The Atlanta Hawks and Jamal Crawford go into the offseason at a bit of a crossroads. Crawford is a free agent and the Hawks are so close to the luxury tax threshold for next season that it may be nearly impossible to sign him.
Atlanta has $64.3 million already distributed to seven players, including Joe Johnson, who will make $18 million next year. It's going to be hard enough for the team to avoid brushing over the luxury tax threshold -- something that ownership has said they want to avoid. It's going to be even harder to do so if they sign Crawford to what would be expected to fetch about $10 million a year or so.
It will be an interesting question how the Atlanta Spirit will handle this, especially with a lockout looming. That would seemingly put the emphasis on getting a deal wrapped up before the current CBA expires on June 30.
If they do not, NBA rules could change. And that could mean an adoption of a hard cap. If Crawford is not signed to an extension before that date, Atlanta will likely be unable to resign Crawford under a hard cap that is expected to be at or near the luxury tax threshold.
If Atlanta wants to keep Crawford here, it may be imperative on Hawks GM Rick Sund to make a decision quickly. It may be better to have the 2010 Sixth Man of the Year wrapped up to a deal before the CBA expires, just in case they are able to grandfather him in under new rules.