Another Joe, another Smith?

Foes a year ago, Josh (left) and Joe Smith (no relation) will team up on the Hawks' frontline this season.

Foes a year ago, Josh (left) and Joe Smith (no relation) will team up on the Hawks' suddenly improved frontline this season.

HAWKSVILLE - There’s room in the Hawks’ locker room for another Joe. And certainly enough room for another Smith.

And if the early reports are true, ESPN’s Ric Bucher reported it first Friday afternoon, veteran power forward Joe Smith will indeed be joining the clan in the ‘ville on a one-year deal, possibly as early as this week.

The Hawks aren’t confirming or denying anything, per their policy on all free agent matters this summer. Sources indicate that Smith has indeed agreed to join the team but that no deal has been finalized yet and nothing has been signed. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that barring a last-minute catastrophe, this deal is going to get done.

It’s the answer to many questions for the Hawks up front. Smith is the veteran, spot up shooter, rebounder, locker room leader and wise voice for youngsters Josh Smith and Al Horford (in particular) the Hawks have been looking for. His addition will give the Hawks a solid two-deep depth chart up and down the lineup, leaving three to four roster spots up for grabs for the likes of Randolph Morris, Garret Siler, Othello Hunter and whoever else shows for training camp.

Josh Smith, Horford and Zaza Pachulia will be happiest about the elder Smith joining the fray. They need the assistance, on every front. They were without a veteran assist last season, a deficiency that was magnified during the playoffs against Joe Smith’s old team (Cleveland), which disposed of the Hawks in four games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

A versatile 6-10, 225-pounder, Smith plays bigger than his listed size. He always has, dating back to his days at Maryland, when he dominated the competition on his way to becoming the No. 1 pick in the 1995 NBA draft. This is yet another summertime coup for the Hawks, who have bargained shopped their way back to the fourth spot on the Eastern Conference food chain behind Cleveland, Boston and Orlando (last year’s order but not necessarily the pecking order for this season). Seriously, for all the cash spent in other places, the Hawks used a prudent, cost-conscious approach to bring back the core of a 47-win team, while also adding two key veterans in Smith (pending the completion of his deal) and Jamal Crawford, not to mention promising rookie in point guard Jeff Teague.

Joe Smith isn’t an acquisition on the level of Rasheed Wallace (Boston), Shaquille O’Neal (Cleveland), Vince Carter (Orlando) or even Hedo Turkoglu (Toronto) for that matter. But he’s exactly what the Hawks needed at a position of critical importance. He’s also a fantastic insurance policy at an even better price, should injuries to Smith, Horford or even Marvin Williams become a factor the way they did last season, when all three of the Hawks’ young frontcourt studs missed considerable time last season with injuries.

So with basically all the heavy lifting done now, how do you rate the Hawks’ summer to this point? Good, bad or something else?

519 comments Add your comment

niremetal

August 17th, 2009
3:52 pm

Daniel,

Read more carefully. Those 4 teams were the only ones that did NOT fit one of the two descriptions I gave.

gwite

August 17th, 2009
3:53 pm

Daniel, he(Sekou) said that no contract has been signed yet. At least a “written”, “legal” contract signing has not been announced yet.

Remember Rafael Furcal this past baseball off season, or even most recently Turkoglu?

It’s not legal and binding until the paper is signed. Until then, it’s all hearsay.

That’s what he said. That’s what the situation is.

Daniel

August 17th, 2009
3:58 pm

gwite- I know what Sekou is reporting, but on the radio 680 and 790 they were reporting that the deal was done at 1 year vet min. Just asking for clarification.

niremetal

August 17th, 2009
3:58 pm

I’ll put it another way. Examples of teams that fit the “no other major pro sports teams in town” label are the Spurs (4 Finals wins in the past 30 seasons), Jazz (2 Finals appearances), Magic (2 Finals appearances), and Blazers (2 Finals appearances). All other teams that have made the Finals during the past 30 seasons – except for the ‘93 Suns, ‘96 Sonics, ‘00 Pacers, and ‘07 Cavs – come from one of the 11 largest media markets, which I listed above.

Daniel

August 17th, 2009
4:00 pm

fair enough- nire. I misread your point.

