Hawks have (internal) moves to make

New York – Joe Smith. Drew Gooden. Luther Head.

With all these players suddenly showing up on the waiver wire, someone emailed today asking where the Hawks were in their pursuit of one of these soon to be (they have to clear waivers first) free agents.

Maybe someone lost the memo, but it’s the same situation as before the trade deadline last month, the Hawks are simply not in a position to make any moves.

They already have 15 men on the roster and under contract, so there aren’t any moves to be made. The team that took the floor against Cleveland Sunday night and then again last night in Washington will be the same one that hits the floor come playoff time.

Whether or not that’s good enough to get through a first round playoff series against the likes of Miami, Detroit or Philadelphia remains to be seen. I don’t know why it wouldn’t be, especially if those teams are set roster-wise, as well. But no one can be sure right now.

That means the Hawks (Hawks coach Mike Woodson to be exact) have to find some ways to tinker and tweak what they already have to give this team a boost. It certainly helps when they can fend off teams like Washington with a shift in production like they had Monday, when Marvin Williams assumed the alpha-dog role normally played by Joe Johnson.

But what about when the big dogs come calling, as will be the case in later this month? Solid playoff teams and playoff contenders won’t be as easily vanquished as the lowly Wizards were at Verizon Center.

Over the course of the next six weeks it would be nice to see Al Horford, Josh Smith, Mike Bibby, Flip Murray and even Mo Evans or Zaza Pachulia try that costume on for a night or two. Anything to throw off the masses before the playoffs, when a team’s every flaw is magnified a million times under the spotlight of the postseason crush.

The more the Hawks spread the wealth the better. And is it me or does Johnson always seem more effective when someone else cranks it up and he can sneak up on a team and smash them with big shots late (as he did to the Wizards)?

There are just too many defenses designed to stop him these days. The two- and three-man pressure sets like Denver used last week are going to be the norm between now and April 15. The Hawks’ best recourse is to spread the responsibility around and allow Williams and others to assume more of a scoring load or at least run the offense through someone other than Johnson for stretches.

The best move the Hawks can make at this point is to stretch that roster out (I know teams normally shorten the rotation this time of year, but the opposite could work in this case) and throw a few trick plays at teams scouting them.

Because up to this point they’ve been an open book. Teams know it’s Joe Johnson left, Joe Johnson right and Joe Johnson up the middle on nearly every play. An advance scout for a team the Hawks could meet in the playoffs told me as much before Sunday night’s game against Cleveland.

“They’re like one of those three yards and a cloud of dust football teams,” my scout friend said. “Clear out this side and clear out that side and we’re going to run that sucker right up the middle and dare the other team to stop us. That’s the way they play offense under Woody. When it works, you can’t do anything to stop them. But when it doesn’t, they have a hard time. And in the playoffs, teams are going to do whatever they can to take away your main stuff and try and force you into your alternative options. Right now, I really can’t tell you what those other options are. When they’re at home they feed off their crowd and they run more, they share the ball more and they play more up-tempo. But on the road, it’s not as easy. And correct me if I’m wrong, they beat Boston all three games at home during that series last year but couldn’t find their footing on the road, right?”

That’s exactly right.

So it turns out that the Hawks do have a few moves to make. Just not the kind that seem so sexy right now with all the talk about contenders adding players for the playoff push.

263 comments Add your comment

niremetal

March 4th, 2009
11:14 am

Right on, Sekou. And I like the new digs ;-)

Melvin

March 4th, 2009
11:46 am

Sekou, if we can’t afford to cut one of the bench players thats being paid the league minimum like Gardner or Hunter to sign a quality vet to the league (prorated) minimum than all fingers point at the BASG. Do these guys (BASG) really want to win…

JM

March 4th, 2009
11:56 am

Cloud of dust! Would be funny if it weren’t so true. I doubt there is any getting through to Woodson on the offensive scheme, so lets hope JJ realizes what Sekou points out and passes sooner and more often. The more movement and running plays through others, the more all get involved, the better we play. Go Hawks.

Nate ArchiBALL

March 4th, 2009
12:00 pm

I like the new spot.

