Mistakes made now, lessons for later

We lost to Miami because Joe missed 15 of his 23 shots. Because Josh Smith had five turnovers. Because Al Horford stayed in foul trouble. Because Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby all but disappeared from the boxscore. Because the bench players stink. Because Mike Woodson can’t coach. Because the Hawks are the Hawks. Because Wade gets calls. Because, because, because.

Good thing we’re just fans. If the team thought like this, they would be ripping themselves apart. Whatever your favorite reason from those mentioned above (or whatever ones you can come up with), I disagree. I think we lost because we allowed them to win. Because we lost focus and made a couple of crucial mistakes, one right after the other, that gave the Heat all the opportunity they needed to take the game back. Feel free to disagree, because I’m not saying I’m right. I just think the usual stuff just isn’t going to cover it this time. Why? Because despite all that was happening or NOT happening right for the Hawks, they still had that game. Two turnovers, back-to-back, did them in. What of Wade? Sure, he was hot. But not hot enough. What about the crowd? They were noisy enough, but the Hawks kept shutting them down.

For every Heat basket, there was a Crawford basket, a Horford rebound, a Smith defensive play, something. The Heat made it close, riding the one-man superstar wave known as Dwyane Wade. But they weren’t close enough until the Hawks tried to force passes into the teeth of the defense on consecutive possessions. Until the Hawks quit capitalizing on offensive rebounds. After that, loose balls didn’t bounce Atlanta’s way. Defensive rotations went horribly wrong. Shots clanged off the rim. The looks on the faces of the Hawks players became desperate, and not the kind of desperation that breeds ultimate survival. It was the desperation of a team that knew itself to be beaten.

Having said that, it’s much better for the Hawks to be delayed from getting win #41, than it is to learn the hard way in the playoffs, right? That game had more than a bit of a playoff feel to it. It was intense. Back and forth things went, with neither team looking like it was about to give in. I was glued to my seat on the couch, unable to pull myself away for the usual in-game quick hits on the blog. Then it all went to pieces in a matter of seconds. How does a team that is so good at taking care of the ball DO something like this in a tight game? What happened? Where did the seemingly sudden lack of focus come from? Was it a lack of focus, or something else? This pointed to something that the Hawks may want to think on. It’s not how few turnovers you have in a game. It’s when those turnovers happen. It’s not how many shots you hit in the game. It’s when you hit those shots. Let’s examine that closer by taking two of the team’s key players from that loss. Josh Smith had 5 turnovers. He’s had that many before, even in decent wins. What hurt was that two of them happened when the game was tight, one of which helped set off a domino effect that led to the Hawks’ demise. Am I blaming him for the loss? No, but he did contribute to it, along with some bad shooting.  Then there is Joe Johnson. It’s easy to complain about an 8 for 23 shooting performance. But Joe was 5 for 8 in the first half. He was doing fine before shooting 3 for 15 in the second half, including several 4th quarter misses. Now, had that been reversed, could we really complain? What if Joe had gone 3 for 15 in the first half, then gone 5 for 8 in the second half? Might we be talking about a different conclusion to the game? Possibly, but blaming him for the loss is as silly as blaming Josh or any one person. To note, there have been several subpar shooting games for Joe, in which he did come back and shoot much better in the second half or the 4th quarter of a game, including several where such a performance delivered a win.

At the same time, we can’t ignore what mistakes do for the other team. Is there anything worse than a star player being on the top of his game, and getting the foul calls? Seems like the answer would be “no”, right? Well, there is something worse. It’s when you add a second, or even a third player to the mix. It’s when that second or third guy gains some confidence and begins to perform and produce better than usual. Better than he has been all game. Better than you expected. For the Heat, that guy was Michael Beasley. When the Hawks began turning the ball over and missing defensive rotations, it allowed Beasley to get good looks at the basket. And when he hit them, his confidence soared. All of the sudden, neither he nor Wade could be stopped or contained. Up until that point, Wade’s supporting cast couldn’t provide enough support. He was in a battle by himself, and despite herculean efforts, he was losing. Take note Hawks. When you have the other guys shut down, KEEP THEM SHUT DOWN.

But it still stands. The Hawks should now know how a few mistakes can be so costly. In the playoffs, it’s a game lost. Maybe even a loss of homecourt advantage, if the situation is right. Or, as in the case with Michael Beasley, you give a dangerous player some confidence and momentum, which can come back to bite you throughout the rest of the series. Better to learn this in March, rather than late April.

 

HAWKS VS KNICKS

Speaking of learning experiences….the Knicks have provided the Hawks with a couple this season, beating them twice in the Highlight Factory. While the Knicks own this season’s series 2 to 1, it was that one loss to the Hawks that happened in Madison Square Garden. Can the Hawks even things up by winning there again? While they’re at it, the Hawks also have an opportunity to take that road record north of .500 again. Winning in New York sets them up for a bit of momentum…or a crash. If they beat the Knicks, then even a loss to the Wizards on thursday only drops them back to a dead-even road record. However, a loss puts more pressure on the contest in Washington, as a second consecutive loss means not only a three game losing streak, but being 2 games under .500. While it’s never a good time for a tail spin, this late in the season is one of the worst times. And let’s not forget about that #3 seed. Boston has retaken the spot for the time being. Time to get it back!

