All smiles at Hawks media day

Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Mike Bibby are all smiles at Hawks media day Monday. The real work at training camp kicked off Tuesday morning.

Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Mike Bibby are all smiles at Hawks media day Monday. The real work at training camp kicked off Tuesday morning.

HAWKSVILLE – You’ve never seen so many smiling faces the day before training camp.

It wasn’t just the players. It was the coaches, the front office brass and even a good portion of the assembled media.

You’ve never seen so many smiling faces on the eve of a camp, at least not recently. And these weren’t forced smiles. These were the genuine kind, the ones you see on faces of teams bound for the playoffs.

It’s strange, in a good way, the effect winning has on people.

“On paper we looked good,” Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson said from a corner of the practice court Monday afternoon. “We look real good on paper, so that’s why you see so many smiles around here right now. We’re excited about what this season holds. But the real work starts (in the morning). When the sweat hits the floor, that’s when you know what you’ve really got.”

There’s no doubt the Hawks have their deepest and most balanced training camp roster since I’ve been here, and at least two people in attendance Monday observed that it’s the most seasoned and accomplished group to assemble for a Hawks training camp in a decade.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Marvin Williams said. “Our team itself is pretty deep, probably the deepest team we’ve had since I’ve been here. You could split this group for camp up into four groups of five and have some nasty competition. I know there won’t be any drop off when that second unit is on the floor. but we’ll see in the morning. We’ll see all week.”

Williams admitted to never being terribly excited for a “training camp” but confessed that he’s been eager for Tuesday’s start of real action for quite some time. “Our team has gotten better and we have some new guys that we’re all excited to see in action,” he said, “and I think that’s where the real intrigue comes in for everybody.”

One of the new guys, rookie point guard Jeff Teague, put the finishing touches on the meet and greet portion of his experience with his new teammates Monday. He finally got a chance to meet Joe Smith, the one player he had yet to see since being drafted by the Hawks in June.

“The thing you realize when you see everybody here together is that there’s already a great nucleus in place,” Teague said. “It’s something to be a part of. So you get in here now and realize that you want to get off to a good start and get things rolling right away.”

They kicked things off Monday with a team dinner, a function where Hawks coach Mike Woodson said he would lay out some specifics for his team  regarding goals and detailed responsibilities for this season.

“The message is that expectations are always high from where I sit,” Woodson said. “And you can’t be scared of it, you can’t run from it. I’m not scared. I’m not running from it. And the fact that expectations are high means that we have to now try and take that next step. The next step is trying to be in that elite group.”

I reached out to several members of the national media about that very topic regarding the Hawks and received some interesting feedback. While it certainly seems like a possibility, no one is ready to bet house money on the Hawks doing so. 

“The NBA remains a league that belongs to the superstars, and unfortunately for them they have none,” ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande wrote in an email. “They have talent and now there’s experience and cohesion to go with it, but they don’t have that one guy who can singlehandedly take over a playoff game on the road. Kobe, Shaq and Tim Duncan played on eight of the 10 championship teams between this decade. The Hawks don’t have anyone of that caliber, not to mention the updated Eastern mix of LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Boston’s Big 3. Because of the consistency the Hawks learned last year they could get to the second round — if the Bulls don’t beat them out for that final berth in the conference semis.”

Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports expressed similar concerns about the Hawks vaulting into that upper tier of the Eastern Conference for the same reasons.

“I think the Hawks’ situation is interesting because more is expected because they were ablet o take another step to the Eastern conference semifinals last year,” he said. “But no one seems to be talking about them in that realm with the big three in the conference. Everybody is talking about Boston, Cleveland and Orlando in the East. So I still think they have a chip on their shoulder.  And if you think about it, this team is going to be better for a lot of reasons. First, they’ve got another year of experience and they’re more playoff tested. They were able to re-sign key players and didn’t lose anybody of importance. Their one major weakness, their bench, was aided in impressive fashion, with Jamal Crawford, Joe Smith and Jason Collins and the rookie Teague, all guys that can start if someone gets hurt. So if you look at the Hawks, they’re actually better than they were a year ago. I think what’s hurt them is the fact that they didn’t finish strong in the playoffs, even with their injury problems. And that kept people from taking them seriously as a team that has a chance to move up into that top three. I do see this as a dangerous team with a chip on their shoulder. When it’s all said and done, it’ll be interesting to see if the Hawks take another step forward and live up to their expectations or everybody else’s.”

