Hawks taking new flight in Atlanta

Hawks taking new flight in Atlanta
July 20, 2012, 3:30 pm
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The Joe Johnson era is over in Atlanta. After Danny Ferry took over as general manager this summer, his first order of business was to unload the high-priced shooter to the Brooklyn Nets for a slew of middle-of-the road players and a first-round draft pick.

After the Hawks signed Johnson to a 6-year, 119-million max deal two years ago, you figured that the good but not great shooting guard would not to be able to live up to the deal, and that's exactly what happened. And that made Johnson disposable.

Johnson averaged about 20 points over 7 years for Atlanta but never could elevate the Hawks to being one of the top teams in the eastern conference. The Hawks had hoped Johnson, forward Josh Smith and center Al Horford would become a big three for years to come, but the team struggled to advance far in the post-season. The Hawks finished with the fifth-best record in the eastern conference this past season and were bounced in the first round by Boston, ending the Hawks' three-year streak of advancing to the second round.

Johnson's ceiling with Atlanta had likely been reached and Ferry found a taker in Brooklyn, and now the Hawks are looking to retool with Horford and Smith still in the mix.

Horford missed most of last season with injury, playing in only 11 games and averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds, but he did come back to play well in the series loss to Boston. If healthy, Horford is one of the better centers in the eastern conference, scoring 15 a game two years ago.

Josh Smith is another player the Hawks will rely on heavily next season. The 6'-9 power forward averaged career highs in points (18.8) and rebounds (9.6) last season and he can score effectively inside and outside.

Jeff Teague has improved each season and he is back as the team's starting point guard. Teague averaged 12 points and 5 assists last year and showed he can be a reliable player in the league.

Ferry, hired in late June as the new GM, has been very active; trading forward Marvin Williams to Utah in return for point guard Devin Harris. Ferry added free-agent, sweet shooting guard Lou Williams who played for Philadelphia last season where he averaged 15 points as the Sixers' sixth man. Shooter Kyle Korver also comes on board in a trade from Chicago.

Atlanta drafted another shooting guard with their first-round pick in John Jenkins out of Vanderbilt. The Hawks also nabbed forward Mike Scott out of Virginia with their second-round selection.

Throw-ins in the Johnson trade -- Jordan Williams, Deshawn Stevenson, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro and Jordan Farmar -- now fill out the Hawks roster.

It will be a new-look Atlanta team next season. Don't expect a surge in wins, but the Hawks should at least be a playoff team once again.