Atlanta Hawks: Catching up (again) with Al Horford

Caught up with Al Horford again, this time at Oglethorpe University during his summer camp for kids. The scene was about as loud and hectic as you might think. It’s always good for me to be reminded of why I don’t have (or want) any kids.

“The parents love it,” Horford said. “The kids do all this running around, and they are worn out when the parents come pick them up. They go right to sleep.”

The reports are that Al didn’t just lend his name to the camp like some athletes are known to do, but was hands-on with the kids. His father, Tito, helped out, too, running the kids through some drills. Bibby was there on Thursday.

Al held a camp in Michigan last summer and has two scheduled in the Dominican Republic next month, but this was his first local camp.

“This is my third year here so I figured I should do something here in Atlanta, [especially] since I live here, too,” Al said.

Before succumbing to the apparently A/C-less gym and those rambunctious rugrats, I managed to talk some business with Al. He offered insights on J.J.’s re-signing (good), Atlanta’s search for a center (important), a potential contract extension (no hurry) and the Heat loading up in Atlanta’s division (challenging).

Al said he’s happy the team re-signed Joe. He’s on board with ASG and Rick Sund’s philosophy that the Hawks still have the potential to get better so they had to keep pushing forward.

“I agree,” he said. “Everything is going well. Guys are still getting better. I think that is important to keep the team together. Like [Sund] said, we definitely don’t want to take a step back. It’s tough to build in this league.”

Atlanta is looking to add a center. I think that will happen through free agency rather than a trade. There are no indications the Hawks are actively seeking to trade any of their core guys but, like any team, they would listen to any offers that come their way.

They’d have to be very good offers, though. The Hawks still think this group can get better, and their focus is adding pieces to it, not “addition by subtraction,” Sund said. In other words, he’s not going to break up the core for a so-so trade.

Sund said the focus would getting bigs for the last three roster spots. That’s good news to Al, who thinks the Hawks definitely need to acquire a bona fide center.

“We need to get another big guy, another center, that’s able to help myself and Josh out,” he said. “We need to have someone to come in and have an impact. I think that is the position we need if we want to be any type of contender in the East.”

Al said he doesn’t necessarily mean getting a center to supplant him as the starter so he can move to power forward. Rather, it could be a scenario where the new center plays a lot of minutes and L.D. can mix and match from among the new guy, Al, Josh, Zaza and any other big guys Sund adds (a Jason Collins return is a possibility if he gets in better shape).

“I don’t have a problem splitting time [at center],” Al said. “I played a little four last year with Zaza in the game at the same time and I thought that was good. I know I am going to still play the five.”

He said he’s fine with that (it seems odd that an All-Star has to say that). He said he knows some fans and media seem to be more concerned about his position than him. But the way he sees it the Hawks have to play to their strengths, which includes a lineup with him at center.

“I think we create a lot of problems when have an athletic lineup with Josh at the four, me at the five and Marvin at the three,” Al said. “I think we create serious problems for people. I think that is one of our strengths as a team is we are so versatile.”

L.D. has talked about making better use of those advantages in the new offense and defense. Al said he hasn’t had that discussion with L.D. yet: “I am really interested to see what he is going to do as far as that.”

It’s also going to be interesting to see what the Hawks do as far as Al’s contract extension. The Hawks can offer him one that begins in 2011-12 and is worth up to five years and $82 million. The deadline for a deal is Oct. 31.

Al had said he knew the Hawks would take care of J.J. first. Now that they did, would he like to talk to them about an extension?

“We’ll see,” he said. “If the time is right. It is something that I will have to talk to my agent about. I know that the priority for the team was to re-sign Joe. We will see what happens the rest of the summer as far as the free agents if they are trying to get anybody else.”

The CBA complicates things for both Al and the Hawks. Atlanta will get the chance to retain Al’s rights as a restricted free agent next summer, but then what will free agency look like in the new labor deal? If Al signs an extension now it takes away some uncertainty but he can’t know now if he would be better off as a free agent.

“I really can’t get too caught up in that,” he said. “I really just have to go out and play. If something happens and I get an extension, great. If it doesn’t, I just have to keep playing and keep getting better.”

