Once again it’s on!

Josh Smith (left) and Al Horford need some help in the Hawks' frontcourt, and they need it now.

Josh Smith (left), Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia (not pictured) need some help in the Hawks' frontcourt, now not later. The Help Wanted sign has been up for months.

HAWKSVILLE - You disappear for 10 days (or at least try), and you expect things to change a little bit.

And they did, in many places.

Lamar Odom finally rejoined the Los Angeles Lakers, making them the odds on favorite to defend their title with both he and Ron Artest in the mix with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

Tyson Chandler (Charlotte) and Emeka Okafor (New Orleans) traded places, each giving their new teams an interesting jolt as well as some financial flexibility (now for the luxury tax-strapped Hornets and in two years for the on-the-market Bobcats). It’s hard to tell who made out better, though pundits from both cities – John DeShazier in the Big Easy and Scott Fowler in Charlotte – are claiming victory, proof that there bi-partisan punditry extends all the way to the NBA.

Hakim Warrick was tossed aside by Memphis and picked up by Milwaukee in a matter of days, and in a somewhat similar move (both players had their qualifying offers rescinded, allowing them to become unrestricted free agents immediately) Solomon Jones left the nest for a two-year deal with the Indiana Pacers.

About the only place where things have stayed the same is here, in the ‘Ville.

Marvin Williams still hasn’t signed a new deal (though, I suspect that will be rectified before week’s end). Joe Smith is still a free agent (the longer he stays that way, the tougher it will be for the Hawks to land him because the competition will grow). There is still so much time for things to take shape between now and training camp, so I’m sensitive about sounding the panic alarm too soon. But if Josh Smith, Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia put a help wanted sign between now and then, it should be understood. They need some help (for the millionth time this summer). And they need it as soon as possible. Horford and I had a conversation about that a few weeks back on the practice court at Philips Arena, our gabbing interrupting his workout with Hawks assistant coach Ty Hill. Horford knows that the more help they have the better chance they have of being fresh and injury free come playoff time, and I’m sure you remember what the Hawks looked like last year on wounded knee, ankle and hamstring and back and everything else in that Cleveland series.

A simple but sobering two-line email from my main man Stoned Mountain this morning reminded me that I was officially back on the clock: 

What have we done to shore up the frontcourt? We figure to get shoved around by everybody but Miami.

That’s probably a tad harsh. By keeping everyone but Flip Murray (and Solo) from the main playing rotation last year while also adding Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague, certainly keeps the Hawks among the Eastern Conference’s playoff crew. Holding down that fourth spot, however, would appear to be a tougher call. With Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Miami, Washington and Charlotte all gunning for the Hawks’ spot, things could get sticky.

My main man DH, a Sixers loyalist, think I’m being a bit presumptuous to assume that the pack has caught up to the Hawks:

Who do you think they’ll be fighting with for that 4th spot? Philly didn’t get better. Chicago didn’t get better. Miami didn’t get better. Toronto got a little better, but still isn’t as good as the Hawks … remember we’re talking about them holding onto the 4th spot, not challenging for the No. 1 spot. The additions of Crawford and Teague and the re-signings of Bibby, Marvin and yes, Zaza, are better than what any of the teams you mention (above) did. So yes, I see the Hawks as better than all of those teams, just as they were last year.

Really? Does it look that good to you? The cynic in me (yeah, Blog Z is preparing for a pre-training camp return, once the Hawks finalize the roster) doesn’t allow for that sort of positive rhetoric this time of year. I see the Hawks’ road to maintaining being much tougher than it appears to some. What say you (and I’ll try my best to answer any lingering questions you’ve had since we last went at it)?

168 comments Add your comment

tiggio

August 3rd, 2009
12:25 pm

macaroni tony

August 3rd, 2009
12:25 pm

Hawktalker89

August 3rd, 2009
12:27 pm

What are the chances the Hawks get a big man besides Joe Smith like Johan Petro?

Sekou Smith

August 3rd, 2009
12:32 pm

At this point Hawktalker, I’m thinking 50-50. When this much time passes it makes me nervous. The Hawks ventured off the reservation to recruit Joe Smith and haven’t gotten a commitment. That’s not a good sign. Petro would be a solid addition but hardly the kind of piece to get folks riled up around here.

macaroni tony

August 3rd, 2009
12:35 pm

Is there anyone (a big) that’s on the Hawks radar besides Joe Smith. And what do you think Siler would do us or Timberwolves?

