Atlanta Hawks: ASG vs. Russian mogul for Avery Johnson? (UPDATE: Mark Jackson gets a shot)

Might take a lot of cash to get him. (AP Photo)

Might take a lot of cash to get him. (AP Photo)

(Friday update: Mark Jackson will get a chance to convince Hawks owners he should be the next head coach. He’ll have some work to do to persuade everyone in the Hawks’ hierarchy he can do the job with no prior coaching experience but it’s significant that he will get to make his case. Part of Jackson’s pitch includes this 2008 academic study on successful NBA players also doing well as coaches.)

When the Hawks started their coaching search it looked like Avery Johnson was the hot, big-name candidate. As it turns out, Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau seems to be the key horse in the coaching carousel.

Now that Thibodeau reportedly turned down the Hornets and favors Chicago’s opening, it looks like Johnson is the favorite in New Jersey. When Johnson’s name first surfaced with the Hawks, the perception was that they wouldn’t spend the money to hire him. The Hawks dispute that notion, but if they really want Johnson they might have to put up the cash to prove it since Nets billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov is so free-spending that he might be willing to lure Phil Jackson by topping his $12 million salary with the Lakers.

Getting back to Thibodeau, it’s interesting how he’s become a hot commodity. Obviously a lot of that has to be due to his reputation as a defensive specialist and his role in Boston’s success. But I’m also guessing that it’s because teams feel like they can get a good coaching prospect relatively cheaply and, as a bonus, gain the kind of buzz that gets fans excited even though he’s never been a head coach.

Dwane Casey has been a head coach before but he hasn’t generated the same kind of enthusiasm from the masses. Though Casey is said to stress developing a defensive culture , it’s hard to draw firm conclusions from his results as head coach of Minnesota. The T-Wolves were roughly the same in defensive efficiency during his first season of 2005-06 as they were the year before though they made significant improvements in effective field-goal percentage allowed and rebounding percentage. But it’s not really an equivalent comparison since only four of Minnesota’s top eight players in 2005-06 were the same as from 2004-05: Kevin Garnett, Trenton Hassell, Wally Szczerbiak and Eddie Griffin.

In Atlanta, Casey would inherit a group that has the physical talent to be a good defensive team but lacked the commitment. Woody talked a lot about defense and tried to create an atmosphere where players valued it as much as him but, from what I saw in my short time here, they never bought into it consistently. The assumption seems to be Atlanta will be a better offensive team simply by virtue of a change in approach and accountability but I think the defensive end is going to take a lot more work. The team’s personality is such that it’s going to be a challenge for the new coach to demand good defense and get it all the time.

Anyway, I’ve heard Garnett and Rashard Lewis both swear by Casey. Lewis, whom Casey tutored while an assistant in Seattle, recently endorsed his old coach. From Steve Aschburner at NBA.com:

“He’s a great coach. He’s a gym rat. He made sure I worked on my game all the time. He knows the X’s and O’s. He was a great assistant coach when he did the scouting report. He’s just one of those guys who eats, sleeps basketball.”

MC

408 comments Add your comment

Melvin

June 3rd, 2010
3:10 pm

Get Avery “the LiL General” Johnson in here quick. I’m sure he will demand respect from the players on this team.

dmortone

June 3rd, 2010
3:13 pm

Not sure if this has been brought up before, but how come there’s no indication that the Hawks have an interest in Tom Thibodeau?

Ramon

June 3rd, 2010
3:22 pm

Dmortone, I think Thibodeau must have sent messages to Sund that he’s not interested in the job.

ICECOLD

June 3rd, 2010
3:23 pm

avery is who the hawks need, for the fans, for the players, and the way he has probed himself…. And who knows, the hawks migt be able to do a sign and trade for dirk nowitzki, ( avery johnson ) and keep joe johnson if they do soke.. All we have to do is a sign and trade for marvin williams zaza pachulia, maybe mike bibby and a first round pick!! One throug five would
be
1.jeff teague
2.jo johnson ( if they can keep him) or jamal crawford
3.Dirk nowitzki
4.josh smith
5.Al Horford

jamal will start for teague if he not ready, same bench and josh childress, or we can trade him too…. Just to get dirk or chris bosh or stademire or carlos boozer in a sign and trade…

Marcus

June 3rd, 2010
3:26 pm

ICE, I don’t think we have the cap space $$$ to land Dirk ……. and definitely not Dirk + JJ.

tony

June 3rd, 2010
3:31 pm

Just hire a championship caliber coach so we can start focusing on the draft. He should have a say in what kind of young men he will be coaching next season. If Woodson didn’t show partiality towards his players and had clueless Billy Knight surrounded him with high IQ basketball players he probably will still be here.