The Hawks offense looked a little different against the Wiz – not as much Iso -Joe. I also noticed Josh not standing on the 3 PT line as much. Was Woody trying to add something to the offense? I also noticed Al and Josh pushing the ball up court a lot more. I would really like to them do this more often. Very few teams can put their PF and Center out on the break filling the wings or running the middle.

If you get a chance check out The Black List: Volume Two on HBO. The Angela Davis segment is pretty cool..

Daniel

March 4th, 2009
12:17 pm

Hey, Sekou
I guess we are out of the Hawks ghetto now. We are up with the big boys like DOB. Love the new chat format.

Dude, I know you are telling me the truth, but I just hate to hear it so much. I really was hoping for an infusion of big man talent to help out Zsa and Horford. But, tell the truth, can we not make moves because of league rules or because ASG is running on the cheap? I mean it seems like Boston can get whoever they want. We can’t even look? What’s up?

niremetal

March 4th, 2009
12:49 pm

Melvin,

I think it’s a cost-benefit thing. Gooden, Smith, and Horry won’t sign with us. Luther Head doesn’t do us much good (he’s basically Flip II). So is there really anyone out there who would A) give us a significant upgrade over RandMo, Solo, or Acie; and 2) that Woody would play enough to make the signing worth it?

niremetal

March 4th, 2009
12:51 pm

Heh…either read that as A) and B), or 1) and 2)…

jhan

March 4th, 2009
1:00 pm

Time to add some play action passes to the offense!! I think Woody will start playing his bench less as we get nearer the playoffs. If he hasn’t seen the need to play the bench before now he never will.

Great idea about running the offense through different folks on different nights. Great concept but our coach will never sign off.

Iso Joe & Bibby until we are bounced from the playoffs.

Ernest

March 4th, 2009
1:11 pm

Like the new format! Take a note from DOB and change the banner so that your picture is included.

I’ve somewhat resigned myself to the fact that the Hawks probably won’t make a move for a big man until the offseason. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we were able to get Childress or another Euro player prior to the playoffs? As I heard on another site, a player is eligible for the playoffs if they have not played in the NBA this season.

Astro Joe

March 4th, 2009
1:27 pm

Darn it Sekou, when are you going to finish unpacking the moving boxes?

It’s amazing how many possessions Joe comes down the floor and simply doesn’t pass the ball. In some cases, that’s on his teammates to move and get open but too often, it appears the play is truly “cloud of dust”. I noticed, however, in the Wizards game that there was much more ball movement… less iso Joe. I personally don’t think that we need to see more of Acie or Solo to show a different wrinkle. But featuring Horford on the block or high/low sets with Horford and SMith alternating their positions or Flip on the blocks… those all sound like viable options that exploit the talents of the players.

But the Hawks mostly lose when their defensive effort is poor not because they can’t score.

Ariose

March 4th, 2009
1:38 pm

Nice place Sekou……..hopefully Woody will read your post and taske it to heart lol.

**Free Solo!!!**

~Sir Links A Lot~

Ariose

March 4th, 2009
1:41 pm

We always play well on the road right after a home game. The home feeling lingers with this team for at least two straight road games…….then all hell breaks loose heh.

~Sir Links A Lot~

greg

March 4th, 2009
1:43 pm

Nice pic Sekou.

Melvin

March 4th, 2009
2:13 pm

Niremetal,
If Gooden and Smith have signed then I would look at Swift. No Swift then I say stay with what we have unless you want to bring in another hire gun (Antonie Walker)…heh,heh…. Did you make it to court this week b/c I enjoy reading your reports as well????

Wink from Lithonia

March 4th, 2009
2:15 pm

Management not being able to make any moves to obtain available players, is like Woody not having any time outs to call a final play or Joe deferring to a bench guy with the game on the line. So question becomes will Woody expand the rotation to energize this team… ie using Mario West early to crank up the defense, run back pick lobs for Solo, allow Acie to attack the basket in the first 7 seconds of the shot clock, get in the paint & dish…we need to throw the monkey wrench at the opposition…stop being so perdictable.

Blot

March 4th, 2009
2:46 pm

Ariose – I agree. Free SOLO!

