Joe’s back, five questions follow

There may have been a couple of reasons for Joe Johnson to leave Atlanta, but he ended up with around 119 million reasons to stay. Many are unhappy with the size of the contract, but the Hawks only had two choices, really. Either pay your only established star player, or go in another direction with less overall talent. The Hawks knew it. Joe and his agent knew it.  Then again, how many choices did Joe really have, that he would have been happy with? What if the Hawks hadn’t offered him the max? Where would he have gone, and been comfortable? Personally, I think it was posturing more than anything else. After all, Joe would have been second fiddle almost anywhere else he could have gone, his destiny partially (and maybe largely) dependant on somebody else. A co-star at best, and paid like one. Were there any contract offers made by other teams, or did they talk more about signing him and then getting him to recruit somebody else?  Considering things like that, it’s probably no small wonder that Joe jumped on the Hawks’ contract offer within a day or two of it being made.

We could debate the merits of what the Hawks have done with this max contract, and we probably will to an extent. But let’s examine some issues and questions that must follow his signing. As these questions won’t cover all topics on the table, do feel free to add your own.

 

 

 

1) Can Larry Drew get more out of Joe Johnson?

Maybe we’re not looking for merely “more” as much as we are “better.” Joe has proven to be a 20 ppg scorer from one season to the next, but a combination of talent and being your team’s #1 offensive option gets a lot of guys to that level. Keeping that level of performance is no mean feat, however, when defenses key on you. And despite the fact that having the ball in your hands all the time helps you to 5 assists per game, you can’t get there without the ability to make good passes. Joe gives you 20, 5, and 5 every season, but the Hawks can do better things with him. What Larry Drew and the Hawks need, is to find a way to get Joe back to the form he had in 2004-2005 with Phoenix, or his 2006-2007 season with the Hawks. In other words, put him in a position to take better advantage of the shots he gets, so he can shoot a higher percentage. If Joe shoots around 47% from the field and at least 38% from 3-point territory, watch out. We’re talking closer to 25 points per game, with even more 30+ point outbursts.  If this works out, look for it to carry into the postseason as well.

2) Is Joe serious about recruiting?

Arn Tellem is a sports agent, which puts him right up there (or down there, depending on how you view it) with politicians. His suggestion that Joe is going to recruit for the team is…well…I don’t know what word should be used here. I never knew Joe cared that much, and the idea of him helping to snag Lebron is a joke, in my mind. Who has he recruited before? Who does he talk to? With a payroll ready to burst at the seams, what’s his pitch going to be? I’m having a hard time going for this one. Not necessarily because of Joe himself, but because of where the words came from. Does Joe even know who the Hawks might be targeting, and does he agree with the acquisition of such players? Does a max contract deal include provisions for recruiting and influencing decision-making processes (I thought they hired some guy named Bob to handle personnel stuff)? I can see Kobe with that kind of pull. Lebron, definitely. Wade, even. But Joe? Maybe he’s been tabbed as Hawks pitch-man to whomever they decide to try and sign, as part of his bangin’ new contract (insert mildly sarcastic tone here). Should we even take this seriously? Maybe we shouldn’t give this another thought until we hear something from Joe’s mouth.

 

3) What about those chemistry issues?

Love conquers all. Oops, maybe that’s supposed to be money.

If I’m Joe, and there are real, live issues in the locker room, I’d be on the phone discussing that with Larry Drew. Better yet, make it a “dinner date.” Then, I’d be on the phone with my teammates. Joe is getting paid like a mega-superstar and he is the team captain. Forget recruiting, how about reinforcing the idea of buying into whatever it is that Larry Drew is selling? How about helping to forge the team into a more serious, hard-working unit? How about working with guys like Al Horford to cultivate a winning atmosphere, rather than one where serious adversity results complete implosion? Sure, this is going to be Larry Drew’s job, but team leaders have to take on a role. Joe need not be the guy sounding the rallying cry on the court, or the fist-pumping and chest-thumping rah-rah type. But he does need to be a steadying, polarizing force. Help get the guys to work hard and serious in practice, everybody already knows how to have fun and act up. Help guys to stay focused in the locker room and in the huddle. Do the behind-the-scenes glue work. Isn’t that what “quiet” guys do?

