ATLANTA — For the second time in his career, Danny Ferry has traded for forward Antawn Jamison.
The circumstances on Thursday are far different from what they were when Ferry last did so in 2010 as general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Jamison — averaging 20 points per game back then — was perceived as the complimentary piece that would help bring LeBron James and the Cavaliers a championship.
This time, with Jamison coming to the Hawks from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for the rights to Cenk Akyol, a 2005 draft pick of the Hawks who remains in the Turkish league and has never played in the NBA, Jamison is now 37 and well past that prime of four years ago. In 22 games, he was averaging 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game. He did not play in 16 of the Clippers’ past 17 games.
It remains uncertain as to whether Jamison will join the Hawks. He could choose to retire or the Hawks themselves could choose to cut him. In order to make room on the roster for Jamison, the Hawks had to cut forward Cartier Martin, who started on Wednesday, several hours before his 10-day contract was set to expire.
Mired in a seven-game losing streak and having slipped from third in the Eastern Conference to seventh, the Hawks and Ferry have some critical decisions to make. With so many injuries besieging the Hawks, they might have to pick their poison. Do they want a younger, smaller forward like Martin, whom the Hawks could re-sign and who might add some offense or, with centers Al Horford, Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon all injured, do they need a bigger presence inside to provide some defense and rebounding?
In games on Tuesday and Wednesday, Hawks’ 15-year veteran center Elton Brand played a combined 65 minutes, a total that does not appear to be sustainable over the next week or so until Ayon returns from a shoulder injury.
The answers to those questions might only become clearer in the next 48 hours.
"We’ll look at Antawn over the next couple of days and decide if it’s the best fit for each other — we haven’t talked to him as of yet — and make decisions accordingly," Ferry said on Thursday. "Regarding Antawn, I have personal experience with him from the year we were together in Cleveland. He is and always has been an ultimate professional and class, high-class guy. That’s his trademark within the NBA and he really is a gentleman."
Amid all of the uncertainty and the current losing streak, Ferry offered his analysis of the Hawks, who are 25-28. There also is the possibility that starting point guard Jeff Teague, who "tweaked" his left ankle late in the game on Wednesday, might not be able to play at Detroit on Friday or at home against the New York Knicks on Saturday.
Ferry said he thought the Hawks were in an "opportunistic period if healthy to capitalize" on a "peculiar" Eastern Conference — only four teams are above .500. However, the injuries might have altered that thinking. Nonetheless, he remains optimistic long-term about the Hawks, even if he has had to take what he called a "broader" perspective on the team’s season and decisions he will make going forward to improve it.
"The good news is I like the foundation our group is putting down, as far as how to play and a way of playing and we play hard every night," Ferry said. "We’re playing within the confines of a system that I think can be successful. Obviously, some good health and getting some guys back can and will be important to our season but I do I like our group.
"Obviously, we need to continue to build and add to what we’re doing. Both from the depth of how we play with the depth of our roster and we’ll continue to do so whether it’s free agency or (Developmental) League players or international players but also as we look at the summer and the draft and free agency this summer we’ll have the opportunity to explore all of those things. We have many paths and many options open to us to continue to build and grow our program."