GeeMack

June 3rd, 2010
3:34 pm

MC

The interviews with AJ were PR moves, based off how the Hawks exited the playoffs and the firing of Woody.

Mr. Phil

June 3rd, 2010
3:34 pm

Indeed Mr. Cunnigham. Not that I doubt Mr. Lewis’s truthfulness. But what does he have to gain by being in anyway helpful to the Hawks cause. How unbiased is he or Garnett for that matter? I am not convinced either of them have the Hawks best interest at heart. Besides that, anybody can get somebody to be a good reference. I can come up with ten guys who will swear on their children that I invented colby cheese.

Maxx

June 3rd, 2010
3:39 pm

What about Ty Corbin? Is he not a candidate?

Dan's Dickau

June 3rd, 2010
3:40 pm

A very intelligent level of discourse here today…

JC

June 3rd, 2010
3:41 pm

Let Prokhorov have Avery. The Nets already have Devin Harris, Trenton Hassell and an over-involved owner – might as well recreate the 2007-08 Mavericks, since they did so well.

Another GM

June 3rd, 2010
3:45 pm

Marcus,

“ICE, I don’t think we have the cap space $$$ to land Dirk ……. and definitely not Dirk + JJ.”

Youre right unless you are Boston, New York, Chicago, or the

Another GM

June 3rd, 2010
3:46 pm

Lakers you are not allowed to spend big bucks by Stern and the NBA.

JC

June 3rd, 2010
3:48 pm

Quest, just so I’m clear, the only three major personnel decisions Sund has made so far are

1. Getting 2009-10 Sixth Man of the Year Crawford for Law, Claxton and some BOGO coupons for Golden Corral
2. Drafting Jeff Teague, a solid PG prospect, at #19
3. Firing Woodson, who by any account melted down in the second round of the playoffs in the last two years.

… and you want to fire this man? I’d rather give him a kiss. On the lips. And I’m a guy.

Alex Jones

June 3rd, 2010
3:48 pm

Another GM is right- and dont forget about the chem trails and Bigfoot too!

i_am_soulstar

June 3rd, 2010
3:48 pm

I think whole-hearted endorsements from upper-echelon players speak volumes. I’m sold on Casey.

niremetal

June 3rd, 2010
3:49 pm

You can kiss me JC!

kimforJoe

June 3rd, 2010
3:55 pm

I just hope the hawks finally pick the right man for the job,this team has proven how good they can be, they just fell apart in the playoffs when they needed to shine the most. I hope they can keep jj cause he a good player. I would not give up on this team they have a lot of potential. It is very important that they try to get the best coach for this great team.

GeeMack

June 3rd, 2010
3:55 pm

Another GM

All GMs have the same oppurtunity to spend like the Lakers.

This is not baseball the salary cap is the same for each team.

The difference is th Laker understands that winning & star player will increase the bottom line.

The Lakers don’t mind paying the luxury tax each year.

Michael Cunningham

June 3rd, 2010
3:57 pm

@GeeMack: “The interviews with AJ were PR moves, based off how the Hawks exited the playoffs and the firing of Woody.”

you say this definitively but really you are just guessing. all i can tell you is the Hawks say there is genuine interest and ASG met with him at least twice. up to you whether to believe that means the interest is real or not.

GeeMack

June 3rd, 2010
3:58 pm

Enter your comments here

Michael Cunningham

June 3rd, 2010
4:00 pm

@Mr. Phil: curious as to why you think Lewis’ comments have anything to do with being “helpful to the Hawks’ cause”? are you saying that he and Garnett are endorsing Casey because they secretly want to damage the Hawks? so, in other words, you don’t believe anyone who doesn’t confirm what you already believe, even if those people are in a better position to know? i’m not saying i know for sure, either, but i’m certainly willing to listen to what players who have played for the guy have to say.

man, sometimes i just have to SMH at my blog people.