As for Miami, everyone seems to be predicting they will become an instant juggernaut due to the SuperFriends. They still have a lot of roster spots to fill but at this point is anyone wiling to doubt Pat Riley? Dude re-signs Wade, adds the other two stars and then carves out enough cap space to sign Mike Miller by sending away former No. 2 pick Michael Beasley for peanuts–a draft mistake that hardly anyone cares about anymore.

Assuming the Heat keeps building the roster with useful players, the Hawks could find themselves the third-best team in their division.

“This division is probably the toughest one,” Al said.

MC

281 comments Add your comment

O'Brien

July 9th, 2010
7:40 pm

I hope Al can continue to grow into our leadership position.

Spurs have resigned Matt Bonner, and have reached a deal with Tiago Splitter. So you can cross them off Shaq’s list.

ryan

July 9th, 2010
7:41 pm

Hey Cunningham any news on the Shaq front it has been reported that the have an offer for 5.5 mill for 2 years is any movement.

Rondo

July 9th, 2010
7:41 pm

Najeh Davenpoop

July 9th, 2010
7:45 pm

Grandad posted this on the previous blog, but it’s worth a repost. The best take I’ve seen on the LeBron situation so far.

Tony from Stone Mountain

July 9th, 2010
7:47 pm

Enter your comments here

I Heart Atlanta

July 9th, 2010
7:57 pm

I jus renewed my season tickets and won a signed jersey in the process, i picked al Horford one…. So i hope he gets an extension… and not just because im getting his jersey lol

BrittishAnger

July 9th, 2010
8:00 pm

“(a Jason Collins return is a possibility if he gets in better shape).”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA……

That being said, great to get Al’s perspective…Horford will get his chance to be Captain of this team…one day….

MaxxHawk

July 9th, 2010
8:11 pm

Hopefully we can sign Al to an extension early. After seeing a myriad of teams lose their best player this offseason, I would think teams would want to take some precautions so as to not end up like Toronto or Cleveland. One question MC- I know Al Jefferson is on the trading block, any interest from the Hawks? Maybe a trade involving Marvin Childress and draft picks?

MaxxHawk

July 9th, 2010
8:13 pm

*Marvin, Childress, and draft picks?

Show me state

July 9th, 2010
8:14 pm

I was reading a report on yahoo that the hawks were interested in udonis haslem….is it true? We can sure use him as well…….http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/rumors/post/Mike-Miller-joining-Heat?urn=nba,254822

MaxxHawk

July 9th, 2010
8:15 pm

Also, what about possibly signing FA Center DJ Mbenga for a big body?

JJ

July 9th, 2010
8:16 pm

MC ~

How exactly does Sund justify getting better by keeping the “core” together and adding FAs when all the top notch FAs are gone? Who’s left that will REALLY help this team? I’m MORE than willing to give Sund the benefit of the doubt when you indicated that they plan to upgrade the team. But seems to me the best way to do that is via trade and now that’s not happening??

The status quo is simply NOT acceptable if he’s going to claim that the Hawks are getting better.

Reginald

July 9th, 2010
8:18 pm

MC

Is Marvn Williams part of that core group? Is it true that the Hawks have interested in Udonis Haslem? Also what are they going to do as far as adding a perimeter defender?

rainman34

July 9th, 2010
8:35 pm

I hope to god we dont go after haslem.

JeJe

July 9th, 2010
8:37 pm

WHY IS THIS TEAM SO LETHARGIC WITH PLAYER MOVEMENT?

HOW IS IT TAKING SO LONG TO SIGN SHAQ? PAY EXTRA IF U HAVE TO. MY GOD. IT TAKES 2 MONTHS TO SIGN JASON COLLINS. IT’LL TAKE 6 MONTHS TO SIGN SHAQ IF HE IS AVAILABLE.

MAKE MOVES AND STOP BEING SUCH A PATHETIC HO-HUM FRONT OFFICE.

