Hawks fans: Are we looking in the wrong direction?

All the noise around here is centered on Joe Johnson’s possible departure from the team. Everywhere you read, people are either convinced that Joe will stay if offered a maximum salary contract, or convinced that he will land elswhere, part of some other team’s star player tandem. AJC Hawks beat writer Michael Cunningham thinks that despite all the interest from other teams, Joe stays if the “cash love” is right.

But is the issue only about what sort of contract he’s offered?  What does it really take for Joe to be convinced that staying in Atlanta is the thing to do?  I think one thing that General Manager Rick Sund must keep in mind, is that Joe is far from stupid. He knows what he wants, and what he will accept.  He also knows he left the playoffs with perhaps less leverage than before. But he and his agent appear to be doing all the right things to sway the leverage solidly back into his favor. 

So what does Joe want besides money? It may be a change in the locker room. The kind that requires some roster moving/tinkering. The kind that a “new” head coach may not be able to fix on his own. The kind that Joe could walk away from for less money, if it isn’t handled to his satisfaction. The “chemistry” kind. While this team chemistry issue started as a worried rumble among fans, it has also been mentioned by Al Horford in a very recent AP article on NBA.com. I recommend reading the article as a whole (it’s not that long), but it’s what Horford has to say that stands out in a most glaring fashion. First, he mentions the relationships of the players on the team. Second, he mentions a need for another post player (and you KNOW this topic is going to pick up steam as well).

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Exhibit A

Continuing with the theme of the locker room problems, could it be Jamal that Joe is displeased with? As explained in the section above, Jamal enjoys some popularity that Joe hasn’t since the 2007-2008 playoffs. People fell in love with his offensive game quickly. But that has nothing to do with how he plays on the court. I think it’s more than obvious that Jamal is a veteran player who wants to win. We’ve heard supporting comments all last year from his teammates, more notably Al Horford (who is becoming more of a spokesman every day). On defense, Jamal isn’t getting it done. Would this possibly Joe’s issue? Could it be sharing shots? I tend not to think so, and I think that in spite of some hyping by fellow bloggers, Jamal is not the issue at all. If anything, Jamal seemed to be fine with deferring as needed and was humble and gracious. Or am I wrong? Does Joe Johnson feel better with Jamal around, or worse? Does he feel like Jamal is a professional who is serious and dedicated to winning? What do you think?

 

Exhibit B…

What about Marvin Williams? Does he factor into this, or is he what he was in so many games last year – a non-factor? The indictment against Marvin is obvious if you watched all, most, or simply enough Hawks games last year. He was generally the first to be subbed out in a game, and was usually not on the floor at the end of games. Correct me if I have that wrong, but that’s what I remember from both the season and the playoffs. That alone says that former coach Woodson felt that the team was better served with somebody else (usually Jamal) on the floor in crunch time. The question is, how did Joe feel about this, and about Marvin? Perhaps Marvin wasn’t taking thing seriously enough, and that may have indeed led to his regression this past season. But this still doesn’t feel quite like we’ve hit the mark, does it? If Marvin was a problem, then substituting Crawford and Mo Evans would pretty much solve it, right?

 

Exhibit C…

 

Here is where Hawks fan blogger NCBravesFan may be hitting the same mark that fellow fan and blogger Astro Joe did in a post a few days ago. The issue could be none other than Josh Smith. Perhaps Smith’s growth and maturity hasn’t been enough, or quickly enough. We know he hasn’t finished improving in that area, but are his antics in practice and during games enough to bother Joe Johnson to this point. I think it’s a very valid suspicion. Josh has the ability to influence the way the Hawks perform in so many ways. It’s Josh who rarely has a game where he isn’t complaining and whining to the officials when a call doesn’t go his way (even though he’s right sometimes). It’s Josh who hurts the team the most when he sulks, pouts, and doesn’t put forth the necessary defensive effort. It’s Josh who can either enhance or disrupt the offense by either using his aggression properly, or by trying to take over in ways he shouldn’t. It’s Josh who might be playing around too much in practice. Is it Josh?

 

Exhibit Etc…

Are there any other suspects in this proverbial man hunt? Maybe Joe is/was disgusted with the overall team chemistry, which could involve several players. Perhaps Mo Evans caused a few problems. Maybe it was Randolph Morris and Jason Collins. I’m sure all three had issues with their playing time, but then again maybe they didn’t (okay, we know Evans did, he as much said so).  Maybe it was the “too loose” atmosphere.

So perhaps we are looking in the wrong direction when it comes to what’s necessary to sign and keep Joe. Maybe we’re seeing the wrong things when it comes to this team’s identity, or what it takes to become better than simply good enough to make it through the first round of the playoffs. Maybe it is more about team chemistry than anything else.