Michael Cunningham

June 3rd, 2010
4:01 pm

@Dan’s Dickau: “A very intelligent level of discourse here today…” indeed

GeeMack

June 3rd, 2010
4:01 pm

MC

Your right. I should have stated IMOP.

Reggie

June 3rd, 2010
4:07 pm

Michael

What do you feel about Avery Johnson possibly being the coach of the Hawks & what do you think about how things ended in Dallas when Avery was coaching there?

Rufus1

June 3rd, 2010
4:07 pm

Avery Johnson

If Avery wants to win, he will come to Atlanta. We are a better team than NJ, even if JJ leaves……..but JJ will return.

Bosh will go to Miami or Chicago and Boozer will go to the other City…Korver or Wes Mathews will sign were Boozer goes.

New York is the only team that will offer JJ max money and THE KNICKS SUCK…So he will stay in Atlanta.(5 years 75mil, 5 years Partial Guarantee)

I prefer Mark Jackson, he has the demeanor of a championship coach and Avery doesn’t.

tony

June 3rd, 2010
4:08 pm

knowledge quest, use some commonsense young man. How many more nba finals have that ton of talent gotten back to since they fired Avery Johnson?

Rufus1

June 3rd, 2010
4:09 pm

Correction…5th year partial guarantee

ICECOLD

June 3rd, 2010
4:10 pm

@few loose marbles.
… How will that make them finish and 7th or 8th place….. It’s dirk.. A pure scorer…… And if we trade marvin zaza mike bibby and the rights to josh childress, we can easily bring in another superstar along with keeping joe johnson….. So it’s possible.. And that five will win a championship under the right coach!!! Avery johnson..

JC

June 3rd, 2010
4:11 pm

Mr. Phil, of course Lewis and Garnett don’t care about the Hawks. They care about Casey. Which says something about Casey. His former players respect him, which means we’ve got a better-than-Woody shot of the Hawks players respecting him as a head coach.

drmaryb

June 3rd, 2010
4:15 pm

Sund

For the love of Jesus! Just make somebody an offer! Geez! How much drama do you need?
Perhaps you enjoy the spotlight of everyone watching you?
Please put the focus back on the team itself.

Big Ray

June 3rd, 2010
4:24 pm

New Jersey is not guaranteed to be the best place for any coach.

Sure, the owner is rich, but will that mean the GM makes the right moves? It hasn’t worked for years in New York, and you’d be hard pressed to find a team with more money to spend…Don’t bet the farm just yet.

Just because Jersey has cap space, are they assured of landing one or two big name free agents…that fit ? Nope.

Two famous players have openly endorsed Dwayne Casey. How many are endorsing Avery Johnson? Does that mean anything? Yes, no, maybe…but I think it’s worth some discussion.

Those questing for knowledge are likely lacking in it…

ICECOLD

June 3rd, 2010
4:26 pm

these coaches know that where ever they go is not garenteed money… They can get fired any day.. So why would any of those coaches would go to a team that may lose!!! Then they will be out a job again.. Because no team can garentee getting lebron dwayne or joe, abd chris bosh and carlos boozer can’t win by them selves.. These players afe waiting to see which teak will get which coach, and the coaches are waiting to see which oach will pick which team!! So the nba is going to be at a stand still!!! Because nobody wants to be a loser… So the hawks is what’s best for any coach.. They should be fighting for this job.. The best team that fired their coach… And cleveland bout to rebiuld… So nobody wants to go their…

Melvin Flowera Macon Ga.

June 3rd, 2010
4:26 pm

The Hawks Sorry As Gm Is Bout To Let The Best Coach That Fit The Hawks Go Else Where.
The Hawks Need A Strong Coach Avery Johnson Is The Man For Atlanta.
Please GM Don’t Sit Down And Wait Any Longer Sign Avery Johnson And Lets Get The Hawks On Another Level.
No More Doing What U Want On The Court Avery Will Fix It.

