Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006 at 2:50 am  |  21 responses

Three Strikes, Harrington’s Out

The Pacers get over on the Hawks…

by Lang Whitaker

Back in July, I wrote here that I had heard the Hawks and Pacers were ready to swap Al Harrington for more or less nothing — a first round pick and cash.

Last night it finally happened: the Hawks traded Al Harrington (and Johnny Edwards) to Indiana for a first round pick in 2007. And that’s all. No, really. That’s all.

It’s a great deal for Indiana. They’ve turned into the Hawks of the Central Division with a swingman-heavy roster, but Harrington will rebound, help spread the floor with his improved three point shooting and give the Pacers size.

For Atlanta, this is a mess, and as a Hawks fan I’m angry. The Hawks have screwed this up all the way around. They could’ve re-signed him during the season, which might have kept Al from trying to do too much and playing outside the offense, like he frequently did in an attempt to show his value. That hurt the team once. They could’ve moved him at the trade deadline to a contender for a pick this summer. That hurt the team a second time. And now they got ripped off by the Pacers. That hurt the team a third time.

Harrington himself said it pretty well last night: “I definitely look at it like Indiana got over on Atlanta. I don’t care what anybody says, a draft pick can’t replace 19 and seven (Harrington’s scoring and rebounding averages from last season). When you talk about winning and going to the next level, you can’t say one thing and do another. That’s just how I feel.”

He’s right. Hawks GM Billy Knight told the AJC‘s Sekou Smith, “There were a lot of good and interesting players involved in the conversations we had. But with our team the way it is currently constructed, none of them made sense for us right now. Obviously, we didn’t think that any of those deals would be good for us, and that’s why we didn’t do a deal that brought us back contracts we didn’t want.”

Contracts you didn’t want? The Hawks could’ve asked for David Harrison, who makes $2 million combined over the next two seasons, and could’ve provided size and rebounding. Or what about Jeff Foster, who has 3 years and about $17 million left? You’re telling me a team that won 26 games last season couldn’t use either of those guys?

But no, the Hawks didn’t want to spend money, which is what it really comes down to. According to people I talked to, Billy Knight had his hands tied by the Hawks ownership, which didn’t want to take on money. How horrible is that? It’s like the Hawks are being run by Scrooge McDuck. It’s time like these that I wish relegation existed in the NBA, so that the Hawks would get sent down to the minors, the owners would lose all their money and someone else would buy the team. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing worse than an owner that refuses to put his money where the fans are.

The only way this works in the Hawks favor is if the increased playing time for our young guys (Marvin Williams, mostly) pays dividends down the road. But in the short term, deciding that you don’t care about getting better right this second tells fans that they shouldn’t care about you, either.

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  • http://nba.com Nadav

    It seems as if Billy Knight is “in a sweatsuit, tryin’ not to sweat”

  • http://nba.com jologs

    what a steal!

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    If it makes you feel better, the Wages of Wins book ranked Harrington as the most overvalued player in the NBA.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    I thought that book was pretty overvalued.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Marcel Mutoni

    that, as they say, is just unfortunate.

  • Brandon

    At least the pick is for next year’s draft. If you would have traded him at mid-season and got a 2006 draft pick you might as well have just thrown that rookie money into the toilet. Those guys are all garbage. At least next year there will be some solid players.

  • myung

    Lang, this is going to come off as “the glass is half full.” You’ve been warned.

    I’m with you when you say we should’ve gotten more value in return. However, and this is NOT taking a shot at the Knicks…but we’re not run like the Knicks. Our owners don’t just take on contracts, even if the player is clearly a decent player (Troy Murphy?).

    So like you said, Knight’s hands were tied.

    Now here’s my possibly too optimisitc view on our situation…

    We addressed our 2 biggest needs.

    1. Point guard, by signing Speedy Claxton.
    2. Interior defense and rebounding, by signing Lorenzen Wright and drafting Shelden Williams.