The question becomes, what are the Hawks willing to do about this? Will they lean on Larry Drew to fix the chemistry issues? Should we as fans really expect him to be able to do so? If Drew couldn’t do it as an assistant coach, could he do it as a head coach? Hearing this stuff come out of Horford’s mouth lends it the kind of credence that no media-based speculation ever could. This is real. Is the solution to ship out Josh Smith, perhaps for a less dynamic, but larger/more rugged/more role player type of guy? Read the article and tell us if you think this indicts Smith, or if that’s just conjecture. The Hawks may not want to leave it with a 6 year max contract offer and a few calls from Larry Drew, assuring Joe that things will be different. They may want to tinker with the bench and delve into the hallowed “core” of this team. Could we be worried about things that don’t matter as much as money does? If so, we aren’t the only ones. The Hawks are, too.

 

270 comments Add your comment

Patrick D. Gaul

June 29th, 2010
11:03 am

Let Joe Johnson go! He doesn’t care about Atlanta and he isn’t in it for anything but the money. His performance in the playoff’s was horrible and he made it clear the fans are unimportant. Marvin Williams is a joke. Trade him if a deal can be done. With $29M we can find some additional talent to compliment a strong, young team. Get Josh Childress back…..bring in some additional young talent and be the young aggressive team that runs the old guys into the ground. Who says you have to have one superstar? It sure has heck didn’t help Cleveland!

vic

June 29th, 2010
11:04 am

this article is poorly written

Ben

June 29th, 2010
11:05 am

Maybe First? Nah….

steve brown

June 29th, 2010
11:06 am

Easy but a guess-Josh Smith. Turnovers, bad shots, sulking-mostly at key times-then nothing but love from the coach. Smith will never reach his potential (in my opinion) while surrounded but love-he talks it but has reverted in key moments. Say what you want about Joe’s disappearing offense (could it be isolation had warn him down) in the playoffs but the guy gives it his all on offense and defense.

Astro Joe

June 29th, 2010
11:17 am

Will they lean on Larry Drew to fix the chemistry issues?

Yes, his clear advantage over the other coaching candidates was his relationship and knowledge of the players on the roster. So he absolutely should be expected to help fix the problems. Likewise, I don’t think it would be wise to make too many roster changes, because again, the new coach’s advantage is his knowledge of the core set of players on the squad.

One more rant on the coaching hire process… if chemistry was a problem amongst the players and the coach, then why not put EVERYONE on notice by forcing them all to start anew? Force each and every one of them to go out and prove themselves worthy both on the court and in the locker-room to a brand new boss. Isn’t that (in part) what a “new voice” would bring? Likewise, the chance to truly disrupt the poor chemistry would have come by bringing in a new new coaching staff. Some of us believe that Drew will likely retain at least 1 other member of Woody’s staff (Ty Hill). Had the ASG hired Casey (or Jackson), chances are the big change in culture would have been manifested by a brand new set of coaches. Now, we have to ask about moving some integral players because Drew may not be enough of a cultural change.

Back to the blog topic, surely Joe knows which players Drew may be closest to on the team. Given some of the issues between Josh and Woody previously, is it far-fetched to believe that Josh often leaned on “Uncle Larry” to guide him through the turmoil with Woody? After all, Drew has painted himself as the anti-Woody, so if Woody and Josh were at odds, does that mean Drew and Josh are “cool like that”? And if Josh and Joe ARE the ones feuding, why would Joe expect that the locker-room will get better for him personally if he believes Drew may have “already chosen sides”? Speculation? Obviously, not even the beat writer gets open access to the locker-room.

Joe seems to be thinking that returning to this roster will require a premium payment. Playing on a different roster may be such a breath of fresh air that he will take a discount. Think there may be chemistry issues that have Joe concerned? Uh, yeah!

Sautee

June 29th, 2010
11:18 am

I think vic’s post was poorly written

dstdeelite

June 29th, 2010
11:18 am

I think it’s probably a little bit of each on of these. There is no way that JJ is not just a tiny bit envious of the way the fans, myself included, have embraced Jamal. He seems like a top notch kind of guy who excels in the spotlight. Not to mention his personality. Frankly it’s a welcomed display and complete contrast to JJ. I cringe when I hear people use him in trade scenarios. Team chemistry is underrated. While watching the playoffs, I witnessed a complete team in the Boston Celtics. They epitomize what a “team” should be. They looked like a team with one goal….winning a championship. Even though they came short of that, they played together and Doc preached that at every timeout. I have no doubt that the unnamed player, that spoke about some players doing anything they wanted without fear of punishment from Woody, was Mo Evans. It’s something about him that does not sit well with me. He seems entitled. I think Marvin is a victim of circumstance. From the outside looking in, he seems like a hard worker. He’s just not assertive. That’s not in his nature. Smoove can be maddening, but I’d rather have him with me than against me because he is the one player that can single-handedly take over a game on both ends of the court.