Daniel

August 17th, 2009
4:01 pm

btw- Detroit is really in the top eleven and Atlanta is 28th? I would not have thought that.

Anakin Joe

August 17th, 2009
4:02 pm

Ramon, Vince Carter is their starting SG. Pietrus and Barnes will likely battle for the starting SF. The bench includes Gortat, Bass, Barnes/Pietrus and Reddick. They have the ability to force double teams in the low-post, play iso with Vince and shoot 3s with a bunch of platers (watch out for Ryan Anderson). I can’t think of another team with an elite low-post scorer, elite 3-point shooter and an elite slasher, all in the starting line-up. They have the DPOY and they have a terrific perimeter defender in Pietrus. And lastly, if none of their players individually improves, they still have potentially 3-4 All-Stars with Vince, Howard, Jameer and Rashard. I don’t think that we will finish within 8 games of Orlando.

Daniel

August 17th, 2009
4:04 pm

Anakin- how many games did Rashard get suspended?

gwite

August 17th, 2009
4:04 pm

Daniel, it’s NOT OFFICIAL…yet.

GeeMack

August 17th, 2009
4:09 pm

BBgenie & Mystical,

With the way things are playing out. How long before our Hawks are champioship contenders?

Anakin Joe

August 17th, 2009
4:11 pm

Daniel, I think 10 games.

nire, but let’s not simply say that large media guarantees NBA success, either. It takes smart ownership and GMs who know how to leverage the available funds. I’m pretty sure that the Jazz have made as many Finals appearances as the Knicks and I’m not just talking about the Isaiah era with the Knicks.

Big Ray

August 17th, 2009
4:23 pm

Astro Joe,

In my opinion, everything you listed in your 11:18 post is exactly why Joe Smith will have a positive effect on our frontcourt players. Perhaps “mentor” is a word that you find disagreeable, but considering the fact that we don’t and haven’t had an effective big man coach, or a quality veteran big man, I’m not going to sniff with disdain at the “mentor” effect.

It doesn’t have to be an official (or even unofficial) “mentor” and “mentoree” relationship. I agree that having quality depth is the first and foremost target. But when you get that, you also get the side effects. Like you said: hitting the jumper, rotating properly on defense, running the pick and roll properly, and being a professional. Surely our young bigs can learn something from all of that.

Again, that’s not the main idea or storyline. Again, with the lack of a big man coach, I’m happy about the idea of having a guy who can set the example (in both practice, and in games) in the areas that our bigs need the most work.

“The guys at the end of the bench either need to be projects to be developed for future contirbutions (e.g. Siler) or vets who sit on the bench with a younger player and teach (e.g. Brevin Knight talking to Teague about how to manage a game or how to play at different speeds).”

Agreed. And while Smith wouldn’t exactly be at the end of the bench, he can have similar effects on Josh, Al, et all…

Mystikal

August 17th, 2009
4:25 pm

Geemack,

I agree they are not contenders now and think they will have to trade one of the core guys. As stated above, we have a lot of factors working against us. It’s no easy answer, many things have to fall in place for that to happen. Which of our young studs (if any) will take their games to all-star levels or beyond? What’s going to happen with ASG and how will that affect future decisions? What other superstars/role players will be available down the road and will they be willing to come here? Until Joe Smith puts his name on the line, no outside free agents will have come here willingly. So we still have to win some more to change our perception around the league.

To answer your question, I think we will be a lot closer next year with Shaq project failing in Cleveland, Boston being too old n’ began to dismantle, and we will have only Orlando to worry about. I’d guesstimate (like that word) in 2 or 3 years we could make a run at least the conference finals if we continue to make good decisions.

Warrior fans talk Crawford.

August 17th, 2009
4:25 pm

Anakin Joe

August 17th, 2009
4:27 pm

Ray, I agree, he could. I guess I’m just saying that if he doesn’t and the only impact is what he provides in terms of on-court production, I would be pleased, thrilled and more than satisfied. I just don’t like automatically assigning the “old guy in the room” the role of generous, wise sage. If he chooses to fill that role, wonderful. But if not, I won’t be mad at him.