 

4) Can Marvin Williams be salveaged?

Big question. Sund and Drew have to think hard on this, because there may be a deal right around the corner where Williams would have to be involved. Can Drew turn Williams into a viable offensive option? Some say Marvin’s problems begin and end with former coach Mike Woodson. Others say that he has never had the talent to be effective. Both lines of thinking tend to be on the far end of either spectrum, and neither has anything to do with his rebounding and defensive production. It does bear noting, however, that Marvin’s shot attempts have declined since the ‘07-’08 season. And before you say it, yes, he had more shot attempts this past season (664) than he did in ‘08-’09 (622). But you would be forgetting something. Marvin played in 81 games last season, as opposed to just 61 in the season prior to that. His shot attempts per game went down by 2 per game from ‘08-’09 to ‘09-’10. Still, this doesn’t explain his frequent hesitation to drive the ball without an open lane, his awkward angles to the basket, or his pedestrian shooting from the arc. Can Marvin remain a viable part of the core of this team, or is it time to move on? Any deals that come to the table involving a bigger player to help Al Horford in the post may only serve to complicate things.

 

5) What will happen with Josh Childress?

The Hawks lost Childress’ services for two years straight, but now he wants to come back to the NBA. Or so it’s being reported. Count me among those who think Childress won’t wear a Hawks uniform again in this lifetime, but I could be wrong. There have been reports that the Wizards and other teams are interested in him. Should the Hawks try to bring him back to the fold, or should they try to move him for other players/assets? When he was here, Childress was the perfect glue guy on the court by playing smart and hustling all the time. No doubt the Hawks could use that now. However, he may want to ply his trade elsewhere. With Joe back in the fold, the Hawks should be able to get moving on this front, and see how they can make it work for them. As unlikely as it may or may not be, Childress could come back and play for the one year qualifier of $4.8 million, just to get his foot back into the NBA door. Or, the Hawks could find a way to peddle him off for something else.

 

Summer is in full swing.

219 comments Add your comment

lou

July 5th, 2010
11:21 am

you spelled salvage wrong..

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Al Horford Fans. Al Horford Fans said: RT @ajchawks: AJC's fan blog: Joe’s back, five questions follow http://bit.ly/baTRp5 [...]

JSS

July 5th, 2010
11:57 am

Questions 3,4, and 5, the rest are just points of contention. But especially numbers 4 and 5, Marvin and Chillz and I don’t care if he pulls a Truck Robinson and gives his best for one season!

Melvin

July 5th, 2010
12:14 pm

Nire

“Marvin= underachiever with unfulfilled potential. Chillz= overachiever with significant holes in his game. If we trade Marvin and bring back Chillz as a starter, it won’t be long before we are looking for a SF.”

I think Chillz is a utility player. Jack of all trades but master of none. What makes him an overachiever is that he’s play the game within his abilities and stay in within his strong areas. Baseline to baseline and slashing to the rim….

Austin

July 5th, 2010
12:19 pm

Ray,
Do you think moving Marvin for a big would make sense? Or packaging chills and Marvin for a big? What are your thoughts?

bg3003

July 5th, 2010
12:53 pm

JJ recruiting? lol im as confused as you are, who is he going to bring in? probably a nobody

steve brown

July 5th, 2010
1:10 pm

Looks like I was wrong on a Joe Johnson sign and trade. Now go ahead and trade Jamal (Just kidding).

tjhook

July 5th, 2010
1:27 pm

What Coach Drew should do with Joe is send him to some leadership camps with other CEO because the paycheck has made him the Hawks’ chief executive officer by default. That check is not about what he has done, but what he is about to do. Hawks fans will not have tolerance for a player who flirted with other teams to get the ultimate paycheck. Joe got a max contract, now he needs to max out his experience with the Hawks. If he needs an example to go by, look at Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobelli of the Spurs.

i_am_soulstar

July 5th, 2010
1:55 pm

With the addition of Jamal and the improvement of Al Horford’s jump shot, Marvin’s role changed from third offensive option to utility guy, and he had a tough time adjusting. Happens to folks in different professions all the time.