Sekou Smith

August 3rd, 2009
12:45 pm

There are others tony, but not the big names that you’ve seen fly off the board in recent weeks. Siler is a project wherever he goes. He’s not going to join a team and instantly upgrade your depth just because he’s huge. The Hawks need a game-ready addition and not necessarily another project. That’s why Joe Smith makes so much sense.

A Tribe Called Quest

August 3rd, 2009
12:49 pm

THIS TEAM IS SET UP FOR FAILURE. YOU HAVE CLEVELAND (PATHETIC CITY) GOING AFTER EVERY SINGLE PLAYER AVAILABLE. WE SIGN 2 PLAYERS WHO WERE OURS, TRADE TRASH FOR A CAREER LOSING GUARDM AND DRAFT AN EXACT CARBON COPY OF ACIE LAW. AND THE OWNERS WILL NOT GO INTO THE LUXURY TAX

PATHETIC

macaroni tony

August 3rd, 2009
12:52 pm

Sekou,

I understand, because that means that we’ll pickup someone. The roster will be finally soon.

A Tribe Called Quest

August 3rd, 2009
12:53 pm

WHATEVER BIG WE SIGN WILL GET NO MINUTES UNDER WOODSON. HE WILL OVERPLAY HORFORD AND SMOOVE MORE THAN HE ALREADY DOES BECAUSE HE’S IN A CONTRACT YEAR. ZAZA WILL STRUGGLE TO GET 20 MIN. SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE JOE SMITH?

mountain_jim

August 3rd, 2009
12:53 pm

Hope your time away was great for you, Sekou. Do you think the Hawks / Sund are being cheap with Joe Smith, or are there other reasons he has not come onboard here?

Ramon

August 3rd, 2009
12:59 pm

Sekou, why does this team remind me of the Wizards squad from a while back. Where they could compete with any one in the first quarter, and beginning of third quarter. This roster seems to be destined for -6 point swings in the 2nd quarters of every game. Crawford, Teague, and even possibly Flip may be very good off the bench, and explosive together. But when you’re coming off the bench, and the opposing team is already in the penalty, because your front line had no depth. What can you really do? Hard to get a good shooting rhythm when ever 40 seconds, play is stopped because of another front court foul. Fatigue in the front court always leads to more fouls and less rebounds. And if anything, the Hawks should have learned that the fouls and rebounds is what has really been their main problem.

So although the season will be just as good as last year, in substance there will be no improvement. But I will say though I am loving this attitude by the Hawks players. You can easily tell that all of them are now expecting to be in the playoffs, and fighting for a good spot. They’re not just hoping they make it. They’re entire attitude has changed this off season, and that is wonderful.

hawksfan

August 3rd, 2009
1:00 pm

Sekou,

I hope you enjoyed your vacation! Since the Hawks are going to keep playing Horford at the 5 spot and Smoove at the 4 spot for the time being, what player do you think will be the difference maker for the Hawks to make it to elite status?

N-trigue

August 3rd, 2009
1:01 pm

Sekou
Does it look like we will sign Siler? And what about us getting someone like Gerald Green do you think the Hawks are interested in him?

Ariose

August 3rd, 2009
1:01 pm

From the previous Blog:

AJ, I know lol. I was specefically referring to my realization that Flip may not be signed because Rick Sund knows that Woodson will not give Teague the minutes he needs to develop. Then again, that may not be the case, but I would think that Sund would try to clear the easiest path possible for his heralded draft pick to the court and playing time. That’s all i’m speculating about. If it’s true, it’s not BAD, I mean, we still have Bibby, JJ, and Crawford.

Nire, what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. That roster spot could be used for something much more important, like a big man. As far as Flip being an insurance policy, I agree, but you know flips the highest quality you can get; especially for the price. He’s more like bailout insurance you Know, for when our jumpshooters go cold(JJ, Crawford, Bibby).

