August 04, 2005

Say it Ain't So

Memo to Steve Belkin -- tread carefully, my friend (for the record, I use the term "friend" loosely here). I don't know who you think you are, but you'd better get it together quickly lest you find yourself with an entire city's basketball fanbase (which admittedly amounts to about 11 people) plotting to leave flaming bags of fecal matter on your doorstep.

In case you don't know, Steve Belkin is the member of the Hawks' ownership team who is
holding up the Joe Johnson deal. Now, say what you want about the Hawks' proposed deal to get Johnson -- namely, they're overpaying at $70 mil for five years and giving up two future first-round picks -- but the Hawks need this. Badly. Sure the team landed Marvin Williams (a potential franchise player) in the 2005 Draft, but getting Joe Johnson means more than adding just another talented piece. This is about credibility. If the Hawks somehow fail to get Johnson, they will have gone two offseasons with a ton of salary cap room to spend on free agents and come away with essentially nothing (unless you count Zaza Pachulia as something, which I certainly do not). They need to regain some of the respect they've lost -- establish Atlanta as a place people want to come play -- and that can only happen if someone like Joe Johnson bolts a good situation in Phoenix because he wants to play in Atlanta (and I don't care that JJ is clearly coming to the Hawks in part because he's bitter at the Suns over how they handled his contract negotiations last year; frankly, I will take a premier free agent any way I can get one).

At the center of this problem is Belkin, who until today was stopping the deal without giving any specific reasons (as the team's "NBA governor," Belkin has the final say on approving any trades). But today Belkin spoke out, claiming he wants to sign Johnson but thinks giving up two picks is too much. He also claims that the Hawks are giving up a "quality player" in the deal in Boris Diaw, which shows you exactly how much this joker knows. In his two seasons in the NBA, Diaw has shown about as much aggressiveness as a sedated mule.

There's a chance that Belkin is just playing hardball with Phoenix thinking that they won't match the Hawks' offer to Johnson anyways (as Johnson is a restricted free agent, Phoenix has the ability to re-sign him by matching any contract offer; often teams will work out a deal involving players or picks as compensation to ensure that the team won't match the offer). If Belkin is playing hardball and he's right that Phoenix isn't going to match the offer regardless, then things could work out brilliantly for the Hawks. They could get Johnson without giving up any picks. But I'm not buying it. Personally, I think the Boston-based Belkin doesn't give two craps about the Hawks' franchise and is just trying to pinch pennies under the veil of looking out for the franchise. If he was a true Hawks loyalist and had been living and dying with the team at all over the past several years, he'd be so desperate to get this deal done that he -- like the rest of the Hawks' ownership team -- would essentially be willing to hand over the keys to his house to get Joe Johnson in a Hawks uni.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this thing is getting any prettier. Belkin's co-owners have tried to oust him from his role as governor, and the team's resident member of the Fun Police has in return filed a lawsuit.

Life as a Hawks fan sure is sweet...


Blogger jdg said...

Careful what you wish for. It is never good for your team to spend money just because they have it. I'd rather have my team continue to miss on free agents before getting one that's worthwhile than to radically overpay in money and draft picks to get somebody to fill up the cap space.

Frankly, I'd be happier with the Pachulia signing. If the Hawks get decent, free agents will want to go there. If not, not.

1:04 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger jimmyrad said...

Call me the grim reaper, but I'm siding with Grand Moff Belkin. (holy shit, shoot me for that one.)

70 mill for 5 years? Grossly overpaid, but I'll take it bc I don't think JJ will be a bust, even if he'll never be worth 15 mill. Giving up 2 1st round draft picks along with it? Cmon. The Suns are bending us over for the very reason you said we should let them: because we're desperate and because we can. If the Suns want Diaw and a 2nd rounder, fine, nothing big lost, but just because we can afford to give them the moon doesn't mean we should.

If the deal falls through and the Suns don't budge, I won't be angry.

10:38 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Babylon said...

Those 1st rounders are lottery protected.

11:26 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger jimmyrad said...

I saw they were protected, but that doesn't make it much better, imo. Besides, I believe there are rules regarding "Lottery Protection" and how long it lasts. Either way, the "unprotected" 1st round picks that the Hawks will be giving up are going to be in the 13-18 range, not Piston and Spurs range.

11:44 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger The OCC said...

"Jimmy" -- if that really is your name -- I'm starting to wonder if your account has been taken over by Belkin, or by an agent of The Belkin.

Seriously though, I understand what is being said, and I realize that the Hawks are being totally gouged, and if they somehow manage to get JJ without giving up the picks, I'll be hanging a "Yay, Belkin!" banner from my rafters. But at the end of the day, I just want to see the team improve its personnel, not just eternally be in rebuilding/we have lots of salary cap room mode.

3:03 PM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger jimmyrad said...

I'm still on Belky's side if he's throwing down the hammer bc we're getting robbed, but I still agree that the whole mess is surreal. The main point against Belky is that he is making a clear vote of no-confidence in Billy Knight, the Hawks 1st competent GM during my lifetime. If I had to choose, even with my clear bias towards Belkin and his daughters, I would prefer Knight to the stodgy old man when it comes to the majority of Hawks decisions.

4:38 PM, August 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Belkin knew better. Diaw turned into Most Improved player of the year. And Triple double machine! Atalanta needs to develop their own player. Many roguh diamonds there. Hire good trainers is what you need.

7:56 PM, May 10, 2006  

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