When Jamal Crawford demanded a trade or an extension four days ago, he probably realized that he has as much leverage as he's going to get with the Hawks' organization. He had a great season with them last year, he's the NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year, and he helped them to their first 50-win season since 1997-98. His problem is that even all that is not very much. One thing the Hawks' front office and coaching staff has done correctly is to diagnose Jamal Crawford-he's not a hybrid guard, he's just a smaller shooting guard with a sick crossover. After drafting a shooting guard and then paying another one $124 million, there's simply no room on this roster for Crawford in the future.â†µ
Sekou Smith, in his blog, also points out that the Hawks have other mouths to feed after this year. Of particular interest in this tidbit:â†µ
Muddying matters even more for the Hawks is the status of All-Star center Al Horford, who is eligible for an extension of his rookie deal (and according to HT sources will receive a near-max extension offer before the Oct. 31 deadline).â†µ
The first part is fairly obvious -- with Horford facing restricted free agency this year and having become one of the best centers in the league, there's no doubts about who the Hawks intend to keep. The second part is essentially breaking news. Sekou was great at breaking news at the Hawks' beat writer, so his sources shouldn't be doubted now. If this is true, it's essentially spitting in the face of Jamal. There's no need to give Al Horford an extension at this point, next year they could very well give him the Josh Smith treatment, and wait to see what kind of offers he gets before extending him. Bret LaGree at Hoopinion wrote a great piece on this today. I recommend it to anyone reading this.â†µ
If the Hawks a near max extension, it's another case of poor money management-though not nearly as bad as the Joe Johnson deal. If this deal is truly "near-max" there is no way that Horford could be offered more money next offseason. There's definitely a chance that the highest bidders for his services offer less, and the Hawks' prerogative to match gives them all the negotiating leverage. Even if they're forced to give him the same extension next offseason, at least we'll be confident that they did not overpay -- something we'll never be certain of otherwise.