After just a week or so on the job, former Cleveland Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry completely blew up the Atlanta Hawks and has set into motion a plan that could potentially net them multiple superstars. In just 90 minutes of phone calls, he dumped the 4 years and $90 million remaining on shooting guard Joe Johnson’s contract for the expiring contracts of Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams and DeShawn Stevenson (plus a future first round draft pick via Houston which is lottery protected until 2013). Moments later, the Hawks shipped off the two years and almost $16 million left on Marvin Williams’ contract to the Jazz in return for Devin Harris’ expiring contract.
Just like that, the Hawks dumped their two most undesirable contracts, without having to use the amnesty clause, and without having to ship out an asset with them. The Hawks will now have just Al Horford under contract next year (and the rights to restricted FA Jeff Teague), and have upwards of $40 million in cap space. They now have the option of trying to swing a trade for Dwight Howard now, with a package built around Horford, Teague and draft picks, or waiting until next offseason when they can try and lure two marquee free agents to sign for them (for example, Howard and Chris Paul). The latter scenario is pretty unlikely, but the Hawks have a decent chance at trading for Howard. Hawks forward Josh Smith is also one of Howard’s best friends, and Atlanta is his hometown, which has to help in persuading him to stay long-term.
For the Nets, most of the implications of the trade has already been covered here. The trade effectively ends their pursuit for Dwight Howard, as the trade, combined with the re-signing of Gerald Wallace and the eventual re-signing of Brook Lopez, will push the team above the salary cap. In terms of trade pieces, they lost one of their most vital ones in the form of cap space which could have been used to take back some of Orlando’s undesirable contracts. Ric Bucher of ESPN noted that the Dallas Mavericks are now the team on top of Howard’s list of teams that he would like to be traded to. However, they have even fewer trade pieces than Brooklyn (although they do still have cap space), and it seems like a stretch to expect them to waste another year of Dirk Nowitzki’s prime to preserve space to sign Howard next offseason.
Utah’s involvement in today’s events is the most puzzling. They traded away a player in a position of need (guard) for a forward who can’t shoot (of which they have plenty) and has a less than desirable contract. In fairness, they have literally no one under contract for 2013 (although they do hold team options for Favors, Kanter, Burks and Hayward that they will undoubtedly exercise) so they could afford to take on Williams’ contract.