Archive for May, 2010

Atlanta Hawks: J.J. Flirts With Miami Heat

Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald reports that J.J. says the Heat is a “great situation” and that he’s willing to switch from shooting guard to small forward to play alongside Dwyane Wade. The interest between J.J. and the Heat is mutual, according to Wallace.

It’s hard to get a read on Johnson regarding free agency. Depending on which day you asked him, he was liable to stick to his “keeping all my options open, we’ll see what happens” line, go with the “I’d love to stay in Atlanta” stance or occasionally let slip the flirtatious signals he sent to the Heat via Wallace. Is Johnson just being a good businessman or does he really want to leave the Hawks? He insisted that the way the season ended, with fans booing him off the court in what could be his final game, didn’t sour him on staying.

J.J. has said before that he doesn’t care about being The Man. Of course, like all players, he would like to be paid like The Man. And if the Heat strikes out on LeBron and decide J.J. …

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Atlanta Hawks: Teague’s Time

Exactly when is he no longer 'Rook? (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Exactly when is he no longer ‘Rook? (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Still no word on what Rick Sund will do with Woody. Rumblings suggest it doesn’t look good for him, but you never know, so my Woody Watch continues.

Teague was a topic at locker clean-out day for the Hawks. During exit interviews, Woody told Bibby that next season will be Teague’s time.

“He’s getting older now,” Woody said of Bibby. “He might have taken us as far as he can take us. Teague, we probably have to give him first crack to see if he can do the job [next season].”

Woody said Bibby took the news well: “Mike is always about winning. He is the ultimate pro. He knows the dynamics of a team. He know he’s getting older. That’s no knock on him. Mike Bibby has had a great career. And make no mistake about it, we wouldn’t have gotten this far without Mike Bibby.”

Even if Woody’s not the coach next season, you can be sure the next guy will make Teague’s development a priority. It’s become a focus for the …

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Atlanta Hawks: Season’s Over

smoovesad

– The Magic swept the Hawks. The total losing margin of 101 points is the largest in NBA history for a four-game sweep. The Hawks were booed in their own arena.

– They hope all of that doesn’t define their season.

– “We are disappointed at the series,” Smoove said, “but we can’t let a bad series overturn all the good we did the whole entire season. Coming into the postseason we thought we could do something special but we couldn’t get it done.”

– “I told [teammates] to keep their heads up regardless what they say about us,” J.J. said. “We had a hell of a year. It wasn’t a good series, but the whole season was good.”

– “I’m proud of our basketball team and what we’ve accomplished this season,” Woody said. “We did a lot of good things this season. I’m happy in the direction the team is going. Sure we have to get better. But it’s a big jump from the first round to the second, third and Finals. We’re still learning.”

– Clearly there wouldn’t be so many sour feelings about the …

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Magic at Atlanta Hawks Game 4: Personnel, Philosophy and Payroll

Expanding my print edition story . . .

Personnel

If the Hawks are interested in moving forward instead of standing pat, that means they are chasing the Magic. The disparity in talent (basketball, not physical), depth and single-minded execution in this series has been apparent. In addition to Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, the Magic can send out at least seven additional players who effectively fill major roles.

To get to that level, the Hawks need more and better perimeter players, starting with a point guard. That’s true whether they re-sign J.J. or not, which I’ll get into more under the “Philosophy” heading. The Hawks need to see what they have with Teague, and sending him to summer league is a good start, but they also need a veteran other than Bibby who can possibly start or play big minutes.

The Hawks need more depth. Look at the bottom of the roster right now: Joe Smith, Jason Collins, Randolph Morris and Mario West. The Hawks need …

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Atlanta Hawks: Next Day J.J.

Joe Johnson didn’t exactly take it back today. He was mad that fans booed the Hawks throughout their Game 3 loss to Orlando and afterward told reporters he “could care less if they showed up or not.”

Asked if he had any more thoughts on the topic after sleeping on it, J.J. said:

“It was tough. I don’t think we’ve heard the boos like that in the five years since I’ve been here. When I first got here, man, there were probably like 100 people out there in those seats. I won’t say everybody is a diehard, but they’ve shown us a lot of support over the years. In the heat of the battle you tend to say a lot of things. But it was tough, man. I was a little [ticked] off but I am over now.”

His comments have led to speculation that he sounds like a guy who doesn’t like it in Atlanta anymore and can’t wait to leave via free agency this summer. But Johnson said that’s taking it too far.