No More Nate

The good news is that the little fella no longer graces a Knicks uniform, so he won’t be lurking on the bench, waiting to destroy Atlanta’s perimeter defense. The bad news is that he now wears Celtics green, and we’ll be seeing him again. But no sense borrowing trouble until it’s time. While “Krypto-Nate” won’t be in the house, there is this cat named Tracy McGrady who now plays for the Knicks. McGrady isn’t the same guy who used to blow up teams for 30 or more anytime he chose, but he’s no pushover, either. Meanwhile, rookie Toney Douglas is also MIA, and the Knicks are playing with a fairly short rotation. The Hawks would be hard-pressed to find a better setup. But that’s just it, is this game a setup? New York just lost to Toronto (who is playing well), and New Jersey (who blew them out). They know they can play with the Hawks, as long as the Hawks let them in the game.

Go Big!

Is there a better team to tee off on in the post? David Lee is a player, but the next best thing down low is Al Harrington. Both guys will produce in the form of points and rebounds, but they have no chance against Al Horford and Josh Smith. So, the Hawks should go in to them until the Knicks collapse the defense in the paint. When that happens, the two of them can make the Knicks pay with their passes out of the post to the perimeter shooters and/or cutters. Easy gameplan, right? Uh…..maybe….

The DREADED “Z” Word….

While some of us are envisioning double doubles for our frontcourt, the Knicks are having the same daydream. Only for them, it’s an outright nightmare. So you know what Mike D’Antoni is going to do. That’s right, employ the Zone Defense. It’s like Atlanta just loses its natural born mind when that happens. Here is another golden opportunity for the Hawks to practice beating this defensive ploy, because they are SURE to see it in the playoffs, as many of you out there in blog land have noted! So what will Mike Woodson and the Hawks do when this happens? Shoot a pile of “appetizing jumpers” and hope they go in? Or make the extra pass, send cutters through the middle, and penetrate by any means necessary?

The Hawks have to learn to finish games in the strictest sense of the word. No better opportunity to practice that, then against a much weaker team.

140 comments Add your comment

Astro Joe

March 9th, 2010
8:22 pm

Sautee, I don’t disagree with that position. But I do disgree that we are supposed to ignore the growing pains. If dude misses 4 shots in the last 2 minutes of a close game, why not acknowledge it and accept it as a neccessary lesson? Don’t sweep it under the rug and look for someone else to blame.

Astro Joe

March 9th, 2010
8:25 pm

I’ll even add that part of the growing of Josh and Al as co-leaders of this team is accepting blame when things don’t go right. If they want to step up and co-lead a top team in the East, they need to be prepared for the same scrutiny that other team leaders get from their fan base.

Melvin

March 9th, 2010
8:52 pm

Astro,

But you want to make it as if one person loss the game instead of acknowledging the fact that it was a team loss. I noticed how you conveniently pointed out the missed shots but ignore the fact that same player created a charge and steal basically within that same 2 min stance. So that’s two turnovers by the Knicks that resulted in two extra possession for the Hawks that was all created by the same player you want to point the finger at.

Astro Joe

March 9th, 2010
10:02 pm

Melvin, Josh didn’t lose the game. And Joe hasn’t lost games in the past 4.5 years, but that never stopped folk from highlighting game-ending misses as opposed to acknowledging that Joe was often one of the main reasons we had enough points to have a chance to win in the last few seconds. Ever read a complaint about Iso-Joe or Joe isn’t clutch? What’s good for one should be good for the other. Like I said to Sautee, I am truly comfortable with Josh growing as a late game option. And I am even more comfortable with Al in the spot. I just find it interesting when those guys fail, that it is Woody’s fault or someone else did wrong. Josh has been mostly very, very good this season (I did cringe when he took that late jumper after being so good at scoring in the paint in the previous possessions). And I probably tend to highlight the shortcomings because there is SO much love/excuse-making that goes on for Josh.

Some past highlights include “it’s okay for him to yell at his coach because his coach is an idiot”. “He only takes 3s because his coach has him standing behind the 3-point line”. “He only takes 3s because his teammates wait until the last second to pass him the ball”. “He grabbed 0 rebounds after the 6 day All-Star break because his ankle was bothering him”. “He missed the dunk attempt because he was tired from the previous 3 games”. “He’s young”. “He didn’t play in college”. “He should not have been in the game to heave a shot with 6 seconds left because he is a poor free throw shooter”. “At least he’s trying to make something happen”.

So yeah, I am probably a little uneven in my criticism in my misguided attempt to balance out the apologists who come up with some of the previous… uh, perspective. That and I truly believe that accountability does more to help a person grow than excuse-making.

niremetal

March 9th, 2010
10:25 pm

And there’s no denying that this will be THEIR team in the near future.

Actually, yes there is denying that.

vava74

March 10th, 2010
3:49 am

Astro,

funny how you ignore the elephant in the room.

the starters have been subject to extensive minutes and it’s pretty logic that our 4th quarter slumps are caused also by the fact that they reach the money time exhausted.

