When the Hawks acquired Jamal Crawford and drafted Jeff Teague, it appeared as if Mike Bibby's time in Atlanta had come to an end. But as many veteran free agents have found out this offseason, teams aren't willing or able to spend a lot of money to bring in established players. That is why Bibby and the Hawks have reportedly agreed to a 3-year, $18 million contract that will keep him in Atlanta.
Since coming to Atlanta midway through the 2007-08 season, Bibby has been the veteran, calming presence the Hawks were needing to lead their young, talented core. At 31 years old, he is heading toward the downside of his career and isn't the scoring threat he once was in Sacramento. For an Atlanta team that boasts young, athletic players like Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford, and now Crawford and Teague, they don't need Bibby to drop 20 points a night. Instead, Bibby must continue to excel at his role as a floor general who can control the tempo of the game, make good decisions to set up his teammates, while still being able to knock down open jump shots. That leadership and unselfishness has brought success to the franchise as they have made the postseason in each of the last two years after suffering through an eight-year playoff drought.
Bringing the 11-year veteran point guard back also keeps their starting five of Bibby, Johnson, Williams, Smith, and Horford in tact. The Hawks were 20-12 last season when that group was on the floor for the opening tip and made it past the opening round of the playoffs (even though they were waxed by Cleveland in the second round.)
At $6 million a year, Bibby is a bargain considering his salary last season was around $14 million. His affordability allows Atlanta to be active with their own players like restricted free agent Williams or Johnson, who is entering the final year of his deal.
With their backcourt seemingly set, the Hawks now need to shift their focus to re-signing Zaza Pachulia or finding a different free agent to add some depth up front.
My only red flag with this signing involves Crawford's happiness. Crawford has always been a scoring guard who needs the ball in his hands and sometimes pouts when he feels he isn't being used to his fullest potential. With Bibby back, Crawford now must accept a role as sixth man which may cause issues seeing as he has started all 145 games he has played in during the last two seasons. If the former Wolverine can blend in with his new surroundings and not cause headaches for head coach Mike Woodson, Atlanta will undoubtedly be heading to the postseason for the third straight year, especially with an experienced point guard like Bibby running the show.