Like Truth said, If we get an injury to Bibby, you’re taking a risk only having teague to back him up. We also don’t know about Teague defense, specefically against Bigger guards who like to work in the post (Billups, Miller, Kidd etc.) Reallly flip was the only guard who dealt with that stuff well.

Now I had forgotten all about Mo lol. I wish he was two or three inches taller taller so this wouldn’t be an issue heh. I agree with you though, It doesn’t make sense to bring Flip back…..then again, it does make sense. Either way it’s not that big of a deal because our main problem right now is the frontline. Thats what really needs to be addressed.

Nire, You must be talking about the Autobiography that came out in 2008. I haven’t read it, buy if you think it’s good I might have to get my hands on a copy :-)

Yeah that Diss track was vicious lol. I bet Mariah wishes she never released this video lol! Some things just aren’t worth it heheheh, she was fighting fire with fire. She should’ve seen this coming as clear as a freight train lol!

Ramon

August 3rd, 2009
1:02 pm

Sekou, speaking of front court depths, in your days, what would you say is the deepest front court you’ve witnessed in your time as a writer? I’d probably the Blazers had the best overall front court depth that I’ve seen. When you think of Wallace, Davis, Kemp, Sabonas, O’Neal (although he didn’t play- bet they wish they could do that over, and we complain about Diaw lol), and Pippen.

terrell barron

August 3rd, 2009
1:04 pm

Tyronne freakin Hill teaching Horford?? What a joke!

terrell barron

August 3rd, 2009
1:05 pm

Do you guys want a cookie or something for being 1st or 2nd? Hilarious!

niremetal

August 3rd, 2009
1:06 pm

I say that Blog Z needs to sober up if he thinks the Wizards are going to challenge for anything but beating out the Knicks for 15th in the East ;) .

I’ve said it before – the East is still the East. The Top 3 have made big, risky moves. But everyone behind the Hawks has failed to improve, I think. I won’t address the Knicks, Nets, Bucks, or Pacers, who pretty much everyone agrees are in the early stages of rebuilding. Here’s the rest.

1) The Wizards have no frontcourt whatsoever. They will be horrible. I don’t exaggerate when I say that they’ll be lucky to win 25 games unless they manage to trade for a legit big, and I just don’t see that happening in the current climate where teams cling onto rotation bigs like there’s no tomorrow.

2) The Raptors traded Marion for Hedo, who won’t be nearly as effective outside SVG’s offense.

3) The Heat have added no one and lost Jamario.

4) The Sixers devolved by trading away their only semblance of frontcourt toughness and by letting Andre Miller go for nothing. And I still don’t see how Elton Brand fits in to that offense. And as I’ve said before – people are going to be in for a very rude awakening if they think Lou Williams can be a starting PG for a decent team (Royal Ivey usually initiated the offense when he was on the floor with Lou – that should tell you something).

5) The Bobcats are intriguing and have Larry Brown, but they are still miles away in terms of talent (especially now that they dumped Okafor for Chandler).

6) The Pistons continued their trend of making head-scratching moves – I don’t think that Gordon and Villanueva push them higher along with the losses of Iverson and Rasheed. I admit AI and Sheed didn’t give them much, but I also don’t think those moves made them better – did they really need a combo guard and a big forward who doesn’t play defense?

7) The Bulls are young and will improve from that, but it’s an open question whether they compensate for what Ben Gordon gave them in his contract year. Still, if there’s a team that can overtake the Hawks for #4, it’s the Bulls.

The Hawks added Teague and Crawford (so far) while losing Flip, Acie, Solo, and Speedy. I agree that it would be good to add another frontcourt player, but we won 47 games with our still VERY young frontcourt last year. Al, Zaza, and Josh will all be a year older this year. Add to that the fact that now we FINALLY have a second scoring threat to take pressure off Joe (as well as a young PG and successor to Bibby that Woody actually sounds like he’ll play), and it’s tough to say with a straight face that the Hawks haven’t improved.

I agree with DH – if we’re talking about challenging for the #1 seed, I don’t think the Hawks are there yet. But holding down the #4 seed? I honestly think it’s tough to argue that the Hawks have done anything but distance themselves from the pack.