Woody initially acknowledge that he made a mistake in PHO by playing only 6 guys during the entire second half.

Then he recanted and has been doing almost the same thing, giving only cosmetic minutes to the bench in the second half.

Joe Smith had 8 points and 3 rebounds in 6.44 minutes against Miami and then has been sitting in the bench for 6 quarters in the row.

During those same ) quarters, totalling 72 minutes, Josh must have played around 65 minutes.

Yes, he missed the winning dunk, but it was pretty obviousvthat it happened on account of his legs being dead.

O'Brien

March 10th, 2010
7:54 am

This should be Al and Josh’s team in the future, but you never know.

Josh has played a lot of minutes the last 3 games (45,43, and 40), but there is no way of knowing if Josh missed the dunk at the end because he was tired. Maybe he miss-timed his jump, maybe he was thinking about getting blocked, maybe Chandler made a good play…too many unknowns to blame it on being tired.

That being said, I wish Woody would give Joe Smith more PT though.

How about them Clippers? They fired Dunleavy as the GM (a month after taking away his coaching duties), but they released a statement to the media about it BEFORE letting Dunleavy know that he was fired. How classy was that?

Big Ray

March 10th, 2010
8:11 am

That darn elephant sure can be inconvenient. Especially when he starts farting….

Astro Joe ,

In your quest to balance the Josh Smith apologist comments, I think you forgot the other half of the conversation.

I remember the “excuses” made for Smith. I made some of them. But what of the other stuff said about him, that so many people are now so willing to sweep under the rug of? How about “this kid has no basketball IQ” , “he’s got no handles”, “he does more to hurt than team than help it”, “we lost another game because of Josh”, “please trade this guy”, and so on? Seems to me that many of the “excuses” made were merely what most comments are: retorts to somebody who has an opposing point of view.

One man’s excuse is another man’s reason. Do we not make excuses for every player? “JJ is tired”, “Marvin is the odd man out”, and what not. I can’t recall the number of times I heard about JJ being tired, or being tasked with doing everything on both ends of the floor, as an excuse (or rather, a retort) every time he was criticized for something. But all of that is in the past. I don’t think we can balance the present, much less the past.

I can also remember a million sales/corporate work analogies used to retort against any criticisms of Mike Woodson, but we won’t go there…. ;)

big will

March 10th, 2010
8:16 am

why want coach start giving jason c playing time. Im sure we will need him in the playoff. the same way he wanted big z to started in the rotation with josh,and al. you can started working the same rotation with jason. it would shake up tyhing in the playoff. i fear jason will not be ready we all know you don’t get better unless you started getting playing time. game time keep you in shape your time and awareness will be their. you got veterans on the bench its time to get them prime and ready to play in the playoff and give the starter more rest so they will be fresh when the playoff starts…..

Big Ray

March 10th, 2010
8:27 am

AJ ,

This still bugs me a bit:

And I probably tend to highlight the shortcomings because there is SO much love/excuse-making that goes on for Josh.

But isn’t he playing mostly pretty dang good this year? You did say so yourself. And most of the excuses you mentioned are from past seasons, not this one.

That and I truly believe that accountability does more to help a person grow than excuse-making.

Sounds good, but accountability to whom? The fans? Heh…this accountability precept is much like statistics. Everybody applies it to whom they choose, as they choose. There is nothing “across the board” about it. There IS no balance. Of course, this will spark an argument (let’s be honest, we don’t “discusss” much around here) as to what is actual “accountability”, and what is unfair criticism.

When Joe Johnson is criticized, is it accountability? How about with Mike Bibby? Mike Woodson?

When a player or coach is praised, are we cutting back on our accountability and nearing the dreaded “love/excuse making” territory? Are we worried about taking the love spotlight off of a player because we don’t think he’s being held accountable enough on a blog, and therefore his growth might be hindered?

I think it all comes down to the same thing it always does: there is no balance.

Melvin

March 10th, 2010
9:26 am

Astro,

I’m sitting back reading with popcorn in hand….:)

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
9:30 am

Ray, you’re right, most of the excuses are from the “bad Josh” years. But we still get some from this year. Maybe you didn’t read several posts that suggested it was somehow Woody’s fault that he throw up that shot against the Warriors when we played them on the road. No, it didn’t lose the game but it was clearly a bad decision that didn’t help the team. Instead of accepting that Josh needs to improve his late game decision making, some suggested that one of the team’s best passers shouldn’t be on the floor for the last possession of the game. That Woody made a bad decision to have him in the game. Huh? Joe has played the most minutes over the past 3 years of any Hawk… I don’t recall many people suggesting that late game failures were related to “fatigue”. Instead, he is labeled as not being clutch or not being elite.

And yes, I also attempt to “balance” the Woody criticism. Maybe some would consider it being a contrarian, but I gladly stand on the opposite side of many debates (especially when I perceive a bias is being applied). If we all violently agree on a topic, these blogs are about as exciting as a Jason Collins highlight reel.

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
9:31 am

Melvin, you’re my hero!

