Half Way There, Livin’ On Your Players?

With nods to Bon Jovi, Dave O’Brien (whose penchant for including cool song lyrics, of both well-known and more obscure musicians, is pretty cool) and Weird Al Jankovich, I couldn’t help but think about the song, “Livin’ On A Prayer”, when thinking about the Hawks reaching the half-way point this past week.  If you know the song well, then you’ll probably get more of a kick out of my “Hawks” version than if the name Bon Jovi is an Arena Football reference.

So here it is:

Livin’ On Your Players

Billy used to work for the Hawks

Made some bad picks, now he’s at home, it’s true

So true.

Woody dreamed of running away

Working with young men, now they can play, 50 wins will do

Will do.

(But will the Hawks say?)

We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got

Doesn’t make a difference,

the playoffs or not

Payrolls’ $65 million and that’s a lot,

For sure, well give it a shot…

Whooah, Hawks are half-way there

But are we livin’ on a prayer?

Trade for some depth and we’ll make it I swear

Livin’ short on Players…………..

Does Rick have anyone on the block?

He’s holding in his plans, leaves the wondering

For the fans, so true, sooooo true.

Woody keeps his bench tucked away

They call for playing time

Woody says, “What did I say? Someday”

We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got

Doesn’t make a difference,

the playoffs or not

Payrolls’ $65 million and that’s a lot,

For sure, well give it a shot…

Whooah, Hawks are half-way there

But are we livin’ on a prayer?

Trade for some depth and we’ll make it I swear

Livin’ short on Players…………..

So if you agree the ASG and Rick Sund need to fortify this roster, going into the second half of the season, where do we need help (or insurance) and who out there seems like a realistic acquisition target(s)?  And if you don’t, let us know why you feel that way.

Went to the game last night (thanks, doc, and the man’s name is Milton……).  Got to touch base with Sekou during half-time, which is always a pleasure.  Not much you can say about a 30-point blowout, other than “great game Atlanta Hawks”, but:

The Bucks miss Mo Williams.  And they really miss Bogut, as with him out, there even more post-challenged than the Horford-less Hawks.  The Bucks are not a good defensive team.  And they rean into a buzzsaw as the Hacks shot 55% from the floor and out rebounded the perimeter-fixated (about 30% of their attempts were from beyond the arc) Bucks.  I like the way Charlie V is playing (finally), but when your 3 best players on the floor (CV, Redd and Jefferson) all want to do the same things, it’s tough to get opposing teams to play you honest on defense.

Bibby continues to find ways to bring value (there really isn’t anything quite like watching a savvy veteran, in any of the “Big 3″ professional sports, playing for a new contract-anyone remember the numbers Torii Hunter put up in his last season in Minny a couple of years ago?).  And when Flip is on, he’s ON.

As far as second-half expectations, as you might be able to discern from my “song”, I don’t think the Hawks will hit 50-wins if they stand pat from a roster standpoint.  Some combination of over-use injuries, or sheer fatigue, will slow them down from the first-half pace.  Of course that won’t matter if they lose a few extra games, post all-star break, in an effort to get guys healthy and fresh for the playoffs.  But if Woody doesn’t take his foot off the gas a little, and/or the organization doesn’t add some more depth (that Woody is actually willing to make a part of a regular, expanded rotation), then this team could seriously run out of steam around the beginning of April.  And that would be a shame, as this clearly is a season with the potential to be “special”.

And watching both Bibby and Marvin bring clear value on the floor, it’s unavoidable to continue thinking about the off-season, and my belief that there’s just no realistic way that the Hawks can afford to re-sign both of them (with financial planning required in the near-term for extending both JJ and Horford).  And if either is going to move on, it’s imperative that the organization get something of value in return.  I know many of you would prefer to enjoy the season, and worry about such things this summer, but I don’t think doing both those things is mutually exclusive.  You’ve got to be looking ahead.  Always.  If you want to build a perpetual winner.  And this is an organization that hasn’t done that in over a decade.  We sure seem to be on the right track.  But will finances, or decision making, make this season the exception, or the beginning of a new norm?