Swingman912

June 29th, 2010
11:19 am

I personally have no opinion on the chemistry issues, but if there are, a “leader” would step in and be the voice of reason, or sometimes, the voice of discipline. Do you think any of the otherbig name free agents would leave because of locker room issues? Nope, they would establish themselves and the leader, not be afraid to get in your teammates ass when its needed, and praise them when its needed as well.

What if Joe himself is a big part of those issues? I see and hear the complaints about Joe’s disappearin acts, his domination of the ball per possesion, and the non assertive behavior. Could that be the reason other Hawks try to take over in ways they can’t, or become passive on the defensive end(Smoove)? Could this be the reason other players seem comfortable just existing and dont seem to WANT to be a factor(Duck AKA Marvin)? There are a number scenarios that you could question, but if the team had a vocal leader, those issues would be addressed AND FIXED fast upon that leader taking control of his team.

Can Joe Be that leader??????

NC Braves Fan

June 29th, 2010
11:23 am

BigRay: it is interesting to consider re: Josh. My thought was, in listening to the Stephen A Smith show, that somebody on the front line must be on the block. For SAS to say to Larry Drew that he felt we needed a bona fide guy playing center (in a starting role) to be more competitive – and to have LD agree with that assessment — suggested that this off season is about a lot more than just Joe Johnson.

Perhaps I’m reading more into it than I should – it just seemed to me an odd comment for a recently hired coach to make about his front line.

Co Co

June 29th, 2010
11:24 am

Joe is not good enough for the organization to pamper him to the degree that you imply. You owe me a few minutes of my life back.

N.D.T.K. A.

June 29th, 2010
11:27 am

Very good article Big Ray,

I think Josh has a role identity problem on the team. I also think J.J. is the cause of this. The guys on the team want to rally around someone, J.J. is neither outspoken or emotional on the court. For the Hawks to succeed J.J. has to be both. Josh wants to be a great player, he is very emotional, and wants to be compared with the top players in the league. You can tell by his comments when they talk to him at the half and after games. On the court you see Josh being directed by Bibby. There in lies the problem with J.J. and how fans feel about him getting max money, J.J. needs to be more vocal and assertive on the floor. For that kind of money this is your team and the rest of your teammates need to know this. Josh has a world of unbridled talent but J.J. has to be able to tell him to straighten up or find another team. It’s just that simple. So both Joe and Josh are at fault. For success you may have to move Josh but that doesn’t solve the problem with J.J. he has to take the lead. MJ was the unquestioned leader in Chicago. D. Wade is the leader in Miami. Lebron in Cleveland. Joe has to step up, period.

Astro Joe

June 29th, 2010
11:35 am

Remember this line from MC’s first blog when Drew was hired (June 11)?

A person with knowledge of Johnson’s plans said he’s still open to returning. But the person said the new coach would have to sell Johnson on relying more on his teammates in the offense and ensure him that locker-room chemistry would improve.

http://blogs.ajc.com/hawks/2010/06/11/atlanta-hawks-larry-drew-is-the-choice-for-coach/?cxntfid=blogs_hawks

allan in texas

June 29th, 2010
12:08 pm

I admit that I saw this trade on another blog and I think that it might work. If CP3 is indeed available then you offer up Jmoove,Jamal Crawford and multiple 1st rd picks for CP3 and Okafor. I also believe that JJ resigns with the Hawks. I just believe that a major trade is coming whether JJ resigns or not. Thanks and have a nice day!

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dap01

June 29th, 2010
12:26 pm

Perhaps the chemistry issue is JJ himself. His body language does not scream leader, it does not scream that he is a great team mate. JJ’s body language screams, “I am moody, leave me alone.”

Woody catered to JJ, the offense catered to JJ.

For the next 6 years, our cap structure will cater to JJ.

i_am_soulstar

June 29th, 2010
12:34 pm

Ray,

What about Zaza???

He and Joe could be seen angrily yelling back and forth at each other during one game of the Magic series.

I Heart Atlanta

June 29th, 2010
12:34 pm

Please do not trade Josh Smith

Swingman912

June 29th, 2010
12:34 pm

Trading for CP3 would be definite upgrade at PG(providing he comes back the same off that severe injury), and he would also make players better. But losing Smoove and Crawford and only gaining Okafor drops off our 2nd and 3rd leading scorers, and our second leading rebounder. That wont be made up adding Okafor and Paul. I’m sure we wouldn’t get past the second round, might not get out the first……Can’t argue with production, and despite Smoove’s and JCraw’s flaws, they produce………CHUUUUUUCH

Veteran Fan

June 29th, 2010
12:36 pm

Fix this whole situation by trading Marvin and Josh to New Orleans for Chris Paul. Do a sign and trade to New York for David Lee with JJ and Bibby. Resign Josh Childress and use your Johnson money to get Chris Bosh! PG Paul, SG Jamal Crawford, SF Bosh, PF Horford, C Lee. Key reserves Zaza, Crawford, Teague, Childress, and Evans. Starters avg 20 pts per game, everyone can run, everyone can rebound, and everyone but Jamal plays great defense! Team can compete for 3-5 years for championships! If we do nothing we will LOSE both games and fans! Wake up Spirit you have assets that are sellable to get the pieces to win.