Big Ray

August 17th, 2009
4:28 pm

AJ,

I’d pencil Pietrus in at the starting SF. Barnes is a shooter, and not much else. Besides, how many shots would Barnes get in THAT starting lineup? Pietrus may not get a whole slew of them, but if he’s the starter, you now have perimeter defender to compliment the dominating low post defender in Howard. Can’t count on the other three starters (Lewis, Nelson, Carter) for anything more than “adequate” defense, and even that’s going to be a debatable description thereof.

Hell, I don’t even know if we’ll finish within 8 games of those guys. But then, it all does sound good on paper. I’d rather not get beat by 50 again, I can tell ya that…

Daniel

August 17th, 2009
4:28 pm

Mystikal- I think that is fair.

Anakin Joe

August 17th, 2009
4:36 pm

Ray and I also agree that Pietrus will likely start. I only said that because there was an article that indicated Barnes would have a chance to compete for the starting position. But Pietrus’ playoff performance (especially in the Cavs series) should give him the clear advantage.

The other thing about Orlando is that they will likely shoot for the #1 spot in the conference. teams like Boston and Cleveland will not over-use their older stars to secure the top spot. Those teams believe that they can win in any tough road game. And while Orlando proved that they can also win in road playoff games, I think they will want to push for the top spot. I just don;t see them letting off the pedal next season. And Vince will surely play nice… every “old big dog” is learning from Iverson how NOT to play out a contract year on a new team.

Man, if someone had bet me back in February/March which Virginia native would have a contract first this summer between AI and Vick, I would have bet a mortgage payment on AI. And that’s why I generally don’t make bets.

Big Ray

August 17th, 2009
4:41 pm

AJ,

Definitely agreed. I don’t want to put an over-emphasis on his presence as that guy either. Really, I’m putting more emphasis on our guys taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from a long-time pro. If he does all those things you mentioned, I’m definitely excited. I just would like for our existing guys to learn how to do the same things consistently. It’s on THEM to take that learning initiative. If Joe doesn’t have that effect, I certainly won’t blame HIM.

Big Ray

August 17th, 2009
4:46 pm

AJ,

No doubt. Those guys are going to be full steam ahead. And I think you’re right about Vince, as well. I understand where people are coming from about him being a me-first player, but he sure didn’t exhibit any problems while playing with Devin Harris last year (a guy who is clearly a shoot-first pg, and a good one at that), and reports out of Jersey were that he was a much better guy in the locker room than they were expecting at the time. Plus, as you say, The Answer seems to be trying to compete with Starbury for Crazy Ex-star Guard of the year. Well, okay, he’s not looney like Starbury is, but he’s definitely not endearing himself to anybody either.

As for Vick and A.I., all I can say is I never thought about that. Good thing you didn’t make that bet…

Melvin

August 17th, 2009
4:47 pm

AJ and Ray,

I won’t be surpise if Bass starts and they move Rashard back to the SF spot. Then Peitrus (2), Barnes (3), Ryan(4) and Gortat (5) will be the reserves.

Anakin Joe

August 17th, 2009
4:53 pm

Melvin, once Rashard is off that juice, he may shrink up to a 6′3″ combo guard. :D

Ramon

August 17th, 2009
4:55 pm

AJ, I’d take JJ over Vince any day. And I’d take Marvin (healthy) over Pietrus. I know Pietrus made a name for himself with Lebron, and I know he’s good. But I still take Marvin. Honestly, I don’t see Lewis being that much of a better shooter than Marvin. He just shoots in higher volumes. And to be honest, Orlando are softer than the Hawks. And Barnes is decent, but he’s not any much better than Evans. And I say once again, they have no one on the bench who can come in and score 20 pts every other night. If Redick scores 10 pts, you can bet he gave up 15 on defense lol.

Melvin

August 17th, 2009
4:56 pm

AJ,

It was prescription meds…lol

Speaking of juice, have the test result came in for Usian Bolt yet???

Melvin

August 17th, 2009
4:59 pm

Ramon,
I know you are for the home team but Rashard over Marvin. I can’t agree on that one. Oh well, I think Sam/Rod alarms just went out. Making those comments about Marvin, you better run…:)

Melvin

August 17th, 2009
5:00 pm

*Oh well, I think Sam/Rod alarms just went off.