The hawks offence is painful to watch, but when Joe is hot the team is HOT.
Even with an 8 man rotation we should have enough gas in the tank to take Miami (rather play detroit. who thought iverson would be awful for them?) and honestly it feels good to be talking as a 4th seed at this time of the year rather than a 9th or 10th. The problem with that is we might be inflicted with the same sickness philly had a fewv years ago (too good to get good picks but never more than a playoff teaser).

My solution, trade J-smoove. Please. He is a good player, but will never be the Nique we want him 2 be. so we need to move him while the knees r goowd

Marcus

March 4th, 2009
2:51 pm

Nice diggs…make sure the techies at ajc change the link on the Sports front to come directly here vs. the old blog.
yeah, even in last weeks losses to DEN and CLE, going down to the wire, JJ was barrelling up the gut and had 2-3 guys waiting on him. I think he did that at least twice (and missed twice) in the late stretches of the CLE game…..somebody else *had* to be open for a shot. Live and learn. Hope we learn.

Daniel

March 4th, 2009
3:48 pm

so marcus what do you say when JJ gives up the ball and Flip misses the last shot like in Denver? Or is it only the right play when it works?

Daniel

March 4th, 2009
3:49 pm

I also wonder why there aren’t more people interested in blogging about the Hawks? I love the Braves and it is only spring traing. That site is going crazy 24 hours a day. What gives Hawks fans?

Stinky

March 4th, 2009
3:49 pm

We have a solid 8 man rotation, but the lack of quality depth is apparent. Solo Jones & Acie might end up being key members for this team come playoff time, but they need more playing time. BTW, we need to win tonight & at Charlotte, no excuses.

-Ya Smell Me?

MannyT

March 4th, 2009
4:02 pm

I understand that a deal was made.

Wordpress outbid Blogger to pick up a free agent called the AJC.

Like with most deals of this nature, everyone needs to give the new player time to gel. Apparently, the Hawks blog is a big enough deal that the rookies, i.e. Hawks Hacks had to try out the deal before the big Wolverine comes in and takes over ;-)

Ben

March 4th, 2009
4:14 pm

Love the new spot Sekou! I’m a little puzzled by Woody’s rotation (yeah, I know I’m not the only one). Joe’s continuing to play close to 40 minutes per (I’d love to see this number around 36 in the coming weeks with Bob’s Cats, Sacramento, Minnesota on the docket) and we need to find a 3rd banana off the bench. Flip and Zaza have been bringing it. Gotta have Mo step up.

And can someone get Flip’s agent on the phone and work out an extension! Dude is only making $1.5 million this season and averaging 11ppg (on 45% shooting, which is the best in his career I might add) in only 23 minutes per.

calico

March 4th, 2009
4:16 pm

woody has to play law and solo with flip, mo and zaza that is the bench right there and you bring in mario west for defense and hustle plays from time 2 time when you want to sit mo when he is not playing well we have the players woody has to use them. lets go hawks

kirkinga

March 4th, 2009
4:35 pm

Well it’s about time the blog got it’s upgrade. The Hawks are in the middle of their renaissance season and this blog should’ve been among the first to upgrade.

Nevertheless we’re here now, it’s not as great as some might think, but the new format does have the potential to add stuff, so we’ll see.

Big game tonight, Hawks need to be able to win on the road against teams like the Knicks.

Go Hawks!!

Ben

March 4th, 2009
4:37 pm

Sekou,

Is there any chance we activate Speedy for the playoffs or he plays at all this year? I know about insurance payments, but he is a top 5 defensive PG, has a ring, and Bibby said “he’s one of the best.” Would Bibby want to resign at a place that refuses to play a player because of money?

nique

March 4th, 2009
4:38 pm

Sekou,

Why does currently having 15 men on the roster prevent the Hawks from making a move? Why couldn’t they simply drop someone like Morris and pick up a more talented big man? I mean seriously is that really thinking too far outside the box for the Hawks? How about Stromile?

Ben

March 4th, 2009
4:52 pm

I agree, Nique.

