After winning two consecutive titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, Josh Powell has decided to sign with the Atlanta Hawks. His contract is reported to be a one-year deal worth about $1.1 million. When Powell suits up for the Hawks this season, it will be his sixth team in as many seasons.
A former high school star in Riverdale, Georgia, the 27-year old big man has expressed interest in the past in playing for the Hawks organization. "I've definitely been blessed and fortunate to have been on a lot of good teams ... but now it's time for me to kind of come into my own [with] the Hawks," Powell told ESPN during a phone interview. He added, "It's a place that has always been in the back of my mind because I tried to become a part of [the Atlanta] organization a couple years ago, but unfortunately some things didn't work out then. I'm very happy to be able to come to an organization like this and not only that, but to represent my hometown as well. It's the best of both worlds."
Powell appeared in 63 games for the Champion Lakers last season but saw only limited playing time (9.2 minutes per game) and had few opportunities to post big numbers (2.7 points per game, 1.8 rebounds.) Powell and his agent confirm that was the determining factor in his departure from L.A. and arrival in Atlanta- it was about playing time.
The 6'9" forward/center could play a pivotal role for the Atlanta team and their new coach Larry Drew. Powell would complete the team's strong front court with Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams and Zaza Pachulia also in the rotation. Williams could be leaving town soon, though, as his name has come up in trade rumors during this offseason.
Josh Powell also comes at a bargain price for general manager Rick Sund. Powell's $1.1 million contract is considerably smaller than the terms legend center Shaquille O'Neal, a widely reported target for the Hawks, would have asked. O'Neal is reportedly not accepting any deal less than $6 million per season.
Powell's role on the Lakers' team is expected to be filled by 37-year old Theo Ratliff who was signed recently by general manager Mitch Kupchak. Ratliff joins forward Matt Barnes, point guard Steve Blake, and draft picks Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks on the 2010 NBA Champion's list of offseason acquisitions. Powell and draft pick Jordan Crawford are Atlanta's only additions as of press time; however, both teams are expected to sign additional free agents before the regular season begins.