THE EAST IS THERE FOR THE TAKING. WE HAVE PERSONNEL. WE HAVE A GOOD COACH. WE HAVE CHEMISTRY. ADD A POINT GUARD AND A CENTER AND SOME VETS. IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

OR MAYBE IT IS FOR THIS PATHETIC FRONT OFFICE

darrell starks

July 9th, 2010
8:37 pm

RAYMOND FELTON SIGN THE KNICKS.
That open the door for the hawks 2 go after PAUL, PARKER, MONTA.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!

JeJe

July 9th, 2010
8:38 pm

LOL @ PEOPLE WANTING MBENGA

THE GUY IS A JOKE.

HE IS NOT AN NBA CALIBER PLAYER. DO NOT SIGN THIS SCRUB

darrell starks

July 9th, 2010
8:38 pm

JJ I COSIGN
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!

JeJe

July 9th, 2010
8:42 pm

CLEVELAND SCREWED UP BIG BY NOT TRADING HICKSON FOR AMARE. HICKSON DID NOTHING IN THE PLAYOFFS. MAKE THAT TRADE FOR AMARE AND LEBRON STAYS.

IDIOTS

AND LEBRON WILL NEVER BE BETTER THAN JORDAN OR KOBE

OR WADE

SteveW

July 9th, 2010
8:49 pm

Josh turns 25, Al and Marvin turn 24, and Teague turns 22 – that is how the Hawks will get better with the core they have. And if ZaZa would improve – he’s only 26.

Mike is back

July 9th, 2010
8:50 pm

MC, really GREAT STUFF…the timely blogs are awesome …are very much appreciated…your on fire right now…OCHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Al and Josh are the corner stones of the team…they feed off each other…you gotta build around them.

On Collins Return, I know AJ will come up with some haymakers on Collins…but if he comes back in better shape…I would welcome him back. He displayed a high IQ of the game the few times he was on the floor…he can do some that Kurt Thomas type stuff.

We need to get somebody…Because Zaza is not going to get it done…we need a Reggie Evan type Big on the bench…someone that likes to mix it up and want back down.

Luke Cage

July 9th, 2010
8:56 pm

MBENGA is a scrub, why would anyone want that stiff?

JeJe

July 9th, 2010
8:58 pm

Sund said you don’t trade for superstars- you draft them.

LOL!!!!!!!!

JeJe

July 9th, 2010
9:01 pm

WE WILL NOT TRADE FOR MELO OR CP3, EVERYONE.

LISTEN TO OUR GM. WE DRAFT SUPERSTARS, AND WE DON’T TRADE FOR THEM. THIS IS VERY APPARENT IN LEBRON AND BOSH’S MOVES TO MIAMI. THEY ARE APPARENTLY NOT SUPERSTARS.

NOW HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO SIGN A PLAYER (ANYONE?) AUGUST 14?

WHAT A JOKE

MOST LETHARGIC OWNERSHIP IN SPORTS.

IT’S SAD BECAUSE THIS ROSTER ACTUALLY HAS POTENTIAL ONCE BIBBY IS GONE

Najeh Davenpoop

July 9th, 2010
9:06 pm

“Sund said you don’t trade for superstars- you draft them.”

Actually he’s right, for the overwhelming majority of superstars. In the last 30 years, other than Shaq and now LeBron, there are almost zero examples of superstar caliber players changing teams via trade or free agency while still being superstar caliber. The few times when it has occurred, it has usually involved players like KG on the downside of their careers or players like Nash who were not thought of as superstars at the time they were traded. Jordan, Kobe, Olajuwon, Duncan, Magic, Bird, etc. all had their best years with the team that drafted them.

The problem for the Hawks, though, is that they blew their chance to draft a superstar by passing up on CP3 and Deron Williams in 2005. Because of that, if they want to acquire another star to pair with Joe, they have no choice but to make a trade.

Prison Mike

July 9th, 2010
9:14 pm

26 my ass, lil z is still the same player he was in milwaukee. Big Z is the center that atlanta will go after.

ROFLMBO!

July 9th, 2010
9:19 pm

Keep marvin, but MO AND BIBBY MUST GO!!!! DID YOU HER ME RICK SUND???? MO AND BIBBY MUST GO!!!!!