Melvin

March 10th, 2010
9:43 am

As I watched the 2nd half of the Lakers/Raps game last night, I noticed Bosh played more C than PF. He guarded Bynum when he was in the game. That got me to thinking that possibly he could play C for the Hawks. I can see where He and Josh could coexist on the court together. They both could rotate playing the high and low-post game. Outside of Howard and Ming, I don’t see a major match up problem the Hawks would have with Bosh playing center. Oh well it was just a thought as someone mention that Joe would probably resign if they acquire a player like Bosh. I think the Raps would prefer a package built around AL vs. Josh b/c Bargnani and Josh would be too light of a frontcourt. And No Sautee, I’m not trying to run big AL out of town… Now Bibby and Marvin is a different subject.

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
9:44 am

Ray, one more thing, many of the “bad Josh” complaints were valid at the time. To say dude didn’t have issues is to deny the marked improvement in his play and decision-making this year. I don’t think you can give him credit for the maturation associated with his elimination of the 3-point shot without acknowledging the ridiculousness that he shot over 300 3-balls in 3 years. I don’t think that I ever said “Josh is an awful dribbler and will be an qawful dribbler until the day that he is dribbling his oatmeal in a nursing home”. Who knows, one day he may shoot 35% from 3… but that won’t change the days he was shooting 25% from 3.

Much like a girl can truly be unattractive in March/April of her sophomore year in high school only to return in September looking like a straight dime-piece, so can a young player transform his game (Marvin?). But honestly, when have we ever seen such a transformation this late into a player’s career (without a significant increase in PT)? Maybe someone like nire can think of an example, but I can’t.

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
9:51 am

Melvin, I think Joe is gone. Or said differently, I thnk Joe will go wherever his agent tells him to go. If you read those old articles, his agent seemed to be pretty tight with BK and he “delivered” Joe to a losing team (Hawks) from a winning team (Suns). I think he will have significant influence on where Joe signs this season… not just negotiating the dollars but influencing where he signs. And according to the NYC papers, his agent is alos close to Walsh (interesting considering that BK is a disciple of Walsh, so maybe there is an Indiana connection between the 3 guys).

Melvin

March 10th, 2010
9:59 am

Astro,

I’m not sure how much stock we should put into the New York media. Those guys love to go overboard with things. I can see Joe resigning here but I think it’s going to cost the Hawks a Max deal. Whew, Joe making around 25 mil (see Manny T breakdown on Bradley blog) at age 35 is scary….

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
10:06 am

Good point on NYC media… they’ve been known to get a few things wrong in the past.

O'Brien

March 10th, 2010
10:20 am

AJ,

At one point, there was a rumor that Walsh was considering hiring BK as one of his assistants, although it never materialized.

JJ’s agent is the agent for TMac, and he is close with Walsh, so if TMac looks decent, and NYK can bring in another star, I would not be surprised to see JJ sign with the Knicks and his old coach.

If the Knicks get Lebron, I think JJ goes to the Knicks too. And even if the Knicks only end up with Amare and JJ, think of the nimbers JJ would put up in NY and D’Antoni’s system?

Melvin,

I really hope JJ stays with the Hawks, because I think we take a step back if he leaves, but we can take another step forward if he stays. But I am concerned about that 6th year on his deal. How many of these stars who got max deals (length and dollars) always end up handicapping the team the last year or 2, especially if the deal runs out when they are older.

KG and Ray Allen come to mind. And the ASG does not have the money like some of these other owners to overcome a max star during the last couple years if they’re not performing. And with the amount of minutes JJ has played, I am concerned about his legs during year 5 and 6 of his next deal.

Bucks beat Boston last night. Bucks are 10-2 since the all star break (Bogut is actually playing well and looking like a top pick). If the playoffs started today, they would be the Hawks first round opponent.

niremetal

March 10th, 2010
10:28 am

AJ,

First, I remember plenty of people saying fatigue played a role in JJ missing late-game shots. Second, it’s only Schultz, Bradley, and a relatively small number of Joe’s haters among Atlanta fans who say that JJ is “un-clutch.” I’ve never seen a single quote from a coach or legit basketball writer that describes him that way, and only a couple of the regulars around here say that.

Melvin,

The good news about the NBA is that as long as the trade rules remain roughly the same, the last year of a contract is a throwaway – the value of an expiring deal makes it relatively easy to move even the most massive of expiring contracts, as we see multiple times every year. So really, as long as JJ is productive at age 34 (and given that he doesn’t rely on his athleticism pretty much at all, the odds of that are actually quite good anyway), his contract won’t be a huge albatross.

That also is, incidentally, why I remain unconcerned about Bibby having a 3-year deal. He’ll be making a couple clicks below the mid-level next year (which is the going rate for a spot-up shooting backup anyway) and the year after that he’ll be an expiring. You really have to believe that Bibby is utterly useless as a player in order to think paying him $5.5M next year is too much.

Melvin

March 10th, 2010
10:41 am

OB,

I’m concern about Joe resigning as well (see my contingency plan above). If he walks then I think that should set off a domino effect starting from finding a new coach to building the team around AL and Josh.