42 comments Add your comment

Matt = niremetal

January 24th, 2009
9:58 pm

Ando, clearly you’ve got some time on your hands. Wanna come help me edit law review articles? ;-)

MannyT

January 24th, 2009
10:35 pm

A key question for you…weird Al…er Ando.

How much do you muck with the first winning season we have had in this century? If a move would make it likely that we would compete for the division title, it could be worth it. However, to be better and still a 4th seed puts a lot of downside stress on Woody and Sund if they fall off the 50 win pace.

Look at the teams that made late season deals last year. They mostly made teams worse in the short run. The teams that seemed to get better this season were mostly the ones that got the younger talent.

We are competitive with Boston with our current size. I would have said we are competitive with Orlando if not for the back to back games earlier this month. Furthermore a trade probably increases our salary level a little. That means even more stress on the ASG to come up with cash when they may need Belkin Bucks to buy him out…especially problematic if we fall into Luxury Tax range. That swing costs them millions that won’t be made back this season.

A more likley scenario…go with what we have this season, but there could be some wheeling & dealing this summer relative to players and picks to get a veteran that fits. Possibly working a deal for Okur who has a 9 mil player option for next season. I could see him opting out for a new long term deal. If Utah needs that cash for Boozer, he could be available.

BWAF

Ariose

January 25th, 2009
2:03 am

MannyT, I Agree(He that rhymes……but I won’t be making songs anytime soon like ando lol.)

Honestly, we won’t know what we need or don’t need until Woody actually uses the Bigs on the bench in consistant minutes. Acie and Solo need to be added to his current 8-man rotation. If it doesn’t work out then we’ll know what the problem is.

You cannot know what you have if you do not use it. He is one of the only coaches in the leauge using a tight 8-man rotation(That’s barring injuries of course). That’s not going to cut it in the long run.

~Sir Links A Lot~

HB Ando

January 25th, 2009
10:39 am

Fellas, you’ve succinctly triangulated what I’ve been calling “the rock and the hard place” for some time; on multiple levels. Manny, we’re NOT going to spend more money (don’t have it). I’m still shocked by the increasing likelihood (we will see once the trade deadline gets here) that the ASG is going to spend its projected payroll, for the full season. We won’t fortify the roster,with added expense. Thus my fear that we’ll wear down, and have our underdeveloped bench exposed as unprepared to step in, against the teams that matter (above us in the East). Ariose’s point highlights the “chicken or egg” situation with Woody and the Bench.

Given my ongoing beliefs regarding financial constraints, existing here for years, and exacerbated by both the concluding Belkin manner and the recent evaporation of the credit markets, we’ll likely go with what “brung us”. Which goes right back to the conclusion that we’re “Livin’ on our Players”. This season’s outcome will hinge on the roll of the dice that our key players will be both healthy and fresh, when the playoffs come around (and I’m not suggesting that every team doesn’t require a similar scenario, just that the Hawks lack of experienced depth, on the front line, and their seeming inability to spend more to fortify this teams’ chances, make that need more pressing for the Hawks).

I think you still can’t discount the idea that one of the key players on this roster could be moved by the deadline, despite the seeming contradiction that would create with the success this team is having at this stage.

Manny, I actually agree with your scenario as most likely (wouldn’t have this summer). But messing with success, mid-season, is a risky PR move when you need every ticket bought to keep your heads above the debt you are floating in. But the flip side is that NOT making a move to fortify this team almost assures that its ceiling is short of the Celtics, Cavs and Magic (and if Miami made a key move, to complement D Wade, they could make a run-and until the Pistons are dumped in the first round of a playoff series, they can’t be left out either).

I didn’t say it was easy, balancing the opportunity this season represents, with the long-term health and potential of the franchise (both financially and competitively). That’s why I asked what you guys think………..

HB Ando

January 25th, 2009
10:42 am

BTW, Matt, it took me five minutes to pull up the lyrics of the Bon Jovi song, and come up with the revised version. I’m a one-draft writer…………..

G Money

January 25th, 2009
12:24 pm

The reality is that unless the Hawks can secure the services of a really good big man, they might as well keep what they have and keep developing. The season has already surpassed expectations. It leaves room for improvement next year and continued season ticket sales. Given the 30% increase in crowds, there has to be a significant increase in revenue to sustain the franchise (in other words…not as broke as last year). The other reality is that the payroll is stil nowhere near the elite teams. Until the Hawks spend that kind of money on top tier players, they will not get to the promised land anyway.