Now I think that for what the small forward role has changed into, Josh Childress would be better suited than Marvin. So if Joe Johnson is in fact recruiting, his first phone call should be to Childress. I’m pretty sure that a sincere effort by management and the team captain could convince Childress to want to play for the Hawks again.

It’s a stretch for me to believe he’s seriously recruiting top free-agents, but I don’t think it’s too far-fetched that he can reel in one that’s recently strayed from the herd.

J

July 5th, 2010
2:09 pm

Marvin can’t even salvage himself. No passion, no fire. Just his duck-face for 48 minutes. Didn’t yall see that article where he was just happy about winning? So if he can basically be the 6th option with the team doing well he’s content.

doc

July 5th, 2010
2:29 pm

nice ray, if jj can help with this is what i would like and fairly reasonable based on the background noise heard thus far.

ok best scenario, id favor sending marvin to the warriors for beidrens and to sign over chills for henrich, then get a big for the mle and a smaller big with some change left over. i think salaries would match for the trades is my guess though it may not based on the language for sign and trades. i dont know if they are equal dollar for dollar or are based on some formula which puts us at a disadvantage. it may. all positions would be covered if jj pays more three and mo is the back up. the hawks would be in luxury tax land which they have been adverse to considering but that is where most teams are that seriously challenge for championships go. pretenders do less and spend less. additionally, might need to consider another vet for sf just in case.

newkid

July 5th, 2010
3:07 pm

For Joe this is potentially an opportunity to almost completely reset his image in the minds of many Hawks fans, and perhaps his teammates as well. Not sure how active he might have been in recruiting other players here in years past, but if he follows through on his recently avowed interest in doing so, and a major piece elects to sign – or be traded here – due to Joe’s influence, then his cache immediately jumps to untold heights. If I were a teammate, with that sort of recruitment success, I suspect my respect and admiration for him would leap forward. I’d be more inclined to defer to him both on and off the court, especially if it became apparent that the major additional piece was the missing link between a continued playoff mediocrity and deep playoff runs.

This is perhaps his opportunity to command the position of the unquestioned ‘leader’ of the Hawks, but he’ll need the cooperation of that ‘major’ piece and a willing & creative front office. He’ll also need to be predisposed to actively taking the leadership mantel once it’s presentated to him. Has he got the juice amongst his peers to be that magnet? If so, will he grow a pair of lungs and provide the vocal leadership that’s so sorely missing? I’m on record as putting him down as a perennial follower whose voice his house pet is not even inclined to heed; sure hope I’m wrong. Seize the time JJ.

BurbankDawg

July 5th, 2010
3:09 pm

Please trade Marvin! I don’t care if he turns into an All-Star somewhere else–he will never flourish as a Hawk! Trade him while he’s young and healthy!

Sautee

July 5th, 2010
3:30 pm

lou,

You failed to begin your sentence with a capital Y.

You also had two periods at the end of your sentence. ;-)

MannyT

July 5th, 2010
3:52 pm

1. If Drew gets more out of the group, then he’s done a good job. I don’t care if that means more Joe, less Joe, or no Joe…it’s all about results in terms of wins…probably in the playoffs.

2. I think Joe wants to be serious about getting some help in here. He knows he cannot pull this team to new heights by himself.

3. One of the easiest ways to change chemistry is to change players. I’d put this one on Sund to help Drew. Not saying that someone needs to go, but if you improve the team and its chemistry via a trade or two, do it.

4. Marvin can be more useful in a more collaborative offense. His defense is ok given what was asked of him. If Drew’s magic playbook makes Marvin better, that is great. Otherwise, you are still a year or two away from moving his contract for value. Hang on to him unless a magic beans deal is in the pipeline.

5. WILDCARD. I doubt Chills wants to play here, but I think he will play here for a 1 yr deal to be unrestricted or if the Hawks match a good offer. He’s the type of player that makes a team better w/o demanding the ball. He has developed something while in Greece. Those additional skills may help…a team that plays more of a Euro style. What can you get from the Spurs or the Raptors for him?