We’ve talked about it many times around here since that Cleveland series. But what are your realistic expectations for this team this season?

I like Mike Bibby’s take on things, personally, simple but true.

“We got it on paper all day,” Bibby said. “We just have to put it together. Everybody has to have one main goal this season and that main goal is to win. Everything else will take care of itself if we’re operating with that as our No. 1 goal at all times. Individual goals have to be set aside for team goals.”

310 comments Add your comment

Just wonderin'...

September 29th, 2009
3:49 pm

It’s cool and all that JJ wants to look out for JJ. That’s his biz. But should he be the captain if he puts his own self interests in front of the team’s?

Just wonderin’…

Mario West

September 29th, 2009
3:51 pm

Does anybody want me to replace JJ?

Melvin

September 29th, 2009
3:57 pm

Ariose,

I wouldn’t put Peja ahead of Joe but I’m okay with the rest of that list…

niremetal

September 29th, 2009
3:58 pm

How is it selfish to want to wait until the economy is not in the crapper to sign a contract? I guess Duncan (in 2000), Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Nash, and virutally every other All-Star in the league from the past decade were all selfish too, since they all waited until their contract was up to sign an extension. That’s right, even Duncan waited until his contract expired to re-negotiate. That’s not selfish. It’s called not being an idiot.

Just wonderin'...

September 29th, 2009
4:01 pm

Just sounds to me like he wants to be somewhere else. I could be wrong.

Just wonderin’…

...

September 29th, 2009
4:09 pm

Rudy, Melo or Rip

Ramon

September 29th, 2009
4:14 pm

Niremetal, that doesn’t make him selfish. But 4 of the names you mentioned have lead their teams to the finals.

Ariose

September 29th, 2009
4:16 pm

Nire, you don’t like Rudy? :twisted:

;-)

Melvin, IDK Peja has played at a highleve for a long time(when he’s healthy)

Ramon, Melo is a beast, no doubt.

niremetal

September 29th, 2009
4:17 pm

Ramon,

So only superstars who lead their teams to the Finals have the right to maximize their leverage in a contract? All the other 497 NBA free agents (including the vast majority of the league’s All-Stars) should accept the best offer their current team is willing to give them a full year before they hit the market? Uh…ok.

5>2

September 29th, 2009
4:17 pm

Just wonderin

I agree with everything you are saying.

JJ is selfish.

it funny how many people want to trade him.

niremetal

September 29th, 2009
4:17 pm

(and in a bad economy following a year in which NBA revenues were at an all-time low and max salaries were lowered as a result)

Sekou Smith

September 29th, 2009
4:18 pm

The reaction here about JJ not signing this extension is funny. He’s doing what the Hawks have done to a ton of guys the last few years and playing out his deal. Why is his decision to “play it out” any different than what the Hawks did to guys like Childress, Josh Smith and Marvin (and Bibby and Zaza and on and on)?

It’s a wise business move on his part, because the more big time free agents on the market next summer the better chance that there will be movement of said big timers. The side benefit for the Hawks is that you get a highly motivated All-Star in a contract year.

niremetal

September 29th, 2009
4:18 pm

I’ll point out that for all my gripes about Josh, I never once called him “selfish” for holding out for the best deal he could get. Same with Chill.

5>2

September 29th, 2009
4:21 pm

niremetal:

Yeah, JJ is selfish.

niremetal

September 29th, 2009
4:23 pm

Thank you, Sekou…amazing that some people’s first instinct is to call a man “selfish” for deciding not to leave what could turn out to be $40M-$50M on the table…

5>2

September 29th, 2009
4:26 pm

niremetal:

But Josh plays with heart, something that JJ does not do. It seems like all JJ cares about is making money.

