Archive for June, 2009

On the eve of the frenzy!!

Joe Johnson's already fired up for the season. The free agency season, that is.

Joe Johnson's already fired up the season. The Hawks' free agency season, that is.

 

CHOCOLATE CITY -Joe Johnson learned a long time ago the value of a good poker face.

But when I asked him what he thought of all the trades before, on and during NBA draft day, his smile turned into a an eyebrow-raised stare.

“People aren’t playing around right now,” he told me Friday in a hallway outside of a conference room at the Hawks’ downtown headquarters. “I don’t know what’s gotten into everybody.”

Johnson better hope that the spirit to move has hit the Hawks as well with free agency just a couple of days away. Because life in the Eastern Conference playoff chase is going to be tougher than it was a year ago.

(Oh, and sorry for the delay on the new blog boys and girls, but I had a previously planned family gathering here in D.C. that could not be avoided.)

“I’ve been keeping up with every move that’s been made,” Johnson said. “The Eastern Conference has gotten a lot better before …

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Trade season in full swing

The only place Josh Smith will have to worry about guarding Jamal Crawford next season is in practice, now that it appears Crawford is headed for the Hawks via trade.

The only place Josh Smith will have to worry about guarding Jamal Crawford next season is in practice, now that it appears Crawford is headed for the Hawks via trade.

HAWKSVILLE - One by one the texts and phone calls started coming in late Wednesday afternoon.

Hawks players wanted to know if what they were hearing was true. So did other team’s players, scouts, coaches and an assortment of other people.

“Are we really going to get Jamal Crawford?” one player asked via text. “Is this serious?”

“You really think this is going to happen?” another asked. “Man, he gets buckets. Major buckets. We could be explosive with him and all our other cats coming back.”

“This is a crucial move for them,” a Western Conference scout told me, “because it was obvious in the playoffs that they needed another scorer with some size that could create a shot.” 

Not a single player, coach or executive from anywhere that I communicated with Wednesday objected to the move for the Hawks. Not one …

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Psycho-T brings the pain

Tyler Hansbrough didn't leave anything on the floor after his workout with the Hawks Sunday morning.

Tyler Hansbrough didn't leave anything on the floor after his workout with the Hawks Sunday morning at Philips Arena. The rugged North Carolina forward is a a player to keep an eye on this week with the Hawks drafting 19th in Thursday's NBA draft.

HAWKSVILLE - The reviews were unanimous.

On 10-point scale, Tyler Hansbrough’s Sunday morning workout for the Hawks at Philips Arena ranks at the very top of anything conducted in the past five days.

It wasn’t any one thing in particular that had the Hawks’ coaches buzzing. It was everything. Hansbrough’s energy, effort and obviously better-than-advertised shooting and athleticism caught more than a few folks in attendance by surprise.

“He kicked the meter up. It was off the Richter Scale,” said Hawks assistant coach Larry Drew, who ran the team’s workouts all week. “That was one of those 8.0s, one of those quick, hard earthquakes. Because his energy is at another level. You just don’t see many players capable of playing with that …

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Let the workouts begin

The Hawks will get a closer look at Wake Forest's Jeff Teaugue (left) and North Carolina's Wayne Ellington this week. Pre-draft workouts will run every day through the weekend at Philips Arena.

The Hawks will get a closer look at Wake Forest's Jeff Teague (left) and North Carolina's Wayne Ellington this week. The Hawks are scheduled to host workouts at Philips Arena today through the weekend with the June 25 NBA draft just days away.

 

 

HAWKSVILLE - After weeks of relative silence on the Hawks’ workout front, things are going to kick up dramatically today and through the weekend.

The Hawks have a full slate of workouts scheduled at Philips Arena, with players of all shapes and sizes ready to showcase themselves for the team with the 19th pick in the June 25 draft.

Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair and Gonzaga’s Josh Heytvelt are scheduled to kick off the festivities this morning at Philips Arena. 

They’ll be followed Thursday by a scheduled monster workout crew that includes Ohio State’s BJ Mullens, Georgetown’s DaJuan Summers, Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague, Georgia Tech’s Lewis Clinch, Xavier’s Derrick Brown, Jonesboro’s own and Florida State star Toney Douglas, and …

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Be careful what you wish for …

Hey Josh Smith, true or false, the rumor mill loves you?

Hey Josh Smith, true or false, the rumor mill loves you?

HAWKSVILLE - If you believe what you read, and I’ll warn you that you can’t always do that where NBA rumors are concerned, Josh Smith’s name is generating some serious buzz on the trade rumor mill as the NBA draft approaches.

ESPN.com’s NBA Insider Chad Ford claims the big rumor of the day is that the Hawks are shopping Smith (I’ve had two Hawks sources insist to me this afternoon that they aren’t shopping Smith or anything like it, but what else do you expect them to say?), hoping to find a taker for their 23-year-old power forward (the one with the $6 million trade kicker and the love-him-or-hate-him debate stuck to his profile).

Normally, I’d take my garbage extinguisher and put down a silly, Hawks-related rumor before it starts burning. But not this one.

Even if the Hawks haven’t formally chatted up teams about the prospect of trading Smith, I know it’s been discussed internally. And here’s another warning, all …

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Dollars and sense

Long faces might be the norm if the Hawks don't do the right things this summer.

Long faces might be the norm if the Hawks don't do the right things this summer.

HAWKSVILLE – We apologize in advance for interrupting your viewing of the NBA Finals with hypothetical questions about the Hawks, but admit it, you’ve seen enough of the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic to last all summer.

But what if Mike Bibby moves on?

And Zaza Pachulia, too?

What if Flip Murray finds a new home?

And Josh Childress stays in Greece?

What if all these hypothetical scenarios we’ve been speaking of recently go up in smoke between the draft and training camp?

What if the Hawks can’t keep their team together because of finances, dumb luck and the aggressive pursuit of their free agents by other teams?

Like most of you, I’ve (foolishly) been operating under several assumptions the past few weeks. But after speaking with several NBA players, coaches and other sources around the league over the last week, it seems we’ve all been a bit too optimistic about the chances of all these …

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Superman’s return!

Superman's is soaring into the NBA Finals for the first time. The rest of the league is on notice.

Superman has put the entire league on notice with his performance in these playoffs.

HAWKSVILLE - Next time I’ll listen.

In the wake of the Hawks’ being swept out of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Cleveland, people that watch NBA basketball as much and as hard as I do kept warning me that Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic would end the reign of the King (LeBron James).

No one was more vocal about it than Tracy Johnson (Joe Johnson’s uncle) of Little Rock, Ark. He warned me several times, and he actually started during the Magic-Celtics series, not to put too much stock in Cleveland’s four-game demolition of the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The “matchups” would carry the Magic, he said. And he was right. The Cavaliers never did find an answer for Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu. I’m not sure they made a sincere attempt to find an answer.

Well, there is no answer, at least not a one-man answer, for Howard, who has stolen James’ thunder as the …

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