We have ZaZa (only good big off bench), Solo, and Randy as primary bigs. Celtics have Powe, Crybaby, and Mikki Moore. What a great comparison.
I think Rick Sund has been asleep since we signed Flip in August–i seriously do

SWAT Native

March 4th, 2009
5:11 pm

I don’t want to sound like some kind of apologist for the ASG, but there was an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning that said there are about 5 teams in the NBA that feel that they have a legitimate shot at winning the title and 25 other teams that are in such a tough financial positions that would not be willing to make a move to improve their chances if it means that they have to spend more money. It said that Vince Carter was shopped around the league at the trade deadline and that’s why there were no takers for him, and it’s probably the same situation with Amare Stoudamire. Also, I hear anyone could have had Shaq if they were willing to take on his contract.

There was a similar article on ESPN’s site a cople of days ago that said that basically the only trades you saw were from teams looking to dump contracts to save money, and that was basically the case with the Jermaine O’Neal trade. That’s why there were so few trades.

It’s not just the Hawks…

bigdave

March 4th, 2009
5:13 pm

the new yorkers handed it to us last meeting… we need this win..

SWAT Native

March 4th, 2009
5:21 pm

Also, did anyone watch NBA Gametime on NBA TV last night? Gary Payton and Chris Webber were saying that there were amazed that the Hawks are hanging on the four spot in the East. Webber chuckled and said, yeah, they better hang on to that spot. Really ticked me off.

Blast

March 4th, 2009
5:22 pm

So we have two blogs running at the same time now, Sekou? Three when you add the Hawks Hack?

Blast

March 4th, 2009
5:26 pm

Screw Payton and Chris Webber. Payton managed to win a ring in Miami. Webber never won anything in the NBA. Not even a conference title, so who are they to scoff at the Hawks? It’s all part of the NBA media hate on the Hawks, man. Screw those two bitter old men!

ZULU

March 4th, 2009
5:27 pm

Where is the GM? His gluts should have hit the ground working, to help improve on what he inherited. “All” of the pressure seems to be on the coach and he deserves to have a share of it, but not all. The Hawks are on the last chapter of the Book of Excuses. The hippest thing about a Hawks game is seeing Rainbow hue to the cheering fateful in HD. That is attributable to the fans who love the game and the PR staff. It’s time for Sund and Woodson to step up “their” game.

Sekou K. Smith

March 4th, 2009
5:58 pm

I don’t see Speedy being activated anytime soon (try before he is moved this summer Ben). And the 15-man roster plus the fact that the Hawks are over the cap put a limit on what kind of moves they could make nique. That said, they could have easily cut a player (or two) to make moves, but they chose not to.

ZULU raises good points. He writes like someone I know ….

Huge game tonight. Hawks are 0-3 in the New York are this season. Tonight’s the night baby. Get it done or get gone.

Ben

March 4th, 2009
6:02 pm

Sekou, saying we have a full roster of guys right now with 4 of them being Hunter, Gardner, West and Morris all being bums is not an excuse for not signing one of these guys listed above. Why can’t we just waive one of these guys since they are making nothing and eat the money like the other great teams do? Why do we even sign all these guys when we know players like Gooden and Smith always are available towards the end of the year? Smith or Gooden would be GREAT for our team right now off the bench! It makes no sense to me why we sign guys like Gardner and Hunter for the whole year when they are clearly not ready to play in the NBA. It makes me sick to see teams like Boston and Cleveland get better every year at this time with quality pickups that can help them in the playoffs and we do NOTHING.

ILL-logical

March 4th, 2009
6:21 pm

It seems like the general economy is forgotten when the discussion focuses on the BASG. The global economy is in the tank and that means advertisers,sponsers and corporations are not spending as they have in the past and fans are being careful with their dollars as well. Bottom line: the financial future of not only the Hawks /Thrashers is cloudy but if they do survive there will be a very limited budget for the next few years PERIOD.

Let me break it down for you. No more big contracts; those that have them are history. So if doesn’t happen this season-to bad!

bigdave

March 4th, 2009
6:23 pm

SWAT and Blast…

i feel the same way. the media clowns us.. it all goes back to that reputation of us not being what they feel a “die-hard sports town”… F-em…!!!