ICECOLD

June 3rd, 2010
4:31 pm

excuse my bad typing…. Writing on my palm pre… Sorry.. But don’t diss it.. Jus see if you understand what I mean!!! Lol

Najeh Davenpoop

June 3rd, 2010
4:31 pm

I still have no earthly idea why this team, and any other team for that matter, wouldn’t at least interview Tom Thibodeau based on his track record. Maybe you interview him and find out he’s not a great candidate, but his track record should be enough to make him worth considering.

doc

June 3rd, 2010
4:43 pm

najeh, i said it before, maybe thibodeau isnt interested in the job, so no interview here. sund may not be able to force him here if his agent says we have the choices we want. it may be a reflection on the hawks as a whole.

Hawks73

June 3rd, 2010
4:45 pm

It’s not a surprise that this pitiful excuse for an ownership group hasn’t hired anyone yet. Gearon was just quoted a few weeks ago as “going to react” to what happens with J.J. I don’t know many successful owners who are “reactive” as opposed to “proactive”. If you wait until the music stops playing, you will be left with minimal options at the end.

The way I view this is the “Spirit” are using the “reactive” approach as an excuse to hire a cheapie coach. This will ensure that they “tried to hire” the best, but just weren’t able. This way they can give us fans the appearance of actually trying to build a championship team…pathetic!

cdog

June 3rd, 2010
4:49 pm

CHALK UP ANOTHER BLUNDER FOR RICK SUND.BEFORE ITS OVER LIKE I SAID, RICK SUND WILL TAKE THE HAWKS BACK TO WHERE THEY USE TO BE, AT THE BOTTOM.THERE’S NO HOPE FOR THEM INSIGHT WITH SUND AS THEIR GM.JUST WAIT AND SEE.LIKE IT OR NOT, ITS GOING TO HAPPEN

Flappin' Hawk

June 3rd, 2010
4:50 pm

No offense to Avery but if the Hawk players got sick of hearing Woody don’t you think they’d get sick of hearing Avery Johnson’s squeaky voice for a season. I mean he’s hard to listen to during a half time show.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 3rd, 2010
4:50 pm

Time to respond to previous blog sh-t.

“you just named 5 guys under contract, a guy that will take at least the full MLE to sign in Haslem, and Gooden made $4.5M last year and had a good year (he’ll cost more than Bass as well).”

I named six guys who are roughly equivalent to Brandon Bass in both value and on-court production whose teams would be jumping up and down for joy if the Hawks were dumb enough to come along and offer Josh Smith in exchange for them.

“Josh avgs $12.4M over the next 3 years. So yes, I see value in having two spots covered for $2M less than your one spot over the next 3 years. Its called depth and cap management”

This goes against every guiding principle of building an NBA team. This is not the NFL where you can trade a superstar player for three guys who fit your system better and come out on top. By your logic, the Hawks would be better off if they traded Joe Johnson for John Salmons and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Al Horford for DeJuan Blair and George Hill, because they would have increased depth. That’s not how the NBA works. Teams don’t run 13-man rotations. Good NBA teams have two or three All-Star caliber players and surround them with role players who are responsible for only one or two things. Boston has their Big 3 + Rondo, and every other player on that team is on the court to do at most two different things. Same with San Antonio beyond their top 3 guys, same with the Lakers beyond their top 3 guys, same with the Magic beyond their top 3 guys, etc. There’s a reason you don’t see any of these teams trading their stars for multiple lesser players. If you have an entire team full of role players, none of whom is All-Star caliber or close, you’ll be lucky to win 40 games.

“Only 3 centers in the league avgd 2 blocks a game, only 3 centers in the league avgd 10 rebs a game, 17 centers avgd 10 points a game. If you find a center that can give you all 3 while playing solid D, then you have something most teams would love to have. Al Horford was 4th in the league among rebounding centers and he’s never had a year as good as Gortat’s worst year (based on rebounding rate per 40 minutes).”

Apparently you missed the word “possibility”. There’s no guarantee that if Gortat receives 36 minutes against starters he will put up the same per-minute numbers that he does against backups; in fact it’s almost a guarantee that his numbers will be significantly worse. Al Horford goes up against other teams’ starters and puts up these numbers. I have reiterated this in at least three posts and you conveniently avoid responding to this completely valid statement. Zaza’s per-36 minute rebounding rate went down by nearly a full rebound and his turnovers went up by nearly a full turnover when he went from being Milwaukee’s backup to Atlanta’s starter, and you can expect the same to happen to Gortat’s numbers if he ever becomes a starter somewhere.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 3rd, 2010
4:55 pm

