NBA free agency produces surprises on a yearly basis. Teams pay a premium for talent and guys are routinely rewarded for their hard work and development. One of this year’s surprises is forward DeMarre Carroll, who agreed to terms with the Toronto Raptors on a four-year, $60 million deal early in free agency.
Carroll played the last two seasons in Atlanta on a two-year, $5 million deal and developed into one of the league’s best bargains in 2014 and 2015. Now the emerging forward heads to the Raptors as the team’s highest paid player, making more annually than All-Star guard Kyle Lowry and former All-Star DeMar DeRozan.
While life has gotten sweeter for Carroll, his departure has undoubtedly caused the Hawks to scramble for someone to help fill his void in the lineup.
However, the combination of trading for veteran center Tiago Splitter and All-Star forward Paul Millsap’s new deal, the Hawks find themselves with no cap space and only a room exception to utilize in bringing in any additional help on the wing.
Keep in mind the room exception starts at a base salary of $2.8 million in season one.
Here’s how the Hawks’ offseason has stacked up until this point:
Added: Tim Hardaway Jr., Tiago Splitter
Lost: DeMarre Carroll, Pero Antic
Retained: Paul Millsap
With little in the way of cap space and only armed with a room exception, let’s now take a look at some options who may fit what the Hawks are looking for and could land within their budget.
Wesley Johnson, 6’7, SF
2014-15 Salary: $915k
It’s easy to forget Johnson was the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft and while he may never live up to the hype associated with a pick at that slot, he’s coming off consecutive solid campaigns with the rebuilding Los Angeles Lakers. Also consider the fact he’s knocked down 191 three-point shots over the past two seasons and has shown the willingness to defend. This could be a sneaky, bargain addition for Atlanta – on paper at least.
Jason Richardson, 6’6, SG/SF
2014-15 Salary: $5.6 million
Richardson missed the entire 2013-14 campaign with a knee injury, but managed to appear in 19 games for the Philadelphia 76ers last season. While his best days are clearly behind him, Richardson is a veteran with playoff experience, has connected on 37 percent of this career three-point attempts and may be looking to end his career with a team that has playoff potential.
Jeff Taylor, 6’7, SF
2014-15 Salary: $915k
Taylor has played only 54 games the past two seasons, but showed promise in Charlotte as a rookie in 2013. A solid wing defender when healthy, Taylor is currently an unrestricted free agent looking for his next opportunity.
Alonzo Gee, 6’6, SF
2014-15 Salary: $915k
Gee put together back-to-back double-digit scoring campaigns in 2012 and 2013 as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but has bounced around the league since. Gee isn’t the best long-range shooter but has proven to be decent on the defensive end while proving in the past to be capable of handling extended minutes if called into action.
Tayshaun Prince, 6’9, SF
2014-15 Salary: $7.7 million
Prince, 35, is a bit long in the tooth and nowhere near the defender he used to be in his prime, but if the Hawks are looking for a guy who won’t make waves in the locker room, has playoff experience, can knock down the open jumper and plays within his role, then Prince may be worth a look.
Caron Butler, 6’7, SF
2014-15 Salary: $4.5 million
Butler, a former All-Star and 20-point scorer, is at the tail end of a solid career. He managed to play 78 games for Detroit this past season and registered 21 starts. Known for his character and never back down mentality, Butler is an experienced player who may be a short term plug to handle some of the minutes opened up by Carroll’s departure.
Dorell Wright, 6-7 200, SF
2014-15 Salary: $3.1 million
Wright, an 11-year veteran, has carved out a solid career serving primarily in reserve roles throughout his tenure in the league. Wright is a career 37 percent shooter from three-point range and from 2011 to 2013 knocked down a total of 434 three-pointers (an average of 144 per season during this span).
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