Josh Childress Returning to the NBA?
That idea fizzled, partially due a global economic meltdown and partially because Childress' move was less a domino than circumstantial requirement. The Hawks under Billy Knight famously treated restricted free agents like enemies, daring them to sign an offer sheet with another club to set the market instead of working out a fair deal in advance. Josh Smith, who became an RFA simultaneously with Childress, had to draw an offer from the Grizzlies before the Hawks matched. Childress skipped the drama and moved to Greece.
But now he's looking to return to the NBA, according to Greek reports. Childress did flirt with a return last summer, meeting with the Bucks before opting to keep his Olympiakos deal in tact. Childress can opt out of the 2010-11 season of his deal before July 15. That would make him a Hawks RFA once again. That means that while Childress can sign a deal with any NBA team, the Hawks would have the right to match and bring him back to Atlanta.
Atlanta's first priority, of course, is Joe Johnson, an unrestricted free agent come July 1. Hawks management has been vague as to whether the team will push hard to keep the guard, and it seems pretty likely the market for J.J. won't develop until the fates of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are decided.
Again, Childress will have to opt out of his Greek deal by July 15. If he signs a quick offer sheet with an NBA team (which he can do on July 8), the Hawks will have just seven days to decide whether to match or not. It could line up that decisions on Childress and Johnson are under consideration at the same time, with J.J.'s unrestricted status forcing the Hawks to potentially pre-empt outside offers.
The Hawks could also use Childress in a sign-and-trade in order to help shore up the backcourt. Class of 2009 prospect Jeff Teague, used seldomly under Mike Woodson, is expected to become the starter at point guard, pushing veteran Mike Bibby to the bench. Jamal Crawford, 2010's NBA Sixth Man of the Year, could replace Johnson in the starting five, but that leaves the backcourt painfully thin. You'd think Atlanta would want to do better than minimum-contract veterans back there with Bibby off the bench.
Childress is No. 12 on FanHouse's Top 50 NBA Free Agents list.