After extending Al Horford to the tune of 5 years, $60 million, speculation is growing that the Hawks will want to clear some salary before the summer. Chad Ford writes: “Clearly the Hawks love Horford and the toughness he brings to their front line, but can they really afford him after giving more than $100 million to Joe Johnson this summer? Several GMs believe the Hawks won’t be able to keep Johnson ($18.5 million in 2011-12), Josh Smith ($12.5 million in 2011-12), Marvin Williams ($8 million in 2011-12) and Horford ($12 million in 2011-12) together past this season for financial reasons. While Horford’s new salary won’t push the Hawks into the luxury tax, it will put them very close. The move means they won’t be able to afford to re-sign Jamal Crawford, or replace him with a similar salaried player next season, without incurring the tax. That situation is already leading to speculation that GM Rick Sund may be forced to put Smith on the market soon. Sund briefly flirted with trading Smith last summer, before pulling back. While no one is claiming he’s been made available yet, a number of GMs around the league expect his name to be in the mix by the February trade deadline. Williams would be the Hawks’ first choice to move, but he didn’t get a lot of bites when he was available this summer. That could push them to see what they can get for Smith.”
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