I see them holding pat, fans being satisfied with 45 to 50 wins and a good showing in the first round. It solidifies the legitimacy of the team to corporations and individuals who are putting down around $6 or $7K for at least two season tickets. TV revenue is going to be what it is this year simply because of the economy. The Hawks have to build a broader, stronger base of support (by playing like they are now), before they can really invest.

The Hawks can compete with nearly every team right now with perhaps the exception of the Lakers at full strength. The goal was never to win it all this year. And, where’s the bargain big man who can compete with Howard, Shaq, Yao, Bynum, and perhaps an emerging Oden? These guys are difference makers / game changers. Perhaps if Kaman or Camby were available it would be worth an exploration. Otherwise, Boozer is like Horford. Okur plays outside – I’d prefer ZaZa for defense (can’t believe I’m saying that). There just aren’t any “bargains” at the 5 spot. I think we all know another big would help, but not just any big. Somebody or bodies would have to go if we were trying to get a significant big man including Jermaine O’Neal. It isn’t worth the risk of ticket sales present or future to do anything major at this time.

Big Ray

January 25th, 2009
12:31 pm

Heh, heh, heh! Good one, Ando. Nice one with the Bon Jovi lyrics.

For those caught up in the one season hoopla, I have only to point to the Chicago Bulls a couple years ago, so full of promise with that wonderul 49-win season. Bad decisions and foul-ups, (and the retention of a coach who was only going to take them so far), and they struggle back to the lottery…..

I’m just sayin’…

Stephen

January 25th, 2009
12:59 pm

It’s “Yankovic”, not Jankovich.

HB Ando

January 25th, 2009
2:45 pm

There’s a sense of pride in having not known the correct spelling for Weird Al………..

HB Ando

January 25th, 2009
3:07 pm

G Money, not sure where you got your data on a 30% increase in attendance. According to ESPN the Hawks are averaging 13 less fans per home game this year, from last:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/attendance

The attendance at their away games is up 1000/game, but I don’t think they get much in the way of revenue share for away games (someone correct me if that’s substantially off base).

So there is no increase in ticket revenues, and the payroll for this years’ team, according to HoopsHype (which breaks it down by player) is over $68 million, which is $12.5 million more than last years’ payroll, how are the ASG financing this increased payroll (with a reminder that one of the owners said, under oath, during the Turner/McDavid trial that all the ASG has done, since taking over ownership of the teams, is lose money; and the companies all over the country have struggled to obtain financing for ongoing operations with negative cash flows)?

Based on attendance, quotes like that of one of the owners, and overall economic conditions, I have yet to have anyone present me with a logical case that the Hawks are losing at least $10 million this year, despite the improved performance of the team. It was, and is, the underlying logic behind believing that Bibby would be traded by the all-star break. But that would be a PR nightmare, given how well he and the team are playing.

So we’re back to “the rock and the hard place”………..

Maybe the financial impact of a hoped for 2-round run in the playoffs would substantially offset those numbers. Maybe they’re angling for Speedy’s $5.75 million salary to be reimbursed by insurance (but it doesn’t look like Speedy wants to take a medical retirement, so it seems like the Hawks would have to be very careful not to find themselves in a “Darius Miles/Trailblazers” type of disagreement about his ability to play in the NBA, and it’s implications on payroll). Maybe the ASG shorted the financial sector over the last 12 months, and are flush with funds. Or maybe there are factors I just don’t know to include (quite possibly). But on the surface, that’s how it looks to me.

HB Ando

January 25th, 2009
3:08 pm

Should be “that the Hawks are NOT losing at least $10 million”……..

O'brien

January 25th, 2009
6:51 pm

I dont think the Hawks will make a move. We need big men, but the Hawks offense is very guard oriented, so I dont think Woody and his system (whatever that may be) will maximize whichever big man we get.

And I agree with Ariose. Woody does not utilize the big men we have, so we’re not sure how good they are.

Josh Smith

January 25th, 2009
7:14 pm

Hey, Steve Nash: NOW YOU KNOW!!!!!

Haven’t seen a dunk that dangerous in YEARS!!!

