Hawks courting Joe Smith?

Joe Smith gave the Hawks all they could handle as he and his Cavaliers swept the birds out of the playoffs in May. The Hawks are in the process of recruiting him to help solidify their frontline rotation.

Joe Smith (32) gave the Hawks all they could handle as he and his Cavaliers swept the birds out of the playoffs in May. The Hawks are in the process of recruiting him to help solidify their frontline rotation.

HAWKSVILLE - Who said the Hawks were done chasing big men this summer?

You didn’t hear it around these parts, at least not officially (from me).

Barring a last minute change of plans, veteran big man Joe Smith is scheduled to visit town on Wednesday, according to two of my best spies. And the Hawks are not out of the running for Ben Wallace, who has yet to agree to terms with Detroit (though, one of my best spies up north insists that it’s just a matter of time before Wallace returns to the Pistons).

A 6-10, 225-pound veteran of 14 NBA seasons, Smith showed he has plenty left in the tank against the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, averaging 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 points and 1.2 blocks in a little over 21 minutes per game. He’s got that “old man” strength that belies his seemingly slender frame. I watched him push the Hawks’ around in that series whenever he was on the floor.

Smith’s numbers (10.8 points and 5.5 rebounds) in the Cavaliers’ first round sweep of Detroit were even more impressive. He’s capable of that kind of production off the bench for a quality team, which speaks volumes for the type of veteran and pro that he has become since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 draft.

Pair him on the frontline with Zaza Pachulia behind Josh Smith and Al Horford and the Hawks’  paper-thin frontcourt rotation suddenly takes on a different look. While it’s far from the “championship move” many have argued for around here, it’s certainly a move in the right direction (provided the Hawks are able to recruit him and sign him at some point between now and training camp).

The Hawks’ other big man options aren’t exactly ready to fade into the background. I mentioned Randolph Morris the other day and he’s shown well so far. Jeff Schultz caught up with him after Tuesday morning’s mini-camp practice for an interesting update on what he’s been up to this summer.

Another player to keep an eye on for a training camp invite is Othello Hunter. His minutes were sparse as a rookie last season, but the strides he made (physically and in his game) have been stunning to see from a year ago this time. It’s not clear right now what his future is with the Hawks. There are only going to be so many roster spots to go around. And without a guaranteed contract heading into camp, he’ll be gambling a bit if he comes to camp with the Hawks. But I like his game and what he brings in terms of a no-nonsense reserve that’s going to get to it whenever he’s asked.

I spoke with an Eastern Conference executive Tuesday afternoon that wanted to know what the Hawks were going to do with Solomon Jones. Funny, Jones asked me the same thing last week. I answered his question with the same question he asked me. He’s a restricted free agent, so you almost expect his summer to last a bit longer than most. Still, he’ll become an option for not only the Hawks but plenty of other teams looking to fill out the rotation with a long and athletic (even if he’s still a bit undersized) big that can play spot minutes when necessary.

Garret Siler has his chance to make an impression over the next 36 hours or so. He played well enough in summer league to get some looks from several other teams, so the Hawks will have to make a decision about what they want to do with him regarding training camp. One hilarious story that’s already made the mini-camp rounds is that it takes an entire roll of tape to properly tape up one of his ankles. I have to admit he is one of the largest human beings I can remember cutting corners in the hawks’ locker room during my time here. It’s on the floor, though, and particularly against Morris, Hunter and guys like Earl Barron, where we’ll be able to gauge Siler’s readiness for the rigors of the NBA.

There are still a few names left on the free agent radar, the most notable being Johan Petro. He hasn’t signed anywhere yet and could still be an option for the Hawks should things not work out with one of the other guys mentioned above.

Enough about these big men already. It’s time for some actual scrimmage action here shortly (the next time the Hawks have a mini-camp that has more drills than scrimmages in the first two days we should stage a non-violent protest in the name of the game). The blog will be open for business all night. I’ll be dipping back and forth between the blog and Twitter throughout the evening if you want to join the party.

922 comments Add your comment

niremetal

July 26th, 2009
11:14 pm

JJ and Bibby and Crawford will all shoot fewer attempts than they did last year, and I doubt they’ll have any problem doing it. I actually think that Crawford will integrate into Woody’s “system” as seamlessly as Flip did.

Bibby and JJ are hardly lifelong ballhogs. JJ has taken more shots ever since he left Phoenix and even more ever since Harrington left Atlanta (thus leaving him as the lone proven offensive weapon). But from Feb-Apr of this past season, when JJ’s foot was gimpy, he quietly cut his shot attempts while raising his shooting percentage. Bibby too has shown no problem at all with passing to open teammates and never has as long as he’s been in the league. The biggest problem is that in Woody’s “offense” there’s rarely anyone moving to get open. Ever.

Crawford is an X factor, but at least he’s talking the talk of being willing to take a bench role for a winner after a lifetime of being a chucker for losers. From all I can see, Crawford is a high-character guy. I admit that I’m not totally sold that he’ll turn out to be anything more than a glorified Flip. But honestly, that’s all we need him to be.