Mike

September 29th, 2009
4:27 pm

John Hollinger of ESPN has the Hawks going 44-38 this season. How is this guy considered an NBA insider??? You improve your bench with Crawford, Teague and Smith…re-sign all your FA and your starting frontcourt are all only 23 years old and are only getting better and somehow this guy thinks we will win 3 LESS games then last season. That is a prime example of the lack of respect we get from so-called experts around the league.

Ramon

September 29th, 2009
4:29 pm

Niremetal, I’m not saying what JJ is doing is wrong. I’m saying it still wouldn’t be bad to see what you can get for him before its too late. None of us were in those rooms so we don’t know what the atmosphere is like. But if it was one that lead you to believe that he may not resign then you have to do research. I think JJ is smart for doing this business wise. At the end of the day this is all a business. I just know for the Hawks as an organization if JJ leaves, they will not be able to sign a free agent who brings close to what he brings for the price they’ll lose him for. So if you think its more than a 65% chance you’ll lose him, then see what you can get. Losing JJ next year with no replacement, will also make it hard to bring a top notch coach here.

Ramon

September 29th, 2009
4:38 pm

Niremetal you have to remember JJ was BK and Woody’s guy. And I love JJ as a player, and want to see him for a good while. But we don’t know if JJ is Sund’s guy, and the next coach’s guy. That is the question.

...

September 29th, 2009
4:39 pm

That NBA insider need to do a better job or get fire because that shows no respect toward my hawks.

bigdave

September 29th, 2009
4:44 pm

agreed Sekou… Nire…

it would’ve been foolish to have done anything else. nothing he said or not signing this contract doesnt concede he is no longer interested in being a Hawk. my interpretations was that he wants to legitimize himself as an elite player this year and take the team to the next level. statement season for Joe.

signing early extension and not playing out your contract year… where they do that at?

bigdave

September 29th, 2009
4:46 pm

why would we want to entertain a trade offer?

i doubt it, but in the event Joe walks at the end of the year.. we’ll have bread to spend… talking about killing chemistry.. trade rumors does that, not a player wanting to play out a current contract…

Mike

September 29th, 2009
4:47 pm

Here is the last part of Hollingers preview of the Hawks

“The Hawks bring back the same team that won 47 games a year ago, with a few upgrades: Teague offers a vast improvement over the departed Law as a fourth guard, and Joe Smith provides a fourth big man that simply didn’t exist a year ago.

On paper, all that should make the Hawks a better team than a year ago, but not so fast. Crawford is a better player than Murray if you’re comparing careers, but he’ll be hard-pressed to match the season Murray put together a year ago. Similarly, Pachulia and Bibby may also struggle to match their solid 2008-09 campaigns.

And the Hawks aren’t as youthful as they once were. While they still own three 23-year-olds in the frontcourt, the four veteran backcourt players are 31, 30, 29 and 28; additionally, Smith is 34 and Pachulia’s listed age of 25 is only believable if you use a 500-day calendar.

Between the limited scope for improvement and the lack of star power, it seems the Hawks shouldn’t be much worse than a year ago … but neither should they be any better. It’s quite possible they’ll finish this season in the exact same position as last season — at the top of the East’s pretender heap, but miles away from the ruling Cleveland-Boston-Orlando trinity.

Prediction: 44-38, 2nd in Southeast Division, 4th in Eastern Conferencehere

Ramon

September 29th, 2009
4:49 pm

This year in the east I don’t think 44 wins even gets you the 6th seed. The East will be better.

GeeMack

September 29th, 2009
4:50 pm

Sekou

Also JJ is entering the prime of his career, and he sees an oppurtunity to win a championship and make his money.

ILL-logical

September 29th, 2009
4:57 pm

“The side benefit for the Hawks is that you get a highly motivated All-Star in a contract year.”
Yeah but highly motivated for what-his check or the team’s goals? I mean after that shot doesn’t go in after he could have passed it to someone who was open ,do you begin to wonder? Or if an injury that he might have been played through in days gone by results in a stretch on IR.. (?) There are a lot of ways to react to this but not all of them spell way to go Joe!

