Free Agents the Atlanta Hawks Must Avoid

Joe Wirth@JoeWirth11Contributor IIIMay 22, 2013

Free Agents the Atlanta Hawks Must Avoid

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    With Josh Smith's contract coming off of the books, the Atlanta Hawks will have plenty of cap space to pursue free agents this offseason and take the next step in becoming an elite franchise in the NBA.

    Other Hawks 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, and 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.

    Free agency gives an organization the ability to sign a proven player who can make an immediate impact on the team, but if the money is not allocated properly, the franchise could be stuck with unwanted contracts for years to come.

    Here are five free agents the Hawks should avoid signing this offseason.

Ray Allen

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    Ray Allen was one of the best shooters in NBA history. He helped lead the Celtics to an NBA Championship in 2008 and looks well on his way to capturing another ring with Miami this season.

    Although he is a future Hall of Famer, the Hawks should not pursue Allen this offseason. Allen is a veteran presence with a history of postseason success, but he is not worth the money he will demand at this stage of his career.

    Allen averaged 10.9 points per game this season, but that production was due to opposing defenses focusing on Miami's other offensive weapons.

    Shooters do have a longer shelf life than other players and a player like Allen still has some value, but the Hawks would be wise to re-sign Kyle Korver as opposed to going after Allen.

Greg Oden

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    Greg Oden is one of the biggest busts in NBA history. He has had to battle through numerous knee surgeries in his career and has only played 82 games since being drafted in 2007.

    Despite these red flags, there are still rumors that he will sign with another NBA team this offseason. Mike Conley Jr. of the Memphis Grizzlies told The Dan Patrick Show that he would love to see Oden playing in Memphis next season.

    Although he would not require a big financial commitment, there is very little upside. The Hawks do need a big man who could complement Al Horford, but Oden is not the answer.

    A signing of Oden would cause unwanted media attention and the constant worrying and questioning of his health would be a detriment.

    Atlanta should be targeting big men like Al Jefferson and Dwight Howard instead of taking a risk on an injury-prone player like Oden.

Josh Smith

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    Josh Smith has been the catalyst for the Hawks offense throughout most of his time in Atlanta.

    In his ninth year in Atlanta, Smith had another All-Star caliber season statistically. Per game, he averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

    One cannot doubt his production, but many questioned Smith's attitude during his contract year. In fact, during TNT's pregame show for Game 1 of the Hawks and Pacers series, Charles Barkley questioned his interest in the series.

    Even if that is mere speculation, the fact that there is chatter like that about a team leader is embarrassing.

    There is no doubt Smith has the physical tools to be an All-Star every year, but his questionable shot selection and attitude has grown thin on Hawks fans.

    Smith had another great year this season and has done a lot of good things for the franchise, but both parties will be better off without each other next season.

David West

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    David West has been a very good player throughout his NBA career. Atlanta saw first-hand in this postseason what he can do. West is the type of player the Hawks could be suckered into signing.

    West is an elite power forward, and the Hawks could use another big man. Like Ray Allen, however, age is the biggest question facing West.

    West will be 33 at the beginning of next season, and because of his production through is career (his career averages are 16.1 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game), he will be asking for a lot of money.

    After the wear and tear of nine NBA seasons, it is hard to give a big man a big contract. West could very well be a solid player for the the first one or two years of his contract, but age will catch up to him and injuries may follow.

    The Hawks are in need for another big man, but they should look elsewhere.

Antawn Jamison

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    With the probable departure of Josh Smith, the Hawks will be looking for someone to replace him, but it should not be Antawn Jamison.

    The 14-year NBA veteran has had an outstanding career, but this past season brought about a significant reduction in his productivity.

    In 12 of his 14 years as a pro, Jamison averages at least 14.8 points per game. This past season Jamison averaged 9.4 points per game—the lowest output of his career.

    Like Ray Allen and David West, Jamison's age is a major concern. He will be 37 at the beginning of next season, and he only averaged 21.5 minutes of playing time per game last season, also the lowest total of his career.

    Jamison has had a great NBA career, but at this stage, the Hawks would not benefit from signing him.