Hawks Thinking John Salmons if Joe Johnson Leaves
The Hawks, according to a source within the organization, have discussed Salmons internally as a top option if they are unable to keep All-Star guard Joe Johnson.
Salmons still has one year remaining with the Bucks, paying him $5.81 million, but he has indicated that he will bypass that final season to become a free agent.
The two sides have been talking about a possible extension, and they will continue those discussions up to the June 30 deadline, according to general manager John Hammond.
The Hawks interest is not unexpected because there is a growing concern in Atlanta that Johnson will be lured away by one of the big-market team that have cleared enough salary cap space for a maximum-salaried free agent.
Johnson finished last season poorly, struggling as his Hawks were swept from the playoffs by the Orlando Magic, raising concern over his real value to the franchise. He had turned down a $55 million extension last summer, believing he could do better this summer.
The Hawks will be one of many teams talking to Salmons if he becomes a free agent. Although teams are not permitted to talk with players still under contract, or even free agents before July 1, all NBA teams are in various stages of planning for free agents at every level. And the Hawks are no different, except they have concerns about losing their best player, and what they would do next.
Salmons was obtained by the Bucks from Chicago in February, and he was the key for them making the playoffs for the first time in four years. Although he came into last season with a career scoring average of just 8.8 points, he averaged 19.9 points for the Bucks in the second half of last season. He also averaged 18 points in the first round playoff series that the Bucks lost to the Hawks.
Hammond told Chris Tomasson of FanHouse earlier this week that he still wants to keep Salmons, but the Bucks have been making alternative plans. They traded this week first for swingman Corey Maggette (Golden State) and then Chris Douglas-Roberts (New Jersey), which makes the return of Salmons look unlikely.