The Atlanta Hawks have made their intentions extremely clear entering the 2013 NBA offseason and free agency period. This is a franchise and a team that wants to emulate the Miami Heat from a few seasons ago clearing out salary and making large splashes in the free agency period to re-generate their franchise. The question remains as to whether Atlanta will be a big enough draw and whether they can add enough to transform this roster from a mid-playoff team in the Eastern conference to a serious title challenger.
Chris Paul and Dwight Howard
It seems highly unlikely that Paul and Howard would come to Atlanta individually. This is a team that just has a little bit too much to add throughout its line-up before it can register itself as a serious contender. However, there is a real possibility that the pair could head to Atlanta as a tandem together and this has been reported by numerous sources including ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
There are several obstacles to this occurring. Howard is less than keen on playing in his home city due to the expectations and hype that would inevitably come with that move. It seems that Howard wouldn’t be keen on returning home and has generally ruled out that option. Most of the stakes remain high that he will either remain with the LA Lakers or head to play with James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
Meanwhile, most have expected Paul to stay with the LA Clippers where he has the chance to establish a legacy. The organization is apparently chasing after Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers pretty hard in an attempt to lure one of the game’s best coaches and sweeten the deal for Paul. The club also clearly wants to make this roster as appealing as possible for Paul.
Money wise the best decision for both free agents is to stay in California with their respective teams. Still, there is a suggestion that both feel a degree of dissatisfaction with their current situations.
The possibility of both heading to Atlanta does exist though and the two have apparently been in pretty frequent contact. The only obvious place where both could land and make it work financially is the Hawks. The franchise is throwing in a big gamble.
It seems very likely that Atlanta free agent Josh Smith, who is generally considered to be the second best big man available, will be snapped up pretty quickly in the free agent process and won’t jump at the possibility of re-signing. This combined with the possible departure of Devin Harris would mean that even not picking up Paul and Howard leaves Atlanta in a precarious state.
One option is to keep their money back and aim for another big shot next offseason, but they may not be the only competitor for big names in 2014.
If they cut their losses then there are some other intriguing options on the free agent front. Utah forwards Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are unlikely to both be re-signed. Meanwhile, there is still a chance that the Indiana Pacers may be unable to sign David West, though that remains distinctly improbable.
There are also other options. The Milwaukee Bucks are likely to part ways with one of Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings. Andre Iguodala and O.J. Mayo have both stated their intentions to leave their respective teams and look set to follow through on those promises. Tyreke Evans could be one of the more fascinating secondary free agents.
There are also plenty of interesting veteran options who could be available this offseason either via trade or free agency depending on how other factors fall. Chauncey Billups, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Metta World Peace all have uncertain immediate statuses and could become available to Atlanta.
There is a lot of uncertainty and insecurity for the Hawks right now. It still feels unlikely that they will emerge as huge winners during the 2013 offseason. However, there’s little doubt that it will be interesting to watch.