Atlanta is expected to have somewhere near $35 million in cap space available to it this summer. There is little expectation the Hawks will re-sign Josh Smith (more of a mutual split) and so the Hawks are moving forward and looking to make a splash this summer in free agency.
It is a poorly kept secret that Atlanta is going after the two biggest fish in the free agent sea: Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. In fact, it is not a secret and that is the problem.
Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the Hawks may have violated the NBA's anti-tampering rules by mentioning Dwight Howard and Chris Paul in a letter to a potential season ticket holder. It featured the headline: "Hot New Player News: Chris Paul and Dwight Howard." The text below followed:
The buzz around our offseason is more than heating up. With massive cap space, 4 draft picks, and free agency rapidly approaching, we sit in the best position in the NBA. Player interest is skyrocketing as the possibilities of landing Chris Paul & Dwight Howard become more and more of a reality.
This is your opportunity to get on board before its (sic) too late. Once we solidify our signings there will be no seats left.
Hawks president Bob Williams confirmed a member of the Hawks ticket-sales department sent the letter, but said it was sent on that employee's own volition and was not approved by the team. The collective bargaining agreement specifically advises team personnel to decline comment on the status of upcoming free agents. It forbids teams from enticing free agents before the July 1 free agency period.
A fine is likely on the way for the Hawks, although the NBA issued no comment.
This should be a fine way to start a crazy free agency period.