Ramon

September 29th, 2009
5:01 pm

Ok here’s a question. JJ wants to win a championship. Say Smooth takes the necessary step to become an all star. Then next off season do you resign Horford for 10 mil plus. Or do you use that to try and lure one of the 2nd tier free agents. Truthfully, I believe Teague and Smooth will both be all stars for years to come. Teague reminds me of Arenas, but with more hops.

hawkspride

September 29th, 2009
5:05 pm

vava74 you are aboslutely wrong nelson is a better point guard than any point guard on this team not a clutch shooter the dude shot better than 50 percent from the field and shot clutch the whole season
and i do agree jj is better than vince but cince is there second best player and jj is are best player so lets compare jj to howard end of discussion howard dominates that…. and so what if howard has a limitted offensive game they have enough weapons not to need him and its kind of scary he is still raw and averages more than any hawk player except jj plus what if his offensive game is not developed do you think josh smith is kobe No he cannot shoot and like howard uses his athletic body to score williams is no lewis and you are ASSUMING that teague and williams are gonna be hall of famers so im ASSUMING the bucks are gonna win 70 games
and you are abosolutely nuts if you think the hawks bench is better than the magics come on barnes is better than mo lets be honest he’s a better shooter equal defender and longer
collins is a scrub so lets not make him look like a solid defender and joe smith is not better than a young shooting anderson the only think we have better than the magic is a back up point guard thats it lets be fureal guys we are acting like we are the deepest, best team in the league and we are not!!! 4th in the east is were we sit at….

newkid

September 29th, 2009
5:07 pm

Joe’s decision to play it out ought to be viewed by Sund as an opportunity to make a run at LBJ or DWade next year. Both of them will have their pick of the litter next year, so why Atlanta? Both New York and New Jersey – the other likely destinations – will have more than enough room under the cap to sign LBJ (or Wade) and another star (maybe not another MEGA star), but neither Knicks or the Nets are likely nearly as close as the Hawks to contending for the O’Brien trophy for the next 3-5 years. Cleveland will have to add a major piece or two to continue to contend for the trophy as Shaq and Z age even more after the current season. Circumstances not much different with Miami. Of all the teams in the East, the Hawks appear in the best position – with a Lebron or DWade – to embark on a multi-year run at the NBA finals. Even though Lebron would likely sacrifice some of the off-the-court money that could be commanded in the NY metropolitan area (so might Wade), he may just be more interested in continuing to establish his brand by winning multiple championships with a team that’s on the brink (even without JJ).

With regard to salary, in-house young & experienced talent, and ‘readiness for the next level’, Sund’s in a prime position to pitch the Hawks as perhaps the best location in the East (and perhaps in the entire league) for a MEGA star whose interest is competing for the big prize in each of the next five years. JJ deciding not to sign gives Sund nine months to compose his summer 2010 grocery list, and recently he has given strong indications that he’s not a bad shopper. I think someone said above that this JJ development should be viewed as an opportunity. Couldn’t agree more; perhaps a MAJOR opportunity.

hawkspride

September 29th, 2009
5:12 pm

Elebron and wade are not coming to atlanta sorry wish they would but there not…..

hawkspride

September 29th, 2009
5:14 pm

vava74 you are aboslutely wrong nelson is a better point guard than any point guard on this team not a clutch shooter the dude shot better than 50 percent from the field and shot clutch the whole season
and i do agree jj is better than vince but cince is there second best player and jj is are best player so lets compare jj to howard end of discussion howard dominates that…. and so what if howard has a limitted offensive game they have enough weapons not to need him and its kind of scary he is still raw and averages more than any hawk player except jj plus what if his offensive game is not developed do you think josh smith is kobe No he cannot shoot and like howard uses his athletic body to score williams is no lewis and you are ASSUMING that teague and williams are gonna be hall of famers so im ASSUMING the bucks are gonna win 70 games
and you are abosolutely nuts if you think the hawks bench is better than the magics come on barnes is better than mo lets be honest he’s a better shooter equal defender and longer
collins is a scrub so lets not make him look like a solid defender and joe smith is not better than a young shooting anderson the only think we have better than the magic is a back up point guard thats it lets be fureal guys we are acting like we are the deepest, best team in the league and we are not!!! 4th in the east is were we sit at….

