Just in case you were asleep or otherwise dwelling under a rock (though I’ve heard you still have access to Geico insurance that way), it’s been reported that the Knicks have acquired CarmeloAnthony. Ok, so the rest of the league can get going with any other trades now, right? That may or may not include the Atlanta Hawks, who are apparently at least seriously considering a move for a point guard. Whatever follows over the next couple of days could prove to be interesting. Maybe even for diehard Hawks fans.
Challenge or empty talk?
Rick Sund’s challenge to the players certainly isn’t of Mark Cuban-like proportions. In fact, it sounds more like a challenge to the fans (or any other non-organizational personnel) than to the players. What does a challenge to the team mean at this point? He gave them the best possible comfort zone by “hiring” a coach that they knew quite well. He kept largely the entire roster intact, which meant there was no one to get used to in the locker room. And he wants them to do what, exactly? Act differently than they have before? Excuse me, but where exactly is the challenge in this? Play well, or else? Anybody would flinch at the ire and boldness of the Dallas Mavericks owner (Cuban), who is liable to order his GM to orchestrate a trade if he is unhappy enough. The notoriously slow-to-speak, slow-to-move Sund? Far less likely. Perhaps even more so of his boss (es), who are much quicker to…oh, nevermind.
Suffice it to say that we can likely tell the future. Sund isn’t going to be making any big moves. Perhaps this is as well, as there isn’t likely a big move that could catapult the Hawks past the Eastern Conferences best in the last 30 or so games. Moves like that are usually made in the offseason, or at least with the next season in mind. Just ask the Knicks, who are suddenly looking more star-studded on paper, but aren’t liable to go beyond their current position unless the Magic and Hawks collapse down the stretch (stay tuned).
But, as AJC columnist Jeff Schultz has noted, Sund is traveling with the team during the remainder of their road stretch. So, perhaps that means the organization will at least cast some bait, with a willingness to snatch the rod up if anybody bites. Will it amount to anything? Hard to say.
How serious is the point guard situation?
Again, you’d have to be ignoring all things Hawks-related to not know and hear about the team’s issues at the point. It isn’t just the local media, it’s everybody who has anything to say about Atlanta’s NBA team. What doesn’t bode well for Hawks youngster Jeff Teague is the fact that while every pundit and expert is at least willing to hint at the fact that Mike Bibby isn’t up to the job, practically no one is mentioning the second year point guard as the answer. Some of us disagree, some of us don’t. It is rather interesting indeed if the Hawks manage to find themselves a point guard through trade. Why? Because it isn’t just an indication that Bibby has faded. It’s also an indication that Teague isn’t ready, if nothing else. Again, stay tuned.
The question is, who can the Hawks get, and are they serious enough to “settle” for someone that isn’t necessarily at the top of their list? While many may prefer Devin Harris or Ray Felton, neither guy may be available for what the Hawks could offer (and who really even knows what THAT is). So, it could be Sessions or somebody even less desired, coming to town. Or, maybe nobody at all. Time will tell just how committed the Hawks are to addressing the point guard position for what seems like the millionth time in the last four to five years.
I know this much – if the advent of another point guard on the roster isn’t enough motivation for Teague to do some very serious work on his game this offseason, and come into training camp with a chip on his shoulder – then nothing ever will be motivation enough.
Hawks vs. Lakers
As if playing the NBA champions after the all-star break wasn’t daunting enough, they might actually have some motivation. First, they went into the break with a three game losing streak. On top of that, some are questioning Kobe’s ability to stay on top. Great, as if a League MVP type caliber with a Michael Jordan-esque pride (and capability) needs motivation. The Hawks could be walking into a buzzsaw. Or, they could leave Staples center with the Lakers staring a fourth loss in a row. Want to be against the Champs at home with some things to prove?
The keys to winning this game are few. The Hawks have to get all-star performances from their three team captains. They also need a good performance from their bench. Knowing the Hawks, there really is no way to tell how this may turn out. Fact is, more folks may be paying attention to what the GM does (or doesn’t do) than to what the team does. At least for a couple more days, anyway.
By Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest