Archive for May, 2010

Atlanta Hawks: Don’t Expect Immediate Help From Draft

Kevin Seraphin is one of the "project" centers who might be available to the Hawks in the draft.

Kevin Seraphin is one of the project centers who might be available to the Hawks in the draft.

Hawks assistant GM Dave Pendergraft watched dozens of college prospects throughout the season. When it ended, he was “excited” about the possibilities for the team’s No. 24 overall draft pick, figuring the Hawks would have several good prospects to choose from during the June 24 draft.

But then Pendergraft scrutinized Synergy Sports video and data, evaluated prospects’ workouts and interviews and took note of their physical measurements.

“Now, as things start to dwindle down, I’m really not so sure about that,” Pendergraft said today.

Pendergraft was fresh back from pre-draft workouts for 42 less-heralded prospects in Minneapolis this week. Of those players, Pendergraft said “a handful” were first-round material. With the Hawks picking near the bottom of the first round, those workouts plus the 23 prospects they plan to bring in between now and the draft are more important than the …

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Atlanta Hawks: Gearon Jr. latest to be fined for LeBron love

Michael Gearon Jr.

All those NBA executives who covet LeBron James this summer probably should keep it to themselves.

The league hit ASG’s Michael Gearon Jr. with a $25,000 fine for tampering after the co-owner said he’d give LeBron James max money “in a heartbeat.” That brings the LeBron Tampering Pool to $135,000 for the week. The league dinged Mavs owner Mark Cuban for $100,000 and Steve Kerr for $10,000 after they made overtures to James, who won’t be eligible to become a free agent until July 1.

Gearon’s comments first appeared in a May 19 Hawks blog entry.

“If somebody came to us tomorrow and said you can have LeBron for max money and it puts you in the luxury tax, I’d do it in a a heartbeat,” Gearon said. “But am I going to do that for [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas? Am I going to do it for Jermaine O’Neal? I don’t think so.”

The league apparently decided Gearon’s comments fell somewhere between Cuban’s quote that he’d be interested in a sign-and-trade for LeBron, and Kerr’s joking speculation …

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Atlanta Hawks: Package Deal for J.J., LeBron and D-Wade?

Will D-Wade, Joe, and LeBron break bread to decide their futures?

Will D-Wade, Joe, and LeBron break bread to decide their futures?

So D-Wade seemed to suggest that he’s not down with signing with his hometown Chicago Bulls. His reasoning–that the Bulls don’t seem to be loyal to their former players–seems a bit suspect, but whatever.

The more interesting nugget for the Hawks is Wade’s contention that he, Le Bron and J.J. will sit down prior to July 1 and discuss their free-agency strategy before making decisions. From the Chicago Tribune’s Fred Mitchell:

“(Free agency) has been three years coming. We’ve discussed it prematurely, at different times. (But) you don’t know what guys are thinking and where they’re going. I think we’ll all sit down, and before one of us makes a decision, all of us will have spoken to each other and (listened to the) thinking. A lot of decisions (will be based on) what other players are willing to do and what other guys want to do. So it’s not just a ‘me’ situation here. We all have to look and see what each other …

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Atlanta Hawks: Another Way With J.J.

While breaking down the Hawks’ options concerning J.J. and free agency, I mentioned in passing that the Hawks could gain a trade exception and perhaps a draft pick in a sign-and-trade with a team under the salary cap. Aaron, a moderator at Hawksquawk.net, emailed to say he thinks the exception (acquired in what’s known as a “non-simultaneous trade”) could be more beneficial than initially meets the eye:

“The traded player exception (TPE) the Hawks would get by trading him to a team under the cap would be extremely useful in future trades. It’s very possible that the Hawks could move Joe to somewhere like Chicago for a TPE and then turn around and use the TPE to acquire a replacement wing. Just off the top of my head, someone like Corey Maggette would definitely fit the mold of an available scoring wing. (Not sure how he’d feel about Crawford, but it’s just a thought). Joe wouldn’t mind because it wouldn’t affect his bottom line in a negative way, and the team receiving him …

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Atlanta Hawks: Avery Johnson continues talks with Hawks as his other options dwindle

Avery Johnson is in continued discussions with the Hawks about their vacant coaching position as at least one and maybe two other jobs he’s interested in are out of play.

The Philadelphia 76ers hired Doug Collins today after Johnson had been one of several candidates to interview for the job. And the Hornets reportedly have moved on in their search after Johnson lobbied for dual front-office/coaching position for his hometown team, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Representatives for Johnson said they’ve continued to talk with the Hawks after Johnson met with the team on Monday. However, a person with knowledge of the Hawks’ search said today that the team has not narrowed its field of candidates.

