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The Early Lead
Posted at 11:59 AM ET, 07/03/2012

Reports: Atlanta Hawks deal Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams to clear cap space for 2013-14


Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson are the latest casualties of the NBA’s salary dumping strategy. (David Goldman - AP)
Dumping salary and loading up on expiring contracts is the trailhead to remaking a franchise in the NBA.

Now the Atlanta Hawks are the latest team to follow the model that helped build the NBA champion Miami Heat, among others.

With a pair of massive moves, new Hawks general manager Danny Ferry is following suit.

The Hawks reportedly dealt Joe Johnson to Brooklyn on Monday and Marvin Williams to Utah, freeing up considerable future cap space and kicking off a fire sale that may just be beginning.

The Johnson trade landed Atlanta the expiring contracts of five players: Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson and Jordan Williams. The Hawks got the expiring contract of Devin Harris from the Jazz in exchange for Williams.


Dwight Howard wants out of Orlando... again. (JEFFREY PHELPS - AP)
The salary shedding means the Hawks will be in position to make a run at next summer’s free agent class, which — at the moment — would include Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and their own Josh Smith. That certainly sounds like a formidable ‘Big 3.’ But if the rumors of Howard’s move to Brooklyn turn into reality, Atlanta may be left out of the party.

According to an ESPN report, the Magic are discussing a deal that would send Howard to the Nets for Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and Brooklyn’s 2013, 2014 and 2017 first-round picks.

The new-look Nets continue to seem like a logical destination for Howard, and if Brooklyn can acquire the all-star center and re-sign point guard Deron Williams, it would immediately become a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference. But logistically, Atlanta is a similarly attractive landing spot. Both Howard and Smith are from Georgia’s capital, and if Atlanta could team them with Paul, the Hawks instantly become a major threat in the East.

Ferry is doing his best to set the table. The Hawks now have only two players — Al Horford and first-round pick John Jenkins — locked up for the 2013-2014 season. By that point, they will have more than $40 million in salary cap room. If Atlanta can make it happen, it would give the sagging franchise with dismal attendance a much-needed jolt of interest. But if the Hawks miss out on the big names next summer, then what?

Peter Vescey forecasts a move, tweeting: “Hawks are reloading, dumping money, about to relocate to St. Louis.”

More

Dwight Howard to Nets? Could Brooklyn soon have its own Big 3?

Reports: Hawks agree to deal Johnson to Nets

By  |  11:59 AM ET, 07/03/2012

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