Danny Ferry has been in charge of the Atlanta Hawks for less than a month, and already he’s stamped his indelible mark on the team with two huge trades.
It started out like a fairly normal week for the Hawks. Just a few days after the NBA draft, most fans and analysts were pontificating and arguing about whether or not Atlanta had gotten themselves any help with their draft picks.
Then it started.
A few whispers and rumblings, using words like “discussions” and “ongoing talks” in regards to Joe Johnson being traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Most figured it was just foolish gossip. There was no way Atlanta was going to be able to convince any team to take on Johnson’s cap space eating contract.
And then in an interesting twist, Joe Johnson signed up for the social media photography service called Instagram, under the name “imstartinova2”.
Maybe the rumors and stories had some merit?
Apparently so, because before Monday was over the Hawks looked like a completely different team.
Ferry did what most said couldn’t be done and traded Joe Johnson to the Nets, and he didn’t end up with pie in the face while doing it.
Atlanta unloaded Johnson and his enormous contract to Brooklyn in exchange for the expiring contracts of Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, and Sean Williams, and get free-agent DeShawn Stevenson via a sign-and-trade. The Hawks will also get a lottery protected first round pick (via Houston).
The deal is set to be finalized on July 11 when the free-agent moratorium ends.
So the Hawks dump nearly $90 million they were going to have to pay Johnson over the next four years, and they get some players to look at, and a pick?
Score: Danny Ferry – 1, Doubters – 0
But the new Hawks GM wasn’t done yet. No sooner had the Joe Johnson deal been solidified and writers filed their stories, Ferry pulled the trigger on another deal. The Hawks are sending seven-year veteran forward Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for point guard Devin Harris, who is in the final year of his contract.
Williams was the number two overall draft pick in 2005, and has spent his entire NBA career with the Hawks, averaging 11.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He was due to be paid $8.3 million in 2012-13 and $7.5 million in 2013-14.
In return, Atlanta gets a dynamic point guard with starting experience for at least one season, and who will provide a great complimentary teammate for the Hawks’ incumbent point guard Jeff Teague.
Score: Danny Ferry – 2, Doubters – 0
When you take in to account the trades of Johnson and Williams, and add in the fact that Atlanta had nine unrestricted free agents on the team, you could be looking at nearly a completely different roster by the time training camp rolls around.
But the question of what will happen with star forward Josh Smith still remains. Smith’s future will likely depend on how his meetings with Ferry go, and if he gives a definitive indication on whether he plans to re-sign after this season or go elsewhere.
If Smith tells Ferry that his plan is to leave Atlanta after his contract expires this season, Hawks fans may see yet another big deal go down.