Anakin Joe

August 3rd, 2009
1:06 pm

Sekou, welcome back. We needed a new blog like the metro Atlanta needs a water-hole. Any chance (I’m trying to find a way to be optimistic) that the hold-up with Joe Smith is regarding contract terms (like contract length)? It would appear that the market for Smith should be extremely soft this late into the summer. We’re probably the only playoff team without a single back-up forward (sorry Mo is a guard).

Anakin Joe

August 3rd, 2009
1:10 pm

nire said “did they really need a combo guard who doesn’t play defense”? Oh, never mind. :twisted:

ILL-logical

August 3rd, 2009
1:11 pm

Essentially the Hawks are on the horns of a dilemma; on the one hand they have a coach under contract whose”system” does not favor scoring opportunities for the frontcourt yet the team is trying to bolster that position while allocating a majority of the playing time to their young and up and coming stars. How do you get a quality frontcourt player to accept that scenario? Oh, and did I mention that the coach is on his last year of his contract and may not be retained? To many factors here that argue against a solid front court player joining this team.
Limited playing time and even more limited offensive opportunities ; a player has to see what’s in the deal for him and a first blush, not very much.

niremetal

August 3rd, 2009
1:13 pm

PS – I honestly think that the Wiz would have been better off holding on to that draft pick and taking Jordan Hill, and then doing the trade that the Wolves pulled off – Etan Thomas for Damien Wilkins. That made much more sense than trading their entire damned frontcourt plus the #5 pick in exchange for two superfluous perimeter players who will just be taking minutes away from Nick Young and forcing Jamison to play even more minutes at PF.

I’m just glad I won’t “have” to watch the Wiz every game this year…

niremetal

August 3rd, 2009
1:15 pm

Anakin,

Once again, you fail to recognize how players address team needs. The Hawks had a need for a volume scorer who could draw defenders and take pressure off JJ. The Pistons didn’t really have any need for a shoot-first combo guard – as was evident last year when Allen Iverson was an utter failure playing alongside Stuckey.

Anakin Joe

August 3rd, 2009
1:17 pm

ILL, or, a veteran like Joe Smith could say “Woody has utilized players like Childress, Flip, Zaza and Mo off the bench so I know that he will find a way for me to contribute to the team’s success”. Plus, we ain’t got no back-up forward MAN.

Anakin Joe

August 3rd, 2009
1:24 pm

nire, I agree with you. I absolutely cannot recognize the Hawks need for a volume scorer. We have reach violent agreement. :D

Ariose

August 3rd, 2009
1:29 pm

Steve Brown

August 3rd, 2009
1:35 pm

I just don’t get the lack of interest in Flip. His play last year seemed like one of the keys to our success. What am I missing?

d-train

August 3rd, 2009
1:41 pm

Sekou, since the hawks are weak up front could we enhance our strength (speed) by acquiring Nate Robinson. Thinking outside the box, the change from 1st team to 2nd team would be impossible to stop. Zaza, Nate, Teague, Crawford and a PF (Marvin/Smith/Hartford) would be an fast break tornado.

Nate can be had after the Session’s deal is complete. If we can’t beat them on the boards beat them on the Break.

Neither Orlando, Boston or Cleveland can game plan for that second team.

Ariose

August 3rd, 2009
1:41 pm

…..wait, I still wanna be 1st lol……

BrittishAnger

August 3rd, 2009
1:56 pm

Sekou, I’ll agree with you that Siler is gonna be a big-man project to get him into the right mold to really contribute to pushing ourselves forward rather than merely maintaining position, but you’ve got to agree that a lot of the players who would have done what you’re talking about have already gone on to other teams. We’re looking at thin broth in this frontcourt soup of ours, and while securing a veteran front court player would provide some intelligence and depth to meander, I would just as soon put him under contract and put up an insurance policy for Randolph Morris’ possible departure. Most of the moves we’ve made are insurance buys; keep Bibby in case Teague flunks out, trade for Jamal Crawford in case JJ negotiations become bogged down or even go kerplunk (Zaza is just a heart of the city resigning, so ignore him). While economically ASG nor the hawks are looking to fill themselves to capacity, it would make things simpler to deal with if we took on another rookie under that premise of shoring up our current and possibly future weaknesses and looking to keep a strong frame to grow with. He’s bankable insurance, and could very well provide some additional depth to consider when the time comes to it; it’s just a good move that wouldn’t cost us anything serious to refine. Low risk, low cost, good insurance to maintain depth even in the face of injuries. Insurance Sekou, insurance…..