Big Ray

January 25th, 2009
7:48 pm

Youch! Nash may as well tatoo “Spaulding” on his forehead…

Looks like we’ve got the right idea: go inside, and things will go well.

Big Ray

January 25th, 2009
7:49 pm

Unfortunately, Nash is outplaying Bibby badly, and it’s showing.

C’mon guys, we’re a few plays from re-taking the lead…

Big Ray

January 25th, 2009
8:15 pm

Hot damn, that was THE BEST PLAY all game! JJ to Josh!

Big Ray

January 25th, 2009
8:47 pm

ARRGGHH.

Another dropped game to the Suns, this time at home. Costly missed shots by Bibby (off nearly the entire game), Josh, and JJ. That’s right. **JJ**.

That and a few botched defensive assignments. Still, it was a very competitive game. What bugs me is the fact that we got away from what was working in the first half and early third quarter. And Stoudamire finally got his game on in the second half, albeit somewhat quietly until that one shot towards the end.

Encouraging to see us competing that well with Bibby not playing well, and Joe having a good/bad game.

Discouraging to see Smith trying jumpers at crucial moments (though they did get away from feeding him in the post and on cuts to the basket), Joe **again** throwing some **bad** passes and forcing too many shots, and Bibby just having an off game.

Big Ray

January 25th, 2009
8:49 pm

Despite some good minutes from Solo, we really are missing Horford, as was apparent. So too, were the Suns missing Stoudamire until he started playing better. Even then, we should have won that game.

Ariose

January 25th, 2009
9:56 pm

This sucks, I really had payback on te brain. I bet we don’t even play them again this season…

MannyT

January 26th, 2009
12:13 am

Ando, I would guess that basketball attendance goes up once football season ends. Given that conjecture, the improved record and the 18 home games left after the superbowl, I think the final attendance will be better this year than last. Being down an average of 15 fans over 25 games (375 total tickets) can easily be made up. What we don’t know is the revenue mix for the seasons as well as the overall business picture (Hawks + Thrashers + arena revenue). Not that the other two legs of this business are doing anything special, but hopefully the TV contract helps (if it rises over the life of the deal instead of holding flat each year.)

As for tonight’s game, I’m just going to let it go as an off night. Lookng at the number of chances to score that we missed tonight, it was a collective “cannot put the ball in the basket whenit counts” thing. We had one less FG, but 19 more shots. It wasn’t the Suns defense, we just kept missing.

..and just for Ray my quick +/- analysis. Easy enough to see that their starters took it to our starters. Our bench did much better than their bench.

The funny/sad part is JJ & Bibby shoot 7 for 33 which is just over 21%. The rest of the Hawks shoot 28 for 51 or just under 56%. When those 2 are off, it is hard for us to win.

Gotta strap it on for the Heat. They took care of Orlando at home on Saturday and got to rest on Sunday. The Heat are only 2 behind in the loss column. As a division game, this is probably the most important game of the week.

BWAF

Big Ray

January 26th, 2009
2:41 pm

Agreed, Manny.

This is indeed a vital game in our schedule. And as the season goes on, particularly after the all-star break, we will have to bear down harder and harder in each game. Things will get rough and tough.

First and foremost, I hope we are healthy then, and remain so down the stretch, and into the playoffs.

HB Ando

January 26th, 2009
9:22 pm

The Hawks-Heat is looking like a high school JV scrimmage. The Hawks have 37 points with a little over 3 minutes left in the 3rd (THIRD!!!!) period.

Did these guys hit South Beach for lunch? And will the organization let them return after the game. I know it’s cool to hang out at BED, when in Miami, but didn’t anyone tell the Hawks they needed to get out of BED, to play this game???

Big Ray

January 26th, 2009
9:54 pm

Began to battle back, but literally NOTHING is working more than once or (and rarely twice) in a row…

All this, and the Heat aren’t really playing that well. At all.

HB Ando

January 26th, 2009
10:03 pm

Hey Ray, look, our own private blog…….

Big Ray

January 26th, 2009
10:08 pm

So it would seem, Ando….

We got outplayed in every sense of the word. I don’t see a point in specifying who played badly and how, everyone had some issues.

