Hawks Begin Cap Clearing Mission

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The Hawks have sent Louis Williams and Lucas Noguiera to Toronto for John Salmons and a future 2nd round draft pick.

Nobody in this trade really grabs anybody’s attention per say, but that’s not to say this trade isn’t significant in some way. Louis Williams is a scorer. He’s not a 20 point scorer, but he’s someone you can call of your bench to score 10-15 points and hit some threes when you need him to. This is a guy, that when healthy, can average 15 points per game like he did in 2011. He’s consistent, he’s a veteran and he’s someone a bench like the Raptors who were 27th in the NBA in points per game with 26, could really use. Noguiera, who has yet to play in the NBA, is a defensive monster waiting to happen. He’s 7 feet tall with a 7’6″ wingspan and a 9’6″ standing reach… That’s potential in the flesh for you. Whether he plays in the NBA or in Spain for another year remains to be seen, but he’s an asset that you’d rather have than not.

For the Hawks, receiving John Salmons means they can waive him. He’s due 7 million next season, and all they’ll have to do is waive him for 1 million. The Hawks thus save 5,450,000 million in cap space through the money they’ve dumped from Williams’ salary. The Hawks have been rumored to be in the running to sign LeBron and or Carmelo this off-season and while they aren’t the most attractive destination, they are trying their hardest to become it.

The Hawks have two unrestricted free agents in Elton Brand and Cartier Martin, who made a combined 4,286,095 last season. They are unlikely to be re-signed.

As well as that duo, the Hawks have three potential restricted free agents in Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack and Gustavo Ayon. According to Hawks beat writer Chris Vivlamore, the Hawks are planning to grant qualifying offers to Scott and Mack only but not to Ayon. If those players accept those qualifying offers the Hawks would be taking back 2,263,406 million in salary. It’s unlikely they’ll decline the offers and become restricted free agents because they’re unlikely to make substantially more elsewhere. There is a possibility they decline and sign extensions with the Hawks for around the same price. But let’s assume each guy accepts for now.

The Hawks have two unguaranteed contracts in Mike Muscala and Pero Antic. Muscala rarely played but he’s 6’11 with a 7’1 wingspan and he’s only 22. Pero Antic was key in the series against Indiana and Atlanta will likely want to retain him as well. Therefore, the Hawks will probably guarantee both of their contracts, meaning they’d be taking back 2,066,482 million in salary.

Then we have to think about Adreian Payne’s rookie contract. The rookie scale amount for the 15th pick this year is 1,546,100 million according to BasketballInsiders. Rookies can earn anywhere from 80% to 120% of this amount so anywhere from 1,236,880  to 1,855,320. Walter Tavares is a stash pick and won’t effect their salary cap. Lamar Patterson was the 48th pick in the draft meaning his contract is unguaranteed so the Hawks can determine whether they want to sign him or not. Let’s assume he is signed, the Hawks traded for him so it’s unlikely they don’t sign someone they traded for. Ryan Kelly was the 48th pick last year and he made 480,190 last season so let’s assume the same for Patterson. All in all, if we assume Payne signs for 120% of the rookie scale allotted to the 15th pick, the Hawks can expect 2,335,510 million in salary on the books.

The Hawks are one of many teams trying to pair the superstar duo of Carmelo and LeBron together this summer.

The Hawks are one of many teams trying to pair the superstar duo of Carmelo and LeBron together this summer.

SO….

With all of that said, if the Hawks do what’s above starting July 1st, when free agency begins, the Hawks are looking at 45,529,464 million on the books for next season. With the salary cap projected at 63.2 million, the Hawks have 17,670,536 in cap space for next season. That’s not enough to sign Carmelo and LeBron and it’s probably not even enough to sign one of them, but it’s just the beginning for Atlanta who are in a good position with a young and improving core to attract the attention of big-name free agents such as LeBron and Carmelo. Next off the books is either Korver or amnestying Horford and that’s if they really really want to make a legitimate run at one of the two superstars. We’ll see, but if I’m Atlanta I don’t get too hypnotized by the whole chase. The Hawks had a very successful season last year by their standards. Without Horford they managed to be the 8th seed and pushed Indiana to 7 games in the 1st round. Blowing up their roster to try and acquire a max-level free agent is risky to say the least. From an outside perspective, the Hawks have no chance to sign either of them. There are much more attractive destinations than Atlanta such as Phoenix, Miami or Los Angeles. Additionally, the roster the Hawks would have in place by the time they have enough cap space would be a shell of what it is right now. And if they were to miss out, they’d be taking a huge step back from last season. It’s a difficult situation to properly evaluate because obviously if they have a chance to acquire a talent like LeBron – the best in the world, or Carmelo – the best scorer in the world, then they have to go for it. But there has to be a limit to how much they are willing to give up for it.

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