And anyway, everything I mentioned in the previous post is irrelevant to my central point, which is that the trade value of Josh Smith is much, much higher than the trade value of Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass. Whether Marcin Gortat is the next Kevin McHale or the next Frederic Weis is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that if Rick Sund is stupid enough to offer that trade, not only would Magic GM Otis Smith accept, he and his friends would then spend the next 10 hours making it rain at the strip club and toasting Rick Sund’s utter stupidity. Nobody who wants Gortat in a trade is going to approach the Magic with a player even half the caliber of Josh. If you want those two players that badly, then offer someone like Marvin, and it’s a fair trade. If you want to trade Josh that badly, fine, but you better get more accomplished players in return.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 3rd, 2010
4:56 pm

Here is Orlando’s plus/minus breakdown for this season, courtesy of 82games.com.

I rest my case.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 3rd, 2010
4:56 pm

And here is the Hawks’.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 3rd, 2010
5:03 pm

“also, if its not even, ask for Fran Vazquez and/or the 29th pick in the draft.”

Fran Vazquez has already made it abundantly clear that he has no interest in playing in the NBA, for Orlando or any other team.

“if its as lopsided a trade as some think, then orlando will gladly comply. ”

Well, gee golly, let’s just propose lopsided trades to everyone then! They will all comply too! Let’s trade Horford for Aaron Gray, who is 7 feet tall and averages 12 points, 12 boards, 56% shooting, 86% on free throws, and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes! Maybe New Orleans can even throw in Ike Diogu! Surely that would improve the Hawks’ depth and make them so much better!

jroc

June 3rd, 2010
5:05 pm

The players the hawks have can only play defense in spurts just like the rest of the nba.Defense isn’t the hawks problem, its playing with energy.The hawks are like a fast sports car that is driven like a Kia.Get a coach in that these players respect and who will play hard for him in the playoffs.Remember in 2008 how exiting it was to watch the young hawks, man they were flying all over the court.Let the hawks fly and play defense when it matters most, in the playoffs, and guess what you never know how far these young guys can go.MC good opening you just threw me off with the Phil Jackson comment.And please fellow bloggers enough with the endorsements of Mark Jackson for coach the guy kills the broadcast for ABC.”Look out mamma there goes that man”.If he says that junk tonite i am going to watch the rest of the game with the sound off.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 3rd, 2010
5:07 pm

I don’t know who on the previous blog said that Zaza and Al were more effective together than Al and Josh, but 82games.com categorically disproves this. The top 3 five-man units for the Hawks featured Josh and Al together, and 8 of the top 10 five-man units featured Josh on the floor.

Big Ray

June 3rd, 2010
5:13 pm

Bless Najeh Davenpoop for posting stuff that actually makes sense and is coherent.

In other news….

If the ASG is a pile of steaming turds for not hiring a coach by now, then there are a bunch of teams with idiot owners. The only smart one is whoever owns the Sixers. They are the only ones with a head coaching vacancy that has been filled. I guess some people like the taste of shoe leather, and the idea of hopping around on their a$$ for transportation. How else you can you explain putting both feet in your mouth.

Big Ray

June 3rd, 2010
5:14 pm

“CHALK UP ANOTHER BLUNDER FOR RICK SUND.BEFORE ITS OVER LIKE I SAID, RICK SUND WILL TAKE THE HAWKS BACK TO WHERE THEY USE TO BE, AT THE BOTTOM.THERE’S NO HOPE FOR THEM INSIGHT WITH SUND AS THEIR GM.JUST WAIT AND SEE.LIKE IT OR NOT, ITS GOING TO HAPPEN”

Except if he hires Avery Johnson, right? Or does that still make him a loser?

JohnnyWalking

June 3rd, 2010
5:16 pm

The Holdout is for Doc Rivers mann. He is the ONLY one who Josh Smith will listen to. Doc’s run in Boston is up. Ring or no Ring this time. The Black Mamba can seal the deal with his 5th ring. Thibodeau is going to take the Celtic job. Doc can bring Teague along like Rondo also. ASG resign JJ for 15 mil give Doc 4 or 5 mil get Shaq or Haywood for the Mid and throw some Dollars and playing time at Tracy Mcgrady for the 3 spot. Then draft the best Wing available in the draft.