I’m back in the saddle after a two-week hiatus from the beat. Yes, it was only two weeks away from work. The frantic emails, messages and comments from my blog people made it seem like I abandoned my child for two months. But I will take it as a good sign that some of you suffered separation anxiety without the blog. I can tell you I had no problem coping.
Anyway, I predicted not much interesting would happen while I was gone and it looks like I was pretty much on point. That doesn’t mean nothing happened, though, so let me give a rundown in no particular order. . .
What happened: The Hawks re-signed free agent center Jason Collins to a one-year contract.
What it means: Atlanta thinks Collins will be more effective in 2010-11 because he will be in better shape. Word is he’s already lost a significant amount of weight. Also, ASG’s Michael Gearon Jr. is on record as saying (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) he didn’t think Collins was properly utilized by Woody. So maybe L.D. gets Collins gets more minutes.
What happened: The Hawks signed free agent forward Josh Powell to a one-year contract.
What it means: The Hawks essentially swapped Joe Smith for a player who is about the same height, 15 pounds heavier (at least before recently cutting off his braids), and eight years younger.
It’s hard to make a straight comparison since the Powell has logged just 3,293 career minutes compared to 26,953 for Smith. But they played equal minutes last season, when Powell continued to be a much worse offensive player than Smith even considering Smith’s decline. Really, from a statistical standpoint, I can’t see anything that Powell does appreciably better than Smith and a few other things he does worse.
He’s heavier, though, so I guess that’s something.
What happened: Signing Powell and Collins pushed Atlanta’s team salary (the figure used to determine if it must pay the luxury tax) to roughly $67.6 million for 12 players.
What it means: The Hawks must add one player to get to the league minimum of 13. They have about $2.7 million to spend until they exceed the tax threshold. To add a player or players and avoid the tax, they can use all of the bi-annual exception of $2.08 million, part of the mid-level exception of $5.765 million or one or more minimum-salary exceptions.
What happened: Shaq remained unsigned as the market for his services continued to dry up.
What it means: If Shaq really wants to play for a contender, then he’s likely going to have to play for the minimum or not much more and also accept a bench role. If he will do both, the Hawks remain interested.
What happened: Mo Evans had arthroscopic surgery to repair knee cartilage damage.
What it means: The Hawks say the surgery, performed last week, was minor and Mo will be ready to go for training camp.
What happened: L.D. added Kenny Gattison to his staff.
What it means: After hiring Lester Conner as his lead assistant, L.D. got another coach who earned a hard-nosed reputation as a player. I have to think that means defense, rebounding and overall toughness will be a focus for the Hawks.
L.D. said shooting coach Mark Price won’t be retained.
What happened: ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that Jamal Crawford asked the Hawks for a contract extension.
What it means: I’ve heard Jamal would like an extension but not sure how much he’s really pushed the issue since he knows Al would be next up for a deal. It’s not hard to see where Jamal is coming from: He likes playing for the Hawks, he had a strong season and like all players he’d like to get a new deal under the current CBA.
But I can’t see where it would benefit the Hawks to give J.C. a new deal before they see how this season plays out. If things don’t go as they hope, then Crawford becomes either a nice trade piece at the deadline or his $10.1 million salary comes off the books after the season. Either option would give the Hawks some flexibility to regroup.
What happened: Smoove got married.
What it means: Don’t ask me. I’m single.
What happened: Blog commenter Truth-Serum once again became a punk when left unsupervised, sullying my blog people with his childish antics.
What it means: In addition to confirming that dude has too much free time and some serious issues, he’s had his multiple IPs banned for the umpteenth time. He’s always found a way around that and in the past he’s been allowed to return because his manic phases are usually followed by periods of lucidity laced with mere annoyance rather than outright jerkiness.
But now his ban is permanent. Each time he comes back he will be booted as quickly as possible regardless of the content of his messages (which won’t be hard to identify since 99 percent of his posts are on one topic). I don’t like to do this because I’m a marketplace of ideas proponent, but Truth-Serum has lost his privileges for being the only commenter who can’t act right.
Thanks to my blog people who emailed the AJC folks to let them know he got out of control while I was away.