Hang in there, Hawks fans. We’ll make it through this summer yet (or so I keep telling myself, anyway).
While things seem fairly quiet in free agency, and that would be for all NBA teams at the moment, a few tidbits are floating around that may prove to be a useful diversion for a minute or two. As we discuss those, I keep thinking about the missing Lorenzen Wright. Missing persons cases more often than not are either a false alarm, or they don’t end very nicely. But some do. And I hope that this is one of those where “all’s well that ends well.” Peace and blessings on his family, who I’m sure are sick with worry. These kinds of things never seem to matter to people until they hit close to home. Again, I hope this ends well.
As much noise as we make about adding size and toughness to the roster, do we bother to consider that adding toughness doesn’t always mean adding a body? When the official announcement of the signing of former Lakers forward/center Josh Powell finally came down, one of the catch phrases was that he “adds toughness.” Well, if the Lakers say he’s a good guy and a good addition, I’ll take their word for it, at least to an extent. After all, Powell hasn’t played many minutes in L.A., so we don’t have a lot of visual evidence to review (other than some youtube clips) for confirmation. But what about the guys who were already on the roster? Can’t you add toughness….by simply becoming tougher?
If you ask me (and you didn’t, but guess what?) toughness is a state of mind. The body can be willing and able, but it’s no good if the spirit is weak. Avid Hawks fan and blogger Northcyde is one of the foremost fans calling for two of our key guys (Al Horford and Josh Smith) to play a lot tougher, as the success of this team depends heavily on that. Realistically, that can be the key difference between competing at the highest levels, or struggling to do so. Look no further than last season’s first round playoff series. The Hawks struggled mightily when Al Horford allowed himself to get out-toughed by Kurt Thomas, and Josh Smith allowed Ersan Ilyasova to out-hustle and outplay him for stretches at a time.
So what can the Hawks do to get tougher? What are Josh Smith and Marvin Williams doing to get tougher. Those are two guys who could really have an impact on the game if they bring it with more force. In fact, that’s the one thing that can really optimize a lineup of long, athletic players. Without it, much is wasted.
How does one change one’s mindset? Different people have different methods. And sometimes the body has to be brought up to speed with the mind. The idea is to be tough all the time, not just when backed into a corner and forced into “fight or flight” mode. Well, it seems one Hawk is going to give it a go in the offseason. As noted on NBA.com (on the Atlanta Hawks official site), backup center Zaza Pachulia has added to his offseason regimen, and the results might be more than just better conditioning, footwork, and overall stamina. It might just result in a tougher approach to the game. All I can say is watch out Kevin Garnett! I still love that moment in Hawks history…
The “other” Star Guard
According to ESPN.com, Hawks super sub Jamal Crawford would like to discuss money matters. He wants to remain a Hawk, and I’m sure any Hawks spokesperson would likely state that they would like to keep him around. And while Jamal has been around the league for a decade (and been with several teams), he may as well get comfortable wherever he is sitting. After all, things don’t tend to happen around the front office at lightning speed. Especially if they don’t really have to. The question is, do the Hawks want him to finish out his career in Atlanta? Might they see him as a two way asset, or has he proven himself to be indispensable? Jamal seemed to fit in pretty darn well, and that is not likely to change under new head coach Larry Drew. But, if the Hawks are very slow or otherwise noncommittal to signing him to an extension, what might it be an indication of? Of course, a number of theories could abound. Understandably, they may be more focused on preparing an extension offer to Al Horford. Or, they may have other moves up their sleeve. You just never know. But, for the sake of the sanity of blogger Steve Brown, I won’t mention one of the most obvious and talked about (by others, not just me) possibilities.
In the meantime, I wish I could be an invisible fly on the wall in training camp. If for no other reason than to watch Jamal Crawford playing against Jordan Crawford. That would have to be a fun matchup, no?