Its not often a new sports executive makes a move that is universally loved by a fan base. But new Hawks general manager Danny Ferry must realize he has done well in his first week, with fans wondering when they might build a statue of him outside of Philips Arena.
Ferry took only one week to put his mark on the organization, as he agreed to trades that will send Joe Johnson to Brooklyn and Marvin Williams to Utah.
Dont worry about the talent coming back. These two deals are all about money.
Its not because the Hawks are cheap, which theyve been labeled in the past. These two contracts should have never been offered in the first place, and Ferry decided to correct the mistake made by ownership. He also decided to give himself something that most general managers crave if they want to make a team better: financial flexibility.
He somehow, some way found a sucker to take the remaining $90 million of Johnsons deal. Johnson is a very good player, but he was never a player who deserved a max contract. Ferry probably looked at the remaining four years and knew he had to get rid of the six-time All-Star.
Why get rid of a good player? Well, Johnson had proven he was never going to get the Hawks to the next level, and as the highest paid player on the team, he had to lead the way. But Johnson never wanted to lead the way. He was more of a complementary player instead of a star.
And there was no way Johnson was going to be worth the money he was going to make for the rest of the contract. Did Ferry really want to pay Johnson almost $25 million in the final year of the deal, when Johnson would be 34 and his stats would undoubtedly be on the way down?
No. It made no sense to have Johnson stay, and thats why Ferry had to find someone who needed him more.
Williams needed to move on, since hell always be looked at as the player the Hawks took instead of Chris Paul or Deron Williams, two point guards who have become stars.
With this money off the books, Ferry will now be able to construct his team, and it likely will have Josh Smith as the centerpiece. That, however, is where the drama begins. Smiths best friend is fellow Atlantan Dwight Howard, who can become a free agent at the end of next season.
Howard could be the player that could make the Hawks relevant again. Theyd have the first real star since Dominique Wilkins, and he would give Atlanta a real chance at being a serious contender.
Howard has never acted like he wanted to play in his hometown, but that was probably because ownership never gave the impression it really wanted to build a winner. Giving Ferry the keys to the candy store, and his subsequent moves, might prove to Howard that things have changed.
Smith has to convince his buddy that if they got together, the Hawks could actually think about being a serious challenger to the Miami Heat.
But the Williams trade opens up even more money, which might allow the Hawks to also pursue Paul, who also becomes a free agent next summer.
Imagine a trio of Howard at center, Smith at power forward and Paul as the point guard. Could that trio give Miamis LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh a run for their money?
Ferry must decide whether to pursue Howard now through a trade with Orlando, or wait and hope Howard is simply available as a free agent next summer. But if the Magic trade Howard to another team, that team would have the advantage of trying to lock Howard up to a new deal and keep him from becoming a free agent.
But hey, Ferry got the first big hurdle taken care of with the trades of Johnson and Williams. Getting rid of Johnsons immovable contract was something most believed could never happen, and now we might actually believe anything is possible with Ferry in charge.
Listen to The Bill Shanks Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Shanks on Twitter@yahoo.com.