Wade had a typical superstar game. We don’t have a superstar, and that is apparent. Not just in this game, either….

We’ve got to be better than this, especially on the road. Yecch, is all I can say. We got outplayed badly enough to the point where I could not tell if Woody was doing us any good or not. Damn…

HB Ando

January 26th, 2009
10:11 pm

Yes, but if I understood an opinion on the other blog, the only reason Woody would not win Coach of The Year is because of Mark Price……….

Teaching America’s children, ladies and gentlemen, I give you…………

Harry Hawk

January 26th, 2009
10:28 pm

Okay, okay…keep on pimpin’ the blog. I’m game. It’s just tough to get these fan blogs going when we’ve got a beat writer (kinda like David O’Brien) that will actually interact with ham ‘n’ eggers like us.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 26th, 2009
10:29 pm

What’s going on… I came over here thanks to Ando’s shameless self-promotion on the other blog (j/k)… since I’m over here, I might as well attempt to contribute to the discussion, so I’ll say this: Joe Johnson ain’t D-Wade, he ain’t a superstar, and I really have never thought of him as being on that level. I’ve always seen him as a 2nd-tier star, the kind of guy who CAN win you a title as your best player, but needs a lot of help around him to do so. I’d put him on the same level as a Chauncey Billups or a Dirk Nowitzki, and below the likes of LeBron, Wade, Duncan, and Kobe. But regardless of his star status, there’s no excuse for some of the easy shots he’s missed in the last couple of games. When you are as strong and as talented as Joe Johnson is, and you get to within 5 feet of the hoop, you gotta finish. He missed a dunk today, got blocked on a couple of attempts, missed a reverse layup… these are shots that even a 2nd tier star has to make.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 26th, 2009
10:30 pm

And yeah it’s really nice that posts show up immediately. This blog would be real nice for those of us like me, bigdave and Melvin who post throughout the game.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 26th, 2009
10:31 pm

Oh yeah, another thing… this Blake Griffin (projected #1 pick in the upcoming draft) really is the real deal. I haven’t seen a college player so fundamentally sound in the post in a long time.

HB Ando

January 26th, 2009
11:05 pm

Thanks, guys.

Hawk, no doubt. But our traffic is already significantly higher than the old Hack, thanks to our longstanding relationship with all the regulars on SS’s blog. We’re just greedy to build it better. We’re definitely looking to approach our posts with a combo of opinion and open-ended discussions, rather than trying to impose our will on all of our peers.

Poop, I have to agree with you on JJ. I kind of agree with you on Griffin, though I think I’ve seen guys with his fundamentals. What’s intriguing about him is that he has legit size and serious athleticism to go along with those fundamentals (he’s no more sound than Hansbrough, but he’s at another level on the other two aspects). He’s running a pretty solid lead at being #1 overall, in what still looks to be the weakest draft in a decade.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 26th, 2009
11:15 pm

“But our traffic is already significantly higher than the old Hack, thanks to our longstanding relationship with all the regulars on SS’s blog.”

Well, it also helps that y’all don’t suck. That’s probably the biggest difference.

Melvin

January 26th, 2009
11:17 pm

Najeh Blake is good but I like Greg Monroe for Georgetown better. I think Greg will be better at the pro level…

HB Ando

January 26th, 2009
11:18 pm

Poop, you are a scholar and a gentleman. Too kind……

Melvin

January 26th, 2009
11:25 pm

Ando, funny you mention the old hack b/c i still remember the good riddance post you left on his departure blog (classic)…

Melvin

January 26th, 2009
11:32 pm

Fellas, i can’t help but think how troublesome JJ has finishing in the paint. The guy is 6′7, 240, good penetrater and ball handler but can not finished consistent to slave his life. He’s terrible at drawing fouls. Maybe he’s trying to hard to avoid getting his shot block instead of trying to initiate contact… Go figure…

hawkfan

January 27th, 2009
12:25 am

all I have to say is: WELCOME TO MIAMI, bienvenido a Miami, now we just have to move on, go hawks!