Anakin Joe

August 17th, 2009
5:05 pm

Ramon, true, they don’t have a single scorer on their bench who can light it up like Jamal, but I’m pretty sure that Orlando will score more points as a collective unit than the Hawks. And they were a top 3 defensive team last year (and Vince is a much better defender than Hedo and Pietrus should be healthier than last year). We’re getting better, no doubt. Like I said before, we are good enough to get invited into the league’s best club, but we’re can’t get into the VIP room (yet).

Melvin, I thought the same thing about Bolt when I saw that report yesterday. It seems like track runners shop at the same stores as the Red Sox and Yankees.

Melvin

August 17th, 2009
5:09 pm

AJ,

Just think, it takes me 10 seconds to walk from my bedroom to my kitchen which is more time than it take Bolt to run a 100m. Oh yeah, I don’t have a mansion either…lol

Ramon

August 17th, 2009
5:22 pm

Melvin, I didn’t say I’d take Marvin over Lewis as a player, but as a shooter, yea, I would.

AJ, you’re right about the defense. Maybe, I’m just hoping out loud, but it made sense for a moment. Damn you for bringing reality back lol. Seriously, I think the Hawks will be better because 3 out of 5 of their line up is getting better.

Melvin, it takes Woody longer to realize he just called a 20 second timeout and to remember why, then it takes Bolt to run the 100m (or even 200m lol).

ILL-logical

August 17th, 2009
5:44 pm

Accurate media market:

US DMA Rankings
Tuesday, 17 February 2009 09:17 The Great Outdoor Network Inc.
DMA – Designated Market Area defined by Nielsen Research.

2006-07 2007-08 2007 2008
Rank Rank Difference DMA Name Homes Homes

1 1 New York 7,366,950 7,391,940
2 2 Los Angeles 5,611,110 5,647,440
3 3 Chicago 3,455,020 3,469,110
4 4 Philadelphia 2,941,450 2,939,950
6 5 +1 Dallas-Ft. Worth 2,378,660 2,435,600
5 6 -1 San Francisco-Oak-San Jose 2,383,570 2,419,440
7 7 Boston (Manchester) 2,372,030 2,393,960
9 8 +1 Atlanta 2,205,510 2,310,490
8 9 -1 Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) 2,272,120 2,308,290
10 10 Houston 1,982,120 2,050,550

Doug

August 17th, 2009
5:53 pm

Yahoo: I give up…you are officially incapable of coherent thought…thus argue the tremendous benefit of signing Flip Murray…as a backup-to-the-backup with someone else and explain to them how he is not redundant…i.e.unnecessary…good luck whomever

hawkspride

August 17th, 2009
5:56 pm

ramon you got to be kidding me orlando softer than us… please they got toughness in bass, gortat, pietrus and howard i can only see us having al,josh and zaza thats it they got a better overall team than us and will finish 10-12 games ahead of us, and i dont think we have a great bench like they do they have gortat,bass, anderson,barnes,jj, and a.j so i dont know where yourcoming from i think your basing your statements cause your a hawks fan and you cant do…..

ILL-logical

August 17th, 2009
5:59 pm

The Hawks as an organization have made some good strategic moves ,not only this summer but over the last 2 years. Inspite of internal and external financial issues, the club has made great strides in putting together a competitive group of individuals who are young ,gifted and have a knack for basketball.

Tactically, the issue in my mind is how best to confiqure the talent for long term success. That’s were a lot of disagreement occurs among the participants on this board. I tend to lean toward the “national experts” viewpoint: to many players playing out of position with little in game adjustments. That’s what I heard ,in summary, from the commentators during the playoff run and what I have gleaned from the latest on line assesments from sources like espn.com.

This season will provide an excellent opportunity to address and rebut those contentions, on the court where it matters. I sense that there is a growing level of excitement about this team’s 2009-10 season. Who knows, this may be the year that the Hawks step up in class and become the team to beat for years and years to come.I am rooting for the home team!

hawkspride

August 17th, 2009
6:02 pm

UGA

August 17th, 2009
6:21 pm

Based on all the rumors, if we fill out the roster with Jason Hart and Jason Collins/Johan Petro will everyone be satisfied with the offseason moves? I would.

