Last year the Hawks only had three big men they played on a regular basis: Josh, Al, and Zaza. Our lack of frontcourt depth, however, was even more glaring when there was an injury because Solo and Morris were simply not viable options. Even when all three were healthy, at some point in the game we had to sit two of them at once and go small. While going small can be a good thing when you have a dominant rebounder (see Howard, Dwight), going small when you are already playing undersized bigs leads to a huge rebounding disparity.
The Hawks have to invest in at least one big man over the summer since Zaza and Solo are free agents. Personally, I would prefer if the Hawks signed two big men. So let's take a look at the list:
The Too Expensive List: Odom, Millsap (Restricted), David Lee (R), and Rasheed Wallace. Villanueva, who surprisingly was not tendered by the Bucks, probably belongs on this list as well since he'll be looking for a big payday. We won't get any of these guys.
The Old Guy List: McDyess, Joe Smith, Malik Rose, Mikki Moore, Nesterovic, Jamaal Magloire, Theo Ratliff, Jason Collins, Calvin Booth, and Lorenzen Wright. Out of this list I wouldn't mind having McDyess, Smith, or Nesterovic for the right price. Unfortunately Smith and McDyess will probably be holding out for a championship and know that the Hawks aren't quite there yet. But Nesterovic might be an option.
The Young and Unproven List: Johan Petro, Melvin Ely, Robert Swift, Saer Sene, DJ Mbenga, Ike Diogu (R), Channing Frye (R), Shelden Williams, Steve Novak (R), and Shavlik Randolph. I wouldn't mind taking a shot on some of these guys as the 4th big in our rotation. I would be wary of the projects, however, since I don't want another big man sitting at the end of the bench doing nothing with Morris. So I would limit it to Diogu, Frye, and Novak. All of those are restricted however. The rest of the guys I wouldn't be against signing for cheap to fill out the roster, but I don't know if I want them seeing significant court time.
The Just Right List: Zaza Pachulia, Brandon Bass, Glenn "Big Baby" Davis (R), Chris Wilcox, Stromile Swift, Hakim Warrick (R), Leon Powe (R), Marcin Gortat (R), Chris Anderson, and Chris Mihm. These guys are probably not going to command more than the mid-level exception and have proven that they can be productive. The obvious favorite of the bunch is Zaza, especially since the preference is to go after the unrestricted free agents first.
The Hawks have to sign one of the Just Rights or Nesterovic just to survive the season and make the playoffs. To thrive, in the regular season and the playoffs, I think they need to sign two effective big men. We've seen how Woody uses his big men (he doesn't), so ideally we need an energetic guy who doesn't need to ball in his hands to be effective on the offensive end and who can at least hold down the fort on the defensive end.
Hopefully the Hawks can invest 8-10 million on the two big men and try to secure two of the Just Rights. If not, then they will have to sign one and then maybe take another cheap gamble on a young, unproven big man. At the very least we can get Morris a friend who might make him smile.