Melvin

March 10th, 2010
10:54 am

Nire,

The only thing that worries me about Joe, Bibby or any contract that the Hawks have signed is that, we don’t (seem to) have the type of owners that could swallow a bad contract and not let it impact them on signing other players. I think the Hawks have been very fortunate up to this point that most of there players have been able to produce (exclude Speedy) to a level to justify there contract. However, under the current CBA rules even a bad contract becomes an attractive asset at some point but do they have enough $$$$ to maintain until then???

O'Brien

March 10th, 2010
11:01 am

nire,

The problem with trying to trade said max player during the last year, is to find a team that is offering the pieces you want and be willing to take your max player off your hands. Those teams are usually bad teams who want the salary cap space.

Boston was looking into trading Ray Allen, but they couldnt find a deal they liked. It took a 3 team deal to allow the Rockets to get what they wanted for TMac. I think the Hawks options will be limited during that last year.

And as far as Bibby’s $5.5 mil being the going rate for a backup spot up shooter, the problem is Bibby is not very good at spot up shooting right now, his defense is poor, and he is our starting PG.

Boston gets way with having their players struggling but they have a very high payroll. If JJ has a max deal with the Hawks, and he is struggling (or injured), what kind of players will the ASG have around him to help out?

Melvin,

If the Nets get the #1 pick, I wonder if we could swing a trade for Devin Harris, where they get Bibby (and another piece or pick) to be the backup to John Wall.

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
11:02 am

nire, I think it hurts when 100% of the local paper’s columnists say that a player isn’t clucth. I understand that the player has an option to ignore the media, but who doesn’t want to work in an environment where they feel appreciated?

OB, Joe will most likely finish his next contract as a SF and not a SG. That’s what Q-Rich is doing now and I think Thunder Dan retired as more SF than SG.

nire, what will be interesting is the coming CBA and how that will affect moving maxed players at the end of their contracts. If the cap is around $45M and top salaries are capped at $10M (just to throw out arbitrary numbers), then moving around $20M+ deals would seem to be more challenging than in today’s world.

vava74

March 10th, 2010
11:08 am

I think JJ will stay if we hire a new HC which he feels may takes us further (not necessarily a top shot name).

If we only go 1-4 in the second round (assuming that we get there winning a series against the most likely #5 seed MIL) and Woody is re-signed, I think JJ will feel that this is as far as can go over here.

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
11:10 am

I’ve been looking in my crystal ball and it tells me that Tony Parker may be available in about a year-and-a-half. Spurs are on the decline and don’t have anything of value except Parker. And even though it seems like he’s been in the league for 15 years, I think dude is only 27.

And my crystal ball also says that Doc Rivers will be fired if the Celtics don’t make it to the ECF and replaced with Kevin McHale. But Doc is a Bloomingdale’s coach and we only shop at Target.

vava74

March 10th, 2010
11:13 am

Also, assuming that JJ is leaving, our best move would be to sack Woody now and try and get someone who could bring a breath of fresh air into the team.

For a short tenure (just until the end of the season), I would even consider tending an offer to Avery or Scott.

They could accept such short offer knowing that this could be a nice opportunity to make a good run with a pretty decent ball club.

If we had success, we would sit and negotiate a longer contract, if not, both parties would look at their options.

niremetal

March 10th, 2010
11:17 am

Melvin,

I don’t know how many trillion times I have to say “the owners’ personal wealth and the ownership battle has zero impact on the team’s finances.” I’ll just copy something I posted over on Hawksquawk awhile back. The reasoning about why the ownership dispute doesn’t affect the team’s finances applies with equal force to the owners personal wealth. The short version of the story is that the only thing that affects how much the team can spend is how much money the team makes from basketball operations – ie ticket sales, sponsorships, radio/TV contracts, and revenue sharing from the NBA.

The operating agreements that all owners have to sign with the NBA (and, I presume, the NHL) basically ensure that the assets and liabilities of each team are completely shielded from exposure to the effects of litigation involving the owners as individuals. The leagues HAVE to make sure the teams’ assets and operating revenues are shielded, or else you’d see a half dozen major pro sports teams per decade become defunct because their owners went bankrupt. The overwhelming majority of revenues (and losses) stay with the team and the NBA, not the owners – the owners basically gain or lose money only upon selling their stake in the team. In that sense, you can think of owning a stake in an NBA team as somewhat like stock ownership – the ups and downs of the company don’t show up on your tax return unless you realize gains or losses (or earn a dividend, which are pretty stingy in the NBA because most teams lose money, so virtually all revenues have to be reinvested into the league).

When the idiot judge in Maryland tried to order a freeze on the Hawks signing new players and initially ruled that Belkin could buy out the Hawks for a box of Cheerios, that was the only time that the basketball operations was affected. It lasted all of 2 weeks, because Stern stepped in, wrote the judge, and basically made her realize that what she ordered was at odds with the owners’ agreements with the NBA (not to mention common sense). Other than that, the court stuff might be distracting, but it doesn’t affect the team’s financial constraints. David Stern would have been demanding that the team be sold if that were the case, because the NBA is second only to the NFL in terms of how short a leash the owners are on.

