Highlighting the Atlanta Hawks' Top Free-Agent Target at Every Position
With the expiration of many high-paying contracts, the Atlanta Hawks will have plenty of cap space to pursue a solid free-agent market in the 2013 offseason.
The most notable contract that is set to expire is that of Josh Smith. Smith is currently making $13.2 million per year and is looking for more in his next contract.
Do not expect the Hawks to re-sign Smith. He has been a good player for the franchise throughout his nine-year career, but he is not worth superstar money.
Other Hawks players whose contracts will be coming off the books include Devin Harris, Zaza Pachulia, Kyle Korver, Johan Petro and Dahntay Jones.
With the expiration of these contracts, Atlanta will be saving $25.5 million. Considering Korver is the only player from that group who averages more than 10 points per game, the franchise will get better value for its money.
It is likely that the Hawks will re-sign some of these players, but it also gives them the ability to have more freedom with their money and play a more active role in the 2013 free-agency scene.
The following are the top free-agent targets at every position for the Atlanta Hawks.
Point Guard: Jarrett Jack
Jarrett Jack does not start for the Golden State Warriors, but he is a solid sixth man who can create his own scoring opportunities.
This season, Jack is averaging 13.2 points, 5.5 assists and three rebounds per game. He is not the type of player who would put the Hawks over the top, but he is a glue guy who can come off the bench, be a major contributor and help the maturation process of Jeff Teague.
Golden State has one of the most prolific scoring offenses in the NBA, and Jack’s facilitation has a lot to do with it. If he can bring that type of production to Atlanta, the Hawks would have a more efficient offense.
Jack's performance in the postseason shows he can play well when it matters most. Despite starting only four games in the playoffs, Jack managed to be second on the team in scoring with an average of 17.2 points per game.
That type of playoff success is something lacking in Atlanta, and Jack's presence could mean more postseason success for the Hawks.
Shooting Guard: Tony Allen
Another player who could bring solid playoff experience and success would be Tony Allen.
Allen is having a good postseason with Memphis. Although he averaged under 10 points per game during the regular season, Allen has turned it on in the playoffs. He is averaging 11.8 points per game as well as 5.8 rebounds per game.
Allen also brings a defensive prowess to the table. He has either been first or second all-defensive team for the last three years, and he leads the Grizzlies in steals during the playoffs with 2.3 steals per game.
With Allen's postseason performance, his price tag is definitely going up, but if the Hawks are willing to make the necessary financial commitment, Allen will bring a veteran presence to Atlanta as well as an increased intensity of the defensive end of the floor.
Small Forward: Metta World Peace
Although some may laugh at the notion of Metta World Peace coming to Atlanta, he could fulfill one of Atlanta's most pressing needs—improved defense.
World Peace is not the player he once was, but at age 33, he is still capable of being a solid contributor on both ends of the floor.
This past season, World Peace averaged 12.4 points per game and five rebounds per game. Both of those numbers are up significantly from his performances of the previous two years.
Although age is a concern, World Peace has not let injuries keep him off the court. He has played in at least 75 games in three of the past four seasons.
World Peace would not be a starter, but he could an effective player coming of the bench to give Atlanta a boost on the defensive end as well as some contributions offensively.
Power Forward: Al Jefferson
Although Al Jefferson is normally slotted as a center, if he came to Atlanta, he and Al Horford would be interchangeable at the center and power forward positions.
Jefferson is a big man who would lift the Hawks into contention in the East. He averaged 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Utah Jazz this season.
Jefferson is 28 years old, and his production will be at its peak over the next few seasons.
The Hawks received great production from Horford this season, but if they brought in another marquee power forward or center, they would have one of the best frontcourts in the NBA.
Jefferson is an elite big man with the ability to score with his back to the basket as well as face up his defender. He has not averaged less than 16 points per game since the 2005-06 season.
While the likes of Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard will be receiving most of the buzz this offseason, Jefferson is an All-Star-caliber player who could vault the Hawks into real contenders in the Eastern Conference.
As with any marquee free agent, Atlanta management has to be willing to take some risks and spend money.
Center: Andrew Bynum
Any team who signs Andrew Bynum this offseason will be taking a big risk. With that risk, however, a team will be acquiring one of the few true centers in the NBA.
The risk is not just with his suspect knee, which is a major concern, but it is also with his attitude. He often sulked during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers and was never fully committed to playing with the Philadelphia 76ers this season.
All that being said, Bynum can be a dominant player and will be one of the most coveted players this offseason. Although it may seem like he has been around for a long time, he is only 25 years old and just entering the prime of his career.
During the 2011-12 season—his last full season of play—Bynum was beginning to hit his stride. He averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game.
After his acrimonious departure from Los Angeles and his subsequent injury problems in Philadelphia, people have forgotten what kind of player Bynum is—a young center just entering his prime with the potential to become a dominant force in the NBA.
Bynum would play center, and that would allow Horford to play power forward.
The risks are obvious, but if Atlanta ponies up and offers Bynum the kind of money he is expecting, the reward could be great.