    Harrington was someone I liked and wouldn’t have minded having as a Hawk for the long term. He’s still young and according to every interview I ever heard, he was a great GUY, not just a good player. You need guys like that in your locker room.

    That being said, I think we’ve seen the best of Al Harrington. When he first came to the Hawks in the Stephen Jackson trade, I thought we had our first consistent All Star since Dominique Wilkins. I thought he’d be a 25 and 10 guy.

    Instead, he was fairly inconsistent and in this past year, his contract year, playing for a very bad team, he managed to average just 19 and 7. If you average 19 and 7 on a loaded team like the Pistons or Spurs, you’re almost an All Star. When you’re averaging 19 and 7 on one of the NBA’s worst teams in your contract year, well, let’s just say I don’t think Al Harrington will playing in Las Vegas on a Sunday next February.

    This trade to me is also Billy Knight’s chance to show the world that he didn’t err when he passed up on the chance to draft a PG last year when he famously took Marv over Chris Paul and Deron Williams. I think if Marvin doesn’t turn into the star we drafted him to be, Billy Knight will be looking for work in the near future.

    We didn’t trade for any veteran swingmen or PF’s because it now frees up Marvin to get a consistent 30 to 35 minutes a night to prove that he can be a star in this league.

    By all means, Chris Paul has the leg up on Bogut, Marvin, Deron, and everyone else from the draft class of 2005. But while I agree that he is a bona fide star (All Star, really), I think it’s too early to pass judgment on the rest of the class.

    Trading Al and getting no bodies in return gives Marvin Williams and the 2 Josh’s ample minutes to show that they, along with Shelden and Joe, are the future of this team.

    This isn’t a formula for guaranteed success. Marvin and the Josh’s could, in fact, totally prove this upcoming year that they’re overrated and unworthy of the hype they’ve received in the past few years (SLAM magazine included). They might all be busts.

    And if that happens, we’ll have to rebuild…again. And I might need to find a new team to root for (kidding…but only half kidding).

    But we’ve got to give it a shot. We used our 2 lottery picks in 2004 on the Josh’s. We used the 2nd over all pick on Marvin in 2005. Now it’s put up or shut up time.

    Let’s see what they’re made of.

    And lastly, getting a first round (albeit lottery protected) pick in what should be one of the best draft classes in memory is a big plus.

    Best case scenario for the Hawks is (try not to laugh people) we shock the world and make the Playoffs this year. Then we ship OUR pick to the Suns (because of the infamous Diaw trade) but at least we’ll still have a 1st round pick now.

    Or we suck again and get a lottery pick and we’ll have 2 first round picks in the loaded 2007 draft.

    I know I’m putting way too positive a spin on this whole thing, but I’m honestly not that unhappy, Lang.

    Again, if our organization had deep pockets (or was apathetic to fat contracts), things would’ve turned out differently.

    But the situation is what it is.

    I’m just going to suck it up and hope that the core of Joe, Josh, Josh, Marvin, Zaza, Speedy, and Shelden will lead us back to respectability.

    Al was the consummate professional during his Hawks tenure. I’ll always root for him.

    But whatevers…what’s done is done. I’m just going to sound stupid like I do every summer and say, “OK, now THIS is our year.”

    Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn sometimes.

    One of these years I’ve got to be right.

  • Vyse

    That Wages of Wins book was a joke. A huge example of stats gone horribly wrong. Idiots.

    The deal is fine. Oh no, not David Harrison! We missed out on David Harrison! So what, Harrison’s pretty much the only young guy with a moderately sized contract Indiana was willing to trade.


    Look at the salaries. Granger is it, and lmfao @ trying to get him. Trading for a guy who’ll average over five and a half million a year for three years who’s just 20 minutes of mediocre bench minutes is not wise…

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    I didn’t read Wages of Wins, but I read that recent Baseball Prospectus book. It included such wisdom as Big Papi’s clutchness is a short term trend that will end and Jim Thome has old man skills and would therefore be a terrible signing.

    The intro to Chad Ford’s piece is pretty funny:

    It’s not shocking to hear the words “great trade” when the team attached to the other end of the deal is the Atlanta Hawks.