The reason ASG doesn’t spend more is the same as for all other teams in their position: The Hawks don’t sell enough tickets or draw big enough TV crowds. That certainly DOES affect how much a team can spend, though not to the same degree as it does in the NHL and MLB because the NBA has a larger pot of shared league revenues. The Hawks have never been a big draw and they’ve never had a loyal TV following. Thus, they don’t earn as much money as some other teams. Thus, they don’t spend as much. Ta-da.

In short, as long as the Hawks’ ticket sales don’t plummet, they will be able to maintain their current payroll amount without issue. And keep in mind that Crawford is expiring next year, Bibby the year after, Josh the year after that, and Marvin the year after that. Although I don’t pretend to have a crystal ball, it’s a pretty safe bet that all are likely to get significant paycuts or be cut loose altogether once their contracts run out, especially considering that the new CBA will likely demand lower player salaries. So the payroll is NOT likely to increase during that team, even with the big paydays coming for Horford and JJ. If you do the math, even max extensions for JJ and Horford would likely allow the Hawks to stay under the tax threshold under the current set of rules, and Horford is likely to be signed under a new set of rules that almost will certainly limit how much he can make.

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
11:18 am

Vava, your thought would require some fairly deft timing. Would Joe only sign if Woody goes (regardless of his replacement) or would he actually want to wait to find out who is replacing Woody? (Seriously, would he be thrilled to play for Lawrence Frank? Doubtful). If he waits too long, will the teams with money spend elsewhere? If you’re Sund, do you rush the coaching hire to satisfy Joe or do you conduct “an exhaustive search” knowing that the free agent dollars are drying up and it puts Joe in a more difficult situation to sign elsewhere (which either creates a better contract for the Hawks or a sign and trade opp for Sund)?

The balance between Joe and Woody will be interesting to watch… especially if either decides that their decision is connected to the other.

vava74

March 10th, 2010
11:20 am

Astro,

There is no way the Celts will fire Doc unless they fall in the first round.

They know that their roster is glued together with scotch tape and that although they might still manage to squeeze a good run out of them, the most likely outcome will that they will not reach the ECF.

niremetal

March 10th, 2010
11:22 am

Astro Joe,

I have a feeling that any new cap-and-tax rules will be “phased in” so as not to kill teams with large existing contracts on their books. Neither the league nor the players’ union would benefit if the teams that sign LeBron, Wade, Bosh, JJ, Amare, Boozer, etc this summer are all hamstrung under the new CBA. After all, the NBA wants the teams with superstars to compete for titles.

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
11:23 am

nire, you can borrow my crystal ball next time your in town. Which the crystal ball says will happen in the summer.

vava74

March 10th, 2010
11:23 am

The Celts are in the opposite situation we are: their main players are all going down and ours are either at the top (JJ) or going up.

Our prospects are not good, but although you dislike my opinion, I really feel that the responsibility lies with Woody.

I really believe that with a good HC this group is a “seven game series in the second round” material and possibly ECF.

O'Brien

March 10th, 2010
11:30 am

vava,

I’m not a Woody fan, but no way should the Hawks let him go until after the playoffs (even if JJ is leaving). We still have a chance to be the #2 seed (although #3 is more likely), and a new coach would bring new offense, new chemistry issues etc. Its too late in the season that make that move.

Let’s see how the Hawks look in the second round. If they are competitive, and win a couple games in the second round, bring Woody back (but make him hire an offensive coordinator).

If they lose in the first round, or get swept in the second round, let Woody go. And I would love to have Doc. Didnt the Hawks have a chance to hire him some years ago, but he was out of their price range?

As for when JJ resigns, I think he will wait until LeBron signs before making up his mind. If LeBron signs with the Knicks, there will be a good chance JJ will go there. But he will probably wait and see which big name FA signs where before he makes up his mind (unless the Hawks offer him the max deal u front).

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
11:30 am

nire, I understand that (want teams with superstars to compete for titles). But could other teams trade for high salaried players from the previous CBA? Said differently, they will want the Cavs to compete for a title but will they make it easy for the Cavs to acquire Arenas in 2 years whenhe is making over $20M? Or would the rules restrict the acquisition of pre-2011 contracts? I don’t know, it would seem strange if in 3 years, one team has 2-3 $20M+ players under rules where there aqre no more $12M contracts. I’m sure if I thought about it long enough, I could figure out a compromise, but initially, it feels like they have to draw a hard line somewhere that would limit pre-2011 CBA deals in excess of $xxM.

vava74

March 10th, 2010
11:33 am

Astro,

I think Sund is already convinced that Woody will not manage to take us further than the second round and that we will not be competitive.

IF and I now think that we are talking about a big IF we do get to the second round, we will lose 1-4 at best.

Consequently, Sund will indeed rush to speak with JJ in order to know IF he is considering leaving and what are his thoughts.

Sund’s best option would be to CONSULT with JJ before hiring the HC to get his “approval”.

I know that many around here think that JJ likes Woody because he gives him the rock and allows him to go ISO. That might be true to some extent, however, I really think that JJ likes better winning than holding the rock and that he feels that Woody has taken us as far as he is able to.