Sautee

September 29th, 2009
5:38 pm

I posted this on the Fan Blog and Ray encouraged me to share it here. For a little background, both Ando and doc referenced pop songs in their first posts to the fan blog.

Ando’s and doc’s musical quotations sent me on a long trip that I’ll now pass on to you all. I’ve been reading Mark Lewisohn’s excellent book The Complete Beatles Chronicle and I started wondering which Beatles song I would dedicate to my favorite players and team. So, with that in mind, here you go:

For distributors Mike Bibby and Jeff Teague: From Me To You

For Josh Smith and Mike Woodson: We Can Work It Out

For Mike Woodson: All Together Now

For Josh Smith: Flying

For Mario West and his unrelenting defense: Eight Days A Week

For Al Horford: Carry That Weight

For Marvin Williams: Getting Better

For the much traveled Jamal Crawford: Here, There, and Everywhere

For Flip Murray: Hello, Goodbye

For 34 year old Joe Smith: Yesterday (yes, that was cold)

For no extension Joe Johnson: Don’t Let Me Down

For 08-09 Joe Johnson: I’m So Tired

For Josh Childress: Love Me Do (or should it be Love Me Fro)

For Yaroslav Korolev: Back In The USSR

For Sekou Smith: Paperback Writer

For Rick Sund: Fixing A Hole

For Billy Knight: I Should Have Known Better

For HB Ando: Get Back (to where you once belonged)

For Big Ray: Happiness Is A Warm Gun

For Sautee: Fool On The Hill

For doc: The Inner Light, OR, Doctor Robert

For Manny T and Niremetal: Money (That’s What I Want)

For truth-serum: All You Need Is Love

For The 09-10 Hawks: With A Little Help From My Friends

For The BASG: Baby, You’re A Rich Man

For our 7 year rebuilding project: The Long And Winding Road

For our Championship aspirations: Let It Be

Ramon

September 29th, 2009
5:38 pm

Hawkspride, isn’t this entire blog just about based on assumptions? Could one not say you’re assuming Nelson will be healthy this year? Or could one not say you’re assuming Vince will get along with his new teammates? Majority of the characteristics of a fan centers around hope and faith. The Knicks fan don’t come to get game based on the knowledge that their team suck. But they hope that they get better thats why they support them. Personally, I think the Hawks lineup is better than the Magics. That’s just me. And that’s me assuming.

WHAT?

September 29th, 2009
5:42 pm

Bad move sign Joe now!

DunwoodyHeel

September 29th, 2009
5:43 pm

Two thoughts: 1) Why does everyone assume the economy will be better in a year? It won’t. The wise men of Wall Street know that the stock market go way ahead of itself and will head back down, that the economy will tread water when the government stops pumping in money. We’re treading water for the next 3 years, folks, and teams aren’t going to be doling out any bigger contracts then than they are now.

Johnson wants to play out his deal to get “max money”? What’s max money? By the time Stern gets through lowering the salary cap, a 4 yr/$60 mil deal will be “max money.” (Wonder why he’s playing hardball with refs and pushing clubs to lower assistant salaries? because he knows he’s getting ready to extract givebacks from the players, and he wants them to know everybody else is doing the same.)

If Joe isn’t signing a $60 million deal, it’s because he either wants:
a) the Hawks to extend Woody.
b) to see if this team can crack into the elite
c) to leave and join a team that is in the elite

Keith

September 29th, 2009
5:44 pm

TYPICAL GREEDY THUG! PRETTY FUNNY HOW WHEN THERE ARE SITUATIONS LIKE THIS OR IF THERE IS A “HOLD OUT” THEY ARE BLACK 95% OF THE TIME.

