Free agency offers teams the unique opportunity to improve their team by adding players from other teams and retaining the players they already have. Despite the Atlanta Hawks’ recent reputation as a bigger market team unable to bring in marquee free agents, the Hawks have done just fine when it comes to convincing players to sign with the team.
The Atlanta Hawks were on the verge of being contenders in the late 80s. The team had won 50 or more games in the previous three seasons behind the efforts of Dominique Wilkins. So, when the team signed veteran center Moses Malone to a three-year deal, many thought the move would be the one to get Atlanta over the hump.
Malone would play fairly well in his three seasons as a Hawk, making the All-Star game in 1989 and averaging 16.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game but Atlanta was never able to get past the first round while he was there.
After spending his first seven seasons with the Utah Jazz, free-agent power forward Paul Millsap chose to sign with Atlanta on a two-year deal. While Millsap was a good player in Utah, he was able to take his game to the next level with the Hawks.
In four seasons with the team, Millsap was able to put up 17.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks per game while making the All-Star team each season. Millsap was also arguably the best player on the famous 6-win Hawks squad from 2014-15.
Roundfield apparently chose Atlanta over the Phoenix Suns in 1978 so that his father, who lived in Detroit and was afraid of flying, could occasionally travel and watch his games. Well, that worked out well for the Hawks.
Like Millsap, Roundfield went from a good to great player when he arrived in Atlanta. Roundfield would make three All-Star appearances in six seasons with the Hawks and was also named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First or Second Team all six of those seasons.
The season before he joined the Hawks, Mutombo had already established himself as the best defensive big man in the league after he put up an astounding 4.5 blocks per game for the 1995-96 season.
Before Mutombo arrived, the Hawks were already a great defensive team ranking 10th and 3rd in points allowed per game in the previous two seasons respectively.
Mutombo, along with All-Star Steve Smith would bring some success to Atlanta leading the team to back-to-back 50-win seasons but that success didn’t last forever.
All in all, the 7-foot-2 center would spend five and a half seasons in Atlanta where he put up 11.9 points, 12.6 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game.
One of the best Hawks of all time, Iso Joe joined the team back in 2005 after Johnson felt like the Suns had low-balled him on an extension. In turn, Atlanta was able to sign the rising star to a five-year deal worth $70 as a part of a sign-and-trade deal
Johnson would go on to spend the majority of his career in Atlanta where, in seven seasons, he would be named an All-Star six times, only failing to eclipse 20 points per game twice.
While a massive $119 million contract in 2010 would handcuff the Hawks financially and diminish Johnson’s legacy as a Hawk, there’s no doubt that the crafty guard is one of the best decisions the Hawks have ever made — at least at first.