ROFLMBO!

July 9th, 2010
9:20 pm

Whooo! Mo Williams Better be ready to bend over next season hah! All that swag is no more! No more stupid dancing either! I’m gonna enjoy every beatdown at the hands of my Hawks hehehe!!!!

http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2010/07/mo_williams_reacts_on_twitter.html

P.S Trade Bibby & Mo Evans. NO ONE ELSE!

ROFLMBO!

July 9th, 2010
9:24 pm

Get shaq and there is a guy I like in summer league. A real beat for Boston (Artisom Parakhouski) We should put him at the end of our bench.,

Jody

July 9th, 2010
9:25 pm

Wow. Nobody’s played a game yet and their already having a party.

Bama

July 9th, 2010
9:27 pm

Josh Childress should be signed and if need be trade Marvin Williams. Josh C. can play and defend pg,sg, and sf. He also block shots and finishes well on the fast break. Josh C. is one of the best defenders around,quick, smart and a leader. His defense and smart decision making is needed on the Atlanta Hawks team. SIGN HIM NOW HAWKS.

Bama

JeJe

July 9th, 2010
9:27 pm

MELO AND CP3 ARE RIGHT THERE FOR THE TAKING. THERE’S A REASON MELO HASN’T TAKEN THE EXTENSION YET. HE WANTS TO SEE IF THERE’S A ETTER PLACE TO BE.

THE HAWKS ARE ON THE CUSP OF A CHAMPIONSHIP. WHY IS THIS OWNERSHIP SO LETHARGIC

FIRE SUND

Grandad

July 9th, 2010
9:37 pm

There are still alot of pieces available,
however, time’s a wastin’. Our roster could
be filled out nicely & surpass Miami.
The problem…Sund and his plodding style.

Orlando is still the team to beat.
Atl. could very easily move into the 2 spot.
the way I see it Chicago should be right there
depending on how they fill out their roster.
I’ll not coronate Miami just yet.

-NOW-
I’m gonna play devil’s advocate against my own argument.
-Shaq-
*He could give the Hawks an infusion of confidence.
*being redundant – add Swagger.
*Add some toughness.
*Give the team some national credibility [Stern/officials/etc]
*I think he would do more for Al than Joe.
[national recognition] e g promoting Al *”____ ____ ________”
*insert nickname

adrain

July 9th, 2010
9:54 pm

Do we Know how josh Smith is working on his game this summer

Billy Knight

July 9th, 2010
10:09 pm

If Sund is such a better judge of talent than me, why does he keep re-signing my draft picks and trades for big money?

northcyde

July 9th, 2010
10:15 pm

Shaq has 4 options:

- Play for the Hawks with a MLE contract ( 2 yrs – 12 million ) . . make the final year a player option

- Play in Miami for the vet minimum, and join the “SuperFriends” . . seeing that he is the original “Superman”, and see if he can piggyback with them to win a Ring.

- Play for the Nets, with an inflated contract, ( 2 yrs – 20 million ) and sell ticks for the Russian and Jay-Z in Newark . . before they move to Brooklyn

- Retire

*************

It is too much to ask to get a big man that can actually play on BOTH ENDS of the court? Is it too much to ask to acquire the type of big man that scores via making a low post move or grabbing an offensive rebounf and scoring? Can we at least add that option to our scoring attack?

Haslem is a good consolation prize. Much better than what Joe Smith was. But he scores via shooting jumpers and is more of the same of what we already have . . . ( a smallish big man that is asked to play bigger than he is )

I personally want this Shaq stuff to be over and done with by this time next week. Either make an offer to him, and tell him that we need an answer by Wednesday . . . or come out and PUBLICALLY announce that we are no longer interested in Shaq, to kill all speculation.

The same goes for the Childress situation. Just get that ish over and done with. Either get something for him, or let him walk. There’s nothing in the GM rulebook that says that you can’t let a marginal contract player walk, and take his cap number off of your books.

Just make your move by next week Sund. Don’t (( bleep )p around,and let what happened last year, and let a guy like Joe Smith leave you in limbo . . or be so desperate, that a guy like Jason Collins is the only dude left.