UGA

August 3rd, 2009
2:11 pm

Sekou,
Welcome back.

I have a question, I really would love for Joe Smith to be here, but I’m getting worried.

IF we do not get him, is there a BIG available would could trade for? I’m thinking Darius Songalia from the T-wolves or Kurt Thomas from the Bucks. Both teams seem to be cutting money and one of them may be a good fit. I also like many on here am curious about the status of Ryan Hollins from the Mavs.

Hoops

August 3rd, 2009
2:20 pm

Hollins signs an offer sheet from the Timberwolves.

Kleiza may be available. The Nuggets don’t seem interested in re-signing him. He could be the Hawks backup PG.

Hoops

August 3rd, 2009
2:20 pm

Sorry, I meant PF on Kleiza.

Anakin Joe

August 3rd, 2009
2:26 pm

Sekou, what’s up with the blog picture that features Mikki Moore? You couldn’t find one with Michael Ruffin?

Sekou Smith

August 3rd, 2009
2:33 pm

First off, I’m glad to be back. Vacation is the ish. I had forgotten after so long without a real one. Got a couple more breaks coming before training camp, too, which brings a :) to my face. Ha.

Deepest frontcourt rotations I can remember in my days covering the league Ramon, good question … I agree, that Portland crew when they had Rasheed Wallace, Brian Grant and Sabonis starting and enough depth that a young Jermaine O’Neal could barely get any significant playing time was super sick. As you’ll remember that team’s chance at a title went up in smoke a year or two later against the Lakers. The Pistons had a nice rotation a few years back on that title team when the sum of their parts was better than any single individual. Those two in particular struck me as being deep with quality depth. It seems tougher in today’s game when only go four or five guys deep and the fifth is usually a project. It’s tougher to find the right backup pieces more than anything. You have to find vets or youngsters talented enough to play serious minutes if needed but serious enough about their role as a backup to play limited minutes without making a stink. One of the hardest jobs in the league if you ask me. Josh Boone is the poster child for this movement. He’s the perfect guy for that kind of role. Channing Frye strikes me as a similar type guy.

Nire, is so down on the Wizards it’s hilarious. I honestly believe that when they’re healthier than they’ve been since Arenas went down that they’re a formidable group to deal with. They’re obviously not championship timber, but certainly playoff caliber at full strength. And I think the rest of the East is much better than the way you described them. You just never know. Remember how people viewed the Hawks this time a year ago? They thought the playoff run against Boston was a fluke. Didn’t think the Hawks would sniff the playoffs again. You just never know.

I don’t want to be the anti-Siler guy around here, because I think he’d be an ideal fit on the end of the Hawks’ bench. I just fear that people would expect much more than the big fella could deliver this season.

Nate Robinson, huh? Interesting idea d-train, but I don’t think that helps the Hawks hold their ground. They’re plenty good enough to deal with everyone they face. The reason they need the help up front is because of the rigors that the 82-game season can take on a roster by playoff time. Can you imagine if Zaza had been hurt last year during the playoffs? That would have left Josh Smith as the Hawks’ only frontcourt regular healthy enough to deal with the Heat and then the Cavaliers. That’s just not going to get it, not with Boston and Orlando and the Cavaliers all stocked up front.

I’m with you on Flip being one of the keys last season, Steve Brown. The hangup here is minutes. There are none with Crawford and Teague on board. Flip was simply the odd man out.

mountain_jim, I don’t think the Hawks are necessarily being cheap with Joe Smith. No one else has signed him yet so clearly he’s not getting the kind of offers that make him want to end it. If the Hawks wanted to lock him up, though, they could easily sweeten whatever deal is being offered. So it’s a matter of outbidding yourself at this point.

Sekou Smith

August 3rd, 2009
2:35 pm

I was just trying to make sure Josh and Al were in the picture Joe. Ha. Sorry about the filler.