As for the frontcourt getting more shot attempts, that’s on Woodson. Bibby and JJ aren’t in charge of offensive strategy. Neither man had any trouble passing to big men at their last career stops, so I can’t imagine that JJ or Bibby will resist getting the frontcourt more involved now if that’s what Woodson calls for. But you can’t expect the guards to create an offensive system on the fly. This ain’t pickup ball.

niremetal

July 26th, 2009
11:17 pm

Ariose,

You looking at the Twitter back-and-forth between Chill and Zaza on Woodson. Kinda funny. You could read volumes into Chill’s Tweets…

KevinA

July 26th, 2009
11:25 pm

art banks, that was great. At a recent job an employee had problems running the machine. He had to manually operate a switch to keep heavy pipe from dumping onto a packing station. I asked him a few days later if he found a system to help. He said yea – go check it out. He had labeled the switch – look a here.

niremetal

July 26th, 2009
11:34 pm

#16 on Ant’s list is apparently a made-up one, but it’s still priceless. Kinda like with Yogi quotes, it doesn’t really matter if he actually said it…what matters is that he’s such a hilariously weird dude that it sounds like the kind of thing he would say.

Ariose

July 26th, 2009
11:45 pm

Nire, yeah I saw that earlier lol. Their love for the WAFFLE MAN is evident Hahahahaha!!!!!

KevinA

July 26th, 2009
11:50 pm

niremetal, I semi/agree with much of what you said. I don’t believe JJ or Bibby are naturally selfish players. But at the same time they know their production directly result into stats/play.

you stated – As for the frontcourt getting more shot attempts, that’s on Woodson. Bibby and JJ aren’t in charge of offensive strategy.

– Didn’t Woody state that he relyed on Bibby to run the offense? Bibby ain’t stupid, he knows JJ is the 1st option. How many attempts will JJ give up. JJ is used to 1,400 attempts and an all star opportunity.

I saw the Crawford interview, he seems like a great guy. Asking the JJ,Bibby,Crawford backcourt to give up personal gains for team gain will be a new dymantic.

I seem to be the only one asking this queation. This dynamic is more important than our fourth big which recieves much review.

The upside of the trio of our backcourt veterans is they can think team first and have the skills to deliver.. There is nothing demonstrated that they won’t do just that. The downside is the amount of jumpers goes up at a low %. Is the sucess of the team on the ego’s of the the back court. Do you think the coaches talk about low FG% and the importance of feeding the front court?

KevinA

July 26th, 2009
11:52 pm

niremetal what do you read form the Chills tweets.

Ed

July 27th, 2009
1:39 am

Anakin Joe

July 26th, 2009
9:56 pm
Najeh, I dare you, name one guy from the Warriors team last year who “camped out on the 3-point line jacking up jumpers”. I have one in mind, care to play “Name that Chucker”?

You had me LMAO!

Ken Strickland

July 27th, 2009
2:11 am

ANAKIN JOE-I also bought into the idea of Woodson being a DEF 1st kind of HC, but I’ve since come to a different conclusion. If DEF was his #1 priority, he wouldn’t have played the teams worst DEF player so many mins(MBibby) and his 2 best DEF guards so few(ALaw & MWest). He also would have given Solo more mins as well.

A DEF minded HC wouldn’t have waited until the 4th gm in the 2nd rd of the playoffs, and down 3-0, to double team one of the NBA’s top players(LJames). The Hawks seldom trap, double team or press full court. I have yet to see anything that would encourage me to think he was a DEF or OFF minded HC. It’s too bad Woodson didn’t learn anything of value as an assistant under LBrown, his mentor, that he’s been able or willing to use on either end of the court.

Ariose

July 27th, 2009
2:31 am

Sekous Says he’s hearing things about Flip going back home to Philly.What a great way for us to reward this guy by letting him sign ANOTHER short term deal with another squad….

Once a Journeyman, always a journeyman I guess…

A Tribe Called Quest

July 27th, 2009
4:37 am

RICK SUND SAID IN AN INTERVIEW LAST YEAR HE WAS GIVEN PERMISSION TO GO INTO THE LUXURY TAX IF IT MEANT PUTTING A WINNING PRODUCT ON THE FLOOR.

HERE WE ARE, NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE LUXURY TAX WITH OUR CURRENT PAYROLL, AND WE CAN’T SIGN ANYONE. JUST GIVE MARVIN THE EXTRA 1 OR 2 MILL. WHO F’ING CARES? WE HAVE NO BAD CONTRACTS ON THIS TEAM SO WE CAN AFFORD IT.

OR MAYBE WE CAN’T

MAYBE ASG IS SO BROKE THAT THEY ARE SELLING THEIR HOMES AND MOVING INTO THE HOMELESS SHELTER DOWNTOWN

Deep

July 27th, 2009
5:09 am

OK just a thought……maybe I’m way off but do you guys think its possible THE HAWKS PLAN TO BE BIG BUYERS IN 2010 AND GO AFTER BOSH/ WADE/ LEBRON/ ETC? Do you think maybe Sunds plan is to let this team ride it out one more year to see how far they can go and who stays and who goes? Because it almost seems like it for instance A- We haven’t signed any free agents to multiple year deals B- We haven’t resigned Marvin to a multiple year deal C-Joe Johnson comes off the books next year D- As it is we have money to spend below the cap and we don’t. Is it possible we might go after Bosh or some of the other free agents in that class? I don’t know. I like our team now, but why are we just sitting there not making the little moves needed to make this team better? Just a thought, I don’t know if any players will come to ATL anyway. Hopefully that theory is wrong and we aren’t making moves because management feels the team is that good.

