On July 2nd, 2012, the Atlanta Hawks had one of the best days in recent franchise history, and they didn’t even play a game.
Diehard fans would recognize that particular date as when GM Danny Ferry managed to unload the contracts of both Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams within a single afternoon, and in the process, he was able to reset the future of the roster. On the surface, the deals were fantastic enough, shedding the books completely in an effort to rebuild around Al Horford, but there is a small piece to the Johnson trade that is suddenly quite crucial.
The Hawks have the right to switch 1st-round draft picks with Brooklyn in BOTH 2014 and 2015.
When the deal happened, that was a small byline, and when the Nets amassed a great deal of talent in the subsequent months, it became almost forgotten. After all, Brooklyn was (on paper) an NBA title contender, while the Hawks spent their off-season making frugal (but effective) moves to lock up Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap, but maintain flexibility. Something crazy happened along the way, though, in that the wheels have come flying off the wagon for the Nets.
As of this post, Brooklyn sits in 13th place (not a misprint) in the woeful Eastern Conference with a 6-14 record, and that win-loss mark is no fluke. The Nets are 28th in the league (and 14th in the East) in “net rating” allowing more than 8 points more per 100 possessions than they score, and their 29th ranked defense (allowing 107.9 points per game) is the major issue.
It’s fair to remember that Brooklyn has had terrible injury luck this year, with their star point guard on the shelf in Deron Williams, and guys like Brook Lopez banged up at various points. However, the Nets have become one of the bigger running jokes in the league under the “leadership” of Jason Kidd, and there is now real concern that they could miss the playoffs.
What does that mean?
Well, in short, it means that Danny Ferry and the Hawks are suddenly in line for a potential lottery pick, even if Atlanta comfortably makes the playoffs as expected. The 2014 NBA Draft features one of the more loaded player pools in recent memory, and if the Nets somehow missed the playoffs with the league’s highest payroll, the draft lottery would become very interesting to Hawks fans.
It’s too early to start counting ping-pong balls or scouting the likes of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle, but this is not a full-blown story line, and I am openly rooting against Brooklyn on a nightly basis.
Join me, won’t you?