid for the limited role he'd be playing).

3. Johnson could actually excel in a system that would see him focus much more on rebounding, more on scoring (not to mention that he'd get the benefit of picking and popping with Kidd), and less on facilitating. He's already very adept at not conceding possessions, playing off the ball, Johnson's turnover rate could significantly decrease (making him all the more efficient).

4. As Kidd and Nowitzki get older, the Mavericks will need younger talent to surround themselves with.   


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