**********

MC . . whenever you read this, do me a favor man. Look up Shaq’s point per possession stats on Synergy and post what they are . . please sir?

CJ

July 9th, 2010
10:16 pm

The best thing in the world just happened for the hawks. that was Lebrin giong to Miami. Shaq strength is also his weakness at times, thats his pride. when he left the lakers for miami he came in the best of his career. there would be nothing greater for him to lead a team that everyone is saying dosen’t a chance to beat a team that we can clearly call an evil empire. think he will come in and give it all he’s got. With him tutoring Josh, Al, and Zsa-Zsa they’re only going to get better. his leadership will help the team. I think this put over the top

terrell

July 9th, 2010
10:17 pm

Felton to NY.

O'Brien

July 9th, 2010
10:20 pm

Grandad,

For what its worth, Sund signed Mo Evans the end of July 2008, and signed Flip Murray middle of August 2008.

Last summer, he traded for Jamal in June 2009. So he has moved swiftly, and he has taken his time.
northcyde,

Agreed. Hawks need to be proactive. Figure out whats going on with Chills, and then make an offer to Shaq, especially since Spurs are probably out of the running (they signed Tiago), and Dallas might not be trading Dampier after all.

Michael Cunningham

July 9th, 2010
10:22 pm

@ryan: there is no Shaq offer yet

JeJe

July 9th, 2010
10:23 pm

This team is a joke.

Every good player linked to this team — we just wait and wait until they are snatched away. The Shaq rumor started 5 nights ago. SIGN THE GUY. ANY EXTRA MONEY U SPEND WILL BE NEGATED THROUGH EXTRA TICKET REVENUE.

SIGN SHAQ

Michael Cunningham

July 9th, 2010
10:23 pm

@MaxxHawk: the feeling i get is Hawks aren’t really looking at trades right now. free agents are the preference.

Michael Cunningham

July 9th, 2010
10:26 pm

@Reginald: not sure about Haslem. i don’t see where he would fit. do the Hawks need another 4? all i’ve heard with the Hawks is they are looking for bigs. Haslem would be great for the locker room, though.

Michael Cunningham

July 9th, 2010
10:27 pm

@SteveW: “Josh turns 25, Al and Marvin turn 24, and Teague turns 22 – that is how the Hawks will get better with the core they have. And if ZaZa would improve – he’s only 26.”

that’s the way Sund sees it.

Jody

July 9th, 2010
10:28 pm

Doesn’t look like the Hawks will be changing much from last season.

Grandad

July 9th, 2010
10:29 pm

A good [hypothetical] S&T.
Childress to Toronto
-Hawks get-
Reggie Evans

I wonder if Sund ever sits around & actually has an “Idea”?
-OR-
Sometimes things just fall in his lap.
-& or-
After the fact, he goes:
Wish I would’a thought o’ that???

O'Brien

July 9th, 2010
10:34 pm

Grandad,

Toronto made an offer to Kleiza. I dont think they would want him AND Childress.

@MC,

I think the Hawks need another 4. If they sign another center, who would be their backup PF?

And I hope they dont sign Collins again. The fact that we are still talking about him losing weight shows what kind of dedication he does (not) have.

I would rather sign a guy like Petro or DJ Mbenga for the minimum and give them a chance.

Michael Cunningham

July 9th, 2010
10:35 pm

@northcyde: “MC . . whenever you read this, do me a favor man. Look up Shaq’s point per possession stats on Synergy and post what they are . . please sir?”

offense: .95 overall 795 possessions (161st), post-ups .85 505 possessions (92nd)
defense: .85 overall 312 possessions (80th), post-ups .92 95 possessions (187th)

Grandad

July 9th, 2010
10:36 pm

O’Brien

You’re right;
I’m somewhat impatient, on occasion.
Now I’ve got the patience of Job compared to Mrs. Grandad.
She wants thangs done the day before yesterday.

UGA

July 9th, 2010
10:41 pm

MC,
What good BIGS are left that would be a good fit aside from Shaq and Brad Miller?