Rod form College Park

January 27th, 2009
9:56 am

Again fellas. I hate to keep beating a dead horse, but Marvin Williams might well be the worst starting small forward in the league. I have never seen a guy with his size consistently play like a 6′1 guard when he goes to the hole. I have never seen a 6′10 guy get his shot blocked 3 times in one game. This guy is the main problem with our team because he can’t give you anything but an occasional open jumper. If Mike Woodson comes out of a timeout and runs another iso play for this guy I might end up breaking my TV. Why does this guy have to give dap to every player on the team after he makes or misses a free throw? I consistently see people bashing Josh, Bibby and Joe sometimes, but the true weak link on this team is Marvin (Duck) Williams. He also was drafted higher than any of the players that I mentioned. Wow!!!!!!!

Melvin

January 27th, 2009
3:39 pm

And watching both Bibby and Marvin bring clear value on the floor, it’s unavoidable to continue thinking about the off-season, and my belief that there’s just no realistic way that the Hawks can afford to re-sign both of them (with financial planning required in the near-term for extending both JJ and Horford). – Ando

Looking at your statment, I would have to say why do you find it impossible to resign our current core of guys? Let’s stay with the current $68 mil payroll going forward for the sake of argument. Let’s look at the guys we have to resign this summer. First up, Bibby/Marvin. Bibby is currently making $15 mil per year. I think its safe to assume that he wont receive another max deal. So I will say his next deal will pay him 10 mil at best per year (5 mil save). Marvin, currently at 5 mil, I would say his next deal pays him 7-8 mil (still up 2 mil at worst). Next up we have ZaZa/Solo(currently 4 mil/797K). Not sure if the Hawks wants to resign both or any but for now lets say they do. I’m not sure how much of a hot commodity ZaZa will be but let’s leave him at 4 mil. Solo may have improve his stock some, so I can see a modest raise for him, 2mil at best (and that’s a stretch). Last but not lack of shots attempts we have Flip Murray who’s currently making a 1.5 mil. Anything more than 2mil and he can walk. So I lie, we increase the payroll by half mil based on my scenario. I think the ASG would go for an increase of a half mil to field next year team especailly if this team finished 4 in the east…

On to the 09-10 offseason. First up is the Big Kahuna himself, Joe Johnson, who will be making 14 mil next year. I can’t see him making too much more than that but he’s been our warrior so let’s give him a raise. $15-16 mil. Next the manchild Mr.Horford, will be making a near 6 mil next year. I forsee him receiving offers that’s more than his qualfying offer of 7mil. But since this is the big summer of the FA’s and there will be teams with plenty of money I say lets give him a 9 mil dollar contract. Between Horford and Joe we have increase payroll possibly by 6 mil. Hmmm, there’s a certain player currently on our roster that hasn’t played in 2 years who will be making near 6 mil and his contract expires this summer as well. I think it’s safe to say that SPEEDY won’t be resign. And then you have Mo Evans who 2.5 mil contract expires that summer as well. And we still haven’t touch on JChill 7 mil qualify contract that’s been included into the salary cap figure (although it’s monopoly money as far as actual dollars being spend).

In summary, I don’t see it as impossible to resign our core guys of Bibby, Marvin, Joe and Al and keep the payroll under 70 mil. However, I don’t see the purpose of bring back the same complimentary players either. Especially if we are not improving. These are just my thoughts, man…

HB Ando

January 27th, 2009
5:17 pm

Melvin, if you are of the belief that the Hawks will keep the current payroll, for the full season, and maintain this level going forward, then what you say makes solid sense. I don’t, so I’m stuck with my existing position.

BTW, pretty funny reminder about the exodus of the first Hack. I was known to be a little hard on him, but I can’t help but find some irony in the fact that his self-defense, aimed at some folks like me who were critical was, essentially, “if you think it’s so easy, won’t don’t you give it a try”?

Ask and ye shall receive……

Harry Hawk

January 27th, 2009
6:43 pm

Based on what I saw from the Hack, all he did was punch out a couple of boring paragraphs and send it to someone to get it posted. Any hack can do that. He lived down to his nickname.

Also, I’m convinced that the Hack is the source of the Hawks’ offensive woes. I only say this because the offense has all the movement of a constipated snail. Kinda reminds me of his blog hits.

(Other than that, the Hack was great.)

Big Ray

January 27th, 2009
9:13 pm

Give me a few minutes….and a new blog will be up…