“Don’t read in between all of that,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed my years here. They’ve been great. We’ll …

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Atlanta Hawks Squawks Game 3: Magic 105, Hawks 75

– Presented with a chance to get back in this series, the Hawks instead checked out. “I wish I knew [why],” Woody said. “It’s very disappointing. After we played three wonderful quarters there in Orlando, I figured we would come home and really play at a high level, make a series out of it. We were so flat coming out.”

– Guess they shouldn’t have been so indignant at those questions about their heart and toughness after that Game 5 loss to Milwaukee. They rallied to beat the Bucks but the Magic are a much better team. Faced with that challenge, the Hawks have laid down in two out of the three games. Is there any way they won’t fold again in Game 4?

– At least Al still seems to care: “It’s frustrating. It really is. I’m not the kind of person that’s going to get out there and point people out. I will acknowledge it. I’ll let them know but you’re not going to see me cursing somebody out or things like that. They know what they have to do. And it’s just frustrating when the …

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Magic at Atlanta Hawks Game 3: Final(ly) Movement?

The strange thing with listening to the Hawks talk about their problems with stagnating offense is they all seem to agree on the problem:

“Ball movement, like there was in the first three quarters [in Game 2],” J.J. said. “In that fourth quarter, we did a lot of ‘iso’ instead of moving the ball and getting good shots.”

“It all starts with our guards,” Al said. “We have to create movement, we have to have guys moving around. When our guards are doing that, it opens up for us and opens up for them, as well. [The Magic] can’t just sit there and pinpoint.”

“We’ve just got to have more movement and guys have got to make shots,” Woody said. “It’ ain’t scientific or no big secret.”

The Hawks say these things and then they go out and fall back into iso at critical times of the game. When things go bad and the pressure is on, it gets even worse. It’s not always about just missing shots they normally make, it’s about getting better shots, particularly in the playoffs. And the Hawks (and …

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Atlanta Hawks: Woody sticks up for Smoove

Smoove says he wasn't sulking during Game 2. (AP)

Smoove says he wasn’t sulking during Game 2. (AP)

Woody said he typically doesn’t listen to broadcasters when reviewing video of games. But he said he heard about Hubie Brown’s critical comments of Josh Smith during Game 2 vs. Orlando on Thursday. Brown, the ex-Hawks coach and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, criticized Smith for failing to hustle back downcourt when he got frustrated by officials’ calls and bad plays.

It’s happened at times this season with Smith, whom Woody said is “still growing as player.” But Woody defended Smith from the outside criticism.

“We see that on tape and we point that out,” he said. “I don’t need Hubie or them guys like that [to do it]. I heard comments today that Hubie was blistering Josh Smith. Well, he can get away with it because he’s coached. But I don’t know if I can let you guys get away with it.

“That is my job as coach to point that out to Smoove and guys like that when they are doing that. And trust me, it don’t go unnoticed. …

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Atlanta Hawks Squawks Game 2: Magic 112, Hawks 98

ORLANDO– “Almost need the perfect game to beat this team,” Woody said. If that’s true, “almost perfect” for the Hawks does not include things like a 15-point fourth quarter, allowing a 35-point third quarter when they had control of the game and getting scorched for 56 percent shooting.

– “We know we can play in this arena and we can play with these guys,” Smoove said. “We just have to establish ourselves. We have to look at the bright side. We played hard and we didn’t just let them roll over us.”

–The Hawks lost by 14 points despite being nearly perfect from the line, seeing only 39 minutes of Dwight Howard due to foul trouble and a bloody nose and holding the Magic to 17 points in a quarter. “You have to look at the positives,” Jamal said. “We came in their place and were down one entering the fourth quarter. That shows you we are right there.”

– I understand the Hawks have to maintain that positive state of mind but it’s little solace if they are actually trying to win …

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Atlanta Hawks at Magic Game 2: J.J. is All-NBA but is he fading away?

J.J. can't find his groove.

J.J. can’t find his groove.

ORLANDO–A reminder that J.J. is considered to be among the best players in the league, at least by media types: He was named to the All-NBA Third Team, the league announced today. It’s the first time for J.J. and the first time the Hawks have had a player selected since Dikembe in 97-98.

The timing is interesting since J.J. is slumping in the playoffs. He’s not the only one, of course, but he’s the lead dog. Before the playoffs opened, J.J. said he knew that as the Hawks’ veteran star he would take the heat if they don’t meet expectations or get the glory if they make a breakthrough. He said he embraced that role. Now, though, both J.J. and Woody seem to want to avoid putting the onus on him to deliver a big game when the Hawks need it most.

Looking at the other guys on the All-NBA teams, all of them except maybe Bogut would be looked at to be The Man for their team in trying times. J.J. needs help–more from fellow All-Star Horford, second-team …

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