The Hawks still are set to meet with Dallas assistant and former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey this weekend in Chicago. They’ve also conducted a phone interview with Portland assistant Dean Demopoulos.

Johnson also reportedly will meet with the New Jersey Nets …

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Atlanta Hawks: Why J.J. may be worth more to the Hawks than you think

If J.J. walks, the Hawks won't be able to replace him with a comparable free agency. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

If J.J. walks, the Hawks won’t be able to replace him with a comparable free agent. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Hawks GM Rick Sund said the team will do whatever it takes to re-sign Joe Johnson but he’s not writing the checks. One guy who is, ASG’s Michael Gearon Jr., said the Hawks would “react” once Johnson hits the free-agent market on July 1.

Gearon didn’t want to talk about J.J. this week but on the day after the Hawks’ season ended he offered some insight into his view on max contracts:

“The biggest problem most teams make is they sign a contract and it ends up being a bad contract. You look at the Miami Heat, Jermaine O’Neal makes $23 million a year. Is he a player that is worth $23 million a year? I would say probably not. If you look at our team, we’ve assembled a team where we try to stay away from bad contracts.

“That said, there isn’t a move we haven’t made. We thought it made sense to get Jamal Crawford here and increase the payroll, so we did that. With …

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Report: Hawks to interview Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports the Hawks will interview Avery Johnson for their vacant head coach position.

Johnson, an ESPN analyst, last coached the Dallas Mavericks. He took over during the 2004-05 season and Dallas won 60 games in 2005-06, earning Johnson Coach of the Year honors. But the Mavericks lost a six-game series to Miami in the Finals after leading 2-0. The Mavericks fired Johnson after they lost in the first round of the playoffs in both 2007 and 2008.

If the Hawks want to hire Johnson it would probably take a significant financial commitment. Johnson reportedly earned more than $4 million per year in his final contract with the Mavericks. That’s more than twice the final salary the Hawks paid Mike Woodson, who was told on Friday that he wouldn’t be retained.

Johnson isn’t assured of earning his previous coaching salary when he returns to the sidelines, but he has leverage as probably the most high-profile candidate available. He’s already

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Hawks to talk to Casey

The AJC’s Mark Bradley reports that the Hawks have been granted permission to speak with Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey.

Casey, the former head coach for Minnesota Timberwolves, is one of several candidates for the New Orleans Hornets’ head coaching position. Minnesota hired Casey before the 2005-06 season but fired him in Jan. 2007 despite Minnesota’s 20-20 record, which had the Timberwolves in contention for the No. 8 playoff seed in the Western Conference.

The Hawks say they won’t comment on their coaching search but so so far the team appears to be focused on assistant coaches as candidates. GM Rick Sund said Mike Woodson’s former assistants are under contract until June 30 but that he wouldn’t prevent them from seeking other jobs in the interim. That statement and Sund’s desire for a different voice to lead the Hawks both suggest Larry Drew, Woodson’s lead assistant, isn’t high on the initial candidate list.

MC

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Sund: Players Need ‘Another Voice’ After Six Years of Woodson’s

The Hawks decided not to offer coach Mike Woodson a new contract.

Woodson coached the Hawks for six seasons. The team improved its record in each of the last five years, including a 53-29 record this season that was fifth-best in franchise history, but GM Rick Sund decided the team needs a new leader.

“It was a hard decision,” Sund said. “When I analyzed and looked at it, I went round and round. Finally I think it got to the situation where the compelling thought is, ‘Maybe change is good for everybody.’ That happens quite a bit in the NBA. Maybe the players need to hear another voice, and maybe Mike needs to talk to another group.”

Sund declined to comment on the details of his evaluation of Woodson. Sund also didn’t want to discuss any potential candidates to replace Woodson or offer a broad outline of what qualities he wants in a successor.

Early media speculation has centered on Dallas assistant Dwane Casey, whom the Hawks interviewed before hiring Woodson. Sund was the …

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Atlanta Hawks: Roster Report

A version of this will appear in print but I had to cut down for space. I can’t be held back here. Based on reporting, educated guesses, observation and a big analytical assist from the Synergy Sports Machine.

Joe Johnson, 6-7, G

Contract: Unrestricted free agent

Look back: Media voted Johnson to the All-NBA third team, his first such honor. He also made the All-Star game for the fourth consecutive season. Johnson’s size, knack for creating his own shot, shooting ability, ball handling skills and ability to defend guards and forwards makes him one of the more versatile players in the league. His fine season was marred by a poor performance in the playoffs and his flip response to fans who booed him.

Look ahead: Hawks GM Rick Sund said he wants to re-sign Johnson, one of the top shooting guards in the league, but there are risks to giving him a an expensive, long-term deal. Johnson will be 29 this summer and production for shooting guards tends to decline around that age. His …

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