Melvin

July 5th, 2010
3:58 pm

Watching the Orlando Summer League games. I’m glad the Hawks didnt pick Daniel Orton out of Uk. He looks terrible… Paul George and Lance Stephenson for the Pacers looks good…

O'Brien

July 5th, 2010
4:29 pm

1) With Drew’s player interaction, I think he will get more out of the players. And with more ball movement, hopefully Joe will get some easier looks, which will lead to better efficiency. And if he can get another 2-4 FT attempts per game, watch out.

2) Players want to get paid, and all we have is the mid-level and the bi-annual. So how does Joe recruit players to come here? Tell them to take less money? Something that he didn’t do…

3) I think sharing the ball and player accountability will improve chemistry.

4) and 5) In a perfect world, we would pay Marvin $5 mil, and Chills $5 mil. And we would play each of them 24 mpg. But given Marvin’s salary, we can’t afford Chills, because there are cheaper options available.

Consequently, our best moves will be via trades IMO.

Doc,

I like the Marvin for Biedrins trade. I’m also willing to throw in Mo Evans if they give us Anthony Randolph.

doc

July 5th, 2010
5:02 pm

it is a problem in getting rid of marvin as you almost have to put jj in that position for extended minutes if there is no chills as there is no other guy to play there besides mo. i dont know too much about rudolph to comment on his fit to replace both guys. that would be a tall order for him to pull the load for both guys and i imagine the warriors dont need two sf though we could probably use losing two for the right players. i actually think it would possibly benefit jj to play three long term, dont know if he is ready for that.

Marcus

July 5th, 2010
5:12 pm

Good questions: JJ can directly control items 1 and 3 … but can influence (by his own behaviour) #4 to support Marvin if he is still here. 2 and 5 are more ASG/money issues. Out of all of them, I would luv # 2 to be a serious factor, but unless JJ donates some of his new-found money to help. it is probably more propaganda.

Soulja Boy Tellem

July 5th, 2010
5:17 pm

Watch me crank dat, watch me roll.

Mitun

July 5th, 2010
5:19 pm

why not get Bedrins and Ellis from GS for Marvin, Chills and Mo

i_am_soulstar

July 5th, 2010
5:21 pm

Melvin,

I was just about to say, it’s his first game, but Daniel Orton has played like crap

The Real Hawk

July 5th, 2010
5:27 pm

What would make anyone think the only team that decided to have the league minimum team last year would actually go over the luxury tax?
Unless the rumor is true that the owners will sell the Thrashers.

The Real Hawk

July 5th, 2010
5:27 pm

Why would anyone take Marvin the terrible.?

doc

July 5th, 2010
5:36 pm

mitun, that is what i almost suggested but it is so one sided it ranks up there with larceny at worst fantasy league basketball at the least. i dont think anyone here would turn that one down. send josh to minny for al jefferson then deal bibby and chills to the wiz for hinrich and a sf and we have rebuilt around the core and adressed many of the issues, no? maybe deal jamal for a rugged defender type sf, even better. again fantasy, short of suggesting maybe add shaq at the mle. yeah, that is the ticket.

doc

July 5th, 2010
5:40 pm

actually wouldnt throw chills to the warriors may need to send bibby which then i cant deal to the wiz so we dont get a sf except through the 2 mil extra we can spend after the mle. my fantasy got too carried away there.

Fundamentals

July 5th, 2010
5:54 pm

Doc, not sure Al Jefferson is big enough, not opposed to trading Bibby & Chills, who can we get for Jamal?

SAY NO TO SHAQ

Astro Joe

July 5th, 2010
5:58 pm

55+ wins are in the bag, addition by subtraction with Woody gone and Drew in. Even with a few injuries, the bench will be so much ore prepared to handle injuries that there should be nothing to stop them from 55 wins.

Obviously, Joe won’t be onvincing any big-time free agent to take a 67% pay cut. But maybe he could convince guys to accept the MLE. I think it is a safe assumption that one of the selling points the ASG used on Joe is that they wouldn’t stop by simply bringing back the identical team. So they have Joe convinced they will spend more, which naturally, has Joe thinking that he should be in recruiting mode. I recall that BK used a similar approach on Joe some 5 years ago… and how many FAs were signed over that period of time?

