As GM of the Cavaliers, Danny Ferry had a luxury box seat to a playoff beat-down of the Atlanta Hawks. It was 2009, and the Cavaliers wiped the Hawks off the floor four games to none. In that series the Cavaliers beat Atlanta by an average score of 96-78. Needless to say, the Hawks weren’t very impressive.
In the Joe Johnson era, the Hawks had an 18-28 record in the playoffs. They never made it to the Conference Finals. That didn’t stop the Hawks from giving Johnson a max deal in 2010. A contract that would pay Johnson a staggering $19.75 million for the upcoming season, $21.4 in ’13-’14, $23.1 in ’14-’15 and $24.9 in ’15-’16. This is not a knock on Joe Johnson. I like Johnson. But he is not a superstar caliber player that you build a championship team around.
Enter Danny Ferry.
Ferry took over the Hawks GM position last week, and has wasted no time in deciding that the only way to turn the Hawks into a championship contender is to completely start over. Ferry, as we know in Cleveland is no stranger to making trades. He is quite adept at getting rid of bad contracts as well. (Of course, some of those bad contracts were ones that he made.)
In less than 72 hours, Ferry has agreed to deals to send Johnson to Brooklyn, and Marvin Williams to Utah. The trades are about more than just players moving around. They are about freeing up Atlanta to make moves in the future. According to Marc Stein, in the two deals Atlanta will send out more than $105 million in long-term salary and take back just $23.5 million.
What will be the end result? Well, speculation is that the Hawks might try to be a player in the Dwight Howard mini-series.
Ferry knows that to win it all in the NBA you need at least one superstar. Two would be better. Three is best. He saw it as a player in San Antonio, watching Duncan and Robinson and Ginobili. With the Cavaliers he was always searching for the second star to pair with James. Then he went back to San Antonio and watched again as Parker, Duncan and Ginobili made another run that came up short.
One thing that surprises me about the rumors of Atlanta trying to get Howard though. I would have thought that Ferry would have learned another lesson about superstars- pandering to them doesn’t get you anywhere.
When Ferry parted ways with Cleveland, it seemed as if he was tired of the organization bending over backwards to do whatever LeBron wanted. Even if that meant getting rid of Mike Brown.
Now he is clearing the decks in Atlanta, which probably needs to be done regardless of what happens with Dwight Howard. It seems strange though that the one player in the NBA that might have handled his situation worse than LeBron could be the player Ferry is going after.