Time For An Intervention?

Did Atlanta REALLY just lose to the Bobcats (the BOBcats!!!) after benching an increasingly petulant Josh Smith, mere minutes after he posted a 13 point, 4 board, 2 block first half???????

OK, so almost everyone who’s been paying attention wasn’t actually surprised, even though it still looks ridiculous either writing or reading that line.  If you didn’t already know it, let me point out that Miami overtaking the Hawks for the 4th seed, and home-court advantage over the Hawks in the first round, has been a pretty likely outcome since Riley and the Heat upgraded their roster with O’Neal and Moon before the deadline, while the Hawks chose to stand “Pat” on a roster that Woody seems to view as 8-deep. The only hiccup was Miami’s stinky performance in Atlanta a week ago, which highlighted the importance of home-court advantage. But unless Wade goes down before the end of the year, these guys are going to pass the Hawks, and then dispose of us in the first round.

It’s understandable that folks are going to choose sides on this Woodson/Smith debacle, but the truth is that they may both be gone by next fall. Woody is the more obvious candidate, as the franchise can spin an underwhelming conclusion to this season on Billy’s Guy. But Smith may well join him in leaving the ATL.

Here’s the plain truth about this year: since the Hawks exploded out of the gates, with playoff-like intensity (a specific point I made at the time, wondering out loud if their start was really anything more than youthful exuberance, at a time when the rest of the playoff-quality teams were typically easing their way into the marathon that is the NBA’s 82-game regular season), capture a 6-0 start, they have been, 56 games later, a .500 team since then; eerily close to the 2 games-under-.500 team I predicted they would be, going into the season.

And if you look at how they are playing, consider the increasingly obvious chemistry issues that exist, and peruse the schedule for the remaining 20 games, you may find yourself arriving at the same general expectation that I’m formulating: 8-12 down the home stretch, limping to a 42-40 finish (I’ll claim dyslexia for predicting 40-42), and an underwhelming first-round exodus.

Woody goes, as Sund looks to put his stamp on the future of the franchise, and a decision will have to be made on whether Smith’s physical upside, and the fact that he’s never had the benefit of playing for a different head coach, warrant further patience.

Yes, this is the best Hawks team in over a decade. But, having played the last 56 games at exactly a .500 clip, they are the definition of average. Several folks have made note of the ‘06-’07 Bulls, young, exciting and talented, ending that season with a 49-33 record (which will be far better than where the Hawks finish), as a cautionary tale of how sub-par coaching and questionable personnel decisions can flatten a rising franchise more quickly than their fans can comprehend.

This team isn’t as good, or as deep, as that Bulls squad. So assuming that an upward trajectory for the Hawks, is a foregone conclusion, seems like pretty risky business and more wishful thinking than sound logic. The potential is obvious, but no more obvious than the question marks. Management will be challenged to make solid, aggressive decisions this summer. And money will be a factor, if knowledgeable folks like Bill Simmons are to be taken seriously.

Again, with a rightful nod to the observations of an increasingly vast (and the sheer volume of those observations speaks “volumes” to the credibility of this concern) number of bloggers/fans, on both Sekou’s and the Hacks’ blogs, Joe Johnson seems to be playing the ‘Bachelor’s Jason’ to his team’s ‘Melissa’. After professing his true love, he has realized that he and Melissa have far less chemistry than he thought, and he’s starting to imagine a much more satisfying existence with ‘Molly (ie: any other attractive NBA franchise)’. And his public displays of regret are not unlike the uncomfortable public break up that Joe, er, Jason leveled on the unsuspecting Hawks, er, Melissa.

So as America acknowledges that Jason wasn’t so much wrong to follow his heart, as he was REALLY wrong to do so by unnecessarily doing it in public, at the expense of Melissa’s feelings, we are left to wonder why the obvious drama that exists within the team/coaching staff dynamic is playing itself out, repeatedly, in front of 15,000 ticket buying fans (on any given night), a large television audience, and the unavoidable repetition of close-up replays, on both local and national sporting news telecasts (has anybody mentioned to these guys that the cameras are rolling?). Is there not anyone in the organization that can get through to the players and coaches that they need to resolve their love spats, er, differences of philosophy either before or after the actual games?