Jalen is bout the only one who shows love…

bigdave

March 4th, 2009
6:24 pm

o yea… and Scoop Jackson…

niremetal

March 4th, 2009
6:26 pm

I’m sorry…but do you guys really think any of the people you’re talking about would actually sign with the Hawks rather than the Suns, Spurs, or Cavs? Sund couldn’t have gotten Gooden, Swift, or Smith if he tried. Same goes for Horry. Name me a who is 1) good enough to constitute a noticeable upgrade over Solo/RandMo or Acie; 2) would get PT from Woody without pushing Zaza, Flip, or Mo into the 10-minutes-or-less-per-game side of the bench; and 3) who actually would be interested in signing with the Hawks over other teams that are interested in them.

niremetal

March 4th, 2009
6:31 pm

(The solution to all this, btw, is simply to fire Woodson, but that would be tough to justify when the team is sitting in the 4th spot…even though I honestly think that would be the right move)

Blast

March 4th, 2009
6:41 pm

Tonight’s game should be about revenge for the Hawks. Revenge for the last loss to the Knicks, a chance to beat another team they should beat, a chance to add to that road record and another chance to put more distance between them and Miami. The home stand coming up is not guarranteed, anything can happen, so they must win tonight.

Go Hawks!

Joe

March 4th, 2009
6:46 pm

Sekou,
Why don’t you have a picture of yourself at the top of this blog like every other columnist at the Ajc???!!! Bradley, Moore, schultz, bischer, o’brian, and Ledbetter all have a picture. Why don’t you??

SWAT Native

March 4th, 2009
6:47 pm

bigdave,

The best revenge is to knock off a Boston, Cleveland or Orlando (or even Miami who they seem to love) in the playoffs. Then they’ll say they were down from day one.

ben

March 4th, 2009
6:52 pm

Niremetal, you still act like were a bottom feeding team in the Eastern Conference! Why wouldn’t Gooden or Smith sign with us? We are in the 4th seed at the moment and going to the playoffs. You can’t use the excuse that we are a terrible team anymore as the reason for no one wanting to come here. We have idiots running our team and clearly don’t want to advance farther than the second round this year. Otherwise you go out and sign one of these guys no matter what. Don’t sign bums like Gardner, Hunter, West and Morris that don’t even play and take up roster spots.

terrell

March 4th, 2009
7:06 pm

Is it gametime yet? I sure hope Bibby is back on tonight. He’s definitely due.

Blast

March 4th, 2009
7:11 pm

Joe

Maybe Sekou is not photogenetic. Heh, heh, heh. I’ve actually wondered what he looked like myself. Maybe he just wants to be the Ghost Beat Writer!

Ben

March 4th, 2009
7:11 pm

My preliminary offseason plans:

1) Package Smoove + Speedy + plethora of picks hopefully for Bosh or Amare. Bosh is on a terrible team that will be rebuilding next year when Marion doesn’t resign and they don’t lure any FAs like usual. Speedy should be semi-healthy and teams will want his expiring contract

2) Move Horf to the PF, hopefully getting Bosh at center. Horf will beast at PF against people his size. He already is better than half the centers, so he will thrive as a PF.

3) Resign Marv for around 9 mill/year. When this guy is featured in the offense, I get this euphoric sensation.

4) Resign Bibby if he takes less (which he won’t)…The big plan is to get Jarrett Jack for trash money. Dude can play.

5) Resign Flip for about 3.5 mill/year

6) Resign ZaZa for 6 mill/year

7) Find a 32 year old big and overpay

8) That’s how you get it done

Sekou K. Smith

March 4th, 2009
7:22 pm

niremetal is right, what makes you cats think any of those free agents would have signed here anyway? It’s nice to play the what if game, but you actually have to be in the running for a cat to sign him. And I don’t know that the Hawks were even considered by any of those guys.

And I took a picture, too. And I’m no more or less photogenic than anyone else. Give it a day or two and we’ll see if the unveil a picture to go along with the new digs.

bigdave

March 4th, 2009
7:23 pm

i wondered who he was…

i think Sekou is the slightly heavy set cat that is at every Hawk game with the lap top… at the journalist/media table near Big Country James Varrett, and one other dude…

bigdave

March 4th, 2009
7:41 pm

my boy Big Country just got hit with someones breakaway warm ups… to funny…!!