With the exception of the internal candidates (Jeff Teague and Josh Smith) who we will get to in the near future, the list of players to cover on the Hawks wish list has dwindled to a mere few. We’ve touched on the “locks” in Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, covered the extensive market of big men with Nikola Pekovic and the Utah Jazz front-court duo, highlighted the “Budenholzer connection” with Tiago Splitter, and even recommended the services of a player that I’ve never liked in Tyreke Evans. With all of that said, it’s time to move to a “quick hits” format to highlight some of the higher-profile free agents that we haven’t covered.
- Manu Ginobili, G San Antonio – Manu is probably the highest-profile free agent that we haven’t covered, but there are two significant reasons why he hasn’t been showcased. First, Ginobili will be 36 years old when the 2013-14 season opens, and he is a clearly diminishing player. Secondly, I can’t fathom a scenario where he doesn’t retire as a San Antonio Spur. Yes, he would be extremely fun to watch, but I just can’t see it.
- Andre Iguodala, G/F Denver – Iguodala is a guy that I almost wrote a full-fledged report on. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the entire league, and frankly, he’s probably the best player on this entire list. The issue with Iggy will be cost, as he is opting out of $16 million guaranteed for next year (wow), and likely expects max-level money. If the Hawks could acquire him at a discount, I would be all over that move, but paying a guy in the $13-15 million range to average 13-15 points a game with a league-average PER isn’t exactly desirable.
- Monta Ellis/Brandon Jennings, G Milwaukee – I want no part of either of the infamous Milwaukee backcourt. Ellis reportedly turned down a 3-year, $36 million extension from Milwaukee, and that basically illustrates all of the reasons I don’t want him. Ellis has shot 43% or less from the field in 3 straight seasons, and he’s a one-trick pony with putting the ball in the basket while being a dreadful defensive player. As for Jennings, he’s a much better player than Ellis, but he’s a restricted free agent who is looking to command max-level money, and he’s just not worth that much. Speaking of dreadful offensive efficiency, Jennings is a career 39.4% field goal shooter (not a typo), and while he’s extremely talented, that’s tough to overlook for a pure point guard.
- Jose Calderon, G Detroit – I really, really like Jose Calderon, and I always have. The issue with him is that I’m convinced that he’s more than an average starting PG at age 32 (when the season starts) and he’s battled injury issues for much of his career. He’s extremely efficient offensively (career 48/40/88 shooter) and is a high-assist guy, but his defense is mediocre (at best). If he could stay on the court, I’d love to have him, and a Calderon/Lou Williams point guard duo would be fine, but it’d need to be at a discount and the Hawks would need a 3rd solid option at the point.
- Gerald Henderson, G Charlotte – Here’s a guy that absolutely no one is talking about. Henderson has been one of the Bobcats’ best players in the last two years, and he increased his efficiency across the board in 2012-2013. The knock on Henderson is his lack of range, but he made a semi-respectable 33% of his threes last year, and as a result, saw his true-shooting percentage (53.1%) and PER (16.48) climb to above-average levels. He is slightly undersized at 6’4, which could be an issue with Lou Williams and John Jenkins already employed, but he plays quality defense, and displayed an ability to get to the rim/free throw line last season. I’d be on board.
- JJ Redick, G Milwaukee – My love for JJ Redick is well-documented, but his talents may be duplicated on the Hawks roster. John Jenkins is under contract for next year, and with rumors of a Kyle Korver return, there’s not really a place for the dead-eye shooting Redick. He can’t rebound at all, but he’s made himself into a nice defender, and he’s not a “shoot-only” guy like most think. If Korver doesn’t return, the Hawks could get away with him playing some small forward, but the fit isn’t ideal.
- Andrew Bynum, C Philadelphia – Bynum is at the apex of my “most hated” players list. He’s a malcontent, he can’t stay on the court with injuries, and did I mention that he’s a malcontent? On the court, the results are tremendous, as he has a 20+ PER in 5 straight seasons while averaging a staggering 19/12 with LA in 2011-2012, but with his injury history and asking price, I’m going nowhere near Bynum.
- David West, PF Indiana – I love David West’s game. He’s incredibly skilled, as he’s one of the best mid-range shooters in the league while being crafty enough on the block to overcome his size deficiencies (he’s listed at 6-9, but he’s not). In addition, West provides a “dark alley” toughness that I love in an NBA player, and his basketball IQ is through the roof. The only issue for me with West is a fit concern. With Al Horford on the roster, West’s pick-and-pop game is duplicated, and with his high level of production last season combined with the fact that he just took a two-year deal in Indiana, his contract price is going to be through the roof. With all things equal, I’d love to have West, but the fit isn’t right.
- JJ Hickson, PF/C Portland – Did you know that JJ Hickson was a top-10 rebounder in the NBA this season? He was 6th among all players in rebound rate (20.7%) and 7th in rebounds per game (10.4) while having the best offensive season of his career. Hickson shot 56% from the field, and while that is pretty clearly an outlier, he seems to have realized his limitations a bit. In addition, Hickson is a product of the city of Atlanta, and he would make a solid front-court partner with Al Horford. The defensive limitations of having Hickson play center would be mitigated by Al, and if Hickson remembers that he can’t shoot jump shots, he’s a tremendously valuable player.