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Panic time for Hawks' fans?

As the supposed “Greek Tragedy” of losing Josh Childress for next year quickly passes out of mind, Rick Sund, the Atlanta Hawks General Manager, faces his first challenge as the new Hawks man in charge. The fans have been told there is a "plan" for the 2008-2009 roster, but they have heard that many, many times before from management. The Hawks’ fan base has been burned so often in the past that panic set in after the Childress announcement. The fans are starved for something good to happen with this team. The danger for Sund is that the Celtics’ series has raised expectations, but the Hawk fans’ psyche is so fragile that their hopes can be easily dashed. What kind of moves can Sund make to bolster this scared, hysterical fan base?

1. Sund should sign Maurice Evans an unrestricted free agent that played in Orlando last year. He can fill the Josh Childress role off the bench. Evans started over 50 games for Orlando last year, and Orlando was better than the Hawks. The Contra Costa Times reported that Evans was offered a 3 year contract worth 6.4 million from Golden State. By signing Evans, the Hawks can get a solid NBA player for less years and much less money than resigning Childress.

2. As I previously stated, the Hawks should make a run a the Lakers’ Sasha Vujacic. In one report, the Lakers have offered Vujacic a 3 year contract worth $12 million. Supposedly, Vujacic wants more years and more money. The Hawks could get him for something like 4 years and $20 million dollars. That contact is much more palpable than a contract for J-Chill at over $30 million. Vujacic is a playoff tested, knock down three point shooter. His defense was exposed by Ray Allen, but he played very well in the Lakers’ other playoff series wins. Plus, Vujacic is bigger than some of the other restricted free agents out there like JR Smith and Lou Williams. He also can play the point guard spot in a tough spot if Bibby goes down with injury (a likely occurrence this year).

3. Speaking of JR Smith and Lou Williams, I like both of these guys better than Childress. Considering that Denver is making some moves to cut payroll and to deal Allen Iverson, they seem to want to resign JR Smith. But what if the Hawks offered Smith the money they just offered Childress? Surely, Smith would have to consider signing an offer sheet with Atlanta. Otherwise, offering Lou Williams an offer sheet makes sense for the Hawks. The danger is Philadelphia matching the offer, but they might not be able to if they are going to resign Andre Iguodala. Plus, the 76ers just signed former Hawks’ player Royal Ivey. Ivey and Williams play different positions, but Lou might be competing with the defensive-minded Ivey for playing time off the bench.

4. I have been promoting the signing and trading of Josh Smith for the past month or so. The Hawks have to resign Smith. They should then explore some trade options. Josh Smith is a potential All-Star, but the key word is potential. The Hawks should offer him a fair and reasonable offer like 4 years and $45 million. Some players out there that could be in a deal for Smith are Ron Artest with another player, Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, or Tayshaun Prince. All of these guys fit in with the Hawks roster.

5. Lastly, the Hawks need a big man or two to fill out the roster. Sund can try to sign Kwame Brown or possibly another Denver Nuggets outcast Francisco Elson. Do not sign Randolph Morris or Lorenzen Wright. According to the Hawks' website, Othello Hunter, a young power forward from Ohio State, has played well for the summer league in Utah. He can get signed for very cheap.

The danger is making moves just for the sake of making moves. The best move would be to do a sign and trade for a talented perimeter-oriented small forward. Let Josh Smith go, but bring in someone that can fit in better with the Hawks line-up. A blockbuster deal would go a long way to restoring the fans' confidence and earning Rick Sund credibility in this town.


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