We’ll see what happens next. It may be good to see which FAs are represented by Tellum as a good place to start the speculation.

vava74

July 5th, 2010
6:00 pm

Mo can play the SG slot at a very good level and JJ would be an excellent point forward with chills and crawford off the bench

Fundamentals

July 5th, 2010
6:01 pm

Nice point Astro – who does Tellum represent that could sign our two spots or force a trade?

Fundamentals

July 5th, 2010
6:03 pm

Here’s the list – headed by Shelden Williams! HOORAY!!!! Sorry Astro, now to be serious there are some nice prospects here:

http://hoopshype.com/agents/arn_tellem.htm

Astro Joe

July 5th, 2010
6:03 pm

Melvin, I thought you liked those high risk/high reward players?

kwooden1

July 5th, 2010
6:24 pm

Ray nice blog

1) I’m not holding my breath. JJ is going to be under a lot of pressure, so if he continues his normal production I will be happy

2) I don’t know how much JJ can really help. I think the ASG giving him the max was the best thing for recruiting.

3) I think the saying “Chemistry Issues” is another way of saying we didn’t know what we were doing on offensive. I think the coach/system can solve the “Chemistry” issues. I never hear the Jazz talking about Chemistry problems, they just say they didn’t run the offensive or didn’t play good defensive.

4) I like Marvin, but with JJ’s big contract we have to make moves now. Marvin is the odd man out so I think he’s got to be used in a S&T.

5) I would like to have Chills. Hopefully he can fill the Marvin’s spot if we can use Marvin as part of a S&T for a quality big.

I’m looking to get Jermaine O’Neal, opposed to Shaq O’Neal. I like Jermaine’s offensive and length over Shaq’s bulk.

Big Ray

July 5th, 2010
6:32 pm

JSS ,

I’d say any questions constitutes a point of contention on a blog. I guess it all depends on your viewpoint, though. But you left us hangin’. What’s your view on questions 3, 4, and 5?

Austin ,

Yes, I think trading Marvin (and Mike Bibby) for a big man makes sense if said big man fits the scheme and the team. However, I would not do such a trade without following it up with the acquisition of another point guard. Preferably a veteran, but not an “old” veteran whose ability to contribute is very nearly at its end. Trading Marvin is a gamble, but I feel it’s far less so than before. Reason being, he’s going into year six with “unfulfilled potential” despite being on the same team. Can’t blame ALL of that on his former coach, either. By now, it doesn’t look like the potential that we once thought was there, exists. So, it wouldn’t be hard to replace his production at the 3 spot, and there is less use for a big, long SF, if you have the addes size you were looking to compensate for at the 5 spot.

doc

July 5th, 2010
6:33 pm

fundamental i hear you, but al j is about all out there to get when folks talk about getting a center to replace al h with. so i keep bringing his name up to only get shot down within minutes of making the post. ;-) kind of proves a point doesnt it?

as for josh to minny, well it is close to chicago isnt it? kinda?

Big Ray

July 5th, 2010
6:36 pm

Steve brown ,

Somehow I know you’re going to blame me if Jamal gets traded, LOL.

Doc ,

Sounds like a plan to me. I think that would be money well spent. And your point is taken: contenders spend, pretenders don’t. The only partial exception is when you draft well, which saves you money at least in the short term.

O'Brien

July 5th, 2010
6:37 pm

Doc,

Mo Evans is not a SF. He is best suited to play SG

doc

July 5th, 2010
6:50 pm

1. more efficiency maybe but how can you drive him any harder to get more out of him than the past few years?

2. no, not enough cred or clout

3. i think drew is the man for the job, trades before the season might help. then again sometimes it hurts to ask what you ask for.

4. marvin may be gone is my hope. best for him with the caveat we get back something of quality like a starter. otherwise he has to be allowed to pass/fail for his new coach.