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
11:40 am

Vava, what many people forget is that GMs are also trying to keep their jobs (see Dunleavy). The Celtics are NOT going to get better next year. They are old, getting older and have limited options because of cap issues. So you know what would make Boston happy? Watching a guy from their glory days return to the sidelines. They will likely ignore an aging team while hoping that a local legend can milk one more run out of them and then eventually lead a new group of Celtics to the promised land. And Ainge gets to keep his job.

I don’t view this roster with the same optimism as some others. I don’t care what HOF coach is working the sidelines, at some point, players matter. Mike Brown, Doc Rivers and SVG are not the best coaches in the Eastern Conference, yet they have sent the last 4 teams to the Finals.

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
11:46 am

Vava, JJ left D’Antoni and more winning to come to the Hawks. Maybe things have changed, but playing for a player-friendly coach on an exciting and winning team didn’t make a difference once before. It’s one thing to give Joe a max contract, it’s another to “consult” with him when hiring a new coach. I like Joe, but I wouldn’t give him that much influence over this franchise.

If Sund chooses a new coach, I’d much rather have him do that with very little (if any) player input… it’s his job to hire a head coach and he isn’t a first-time GM.

O'Brien

March 10th, 2010
12:00 pm

AJ,

I think Kevin McHale would be a good fit in Boston. He is a legend there, he gave KG to Danny Ainge which was a big reason why they won the championship, and KG would probably sign off on it. Plus McHale did a decent job as coach of the Timberwolves. So I like how you’re thinking.

That being said, the only way Doc MIGHT be fired is if the Celtics lose in the first round. And even then, they might give him one more year considering the injuries.

Although our roster is not that good, I think a coach like Jerry Sloan could get more out of this team than Woody does. But I dont know which coach is available who might be able to do that. But sometimes a change is good.

Harpie

March 10th, 2010
12:07 pm

Everything that’s wrong with this team is because of Mike Woodson – he is an IDIOT.

vava74

March 10th, 2010
12:30 pm

OB,

There are many situations in which teams make moves at the trade deadline to shake things up, sometimes to try and extract as much as they are able to from an expiring player who they know will walk off or will be too expensive to re-sign.

This would be a similar move. JJ might be walking so this could be our last opportunity in at least a couple of years time to contend (if JJ walks, we will probably take a couple of steps back).

In many occasions these moves are risky, from a chemistry point of view, and fail, but there are also a few examples of success.

With Woody we will almost certainly finish #4 seed with a very meager possibility of finishing #3.

#2 is completely out of our reach with the current set up. We will continue to lose against playoff teams consistently and give away games against bottom dwellers.

Hence, I would try to extract the most out of this group instead of risking what seems inevitable: a poor playoff run and JJ departing.

Sautee

March 10th, 2010
12:36 pm

The new CBA is going to have to take into account the quickly shrinking supply of oil. Some say that within the next 5-10 years (some even say TWO years), demand for oil will outstrip the supply. What happens to professional sports when gas goes to $8 gallon and cross-country flights cost $1200 to $1500 or more?

One thing for sure. You will NOT have many sellouts.

Do the leaders of the sports world have the courage to face up to this?

I’m foreseeing a league where there are no East / West regular season games. And teams may have to revert to the baseball model and play a series of games in one arena. It’s going to be a vastly different sports world ten years from now.

And NO ONE is even talking about it.

vava74

March 10th, 2010
12:48 pm

Astro,

Both Doc and SVG are superior coaches to Woody. Brown, not really since he gets the benefit of living as Lebron’s assigned coach.

With this I am not saying that Doc and SVG are terrific coaches and to be perfectly honest with my own words, I thought that Woody ability was better than Brown and similar to SVG at the beginning of the season.

Unfortunately, contrary to what happened with our roster’s organic growth, I am not seeing ANY positive evolution by Woody in some of the most critical aspects of his job: managing the roster and structuring a rotation, making in-game adjustments, correcting past mistakes, evolving our playbook…

Now, I would gladly swap Woody for SVG or Doc.

As for JJ having or not any weight in the choice of the coach… well, I think you are not realizing that in the event that JJ walks away, we will not have the cap space to replace him with similar talent.

Consequently, we will probably plunge to .500 territory.

JJ is like gold for us, as important to the Hawks as Lebron is to the Cavs.

Their talents are not equivalent, but their importance to the team success and for the organization is, in particular because we cannot replace him.

JJ is top 10 talent in the NBA. The top 10 talent in the NBA is all, either under contract, or beyond our cap space reach.

So, would l consult JJ on the signing of the coach so I could successfully re-sign him? DEFINITIVELY, even if that meant keeping Woody (who I would fire as soon as we lost 3 games in a row during next season) :-D

vava74

March 10th, 2010
1:10 pm

Sautee,

The reports on the diminishing oil reserves are grossly exaggerated.

Brazil, just to give you an example, have found vast (I mean really vast) reserves of oil which are, however, in deep areas of the ocean and imply a considerable cost of extraction.

Consequently, they are releasing the info of their discoveries at their own pace so they can keep the price at a level which allows them to have profitable (+-$70 a barrel).

I know that the emerging countries – China for instance – are introducing millions of consumers per year who will increase demand, however, the news about the reserves have been used mostly to keep oil prices high.

