Powell: A Good Sign
The Hawks announced on Monday afternoon that they have officially added free agent big man Josh Powell to their roster. Powell, a two-time NBA Champion with the L.A. Lakers, is a good signing AND a good sign for the Hawks organization.
Powell is widely regarded as a quality big man whose minutes were hurt by the fact that he was playing in a loaded frontcourt that featured Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum (not to mention Ron Artest and Luke Walton if L.A. was going with a smaller line-up). There is a high probability that Powell had drawn interest from other top teams (previous rumors had him linked to Denver, Chicago and Miami) and the fact that he chose to return home to Atlanta reflects positively on how players view the organization at this point.
There was a time not too long ago when an experienced player coming from a championship team would not even consider Atlanta as an option. It is amazing how little influence the mild winters of the South had on free agents when the team was coming off a 13-win season. A 53-win season and all of the key pieces returning can put any city on the map as an attractive free-agent destination.
Powell was named the 2001 Metro Atlanta Player of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club while a senior at Riverdale High School, averaging 22.7 points and 13 rebounds per game. While at Riverdale he set nine school records including career scoring, career rebounding, most points in a game (40) and most rebounds in a game (18). Shot 63 percent from the floor during his prep career, and registered a school record 67 dunks as a senior. He is the only player in school history to have his jersey retired.
When the Lakers visited Atlanta last season, Josh made a point to stop by his alma mater to donate $20,000 for a new computer lab. Powell brought two teammates to the assembly held at Riverdale that day – Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. The fact that two extremely accomplished stars would go out of their way to support a ‘role player’ speaks very highly of their respect for Josh as a player and a teammate.
Speaking with Powell earlier today, my first impressions are that he is a well-spoken, intelligent guy that sees a great opportunity to get minutes here in Atlanta. His strength, toughness and post-season experience should be a solid addition to the Hawks roster.