5. we need to get something for him if he elects to come back. he has a lot of control still. he is probably weighing his market value now, maybe strike when the iron is hot. he has leverage at this point with the deal to go back if he wants, ability ot look at how the possible lock out affects him if at all, see who the possible suitors are, etc. for us the best scenario is a sign and trade for a top 7 player that can fit in and be an impact guy here.

there you go ray. did i pass?

doc

July 5th, 2010
6:51 pm

o’b you and i know that but he still has been the back up at three while he has been here. dont you remember mo was the heralded replacement for chills?

Big Ray

July 5th, 2010
6:53 pm

Sautee

Thanks! ;)

MannyT ,

Very good points. As much as I don’t see Chills in a Hawks uni, I DO see him playing here for the qualifier for a year if that’s what it takes to get his foot back in the door (as stated in the blog). I don’t know about Marvin, though. Really a question mark at this point, but it doesn’t kill us to hang onto him. However, if it brings us an effective big man, I’m all over a trade. I understand what you’re saying about moving his contract for value, though.

Astro Joe ,

55 wins? Or are you being precocious? To be honest, I’d take fewer wins (though not TOO many) for a team that’s tougher, more cohesive, and more succesful in the postseason. I recall these guys that won 50 games this past season, but ended up in the Finals. Of course, they did have more good players than we did, and a deeper bench. But how else do you explain winning fewer games than us, but soundly beating the team we couldn’t compete with?

Big Ray

July 5th, 2010
7:04 pm

Doc ,

Those answers are good enough for me, bro’. As far as JJ goes, I’m looking for more quality, not so much quantity. Hence, the mention of shooting percentage. I still think one of JJ’s best seasons in his career was his last one with Phoenix. Sure, he averaged just 17.1 ppg, but he shot 46% from the field, and 48% from the arc, and hit his career high for 3-pointers in a season. That’s the kind of shooting I’d like to see out of him, though I realize the 3-point shooting was due to him being open, and we won’t likely see that out of him again.

Again, efficiency to go with the current production (or maybe a bit more) is fine with me. Besides, why not get a bit more out of him? He’s getting PLENTY more out of that new contract…

doc

July 5th, 2010
7:04 pm

ray do you think astro is tongue in cheek setting drew up for the fall if they dont get more wins than his guy woody who achieved it under perfect circumstances before it got ugly?

doc

July 5th, 2010
7:05 pm

@ray….. heh heh

Big Ray

July 5th, 2010
7:08 pm

kwooden1,

I hear ya. And I want no parts of Shaq. Jermaine? Certainly, why not roll the dice. As for Joe, he came here to be the man. Same production is okay, but better efficiency is paramount. Enter Larry Drew….

Big Ray

July 5th, 2010
7:09 pm

Doc ,

:lol: I’m gonna leave that alone, but yes, we do know our friend well.

doc

July 5th, 2010
7:54 pm

you know ray i think astro would rather be wrong to be right on this one. ;-)

O'Brien

July 5th, 2010
7:58 pm

Jermaine O’neal’s agent is Arn Tellem, who also happens to be JJ’s agent. I wonder if that increases our chances of getting him for the mid-level (if Sund is interested).

Even if we were to get JO though, I think Rick still needs to make some trades, because we have too many SGs, and a deficiency at SF.

Could ZaZa be an effective backup PF?

Fundamentals

July 5th, 2010
8:16 pm

Doc, I’m not down on Jefferson. I think he has a place on a decent team. I just wouldn’t give up Josh for him. I would give up some combination of Marvin, Bibby, Mo, Chills and ZaZa to see Jefferson and one of MN good guards. They’ll have Rubio coming over this year? That’ll give them too many PG’s? JO at backup with the midlevel might be attractive for the Hawks and JO? We wouldn’t need him for tremendous minutes. Use him a bit more than we did Joe Smith to protect him for the playoffs and then use him as the piece to help us succeed in the post season.

What kind of offers will Tayshaun Prince get this summer? Does Drew have ties back to Detroit like Woody?

Fundamentals

July 5th, 2010
8:28 pm

niremetal

July 5th, 2010
10:20 pm

Shaq? Oh man…I think I’m gonna need to go back to taking percocet if that happens…