Emptying the notebook . . . .
Some observations and chatter after two open practice sessions at Philips Arena:
– The Hawks haven’t offered Shaq a contract yet. There’s still the open question of what kind of role he’s willing to accept on his new team. The Hawks also are said to be looking at Brad Miller, Ilgauskas, Kurt Thomas, Kwame Brown and Anthony Tolliver.
– Johan Petro was a possibility before he agreed with New Jersey on a three-year, $10 million deal. That should give you an ideal that it’s still a seller’s market for centers.
– L.D.’s summer plan for Teague:
“What I told him is basically I am going to turn him loose. I want him to be himself. I don’t want him to be concerned about making mistakes and missing shots because I have all the confidence in the world in his ability. He can break the defense down, he can get into the interior of the defense. He knows how to make plays. He is just one of the guys on our team with that breakdown ability. I want to allow him to be himself and play carefree and go out and have fun. No restrictions for him.”
– Teague will make his summer league debut but already seems hip to the difference between that and the real thing. “It is totally different when you play with guys who have been in the league a while. It makes the game a whole lot easier for you. But the summer league, it’s just going out there and showing what you can do. Show that you have the ability to run a team and play at this level.”
– He’s ready to be turned loose: “I think that’s the easiest way to play when you are with guys you are not familiar with. Just get up and down. Start getting stops and push it. The offense that we run, it is kind of complicated. You know guys are not going to remember it when they get in the game and start going one on one.”
– Teague on L.D.’s offense:
“I can’t really explain it. It’s kind of like a Princeton motion offense. Everybody is going to get shots, everybody is going to get touches. You can do everything out of it. You can get down-screens, pick-and-rolls. It is kind of a unique offense. It is perfect for our team. We’ve got a lot of guys who can handle the ball on our team and it gives them a chance to show what they can do. And you also get to move the ball. We didn’t get a lot of movement last year and that was something that hurt us. The offense makes it where that isolation thing is not there anymore unless you get it at the top of the key and the shot clock is winding down. Then you have some players who are really good in isolation like Joe. He’s going to add to the offense and have plays like that. But most of the time it is movement, back screens and cuts, posts for Smoove and Al and pick-and-rolls.”
– Pape Sy (pronounced “Pop See”) is getting positive early reviews. It seems he really did kind of come out of nowhere–he said he didn’t work out for any other teams, though Milwaukee had some interest.
– Pape said he played both guard positions in France. So how did a 6-7 French kid become a point guard? Credit his mother Fatim, whom Pape said coaches youth players in France. “When I was young I wasn’t really tall. [But] my dad is taller than me [so] my mom knows that I would be tall. So she [taught] me how to handle the ball and after that I grew.”
– Pape is legitimately 6-7 and quick with long arms. Those are the tools for a good defender and Pape also seems to have the tenacity for it. “He’s a good defender,” L.D. said. “Ask Jeff Teague. Took [the ball] from him. [Teague] got a little lackdasical with the ball and he just took it from him. He’s a gritty defender. He’s got good size, he’s got long arms and he’s got an aggression about him. You can’t be lax around him.”
– Chances are Pape and Sergiy Gladyr are headed back to their European teams next season, Le Havre in the French first division and Bàsquet Manresa of the Spanish ACB League respectively. Both players have a year left on their contracts. The Hawks could buy out their deals but they have no plans to do so. “Now is not the right time,” said Hawks assistant GM Dave Pendergraft. “We brought them over here to get experience. The game plan is for them to learn the system and get them some exposure to some NBA-level players.”
– Sergiy can really shoot it. “[Spain] is a perfect place for him,” Pendergraft said. “It is a good league, arguably the second-best league in the world, and he gets to play.”
– L.D. on Jordan Crawford (how’s JC2 for a nickname?): “This kid has speed, he has quickness, he can make shots. He does a great job reading the defense. I see him being a real good plus to us because the kid can score. He has that uncanny ability with scoring, whether out on the perimeter or getting to the basket. He finds ways to score. He seems to be a pretty clever basketball player. I am excited about him.”
– L.D. isn’t turning him loose like Teague, though. He wants Crawford to get used to his likely role with the Hawks, which means being a low-volume, high-efficiency scorer. “I know he was a big-time scorer in college and I don’t want to take away his aggressiveness,” Drew said. “But shot selection is a big key at this level. I will allow him to be himself but I will be letting him know if I think it’s a bad shot.”
– Here is what Kelvin Sampson, Crawford’s coach at IU, had to say on that topic when I talked to him for a Crawford story: “Sometimes talent can be a blessing and sometimes it can be something that’s tough to handle. Talented kids have a tendency to think they can do anything. The thing I tried to impress upon Jordan was shot selection. He thought they were all good shots. He would say, ‘Coach, I can make that.’ Well, that’s fine but 1 out of 10 is probably not good enough. Give me 8 out of 10 or at least 6 out of 10.”
– Crawford looked to be winded during the two practices that were open to media. That’s no surprise since L.D. put the players through some pretty intense workout sessions and it’s doubtful Crawford has gone this hard since March.
– It looks like RandMo, James Augustine, and Alade Aminu all will get a shot to make the roster. L.D. on RandMo coming out for summer league: “I thought it was a great gesture on his behalf. Some guys who have been in the league a few years, their pride won’t allow them to play in the summer league. But he sees it as an opportunity. I tip my hat to him for that. I am going to give him an opportunity to show what we can do.”
– The Hawks have been a surprisingly slow-paced team considering their stable of athletes. L.D. said he wants to change that. “I would, with that athletes we have,” he said. “We have got guys that can get up and down the floor. We have got big men that can handle the ball. We have go to rebound to do that. And if you [run] you have got to be smart, selective. You don’t want to go crazy with that.”
– Smoove stopped by Philips and watched some of the practice. What’s he been working on this summer? “I have been looking at some of my old tape. I am still studying what I need to work on. Back when I was playing and then to now, it looks a whole lot different. I always have room to grow. You will always be a student of the game as long as you play. There is always room for improvement.”
– Josh is on board with the plan to add a big. “To have somebody that can be down there and be strong and dominant, somebody that is going to rebound and finish around the bucket and catch the ball. Me and Al can take care of the rest. We could use a little more help, a little more depth. I think we do extremely well with a lot of the bigs in the league. We seem to struggle with guys like Dwight and . . . just pretty much Dwight. We need somebody who can help us with that if we have to face him in the playoffs again.”
– Like Shaq, for instance? “He definitely brings that maturity and the leadership. He definitely brings that experience we need. He has won titles. He’s been there in the postseason so he knows what it takes to win and I think he would be a good guy for the locker room.”
– Smoove on the Miami SuperFriends: “Those guys have to make it work. We have a group of guys that have been together for a long time and we know what each other likes to do. From that standpoint, I think we have the upside on them.”
– L.D. expects new lead assistant Lester Conner to help develop a defensive mentality for the Hawks. Said Conner: “They’ve won 50-plus games the last two years but when they get to the second round they kind of stumble. When you get to the second round, you’ve got to bring the toughness and energy out of guys to get to the next level. We want to pattern ourselves after the Celtics, the Orlando Magic. You’ve got to play defense. If they don’t buy into that, it’s going to be the same thing. Our job as a staff is to get them to buy into that.”
– Conner will coach the summer league entry while L.D. observes.
– I’m out, blog people. Hope all of that info whets your appetite for a minute. I will check the comments later but right now a brotha needs a breather.