O'Brien

June 29th, 2010
12:41 pm

Ray,

I can see where Chemistry was an issue. And I can see where Josh may be one of the reasons. Some people believe that if the Hawks give JJ the max, he will stay. However, one thing that nobody is talking about is JJ’s desire to win a championship.

He said he would play with another star and do whatever it takes, because he wants to win a championship. I know that all players say that, but JJ is 29 (unlike 5 years ago when he left Phoenix to come here), so this might be his last chance to sign with a team that he knows will do whatever it takes to compete for a championship.

Is there anything in the Hawks recent history that suggests they will do whatever it takes to win a championship? What kind of coach did they hire? A journeyman 16 year assistant. Have they used the mid-level or bi-annual recently? Nope. Where is Chills? In Greece. And as we have learned, fans need to come out and support the team before they go into luxury tax (or the team has to make a deep run).

New York might not be a good team right now, but their ownership is not afraid to spend the money to go into luxury tax, and they have D’Antoni who JJ likes. Plus they can afford 2 big name FA.

The Bulls may try and avoid luxury tax, but they have an all star PG, a good center, a good SF, and a hot shot new coach. And they can afford 2 big name FA. Miami has DWade, Pat Riley, and the money to sign another big name FA.

What does ATL have to offer JJ in terms of winning a championship? Not much. I think all we have over the other teams is the money. Will that be enough to keep JJ? I dont think so. I think if he really wants the money, his agent will negotiate a sign and trade with another team.

gtdac

June 29th, 2010
12:42 pm

I agree! If bad chemistry is in fact what caused the Hawks to play so poorly in the post-season, I wouldn’t be suprised if Josh Smith and his childish, stupid, and lazy antics are to blame. He would stand around on offense, lazily walk down the court, and continuously whine to officials. Either he needs to grow up in his attitude and his game, or we Atlanta needs to replace him.

Swingman912

June 29th, 2010
12:50 pm

@steve brown,

Joe had no choice but to give his all on offense, becasue he WAS the offense. When you dominate the ball like he did in Woody’s infamous isolations, you have quite a few opportunities to score. Joe would be perfect on a team where he’s not the primary offensive option, but he’s not the guy you give a max contract to @30y/o. Smoove is only 24, so even though his numbers in ALL catergories increased last year, we have yet to see his best. Joe’s potential has max’d out, and he’s not the guy who’s shoulders you put the team on………CHUUUUUCH

chuckw/deadjournalist

June 29th, 2010
12:58 pm

The Hawks don’t have a floor general – bottom line. Joe Johnson is not- at least from the view of someone who does not have access to the inner workings of the team – the leader of this team. And at some level, it appears that he is worse.

He looks to be the outsider.

The Hawks players have never seemed to embrace JJ has their leader. Is this because JJ didn’t want to be “the man”? Is it because the Hawks drafted so many young players that they wouldn’t have respected any vet because of immaturity? Is it because his teammates don’t look to him as their leader because there are other player who feel they should be the top of the totem-pole?

If you decide JJ is your guy – then they should make whatever moves they think will correct said chemistry issue. Marvin, Josh, both? And how much did Bibby’s unhappiness in his reduced role effect the team in the playoffs?

But if, at any level, the organization question if JJ can be the leader this team needs, he should not be resigned to a long-term deal (which means JJ walks).

My concerns with resigning JJ are as much with his age than his attitude/leadership. For a guy who has played so many minutes; taken so much abuse … locking him in for six years scares the Lon Kruger out of me.

If JJ is resigned to a max deal he not only does becomes the albatross against your cap but three or four years in does he become Glen Rice or Steve Smith whose knees limited them to a spot jump-shooters?

Big Ray

June 29th, 2010
1:02 pm

Swingman912

Absolutely. Joe had to give his all on offense, first because he WAS the offense, as you said. But after that, it was simply how the offense was run. Many people still wanted to assert that Joe still had to be the clear cut head-and-shoulders-above-everyone-else guy on offense because he was the only one with enough skill. I disagree, and so did his teammates to an extent. Most notable was a few comments from Al Horford, who had something to say about “doing all he could” but how more touches were necessary for him to produce more. Hmmm…

i_am_soulstar ,

Yeah, I saw that too a couple of times. But is that a specific chemistry issue, or run-of-the-mill frustration that teams go through on a regular basis?

steve brown

June 29th, 2010
1:03 pm

Swingman912,
Didn’t I see you out partying with Josh, keep showing Smooth (disgusting nickname for someone who doesn’t give 100%) all the love you have. At least Joe never quits. Bet you thought Ray Allen was maxed out prior to his joining the Celtics.

chuckw/deadjournalist

June 29th, 2010
1:03 pm

But …

I do wonder how much better the Hawks would have been in the playoffs the last two season with Josh Childress. While I do like his game, it’s more an indictment of Marvin’s poor fit with the Hawks.