So much for “there is no I in team”. Somebody call up Dr. Drew. Maybe bring in Gary Busey as the Hawks’ “life coach”. I thought this kind of selfish implosion occurred AFTER a team won the World Championship.

It’s time for an intervention and some celebrity rehab…………………

15 comments Add your comment

This Gets Old

March 7th, 2009
3:35 am

What’s sad (infuriating?) is that it’s not a surprise. Paul Pierce put this in the correct context at the start of the season. He basically called the Hawks out when he pointed out the difference between Boston bringing it every night and the Hawks bringing it when they play Boston. Who the “H” can enjoy a season where you’re waiting for the bottom to fall out?

WHY would JJ stay if things remain the same? How can Acie be a PG if he gets no time on the court? Can’t put him out there now because the games are too important. It just sucks, it’s infuriating!

doc

March 7th, 2009
9:20 am

ando, great viewpoint. i dont have the time to say much more so i will repeat something from the other blog you might appreciate:

“woody, is always pointing the finger out not realizing three point back. he has no charisma and no capacity to lead or coach this team to any higher position than it has reached. he certainly doesnt get it that he is as much to blame until the season is over and starts saying, yup, he shoulda done this and shoulda done that only to do it again. that my friends is the definition of crazy.

funny, BK probably made just that comment to the BASG about 15 months ago and repeated it once or twice afterwards before the all star break. BK got a few things right and never got too much credit for it. kind of like clyde not preferring woody. folks, i hope you enjoyed my placing a similarity to clyde and BK in the same sentence.

come on ando, you got to say BK got at least something right before you ran him off.”

i notice you still wont give it up to BK and still call woody his man when really he is anything but. give BK credit as he went down and out because of it. right now woody is the man personally selected and rubber stamped by the BASG and my boy rick. BK wanted to pull the trigger last year and depending on what he might have brought in have taken us to elite status like hubie did in memphis instead of the inconsistent mediocrity of what we see playing the last 56 games. i also emphasized this in a post on the other blog as well.

i dont think i will have to claim dyslexia as your revision is right on point for my estimate to start the season. my range was 39 to 44 so i cold be right there as well as if they implode it could still be below .500. you might not have to claim dyslexia afterall.

niremetal

March 7th, 2009
12:00 pm

Ando,

I’ll gladly give you an over/under on the Hawks winning 45, maybe even 46. The Hawks are a hot-and-cold team, and I think there’s a very good chance of them getting “hot” during the 3-week stretch that’s coming up where they play every other day like clockwork and play 11 of 12 at home. Last year, I said the Hawks would “back into” the playoffs simply because of their home-heavy schedule towards the end of the year. This year’s Hawks team obviously faces a tougher schedule, but they’re also a better team than the Hawks of a year ago. I think they’ll “back into” a 4th or 5th seed just as they backed into an 8th seed last year. I’ll predict they go an underwhelming 11-9 or 12-8 the rest of the way, but I don’t think they’ll go worse than .500 (not that I’d put it past them, mind you). Actually, I think that they have the talent to go 14-6, but I doubt they’ll do so with Woodson’s inflexible rotation.

And now, sleep.

Grip

March 7th, 2009
4:27 pm

Would someone please say what the beef is!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who pissed in wood’ys ceral, Why does the dude dislike Josh so much, it is hard to determine what to do when you do not know

Rev. Moring

March 7th, 2009
5:06 pm

Woody is playing the wrong style. He should run hard and slash to the basket, kick out second. He has the only line up that can play 10 deep. He needs to run five and change out five. His team is use to playing together. He needs to give them all a chance to bring it every night. And they will do it.

Butthead

March 7th, 2009
5:24 pm

Heh heh, heh heh This Gets Old said “paul” heh heh, heh heh.

HB Ando

March 7th, 2009
6:08 pm

Butthe…I mean, Sautee, “Fire, Fire, Fire!!!!!”

