Hawks Retain Continuity, Keep Bibby And Pachulia

Monday, July 13, 2009
By Micah Hart

Zaza Pachulia and Mike Bibby will re-join Joe Johnson for 2009-10
The rumors have been out there for a week or so now, but today the Hawks made it official, inking free agents Mike Bibby and Zaza Pachulia to deals that will keep them in Atlanta threads for the foreseeable future.

These moves are incredibly important for the franchise and help keep momentum going this offseason (along with the trade for Jamal Crawford and the drafting of Jeff Teague) after reaching the second round of the playoffs in 2008-09. Let’s take a look at them one-by-one:

Mike Bibby – Bibby is the perfect fit for the offense Mike Woodson runs – he is a terrific outside shooter, and is the perfect antidote to make opponents think twice about doubling Joe Johnson. One of the biggest reasons for the Hawks’ success (last year in particular) was an improvement in 3-point marksmanship, and with Bibby back in the fold, there is no reason to think that will drop off.

Bibby will also be a great mentor for Teague to learn under, since neither is your prototypical pass-first point guard.

There is another reason I like this signing, and I haven’t really seen it talked about anywhere, so here is as good a place as any.

Bibby came to the Hawks with a chance to serve potentially two purposes – one, to make them better on the court (mission accomplished there), and two, if it didn’t work out, to provide the team with an incredibly valuable expiring contract.

As it turned out, Bibby did play well for Atlanta, making it very unlikely that the team would think about trading him before his contract expired. And while it is fortunate that he excelled, it also meant that the Hawks would risk losing him in free agency for nothing. Taking that risk was well worth it – as two playoff appearances would attest – but re-signing him afterwards makes the original deal all that much sweeter.

Zaza Pachulia – Skilled big men don’t just grow on trees (no matter how many times I try), and with the market for available frontcourt players dwindling, it was pretty important that the Hawks bring back a guy who is not only a legit center but one of the best offensive rebounders in the league. After the injuries to the frontcourt during the playoffs, we all saw how valuable post-depth can be, and losing Pachulia would have stung.

Fortunately that didn’t happen, and Zaza now returns to be not only a valuable contributor but also a fan favorite at Philips Arena.

One of the biggest contributing factors to success in the NBA is continuity, and by keeping two players who’ve been a part of the team’s nucleus for a combined 5 1/2 years, the Hawks have saved themselves a lot of time and effort that might have been spent trying to acclimate new (and potentially unknown) players into the departed roles.

Congrats to the Rick Sund and company for getting these deals done, and welcome back to the Highlight Factory guys!

P.S. Feel free to welcome Zaza back via his Twitter feed.

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