Hawks enter important offseason

Jon Barash

The Atlanta Hawks are preparing to undertake a radical transformation this summer. In Danny Ferry’s first summer as GM he helped relieve the Hawks of an outrageous contract awarded to Joe Johnson as well as the disappointing play of the No. 2 overall pick in 2005, Marvin Williams. Along with ridding Atlanta of those two contracts, he helped bring in role players capable of stepping up and producing in the regular season and beyond.

This season did not work out in the Hawks’ favor as they finished 44-38, good enough for the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. After a disappointing Game 6 loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs.

Ferry said after the game that his staff needs to take time to think about what direction the team will take this summer.

“We’re going to take some time, give it some distance, give it some space from the season, from the playoffs, from the emotions of that,” Ferry said on the practice court at Philips Arena. “Then we’ll make decisions that we feel are best in the short-term and long-term interests of the team.”

Aside from the coaching staff, Ferry will have to decide what players to re-sign and who to pursue in free agency. Al Horford is the only starter with a contract going into next season. The Hawks’ sixth man Lou Williams and John Jenkins are among the six players under contract with the Hawks for next season. This leaves around $40 million of cap space for next season to re-sign players and sign free agents.

This money will need to be used on a superstar player the likes of Chris Paul or Atlanta-native Dwight Howard if Ferry is really serious about bringing a championship to Atlanta. However, it will take more than money in order to get a superstar to Atlanta. Atlanta’s attendance and playoff history would deter anyone wanting to win a championship. Atlanta ranked 26th out of 30 teams in attendance and has not gotten past the second round of the playoffs since 1968.

This team is in the rebuilding stages for sure, but the way that Ferry has set up the franchise, that rebuilding stage could only last a couple of months. One thing is for sure: Danny Ferry has an image of what the Atlanta Hawks need to do. When he traded Johnson and Williams last summer, he made a point to receive players who were in the last year of their contracts. If they did not fit the mold for his idea of how Atlanta will win championships, he had the ability to let them go. Atlanta fans should expect big things such as a superstar coming to the Hawks. This offseason will help shape what the Atlanta Hawks will look like for the next five to 10 years, and under Ferry, the team should be in the best shape that Atlanta has seen in decades.

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