My only concern is having another wing player or a shooter. I do think Hart would be a good defender if the critics are right with Teague on defense and we know Bibby is not the best defender.

Did these big men ever come and work out for the Hawks like Sekou said might happen?

hawkspride

August 17th, 2009
6:24 pm

i agree with him i think the hawks will get about 45-50 wins this year but we are not going to be close to the big boys of the nba (lakers,celtics,magic,cavs,spurs) but will be in the hornets,raptors,mavs,nuggets,wizards level

Ramon

August 17th, 2009
6:33 pm

Hawkspride, I’ve been a Hawks fan for a long time. But I’ve been an NBA fan for even longer. You say they have Gortat. Is this the same Gortat who only averaged 12 minutes a game last season, with 4 pts and 4 rebs? Or is it the Gortat who shot 50% from the free throw line? Because if that is the Gortat you’re speaking of, I fail to see how he’s such a huge threat. No, wait, I get it, its because he’s tall, that’s why. True enough he has a new contract. But the history of the NBA shows that more money doesn’t equate to better playing, just better pay checks.

Then you say JJ Redick’s name. Funny, because last time I checked Redick was just a 2nd round pick away from having another team’s name across his chest. I’m sure his 6 points in barely 19 minutes a game is cause to be concerned. I mean he’s a 3pt specialist, but Evans shot a better percentage from deep than Redick did, while providing something close to defense.

Barnes, in the wide open offense of Phoenix he still only averaged 10 ppg. Even the castaway Diaw averaged more than that coming off the bench. And he definitely will not get the same amount of shots he got in Phoenix right down the street from Mickey’s house.

I’ll admit I have nothing to say about Bass, because he is a great pick up. I love his energy. But I don’t think he and Gortat will out perform Joe Smith and Zaza that much, if any.

The thing you’re forgetting about their starting line up is Lewis doesn’t like to rebound. And you have 4 all stars in one starting line up. On playstation 3, it sounds great. But I don’t think its going to go as smoothly as people are anticipating.

By the way, you’re not seriously hoping that AJ and Anderson production will match that of Crawford and Teague’s, are you? I mean AJ got put out of a job because of Acie Law. Grandpa is decent 2 games out of 5. But those other 3 are where the problem come in. Because we all remember he does NOT like to run up and down the court.

hawkspride

August 17th, 2009
6:46 pm

ramon okay is this teague your talking about a player that is unproven and has not even played in the nba and joe smith the same you smith that averaged 6.6 points last season and zaza averaged 6 points and 6 rebounds in 19 minutes of play gortat would have averaged around 7.5 points and 7 rebounds better than zaza and marvin and lewis averaged almost the same about of rebounds and we need a better bench we have no bench so u think are bench smth,morris,teauge and evans is a better bench than orlando’s bench that stupid…. the fact of the matter is that i love the hawks but no way can we place the with orlando or another top with the east big 3….

Blast

August 17th, 2009
6:50 pm

So John Schuhmann ranked the Wizards ahead of Utah, Hornets and Hawks? Picking the Wiz to snatch the 4th spot in the East?

No wonder. ESPN has never shown Hawks any love. The dissin continues. It’s all good. Hawks need to keep flying under the rader.

hawkspride

August 17th, 2009
6:52 pm

plus orlando’s bench does not need to score that much, there starting 5 will do that look at the benches
gortat anderson pietrus barnes a.j
zaza s mith evans crawford teague
orlando wins center, power foward and small foward we win sg and point guard they got a better back ups

Harry Hawk

August 17th, 2009
6:53 pm

Well, I’m just glad that Belkin can appeal the ruling today.

This should only take a few more years.

Blast

August 17th, 2009
6:56 pm

Actually John S. is with NBA.com. But they are all the same.