So, more than Josh, is Marvin the nice-guy/poor fit that has been the problem all along? Marvin seems to be the one most likely to miss defensive assignments. He is also rarely aggressive on offense. At time last season he was completely invisible. And to Big Ray’s point, he was never on the floor at the end of the game.

Marvin’s still young, still has to generate interest around the league (think how Boris Diaw blossomed once he moved out of the A). What kind of value does he have? His contract is movable, but not great.

And while Josh Smith might not age well (will he have the skill to be a near-all star player when he doesn’t have his same athleticism?) he is still young, has improved and has a cap-friendly deal.

Swingman912

June 29th, 2010
1:07 pm

@Veteran Fan,

Bosh at the 3???? Is that a joke? While he does have a decent mid-range game, he doesn’t have the lateral quickness to guard that position. He’s a PF, and he can play some C, but he’s an easy blow-by for any decent SF in the league, which forces help D, and since you’re talking about trading Smoove(our best weak side defender, and leading-shot blocker), that would leave us exposed on D……ANYWAY the “Joe” money is really just “Joe” money. We can offer him a max deal because he was on our team,so we can go over the cap to sign him. We cant offer big money to ANY of the other FA’s(Bosh included), because that would take us over the cap………being a “Veteran Fan” i thought you would know that………….CHUUUUUUUUUUUCH

Big Ray

June 29th, 2010
1:11 pm

chuckw/deadjournalist

I have to say that I think the Hawks would be NUTS not to be considering the same thing. But are they thinking purely from a business standpoint, or are they also thinking from a winning standpoint? Therein lies the difficulty, and the perception of the ASG by the fan base.

If you’re talking about competing and winning, then yes, you have to look very hard at what kind of contract you offer Joe. He’s not the leader we need. What do leaders do when they have issues in the locker room and on the court? Do they demand better from their teammates, or do they scowl, lead by example, and make semi-cryptic post game comments? Do they talk about what they must do on their own part to make things better, or do they talk about becoming elite players? I’d say that Joe’s teammates have accepted him as lead dog in that he will get the most shots and the offense will run through him. This is, as you know, NOT accepting him as the leader.

And I haven’t seen Joe make all the same efforts as consistently on defense, as he has on offense. But if that’s a knock on him, consider also that guys like Kobe Bryant and Lebron James have come under the same fire. And I also don’t see Joe becoming the leader we wish he was. Okay, so somebody else has to take that role on this team. Which means we’d be paying a max contract to a guy who maybe shouldn’t be captain of the team (or maybe he should be co-captain) and will still want/get the most shots. Huh.

Big Ray

June 29th, 2010
1:13 pm

On the flip side of that, if the Hawks are more worried about revenue and perception….

They could sign JJ because of what they went through to get him, and because they’re afraid that not doing so makes them look……cheap. Will enough fans rant and rave because of that, or because Joe is a 20 ppg scorer? I don’t know. But almost no matter WHAT they do, the “cheap” stigma is very hard to get rid of.

So finding that thin line to walk between basketball sense and perception/revenue/etc is going to be a tough one to walk. To make matters worse, they won’t have any more time to think about the quick move they need to make. In fact, I’d say they have less than 24 hours to strike…

Big Ray

June 29th, 2010
1:22 pm

steve brown ,

I feel like the whole team quit against Orlando. That would include Joe. And believe me, I like the guy. Josh Smith definitely has his problems. Sometimes I seem him providing more of a spark on both ends than anybody else, though. Other times, it was Joe who carried the day. Hey, the guy averaged 20 ppg. Then again, flip the coin and see that he also had the offense revolving around him. Hard not to score that much when you have the most skill and get the most shots.

Despite that, which guy had the better series against Orlando?

Joe: 12.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, 29.8% shooting from the field

Josh: 15.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.8 spg, 44.1% shooting from the field

My answer? Doesn’t matter. We got blown out by an NBA record number of points.

Swingman912

June 29th, 2010
1:26 pm

@steve brown,

I admire your wit, its you lack of the basics i find disappointing. I am not denying that #5(wont mention the S-word again) gives up on plays, whines and bitches about calls, and doesnt always give 100%, I’m also NOT saying Joe is done. I AM saying that he isnt worth a 6year max’d out deal. He’s the best offensive player on the Hawks roster, but his I really dont give a damn, or “I could care less….” attitude isnt worth that, especially at 30. He’s a great player, but not a great leader, and thats what this team needs, especially wanting that much money…………..

ps: Ray Allen was great for the C’s. I knew he would be, because he played his role as a slashing guard, and spot up shooter. And he wasnt coming in on a 6yr max’d out deal. Joe would be, and he would be the primary scorer, not a spot up shooter….As good as Ray Allen was and is, how much you think he’ll get paid this season????

