Seriously Idle Speculation
If you’re a Hawks fan, do you even care anymore about the team signing another player? All the noise and fanfare is pretty much done for Atlanta’s offseason it seems, even though most sources who care to mention it insist that another big man will be signed to meet the roster minimum. Most us probably met today’s announced Kwame Brown Bobcats signing with a huge yawn, and went right back to what we were doing.
Except for the idle speculation that comes from it. As some of you have already noted, if the Bobcats signed Brown….might they be parting ways with veteran center Erik Dampier? And if so, might the Hawks make a run at him? Ok, let me rephrase that. Might the Hawks make a serious run at Dampier? Of course, one of the first questions that has to be asked is whether or not Dampier is willing to play for the veteran minimum, and if he’s okay with doing that in Atlanta. Well, Hawks fans, what of it?
Changing the Culture
I’ll bet you’re about ready to scream if you hear one more thing about this team’s core, organic growth, or other similar but outplayed two word phrases. Well, I’m afraid we just can’t escape that, at least not for now. For all the talk of changes, big or small, there just haven’t been many. At least not in the ways that many people sought.
So how do you go about changing the results of a team that mostly brings back exactly what it had roster-wise, the previous season? How much culture change can be expected of a coaching staff that is also largely the same? Only two names have changed on the coaching staff, and they would be Lester Conner and Kenny Gattison. The head coach spot is different rather than new, so what are we supposed to think? A change in philosophy is pretty obvious, but what it means in the end is anybody’s guess. Maybe these changes in coaching staff are going to have far more fundamental difference and impact than we suppose. Maybe our cynical viewpoints are off base. We shall see.
This still has nothing to do with the roster, which boasts one new member in backup power forward Josh Powell. Since there wasn’t a problem production and locker-room wise with the former backup power forward, can we even call this a significant change? Not likely. This puts things right back on the coaching staff, with one exception. The culture among the players. Now, these guys have been a classy bunch, staying out of trouble and what not, but that has not always added up to the cohesion needed to face adversity.
The Hawks lack strong leadership, plain and simple. Yet, there is no change to the roster that would improve this, forcing the growth in that area to come from within. Who should make the first move here? Don’t players vote who the team captain is, or is that left to the coaching staff? Either way, something has to change. The most obvious thing to me is that Joe Johnson need not be sole team captain anymore. Let’s examine this idea for a second.
Clearly kicking the man out of the spot is not the greatest of ideas. The Hawks built this team around him, and then just handed him the richest contract in the league for this offseason. Of course, just because a guy is highest paid, doesn’t mean he should be team captain. But this IS the role Joe has played for some time. But, he needs some help. Maybe more than just a little. Joe is a pro, there is little or no doubt of that. Yet he should not have this responsibility all to himself. And so, I nominate Al Horford as my fan’s choice as co-team captain. Horford may only be a fourth year player coming into this season, but so what? The man came from a great winning atmosphere and background from the University of Florida (hard to ignore back-to-back national titles), and he seems more focused and motivated than many of his teammates. He has the fire in his belly. He has the IQ, the learning ability, the developing skills. And he has the stones to get into a teammate’s face, I believe.
So what do you think? Can the Hawks change the culture from within by restructuring their on court and locker room leadership, or is it truly all on the coaching staff? Should there be a co-captain alongside Joe Johnson? Should Johnson be replaced as team captain? If you don’t like the idea of “The Boss” being a co-team captain, then who would you like to see take that spot?