Kevin

July 27th, 2009
7:49 am

According to the Indianapolis Star, Soloman Jones will sign with the Pacers this week.

ant banks

July 27th, 2009
8:45 am

KEVIN,

can you post the link?

ant banks

July 27th, 2009
9:05 am

John

July 27th, 2009
9:05 am

What is going on here? I know getting Crawford was great, but aside from the draft, there have been no other additions. Go ahead and resign Marvin, sigh Joe Smith, and maybe Hakim Warrick. I don’t think we should have let Soloman go. I think I am correct in saying the only players we have under contract are Bibby, JJ, Smith, Horford, Pachulia, Mo Evans, Crawford, Teague, and Morris. That is only nine players. I will be extremely disappointed if the rest of the squad is filled in with training camp invites. Any updates on any of this???

ant banks

July 27th, 2009
9:12 am

JOHN,
get ready to be disappointed. free agency has been goin’ on since july 1st and here it is july 27th. bigs and other f/a have come and gone. there is no one left but the invites from summer camp.

all of your garrett siler fans, get your jerseys because he is comin’. i don’t want to hear y’all mouth in february about how much he sucks!! y’all did the same thing with randmo’ 2yrs ago…callin’ for the hawks to pick him up.

G-Man

July 27th, 2009
9:33 am

nunna yo bizznezz

July 27th, 2009
9:48 am

as i stated earlier,you guys are sleeping on thomas gardner..
this is the main reason we are not resiging flip..gardner and othello are sunds boys and he knows what they bring to the table and woody now knows too..

woody was told by sund,”we did it your way last year,now we’re doing it my way”..
when he placed flip,mo evans,randmo,gardner,and hunter on the team he also meant for woody to play these guys and let them develope,and woody didn’t..

sund liked gardners game and felt he needed some playing time but woody had his own idea and he got by with increased playing time with his starters,so sund patiently let woody run his team..

now woody see’s the developement of hunter,and he undoubtly has seen or heard about the off season developement of gardner as well,even though his numbers were not good in summer league..

marvin is not being courted very hard by the rest of the league,and atlanta is waiting on to see what he’s offered before they try to offer him anything..he’ll be back..but flip won’t..and,flip is not gonna play behind teague nor will he play behind crawford and woody and sund know this,so,to avoid any bickering or confrontations with the coach and front office with flip,they are moving themselves away from re-signing him..

so its gonna be gardner,hunter,and randmo who will make the squad along with whoever else we sign..

TRUST

Ken Strickland

July 27th, 2009
12:49 pm

We haven’t lost Solo. He’s a RFA, so we can retain him by matching any offer he might receive.

A TRIBE CALLED QUEST-I’m not sure about Sund. Last yr, when it came to resigning Chills, he allowed him to leave because he didn’t value his skills and contributions to the team very highly and didn’t make retaining him a priority. This yr, when it came to working a sign and trade for Chills, he played hardball and over valued him right out of the market, forcing him to return to Greece. Talk about mixed signals.

Sund’s wait and see approach has already cost us one valuable player(Chills) and he seems to be taking that same approach with MWilliams. I wonder what his approach will be when it comes to resigning UFA JJohnson and RFA AHorford. Both players will likely receive max contract offers, so continuing to be reactive instead of proactive could cost the SAASG some serious money, or both players. The question is, can we continue allowing Sund to maintain his same reactive, wait and see approach to retaining both players?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT. If we trade PF JSmith for Biedrins, and resign JJ to a max contract, who will play PF if we can’t afford to match the loaded FA contract AHorford is certain to receive? Now personally, if I was faced with that situation, I’d move MWilliams to PF, bite the bullit and resign Chills and make him my SF. With Chills at SF, Biedrins at Center and Marvin at PF, we’d have a very quick, fast, versatile and talented frontline, on both ends of the court.

One thing that’s been encouraging so far is the fact Joe Smith hasn’t signed with anyone so far. I’m certain there are teams that consider him just as valuable, if not more so, as some of the Bigs that have been signed so far. Since MWilliams falls under the Larry Bird rule, maybe the team is holding off on signing him until they know what they have to spend to sign a veteran Big like JSmith. Just a thought.

Bob

August 2nd, 2009
10:53 am

JJ, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford, Marvin Williams, Zaza, Jeff Teague.

If the Hawks find some way to sign Flip Murray and Joe Smith this team’s expectations should be the Eastern Conference Finals. (Nothing Less)

Make it Rain «

August 13th, 2009
12:35 pm

[...] can play at power forward but the Hawks still need more frontcourt depth.  The Atlanta Journal has reported that the Hawks are interested in signing PF/C Joe Smith.  But Yahoo has an article about Cleveland [...]