The Atlanta Hawks are closing in on their second significant trade of this early offseason, agreeing in principle Monday to trade forward Marvin Williams for Utah Jazz point guard Devin Harris, according to sources briefed on the discussions.
The deal, which is pending league approval, would mean that new Hawks general manager Danny Ferry will have shed Atlanta's two most onerous contracts -- Joe Johnson and Williams -- in his first week-plus on the job.
The Hawks have thus quickly emerged as a potential destination for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, who grew up in the Atlanta area and is close friends with Hawks swingman Josh Smith. Howard is also close with Anthony Morrow, one of five players that the Hawks will acquire from the Brooklyn Nets in their pending trade with the Nets for Johnson.
Although Howard has previously shown little interest in playing for his hometown Hawks, Ferry still has a key piece to offer Orlando in trade proposals for Howard in All-Star center Al Horford and young guard Jeff Teague, as well as the forthcoming salary-cap space to pursue Howard in the summer of 2013 should Orlando resist the trade inquiries sources say he'll soon be making and Howard indeed makes it to free agency as scheduled.
Williams -- who never lived up to billing after the Hawks took him No. 2 overall in the 2005 draft ahead of Chris Paul, who badly wanted to play in Atlanta -- has two seasons left on his contract at $8.3 million and $7.5 million. The Hawks thus have enough space in the summer to make free-agent bids for both Howard and Paul, who is expected to hold off an extension with the Los Angeles Clippers this summer to keep his options open, even with Blake Griffin on the verge of finalizing a five-year extension with the Clippers worth an estimated $95 million.
Combined with the Johnson trade, Atlanta is sending out more than $105 million in long-term salary with Monday's two deals and taking back just $23.5 million, as Harris is entering the final year of his contract at $8.5 million.
The flurry of action, after years of restraint from the Hawks, has also made a fast impression on Smith, sources said. Smith had been vocal for months about wanting to be dealt, but sources told ESPN.com that the swingman is excited about the direction Ferry has taken things in his brief time in charge.