Big Ray

June 29th, 2010
1:26 pm

N.D.T.K. A.

I’d say that’s a pretty balanced view. I certainly agree that trading Josh does not solve the leadership issue. If JJ has a major issue with Josh, then all it does is make things easier on JJ. Does that then turn JJ into a more vocal leader? Nope. And once more, I’m not impressed by “leading by example.” If that’s the case, then what example has JJ really set here? That’s a question that a true fan has to come to grips with. A “JJ only” fan won’t know what to say.

I don’t think any team is going to get that type of leadership from Joe, though. And that’s not a knock on him as a player or a person. It’s just an opinion that all but borders on fact (based on the evidence we’ve seen from him in his career).

Veteran Fan

June 29th, 2010
1:27 pm

Swingman912, the ENTIRE NBA is playing a ZONE these days as there is no one in the league that can shoot well enough to get them out of one! So Bosh’s perceived lack of lateral quickness doesn’t matter as you would have Childress to match up with a quick SF and win the 6th man award next year! As far as my payroll scenario, look at the salaries traded away! It would appear that we could offer Bosh the same money that any other team could in addition to playing with Chris Paul and Horford!

steve brown

June 29th, 2010
1:37 pm

Biggest Joe Johnson negative, at it is never never mentioned (helping swingman912 and Big Ray), he has the lowest number of free throw attempts of any of the leagues leading scorers. With his size and ball handling skills he could easily average 5 points more a game if he learned to take it to the hoop and pick up a few fouls. Help me with the answer as to why he doesn’t.

Big Ray

June 29th, 2010
1:51 pm

Astro Joe ,

Great post. A few follow-up queries/ideas on your opinion:

Did Sund say a “new” voice? Here is the exact quote from the following link:

http://blogs.ajc.com/hawks/2010/05/14/woodson-wont-return-to-coach-hawks/

“It was a hard decision,” Sund said. “When I analyzed and looked at it, I went round and round. Finally I think it got to the situation where the compelling thought is, ‘Maybe change is good for everybody.’ That happens quite a bit in the NBA. Maybe the players need to hear another voice, and maybe Mike needs to talk to another group.”

I know this seems like I’m splitting hairs, but think of what the exact terminology allows for.

For one thing, where are we getting the idea that the thinking of the organization was along the lines of wholesale change? Going a whole new route with an entirely different coaching staff may not have been something management was comfortable with (in other words, the ASG may not have been too comfortable with it) in the long run. Admittedly, it’s a gamble. What if it doesn’t work? What does the all important JJ want? Would the players on a 53-win team respond better to a stranger, or a guy who wouldn’t take a couple of seasons to figure out which buttons to push? Can we assume that bringing in a whole new coaching staff would not only disband the poor chemistry, but promote better chemistry? How long would that take?

if chemistry was a problem amongst the players and the coach, then why not put EVERYONE on notice by forcing them all to start anew?

You know the answer to this. Such thinking comes from a single individual, or individuals of a like mind. Think Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith. Do the ASG by themselves epitomize that sort of cohesion? Now add Sund to the mix and tell me if it got any better.

Very interesting speculation on Woody/Josh/Drew. Maybe it’s an issue, maybe not. It raises a question or two you’re not asking though:

If Joe thinks that way, does Larry know?

Is Larry the type to take a player’s side, particularly as a head coach? This IS the guy who said he’s going to take Josh off the perimeter, and put him in the post. That’s the first we’ve heard of that from the Atlanta sideline….and I’ll bet Bibby is on board with that idea, eh? ;)

If Larry knows that those two are feuding (or whatever it is), would he not speak to Joe about it during those “phone calls?” He’d have to know there was an issue, and surely he would want to resolve it.

Swingman912

June 29th, 2010
1:52 pm

Veteran Fan,

Joe is clearly looking for a max deal, so in order to sign and trade him, we first have to sign him. NY would have to be willing to take on that contract(which they prob will), but then they have to sign David Lee(who’s a free agent, not looking for a max out, but a big payday)and we would have to take that contract. Taking his contract would give us more space,but That wouldn’t leave us enough to pick up Bosh, or any other prominent FA……..I want big Al at the PF as well tho,

Swingman912

June 29th, 2010
2:07 pm

@steve brown,

good point. Never thought about it, but i think one reason is because when he has the ball 1 on 1, everybody else stands around clogging the lane. No movement leads to settling for jumpshots. Can’t really blame that on Joe. He did get comfortable with that mid-range J. And while he knocked it down regularly, i would have loved to see him drive more, because not a lot of ppl have that body(pause lol) that Joe has…..

Big Ray

June 29th, 2010
2:10 pm

steve brown ,

I don’t know why Joe doesn’t drive to the basket more. Got any ideas? The only one I can think of is kind of vanilla: It’s just not his style.