Anakin Joe

August 17th, 2009
7:02 pm

That article about the ASG ourt decision (they are back at square one) is kind fo funny. Belkin tried to deny the other owners with access to the Hawks plane and locker room. It’s a wonder no one pimped-slapped his crazy behind. What a power-crazed egomaniac. The next steps will be interesting. Assuming that Belkin decides not to appeal, it may be time for Gearon and crew to unveil their sugar daddy, their new partner who will help them run things long-term.

niremetal

August 17th, 2009
7:05 pm

Anakin,

I agree with that point of course. I wouldn’t have picked Utah as a counter-example since they are one of those “only show in town” teams. The Suns and Pacers are two examples of “smaller-and-crowded market” teams that have enjoyed sustained success despite their market disadvantages, thanks to shrewd front office moves (Colangelo and Walsh are revered for a reason) and coaching. I will say, though, that it doesn’t hurt that Phoenix and Indianapolis are big basketball towns to begin with thanks to their close proximity to universities that have been longtime powerhouses in basketball but not football. That can’t be said of Atlanta – here, the big college sport has always been football and the big high school sports have always been baseball and football. And I don’t think anyone will argue that pro basketball is low on the hierarchy of spectator sports throughout the southeast. It’s not for nothing that the shortest Braves threads from the past year are longer than all but the longest Hawks threads, despite the fact that the Hawks have a better record (and a much better beat writer ;) ).

In any case, I certainly will grant that teams at a greater market disadvantage than the Hawks have managed to have greater success. A smart GM can build a contender even if the basketball revenues are below average. But my main and final point is this – because of Atlanta’s market size, “crowded” sports market, and the relatively low position of basketball on the sports hierarchy in this region as compared to other parts of the country, there’s no guarantee that “if you build it, they will come” is a viable strategy for pro basketball in Atlanta.

Ramon

August 17th, 2009
7:09 pm

Hawkspride, Pietrus will be starting, not coming off the bench. And I will take Evans over Barnes. Also Anderson averaged those points on a team who only had one scorer, compared to Smith who was on a squad with Lebron, Z, Mo, and West. Also Anderson was on a team where he was able to get more minutes. Place Anderson on Cleveland’s last year squad and he wouldn’t walk away with more minutes nor better stats than Joe Smith (probably would be stuck behind Hickson). And in the starting line up, how you could see them having a better match up anywhere besides Howard and Nelson, is hard for me to see.

niremetal

August 17th, 2009
7:13 pm

Yeah, not surprised on the ASG court ruling. I’ll just say this – Steve Belkin does not make a good witness, and the ASG’s strategy at trial had the not-unintended effect of painting Belkin as a calculating and vindictive person who wanted George Steinbrenner power without owning a George Steinbrenner stake.

Sekou mentioned a couple of the incidents in his write-up, but the one that stood out the most for me was the one where Belkin contacted the NBA to say that Levenson might be tampering. The ASG’s attorney had Belkin twisting in the wind on that one.

Ah well. As with most lawsuits, the only winners in this thing are the attorneys. They’ve made a killing on fees, and probably will make a few million more before all is said and done.

hawkspride

August 17th, 2009
7:17 pm

ramon peitrus will not start, when rashard lewis comes back if he plays pf then barnes will start orlando like pietrus to come of the beach to provide a spark and wow i would take lewis over marvin and vince over joe the only player i would take is josh over bass… plus you can say the same with crawford he was in a bad team so his numbers could go down plus i would take anderson over smith everyday of of the week and twice on sunday…..

Ramon

August 17th, 2009
7:22 pm

Hawkspride, this is just one of many situations where we agree to disagree. And just wait to see how the season unfolds. It was great debating with you.

hawkspride

August 17th, 2009
7:24 pm

plus the nets had vince, harris, and brook scoring plus the cavs are a one man team… lebron thats it come on brook lopez average more points than both west and Z and mo only averaged 3 points more than him

O'Brien

August 17th, 2009
7:26 pm

I just read the rankings on NBA.com, and 2 things stood out to me.
1) They have Washington ahead of the Hawks
2) That the Hawks lack leadership

Seriously, does he really expect Agent 0 to be healthy all year? Plus their lack of frontline depth (when compared to ours)…I just done get it. And with all those new players and a new coach, I can’t see them finishing ahead of the Hawks.

And I dont think the Hawks lack leadership anymore. I think he is saying that only because we expect JJ to be our leader, but he isn’t. But I think Bibby does a good job of coaching on the floor. And in time, Al might take over that role.

I think Hawks finish 4th in the East, win 50 games, and will not get swept in the 2nd round of the playoffs.