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Pass the Ouzo, Childress heads to Greece

The sky is not falling. Traffic is not backing up on the downtown connector. Okay maybe it is; but, Josh Childress going to Greece to play in the Euro League is not a crushing blow to the Atlanta Hawks. Childress is a bonafide NBA bench player with experience. He is a valuable player, but he is not irreplaceable. Chill’s move actually frees up Rick Sund to make other roster moves. The Hawks clearly wanted to resign Josh Childress. I believe the reports that the Hawks made him a fair contract offer. The problem is that what Josh Childress is worth in today’s NBA is less than what J-Chill thinks that he is worth.

Josh Childress is a smart guy. According to Wikipedia, he had a 3.5 grade point average in high school and an 1110 score on the SAT. Although that seems kind of low for the average Stanford student, there is no question Childress can hold his own in the game of life. Also, what many Hawks fans do not know is that Childress loves Souvlaki. His personal chef is noted for buying lots of feta cheese, for preparing dolmades, and serving J-Chill ouzo and metaxa. Because of this, his adjustment to playing international basketball and to living in Greece will be easier than it would be for most NBA players. However, Childress is going to find out that the transition from being a 6th man / role player to being the highest paid player on the team is much more daunting. When the Olympiakos fans are whistling at him, Childress will understand the difference between being asked to score 3 or 4 lay-ups a game and carrying a team to wins night after night. Childress is going to feel pressure unlike anything in his professional life. I see him coming back to the NBA next summer. Ask Joe Johnson. It has taken JJ a few years to become the unquestioned best player on the Hawks, and he is far more talented than J-Chill.

Apparently, Childress is not worth as much as he wanted from the NBA. In fact, he has underachieved according to his status as a lottery pick. No team extended him an offer sheet to sign. He is worth about what James Posey is worth: 4 years and $25 million. Posey is much bigger, can shoot the 3, and is a proven winner. In the NBA, you over pay for All-Stars not for bench players with intangibles. J-Chill has started fewer games every year since his rookie season. In his rookie season, 2004-2005 he started 44 games. Last year, he started 0 games, but had his best year by averaging 12 points and 57% from the fielding roughly 30 minutes per game. Instead of being grateful to Mike Woodson, Childress clearly does not like Woodson and does not want to play for him. As Childress minutes have gone down, his production has gone up and the Hawks have won more games. He probably should be thanking Woodson today for the dollars in the Olympiakos contract.

What can the Hawks do? In this column, I have been advocating for the Hawks to try to sign Andre Iguodala or to make a sign and trade for Ron Artest, Tayshaun Prince, and others. Trade scenarios are still out there. The Hawks still can sign Josh Smith. Smith might be able to log some minutes on the perimeter (That is not my first choice, but it could happen). The Hawks were right to wait and let other NBA teams set the market for Childress. Losing Childress hurts, but it is not a catastrophic, crushing loss. Childress will be back eventually, and the Hawks still will be better in 2008-2009.


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