  • Drew

    Atl. Hawks = LA Clippers east??

    nothing worse than having your team in any sport run by incompetent ownership and GM.

    Look at my Celtics and their actions throughout the entire 90′s!!

    now their the Milwaukee Bucks from the 80′s
    some good players can be fun to watch and will make the playoffs.. they just won’t do much once they are there..

  • Myung

    LA Clippers East? I wish.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post from a few days ago, the one difference I see in the Clippers Vs. Hawks argument is that the Clippers have had much better draft picks than the Hawks.

    OK, so Olowokandi was the biggest bust of a #1 pick in recent memory (to me, he is worse than Kwame…not just because I think he’s a worse player but I think the 1998 draft was one of the best in recent memory, with guys like Vince, Dirk, Bibby, White Chocolate, P Double…while 2001 was not nearly as strong).

    Even Darius Miles is a semi-bust…but you’ve always got guys like Q, Odom, Maggette, Wilcox (who the Clips got from the Hawks via the Lorenzen Wright trade, for the record), Kaman, and Jaric. I’m sure I’m leaving off a few, but I’m doing this off the top of my head.

    I’d say Billy Knight has been OK. I still say it’s too early to judge Josh Smith, Josh Childress (passing on Deng and Iguodala was sickening), Marvin, and Shelden.

    But yeah…to be honest, I’d much rather be the Clips (forget the fact that they’re now one of the league’s best teams).

    They may have a cheapskate owner…but at least he is not an 8 headed monster like our “owner” is.

    I’ll take the Clippers East comparison as a compliment.


  • Chunk up da duece

    Shelden Williams will be out of the league in 3 yrs(or less). If anyone has seen him play in person(which I did while he was in High School) you’ll immeadiately know that he belongs nowhere near an NBA court. Not hating, but his game is geared to beat up on internaTional guys in some other league

  • Paul

    As a Suns fan, I just want to point out to myung that you only get to keep your lottery pick if it is in the top 3 next year. If you get 4, it’s ours (and maybe Noah too)!

  • Chunk up da duece

    The way this ATL team looks, at least they have a shot at the Ogden sweetstakes. If they win that, all will be forgotten. Even though this team is young and talented, they won’t win a championship without that Gold Medal Superstar (MJ, Bird, Magic, Duncan, Wade, etc.) Atlanta does not have that player, so tanking this yr should be an acceptable policy if u plan on winning a title in the next decade. If u r just happy to be a playoff contender for the next few yrs, then keeping harrington or getting players back wouldve worked.

  • Myung

    I know, Paul…I know.


    Chunk…I think you’re wrong about Shelden. I don’t think he’ll be an All Star, but I really think he’ll carve out a solid pro career.

    And that Greg Ogden is great, isn’t he? =)

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Yeah, I’d love Ogden.

  • Myung

    AJ Mustard > Ogden

  • Abed

    I feel u on this one lang. Iam a Die-Hard Suns fan but Ive been living in ATL since 1999 and Its been frustrating to see the moves the Hawks have made since i been here..Horrible, Just Horrible!

  • i. favors

    I really hope that Marvin Williams can step up and put up the numbers Al did or Billy Knight is gonna look more crazy than he does now and might be looking for another job.

  • simon

    Ogden, AJ Mustard… haha!!

  • Vyse

    “It included such wisdom as Big Papi’s clutchness is a short term trend that will end and Jim Thome has old man skills and would therefore be a terrible signing.”

    You actually butchered it. It said Papi had only been clutch in two years, and made no projection about the following years because the author admitted it was random. Nevermind the term “clutch” is so ambiguous — is it clutch hitting a home run in the 2nd inning to give your team the lead? Because that means more than an eighth inning home run to tie the game.

    And they actually lauded the Jim Thome trade, so I have no idea what you’re talking about. They said Chicago needed left-handed pop and more OBP, and it was the type of gutsy trade GMs need to do if they want to stay on top.

    Try again.