HAWKSVILLE - Whoever thought that late August and early September would be a quiet time for the Hawks didn’t count on Twitter changing the game.
Hawks captain and All-Star Joe johnson, known around the NBA as one of the league’s more subdued stars, has suddenly taken the gloves off on his Twitter page. He hasn’t mentioned anything about that extension the Hawks offered and whether or not he’ll be agreeing to sign on for another four years after this one, the final year of a five-year, $70 million deal.
But he’s sharing plenty of other things with anyone interested in following him. In fact, he’s sharing more than I can remember him giving up at anytime before now (and he might be sharing a bit too much for some of our more sheltered members, so be warned). I’m still scratching my head over this one, what with all the work it takes some days to get JJ to open up.
Maybe he’s shedding that hard shell of his and taking some steps in the direction of being a more vocal and engaged leader, which I’d argue is a blessing in disguise of peculiar Tweets (or whatever I should call them) from a usually reserved man – he went almost two months, from late June to late August, without a single update. I’m just saying … (scratching my head), something has changed.
JJ isn’t the only member of the family talking these days. You might remember the ditty we had with Hawks coach Mike Woodson way back when detailing the fact that he would head into the final year of his contract without an extension.
Well, Woody spoke about it again late last week in an interesting story by my main man Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. I don’t expect this story to move the needle at all on the non-existent extension talks for Woodson and his staff.
We’ve had the Woody debate around here for pretty much every day of the past five years (or so). And the sides never seem to give much ground. The Woody supporters (Steamboat has been relentless from the outset) have campaigned for him without fail, through good and bad times. The Woody detractors have been equally steadfast and resolute in their belief that he’s not the right guy for the job.
The anti-Woody camp was winning the debate his first three years on the job. But the pro-Woody crowd is crowing a bit these days (with the pro-Rick Sund crowd soul-clapping their guy into the discussion as well).
As far as I can tell, the general mood of the partisan divide at this time was captured best by our good friend RA, who fired off this email late last week after the Hawks finished up Joe Smith’s paperwork:
“This summer can only be summed up in one word, brilliant. Everything that the Hawks usually don’t do, Sund managed to pull off. He managed to get marquee talent while at the same time giving up very little. He managed to keep the core of the team together, something that I would have thought was impossible going into this summer. He’s also managed to bring in a veteran, that the young fellas are going to listen to. All I can say is that regardless of what else happens this summer, Sund has done EVERYTHING that he could have been expected to do. The question now is whether or not Woody can handle the arithmetic?
Whatever side you’re on in this thing, one thing is certain. When the season starts, the pressure is all on Woodson (who, by the way, has been asking for a roster like this since he took the job) and his staff. Because for once, the summer has gone just as about as well as it possibly could have for the Hawks. The expectations from last season to this one couldn’t be higher. And with so many familiar faces returning and so few new additions (four might seem like a lot, but when three of them are seasoned vets like Smith, Jamal Crawford and soon-to-be Jason Collins, along with rookie PG Jeff Teague, a rugged transition is not expected) folks won’t tolerate a slow start.
The Collins tidbit, which was folded into Sunday’s Hawks’ Insider, is proof that these guys aren’t finished filling out this roster. The frontcourt could see the addition of at least one more player after Collins. And said player could punch his ticket for the season with a strong training camp showing. That means a host of guys, including Garret Siler, Othello Hunter and perhaps even Mario West (should he decide to attend) could crank up the tenor of what should be an otherwise business-like training camp.
Hunter and West (twice) have already shown that they are capable of making the team with strong camp showings. The dynamic changes a bit this year, though. If the Hawks plan on keeping the roster at 13 players, which according to most of the folks I’ve spoken to seems to be the way they are leaning (in an effort to maintain roster flexibility should another player shake out of the league’s training camp covers later on), they’ll have to make a tough choice about that 13th man.
Do they want a third point guard as security for Mike Bibby and Teague? – And yes, Crawford can play the point in a pinch but is better off playing at shooting guard.
Do they scour the landscape for a utility player that won’t rock the boat if he’s in a suit most nights as opposed to a uniform?
Or do they go the safe route and locate one more big man as injury insurance, in case they suffer through the wave of injuries again up front like they did last season (when Josh Smith, Al Horford and Marvin Williams all succumbed to injuries at one time or another)?
The pickings are slim everywhere but point guard, where journeymen always seem abundant. But a third point guard isn’t specifically necessary unless someone higher on the depth charts hits a snag (injury or otherwise).
Still, I think the smart play here is keeping a spot or two clear for the best-player-available in late October.