Here’s one for you. If he could average 5 more ppg just by doing that, why did he average 25 ppg in ‘06-’07, but has fallen off since? In that season, he only played 57 games. The rest he missed due to injury. But that year, he had 314 free throw attempts total. That’s 5.5 free throw attempts per game.

In ‘07-’08, he had a total of 379 attempts over 82 games (4.6 per game). In ‘08-’09, he had 362 attempts over 79 games (4.58 per game). In ‘09-’10, it was 269 attempts over 76 games (3.53 per game).

I think the answer is in shot attempts and field goal percentage, at least statistically. Joe had his best season for the Hawks in ‘06-’07, averaging 19.98 shot attempts per game for the season (though again, he played just 57 games), hitting 47.1% from the field overall, and 38.1% from 3 point range.

It was arguably his best season ever in the League, though that honor may belong to his last season with the Suns, in ‘04-’05. Back then he shot 46.1% from the field and a blazing 47.8% from three point range, hitting a career high 177 3-pointers.

chuckw/deadjournalist

June 29th, 2010
2:12 pm

Big Ray –

And there’s the crux of the whole issue. Your “star” player isn’t your most marketable. If the team traded Josh Smith I think Jon Fan would flip out.

JJ? Not so much.

Atlanta gets knocked for being a super-star town. Fans come out with the stars do. MG Jr., has said as much. So if the fans haven’t shown up with JJ before, why will they show up in the future?

They won’t. (If there is a Hawk that people go to see it is Josh – for better or worse.)

The Hawks best hopes for putting butts in the seats would be all-out hustle and a high-octane offense (as we’ve said for years) with a team of of guys that Atlanta fans like and respect. Maybe they believe Drew can make this happen with his Pittsburgh Pieces mystical offense.

Regarding the stigma of the ASG as a “cheap” organization – they have to prove that they are smarter. If you have a boat-load of cash, you can make a lot of bad personnel moves. For that reason the smart move may very well be not resigning JJ.

But if a “cheap” organization compounds the issue by making “dumb” personnel decisions it will be disaster.

steve brown

June 29th, 2010
2:16 pm

Swingmam912, do you mean pick and roll, back door cuts, etc., stuff we haven’t seen in these parts for years. Would Josh set a pick (I know Horford would) but is Josh’s mid range jumper reliable enough to make it work (hasn’t proved it). Marvin could be an option but he comes and goes but given more of a chance (yeah he would probably get injured). Strangely Josh Childress fits here as he can drive hit his funky mid range shot and hustle. Do we yet have a guard that can penetrate and hit the open J? Too many questions so few answers.

Big Ray

June 29th, 2010
2:18 pm

Swingman912

I think that’s exactly why Larry Drew says he wants to take the ball out of Joe’s hands a little more, and make it easier for him to score. I think Larry Drew wants to put Joe in the position he was in in Phoenix, back in ‘04-’05. And honestly, I think that’s the absolute best use of Joe that you can possibly make.

Don’t put him in these ISOs all game long. He’s one of the best at creating space for himself to shoot a jumper, but it is NOT THE OPTIMAL USE OF HIS TALENTS. Never has been. As stated in my post above, look at his stats during that season. Wouldn’t you just LOVE to see Joe shooting open jumpers like Ray Allen does for Boston? Wouldn’t you love see him coming off of screens and “making it rain” ? (Okay, maybe that’s a bad analogy…LOL).

Imagine Joe shooting 46% from the field and 40% or more from 3 point land, like he did in Phoenix. Voila! Not only would he be under less stress, but I’m betting he averages 23-26 ppg that way. And still gets between 3 and 5 rebounds and assists per game. The offensive would be more explosive and fun to watch.

It’s not like he would be missing out on the shot attempts. Horford and Smith are good, but you don’t make them the #1 and #2 options that Phoenix made Stoudamire and Marion were (I think the mistake was with Marion, honestly…Joe should have been option #2, and Marion #3, not the other way around). Stoudamire and Joe could have even been co-#1 options, as good as Joe is at shooting/scoring.

Big Ray

June 29th, 2010
2:23 pm

chuckw/deadjournalist

Couldn’t agree more.

The danger in trading Josh is that you trade away at least half of the “highlight” in the Highligh Factory. Being a better team and winning more games (if trading Josh does indeed get you this) isn’t something the average fan will expect or see right away.

You’re absolutely right. If the ASG doesn’t make smarter moves, then disaster hits. Especially when they aren’t known for big, bold, money-gushing moves.

It’s one reason why the Knicks fans haven’t sold out on their team yet. Dolan finally hired somebody smart in Walsh. Up until then, only the bold “throw the money out there” moves kept that fan base afloat (well, and it is NY, basketball mecca). Even if many of them were stupid (Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury, and a host of others), and others were clearly about brand name (Tracy McGrady).

Astro Joe

June 29th, 2010
2:24 pm

Ray, I think how you manage the assets on the floor (Josh near the basket) is different than how you manage personalities off the court. We don’t know Drew’s plan for the latter and I won’t jump to the conclusion that because he knows what offensive scheme he wants to use that he has the answers related to team chemistry.