HB Ando

March 7th, 2009
6:23 pm

For those of you who view Rick Sund’s track record, while in Seattle, with great concern about what the Hawks can expect from him in making draft and trade decisions, I picked up this little nugget from Bill Simmons’ mailbag:

Q: Wouldn’t you say the Red Sox not getting A-Rod in 2003 was BY FAR the best non-trade of all time?
– Adam, Toronto

SG: There’s a bigger one: After Seattle picked Robert Swift in the 2004 draft, the Celtics offered the Sonics the 13th pick (basically, the rights to Al Jefferson) and their 2005 No. 1 pick for Swift’s rights … and Seattle said no.

Of course, this is also ammo for those of you who have a similarly low opinion of Danny Ainge, as a GM. Don’t know who was more foolish, if this Simmons story is true: Ainge for offering, or Sund for turning it down (though it says A LOT about the expectations Swift came in with).

These guys need to get it together quick, because nobody remembers how you start, only how you finish.

Sautee

March 7th, 2009
6:44 pm

Is this a crowded theater?

niremetal

March 7th, 2009
7:17 pm

Anyone see Josh barely jog out to cover Prince when he was wide open for the 3? Where is his head these days…

niremetal

March 7th, 2009
7:29 pm

Guess he heard me, because he seems to have woken up!

HB Ando

March 7th, 2009
10:10 pm

You have to give credit to this Hawks team for its resiliency. Every time they show signs of collapsing, on the court and in the huddle, they seem to find a way to pick themselves up right at the edge of implosion, and turn things around. After back-to-back losses, to the lowly Knicks and the Charlotte “How can I name the team after myself” BOBcats, having a dangerous Detroit team hit town ranked of a disaster waiting to happen. Yet the drama-infused Home Team took a night off from its increasingly frequent soap opera existence to provide the kind of defensive effort that defined their early season success. Granted, this isn’t the same Detroit team of the previous five years. And their lack of a true center underscores what is a pretty favorable match-up for the undersized, but athletic Hawks’ front line. But the only thing that matters is these guys setting aside whatever chemistry issues they are battling to play as a team and win a very important game, from a psychological perspective.

Hopefully, they can generate some confidence, solidarity, and collective commitment, as they enter the stretch run. There can be little doubt that changes are on the horizon, this summer. But those are issues to be addressed after the season. And if these guys can somehow recapture the swagger they showed during the last few months of ‘08, then Hawks fans may be treated to an unexpected 2nd round run. Revert to the kind of disjointed, uninspired team play that has beset them repeatedly in ‘09, and they’ll be lucky to see game 6 of round one.

It’s their call. We’re all just along for the ride, regardless of how things play out.

doc

March 8th, 2009
9:13 am

yeah resiliency is in their nature it seems after last nights showing. get to keep it going on monday against the hornets. why not another sweep, then payback time to the jazz.

matt hope the test went well dude, know you slept well.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 8th, 2009
9:33 pm

Ando you bring up a great point about Rick Sund — it is entirely possible that he completely screws up the upcoming offseason regardless of the ownership issue. I was never impressed with his track record as the Sonics’ GM, and the Simmons story doesn’t surprise me at all. With the possibility that one or more starters may not be in a Hawks uniform next season (probably Bibby, possibly either Marvin or Josh), what Rick Sund does to replace them and whether he can get a contributor with the Hawks’ draft pick will be key to determining how the next couple of years go.

niremetal

March 8th, 2009
10:06 pm

I said this awhile back…if past is prologue, Sund is horrible when it comes to signing/drafting big men, but he’s actually pretty good in other respects. He managed to get Ray Allen right when he was hitting his prime in exchange for the declining Payton, and made the very smart move of giving then-interim head coach Nate McMillan a multi-year contract extension. He was screwed by the awful financial situation in Seattle (seriously…even worse than it is here because he had to deal with the city screwing them over and an ownership group that was hemorrhaging money even more than even BASG).

This summer, every team will be working under serious financial constraints, so Sund will be far from alone. I actually like having a GM with some experience in working under a tight budget. The signings of Murray and Evans were very sharp as was resisting the urge to overpay for Smoove before the market set his price. As long as Sund lets other people deal with scouting the big men, I actually have a decent amount of confidence in him.