As for a trade for a big, who can you move at this point for a quality big man? Take a look at the roster and point the guy(s) out that you’re going to bargain with, because I don’t see ‘em.

Anakin Joe

August 3rd, 2009
2:37 pm

How is it that Ryan Hollins, Solomon Jones, Ike Diogu, Drew Gooden, Tim Thomas and Sean May (amongst others) have signed contracts/offers but not Joe Smith? So maybe I can accept that younger teams have no interest in Smith (and vice-versa). But the Hornets aren’t in a rebuilding position. Does this mean that Smith has agreed in principle on something and is just waiting for the preceding domino to fall? Does it mean that insiders have concerns about Smith? Or does it mean that the spending teams found better options and Smith is caught in an undesirable position (too good for lottery teams and the playoff teams have exhausted their budgets)? Likely the latter… time for Sund to ride to the rescue, like he did with Flip last summer.

Anakin Joe

August 3rd, 2009
2:39 pm

Sekou, whew! I thought you were trying to drop a hint.

Anakin Joe

August 3rd, 2009
2:44 pm

But if Shelden or Stromile get an offer before Joe Smith, well, then, I think it would be time to call Stephen A. We need someone with the ability to sound sufficiently outraged and he is amongst the best around these days.

Daniel

August 3rd, 2009
2:45 pm

Glad your back Sekou, we were down to rehashing Boris Diaw arguments.

Can you give us any more on Joe Smith in terms of numbers or other teams that may be interested?

You hinted at other bigs being looked at, care to drop any hints?

Daniel

August 3rd, 2009
2:46 pm

numbers being what he is asking vs. offered that sort of thing.

Melvin

August 3rd, 2009
2:51 pm

My goodness. We let Minny sign Hollins over us? What in the heck are the Hawks front office doing?????

Sekou Smith

August 3rd, 2009
2:55 pm

Logic suggests that Smith wants a multi-year deal for more than the veteran’s minimum, Daniel.

Cleveland reportedly has an interest in seeing if he’d like to fill out their rotation (which would just be sick with all the big boys they have running around, or jogging, depending on who you mention). That would be my main concern if I’m the Hawks. Listen, if you’re offering the same thing as a title contender, why would Joe Smith come here over going to a place like that? The Hawks have to come up with something to lure Joe Smith or any other vet to come here and come off the bench.

UGA

August 3rd, 2009
3:00 pm

Morris would be the only one to trade or a 2nd round pick. I guess I’m just thinking if a team wants to cut cap space, they may be willing to accept something like a Morris/2nd rounder.

Daniel

August 3rd, 2009
3:03 pm

something in the 4 mil per for 2 years?

Daniel

August 3rd, 2009
3:05 pm

Do the Cavs have the cap room to really sign him? Also, if they really wanted him and he wanted to be there the fact that he still isn’t signed says a lot more about their situation than it does with the Hawks. I mean if they are offering similar money and he wants to win a ring in Clevland(which btw will not happen) then he should be already signed. Unless you think that he is just using the Hawks as leverage.

terrell barron

August 3rd, 2009
3:06 pm

D-train, it’s Horford, not Hartford. You cant really be a Hawks fan. In no way form or fashion, should you be saying Al Hartford after he’s been here for 3 years. Not to mention, saying that we have a need for a guy like Nate Robinson of all people.

Daniel

August 3rd, 2009
3:08 pm

Also, with Siler, man while you were gone we debated his attributes like he was the second coming and who the Hawks put on the end of the bench/developmental player was the most pressing issue facing the originzation. Kinda sad really.

Hoops

August 3rd, 2009
3:10 pm

Sekou,

I take it that the Hawks are only offering Joe Smith a 1 year contract. Has there been talk about a 2 year offer with the second year being a team option? I’m sure incentives could be included to sweeten his deal!

What about Kleiza? Have you heard any news about the Hawks being interested in him? He’s 6′8″, 245lbs and only 24 yrs. old. He averaged 10 PPG and & 4 RPG. If we could not get Joe Smith, he might be a good sign. He could play both forward positions.

A Tribe Called Quest

August 3rd, 2009
3:11 pm

“Nothing’s Changed for the Hawks in 10 days”???? Try 1 month. This team has done nothing since resigning ZaZa