Josh provides a “spark” because Josh is a lightning bolt. Watching Joe make jumpers is not going to provide a spark. Watching him play better on the road vs. home doesn’t inspire others to approach road games differently. Watching him defend the other team’s best perimeter player in crunch time (whether it’s Derrick Rose, D Wade or LeBron) does not make his teammates step up their defensive intensity. We want Joe to work miracles on his teammates.

I don’t see Josh “sparking” Marvin to stop deferring. I don’t see Josh “sparking” Jamal to give a better defensive effort. I don’t see Josh “sparking” Josh to fill the lane on fast breaks. :oops:

We’re not going to get true leadership from Joe nor Josh. We should know that by now and stop pretending otherwise. Our best bet (from the current roster) I guess is Al (because that’s what we’ve been led to believe). But I wouldn’t hesitate to pay Joe because he can’t get Bibby to fight through screens on defense or Zaza to set a non-moving screen. I’d pay him his contract because his skill level is immense, he has a great 5-year track record on this team and because he won’t have a no trade clause in his contract (max contracts get traded each and every year). And I’d pay him because I trust him, he made some bad decisions this past season, but when thinking back over his entire tenure with the Hawks, yeah, that’s the player I trust the most to keep my favorite team relevant for the next 3-5 years.

steve brown

June 29th, 2010
2:26 pm

Just a note-of the top 30 scorers in the NBA this past season JJ averaged the least number of free throws per game-I think this is an indictment of the coaching.

Swingman912

June 29th, 2010
2:29 pm

@BigRay,

Any word about who else is gonna be on the Summer league roster besides Teague, Gladyr, JO.Crawford, and Sy? Tryna see what we can get out of the undrafted.

steve brown

June 29th, 2010
2:30 pm

Would Atlanta prefer “the Highlight” factory or a damn winner. I wish to G-d we would win something before handing out these nicknames-in my time this was called bush league. Win and you can call yourself anything you want.

Swingman912

June 29th, 2010
2:43 pm

LMBO@ steve brown…..bush league

cant help but agree with that. Highlights look good. winning feels good

Astro Joe

June 29th, 2010
2:56 pm

Ray, yes “another voice” is different than “a new voice”. Most of us have been in situations where we’ve seen people get promoted from within as well as when the new boss comes from another group/company. Internal promotes do some things well but they also come with pre-established relationships. The new boss comes in (usually) with a blank slate and everyone has to prove themselves to either keep their job or gain favor. Given the nature of this particular set of employees, I would have voted to bring in someone without any established relationships. Make them all feel an equal sense of discomfort with the new boss. Make them talk to each other about how to manage the new guy in the corner office. Force them to come together and learn a new playbook and terminology. For this particular set of employees, where chemistry was an issue, an external hire just made all the sense in the world. And the funny thing is, 98% of teams who essentially just fired their head coach during the off-season do the exact same thing, they hire externally. Anyone hear any rumors of the Cavs interviewing Mike Brown’s former lead assistant? I didn’t think so. Lead assistants usually get the gig as an in-season replacement, an interim title.

I know, I need to get over this. In my pea-brain, I have already decided that Dwayne Casey would have been the next Phil Jackson… funny how bias will make you think stupid thoughts.

Blast

June 29th, 2010
3:17 pm

Early into last season, all the Hawks players talked about was how much they liked each other and how well they all got along. Then the Bucks take them to game 7, Hawks flamed out against Orlando in the 2nd and all of a sudden, we have chemistry issues?

If the team had chemistry issues, I think the entire problem falls squarely first on Woody, who is now gone, and on Woodson’s pet, named Joe Johnson.

If I were on Hawks team, I can assure you that I will get totally pissed off when Joe hogs the ball for 20 seconds, when he dribbles, dribbles, and dribbles while the rest of us stand around, then only to have Joe jack up a bad jumper at the buzzer, or force up a bad shot against 3 defenders, or lose the ball because he tried to force it while been heavilly defended. Then if I were Josh, I would be supermad when after Joe dribbles the shot clock to 2, then passes me the ball at the top of the key, thus forcing me to throw up a hasty shot that will surely miss, thus messing up MY FG%, AND getting the fans mad at me for taking a long jumper.

Not sure what folks have been smoking, but I will not trade Josh Smith for nothing. Unless you are getting a super dupper center in his place, I will not trade that kid for nothing. Josh has not even scratched the surface of what he can do yet. Once his maturation completes, what out!

CONFEDERATE DAWG

June 29th, 2010
3:24 pm

I LOVE JOSH AND HE IS A GA KID, BUT I SURE DO WISH HE’D STOP FLIPPIN OUT ALL THE TIME. WHEN SOMEONE ON YOUR TEAM IS ALWAYS DOING THAT CRAP IT DESTROYS THE WHOLE TEAM.

ONELOVE GA