O'Brien

March 10th, 2010
1:32 pm

vava,

Even if we wanted to hire Avery right now, I doubt if he would take the job until after the season so he can see what else is available. And he would not sign a contract that runs only for the remainder of this season.

Plus, what if we replace Woody with Avery right now, and then the Hawks get swept in the second round? JJ probably leaves, and we take a step back anyway. And it will not send a good message to other coaching candidates that we let Woody go this late in the season. Other coaches (and media) hold Woody in high regard.

If the Hawks were going to make that move, the trading deadline would have been the time to shake things up. Not now. Woody will not even shake up his starters this late in the season (most winning coaches don’t).

Doc is a superior coach to Woody, but I’m not sure about SVG and Mike Brown. SVG had Wade in Miami, and he has a pretty good roster with the Magic. Mike Brown has LeBron, so I dont know how good of a coach he really is.

I agree that the team could use a shakeup, but Woody utilizing his bench better will be enough of a shake up if he can also make in-game adjustments (although nothing in his history has shown that he can do those things).

But ultimately, the playoffs will determine Woody’s fate, and it might also determine JJ’s decision.

The Hawks would probably prefer JJ to resign before they hire another coach (if Woody isnt resigned). That way, they could get JJ’s feedback.

vava74

March 10th, 2010
1:40 pm

OB,

We will have a poor showing in the playoffs and that might push JJ out.

Signing someone to try and make a better run could send the right message to JJ: that the ownership is looking for better results.

I don’t see why Avery or Scott would not take the “risk” of coaching this team into the playoffs. I think they would jump in immediately (at least one of the two) since anyone coming in would have a good opportunity to make a splash.

As for Woody having good recognition… ummm… haven’t you heard how our offense is described: “dribble dribble dribble bad shot”?

Woody has not done a bad job: I would give him a B- or a C+

The issue is that with someone who would give us an A, we would be really fighting for the #2 seed, the ECF or maybe beyond.

vava74

March 10th, 2010
1:43 pm

And if you actually look back into the pre-season, I posted an assessment of the HC talent pool in the NBA and back then I gave Woody a B- buy I was betting on Woody GROWING as HC as the season progressed.

He seemed to have made some small strides in the early going but now he has regressed dramatically. His second half rotations are the sign of a cowardly, insecure and un-resourceful coach.

niremetal

March 10th, 2010
1:46 pm

Heh…I really don’t think anyone can say with certainty what will happen as far as resource price and resource consumption in the short or long term.

Personally, I just shrug at doomsayers at this point. Paul Ehrlich sold millions of books in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s talking about how we all were going to starve to death and/or face severe shortages of non-renewable resources by no later than 1970. Then he pushed it back to 1980. Then 1990. And so on. If we start running out of oil, airlines will buy engines or converters that allow them to use natural gas or ethanol. Or solar panels/wind in flight (I’m actually somewhat surprised that hasn’t caught on…you gotta figure there’s a plentiful supply of both at 35k feet). Etc. It’s been that way since the dawn of time: If people can’t do what they’ve been doing according to Plan A, they quickly figure out a Plan B and keep rolling on. Here’s my favorite little article on that:
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffsimon_pr.html

I don’t doubt that we’ll have supply shocks at some point, Sautee, but I don’t think it’ll be catastrophic in the long run. On the aggregate, people always figure things out.

O'Brien

March 10th, 2010
1:59 pm

nire,

“If people can’t do what they’ve been doing according to Plan A, they quickly figure out a Plan B and keep rolling on.”

I thought plan B was to try harder at plan A.

vava,

Two things have happened this season. I think Woody has regressed, and other teams are aware of the Hawks issues, so they try to exploit it, while BWAF does nothing to counteract.

But I still say let the playoffs be the deciding factor, and if we offer JJ the max, I think there is a strong possibility that he will stay.

Astro Joe

March 10th, 2010
2:04 pm

I once heard a prediction that ultimately, sports would ultimately be filmed at a TV studio-like venue and fans will simply pay to watch games on the desired screen. As television technology increases (e.g. HDTV) and issues with communting to the live action becomes more problematic (e.g. commuting prices, parking, on-site crime, etc)… a strictly televised sports world becomes more of a possibility. We’ve already seen the number of tickets sold at movie theaters dip dramatically over the past 5 years… even before the economy dipped. Folk would rather enjoy a movie at home iusing available technology for a very good movie-watching experience than deal with the prices of going to the local multiplex.

Vava, I understand that we don’t have the cap to replace Joe with a top-notch player. But we would in the following summer (when Jamal’s contract expires). Would Sund rather tread water for one year, allow Al/Josh to grow more and then take a big jump forward the following summer? If we spent a portion of the available cap space on a pick and pop center who could give us 20 minutes a night (like what Z could have done for us), would that be enough to keep us in the playoffs while we wait for 2011 to grab a big-time FA?

I don’t think that Sund needs to give Joe the keys to the executive restroom and a parking spot next to Mike Gearon to “save the franchise”. If handled correctly, we shouldn’t experience more than a 1-2 season decline and the decline should NOT put us back in lottery-land.