“[There] ain’t nobody [who] would want to go there.” That is what New York Knicks Small Forward Carmelo Anthony had to say about the Atlanta Hawks in wake of the Danny Ferry controversy. It’s been a while since the Atlanta Hawks have signed a big name free agent on the open market. Sure, a big city like New York will always be an attractive market to free agents, but it seems Atlanta is starting to get some attention of their own. Last season, the Hawks won 60 games, went to the Eastern Conference Finals, and actually sold out the arena night in and night out for the first time in years. Carmelo Anthony sat on the bench “injured” and that’s why the Knicks are drafting 4th overall this year. But that’s besides the point.
Atlanta has high warm weather, quality living, a nice night life, and now they have a top-tier basketball team. They have cap flexibility and the reigning NBA Coach of the Year in Mike Budenholzer. They run an offensive system that can make almost any player look good. The results speak for themselves, and the league is taking notice. It’s been reported that players such as Lamarcus Aldridge and Monta Eliis have interest in Atlanta. I repeat, they have interest in us. Paul Millsap is a great player in his own right, but a frontcourt of Horford and Aldridge should have fans salivating. Hey, maybe it’s the new jerseys that are getting player’s attention.
These are just rumors, but fans need to realize that winning DOES change things. San Antonio was far from a basketball town until David Robinson and Tim Duncan came along and started winning championships. Could this be the year Atlanta makes a big splash and signs a big name free agent that puts them over the top? Who knows. But as of now they are a proven winner with a ton of cap space. The timing really couldn’t get any better, as the salary cap is projected to skyrocket when the NBA’s new TV deal kicks in next summer.
The Hawks are in the midst of rebranding the franchise, and so far the product on the floor is helping this become a huge success. If you went to a big game in Phillips Arena this season, you saw that the changes were evident. Atlanta’s basketball culture is growing. Hopefully a 60 win season is just the beginning of a dynasty in the making.