Ramon

September 29th, 2009
5:48 pm

Keith I guess that explains how Steve Nash and David Lee did the same thing. They must be .04% black. And as far as the NFL, most of the skill positions are the higher paid players in the league. And most of the skill players are black. That may would explain why it seems that way. But remember Roger Clemens and Favre did the same thing as well.

darrell starks

September 29th, 2009
5:49 pm

WHAT they did try 2 sign joe he turn down 4 year 64million dollar during summer, so what joe is thinking about i dont no bad move on his behalve.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!

Ariose

September 29th, 2009
5:58 pm

Photo gallery from the first day of camp: http://bit.ly/4jNImB

darrell starks

September 29th, 2009
6:04 pm

Is joe a top 10 player? i say no
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!

bigdave

September 29th, 2009
6:10 pm

so i guess the “Greedy thugs” are the GM’s and owners when they low ball players and tell them to test their market value…

terrell barron

September 29th, 2009
6:11 pm

What’s up with JJ not wanting to sign an extension with the fellas? I thought he wanted to be a Hawk for life. Probably wont get much more when he hits the market. Not in this economy. I dont understand the decision. I thought Bibby was his boy, and he’s here for 2 more years. Was it the Crawford signing? Did it piss him off? Was it Flip? Was that his boy? Or is it because he doesn’t know if his ole pal Woodrow will still be here after 2009? Talk to me fellas. Am I overreacting?

terrell barron

September 29th, 2009
6:14 pm

Hawk n the ham, but that means he might hog the ball, and slow down the development of the younguns.

A Tribe Called Quest

September 29th, 2009
6:15 pm

“Why is his decision to “play it out” any different than what the Hawks did to guys like Childress, Josh Smith and Marvin (and Bibby and Zaza and on and on)?”

BECAUSE HES NOT GOING TO BE A RFA AND HES BETTER THAN THOSE PLAYERS. DUH

...

September 29th, 2009
6:16 pm

JJ wants to win and knows the hawks will never make it the NBA finals so he wants to go to a team that can, plus he wants more money.

He is thinking about JJ not the team.

Not cool JJ.

A Tribe Called Quest

September 29th, 2009
6:16 pm

Of course JJ will hog the ball this year.

He always hogs it and it’s a contract yr.

JJ > Bibby and ZaZa (UFA’s) for all the idiots trying to question my last post

FIRE MIKE WOODSON

A Tribe Called Quest

September 29th, 2009
6:16 pm

Of course JJ will hog the ball this year.

He always hogs it and it’s a contract yr.

JJ > Bibby and ZaZa (UFA’s) for all the idiots trying to question my last post

FIRE MIKE WOODSON

Pnott Hawk

September 29th, 2009
6:17 pm

I say you let JJ ride out, and push hard for D Wade! The Hawks beat his heat last year, we have a much better supporting cast than them, and I dont see him going to one of the top three (Bos, LAL, CLE, Orl) because they have their “superstars”. Atlanta is a hot city and a up and coming NBA team, GIVE ME DWADE over I will vanish during the playoffs JJ!!!!

...

September 29th, 2009
6:25 pm

JJ is not a top 10 player.
1. Lebron
2. Wade
3. kobe
4. kevin Durant
5. Chris Paul
6. Dwight
7. Carmelo Anthony
8. Chris Bosh
9. Brandon Roy
10. Danny Granger

Pnott Hawk

September 29th, 2009
6:26 pm

If JJ thinks the “market” will bear him getting 20mill a year, he needs to put the crack laced blunt down!!! I would be hard pressed to see anyone paying him that type of scratch. If its about going to a contender, it proves the “he has no heart” theory because he should be trying to make the Hawks a contender and put his stamp on this franchise. But because he is a Robin and not a Batman, he probably feels more comfortable playing along side a legit superstar that way he wont have all the focus on him. Go Hawks, get Dwade or Amarie Stoudemire in here, REAL SUPERSTAR TAKE OVER A GAME type players!!!!