Atlanta Hawks Roster Report 2008-06-13

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Joe Johnson turned in one of his finest seasons yet in a Hawks uniform, leading the team to the playoffs and leading them in scoring the entire way. Whatever he lacks in verbal leadership abilities Johnson more than makes up for by leading this team by example. But those who questioned the Hawks' pursuit of him three years ago need not open wide to snack on the crow they so rightly deserve -- Johnson could care less.

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: Speedy Claxton's tenure with the Hawks is quickly turning into another cautionary tale for teams strapped to fix their draft mistakes through free agency. He didn't play a single game this season because of a knee injury that could very well end his career. That $25 million the Hawks paid him to be the point guard of the future (instead of drafting Chris Paul or Deron Williams) looks even more ridiculous now than it did when they signed the career backup.

BIGGEST NEEDS: The Hawks have to locate another shooter with size to help alleviate the double- and triple-team pressure Joe Johnson saw from defenses all year, particularly from the Celtics in the playoffs. That player doesn't even have to be a starter. But he has to be someone capable of posing a legitimate deep threat when he's on the floor.

FREE AGENT FOCUS: The Hawks have their own free agents to deal with, namely restricted free agent forwards Josh Smith and Josh Childress. But they also have to locate another shooter and at least two veteran big men to help fill out a rotation that was woefully thin in each of the past two seasons, even before the February trade that sent Shelden Williams and Lorenzen Wright to Sacramento.

PLAYER NOTES:

--One of the casualties of the Hawks' decision to keep Woodson is reserve G Salim Stoudamire. A free agent July 1, Stoudamire will have the option of pursuing his future elsewhere. He and Woodson's relationship was sour from the start, and in three years, Stoudamire never did carve out a niche for himself in Woodson's rotation. The kicker is, the Hawks will be in need of a player that does exactly what Stoudamire can do (score in bunches) and will likely hit the free agent market looking for that player. Never mind that they had him on the roster the last three years and never used him properly.

--The rumors surrounding the pursuit of restricted free agents Josh Smith and Josh Childress are already flowing. Smith's suitors could include not only Philadelphia, New Jersey and Memphis, he could also pique the interest of teams like Detroit, Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers. Those are all playoff teams that are either looking to retool or in need of an upgrade in youth and athleticism and defensive presence in the frontcourt. Childress could become a target for several Western Conference teams -- namely Phoenix, San Antonio and Dallas -- that have made an art out of plucking undervalued but versatile players from other teams and fitting them into their mix.

--Hawks rookie C Al Horford is spending his summer in a strange place for a guy that just grinded through a third straight lengthy season. Just days after the Hawks' season ended, Horford headed to Gainesville for summer school at Florida in an attempt to finish up his degree.



Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 13, 2008