Archive for September, 2010

Atlanta Hawks: Camp report

Larry Drew has Hawks picking up the pace. (Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com)

Larry Drew has Hawks picking up the pace. (Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com)

The Hawks scrimmaged live for the first time today and and us media types got to watch. It was different from when I watched L.D. and his staff run the motion offense against air last month, and I came away with three thoughts:

1. To keep this up, the Hawks are going to have to be in tremendous shape and L.D. is going to have to go deep into his bench.

2. The first time you see the Hawks run the offense it’s going to be a shock to your system because it’s such a radical departure from their norm.

3. Because of No. 2, it’s going to take some time for it to look the way L.D. wants.

“I think probably we will have it boiled down and going pretty good by the third preseason game,” J.J. said (that would be Oct. 12 at Washington. “Everyone is pretty much picking it up quickly but when game time comes it will be a little bit different.”

For the Hawks, learning the offense is just the first challenge and probably the …

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Atlanta Hawks: Van Exel helping Teague find his inner ‘dog’

Hawks want Teague to attack like Van Exel.

Hawks want Teague to attack like Van Exel.

They called Nick Van Exel “Nick the Quick” during his playing days because of his speed, and in that way Jeff Teague is similar to Van Exel.

But Van Exel also had what L.D. calls an “edge” and “played with a chip on his shoulder.” Teague doesn’t have that so L.D. brought in Van Exel to help him find it.

“We call it ‘the dog’ in the NBA,” Van Exel said. “We are trying to bring that dog out of him.”

For Van Exel, the dog was a natural thing. You saw it in his brashness, his attacking style and his knack for taking and making buzzer-beating shots. Of course, sometimes it could be tough to contain Van Exel’s “dog”–he had a history of untimely technical fouls and a rep for difficult relations with coaches and teammates–but you could never say Van Exel wasn’t aggressive.

These things don’t come naturally for Teague.

“He’s kind of a quiet kid,” Van Exel said. “He likes to joke around and have fun. But there are times when somebody makes …

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Atlanta Hawks: Captain Smoove (!)

L.D. wants Josh to tone it down as captain.

L.D. wants Josh to tone it down as captain.

It probably comes as no surprise that L.D. named Al one of his three team captains. He’s a mature guy with some natural leadership qualities, won two championships at Florida and already started down that path when he called out teammates for poor effort during the Orlando series.

J.J. is an obvious choice, too. He’s Atlanta’s Alpha Dog, the leading scorer, a four-time All-Star and the team’s highest-paid player.

But Josh Smith?

The erratic, emotional forward prone to demonstrative outbursts when things don’t go his way? The first Hawks player who came to mind when you heard about the league instructing officials to crack down on expressions of displeasure? The player who sometimes gives up on plays when he’s frustrated by officials?

Josh Smith as captain?

“That was something that was concern of mine, as well, then I was thinking about it,” L.D. said. “I had a conversation with him about that. He told me, ‘Look, Coach, I spent …

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Atlanta Hawks: Media day musings

Jamal was happy to see L.D. at least. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Jamal was happy to see L.D. at least. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

A few notes from my rounds today during the official unveiling of your 2010-11 Atlanta Hawks . . .

Jamal

Jamal was there, though I wouldn’t say he was exactly thrilled. Jamal said he “loves it” in Atlanta and wants to stay for the long term. He didn’t really address the contract situation or the trade demand directly but it didn’t take much reading between the lines to figure out what he’s feeling.

Does he think he will be in Atlanta for the near future?

“I honestly don’t know. I would love to work something out and be here long term. Last year I would have thought this was home and I’m part of the team’s future. But if it doesn’t work out that way I guess we will just have to cross that bridge when we get there.”

Does he want a trade if he doesn’t get the extension?

” I don’t want to talk about that. I will leave that up to Rick [Sund] and my agent to talk about.”

Does he feel disrespected by the lack …

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Atlanta Hawks: What about Marvin?

Hawks want Marvin to do this and increase his offensive production.

Hawks want Marvin to do this and produce on offense.

So I was contemplating the five questions for training camp I have to come up with for Tuesday’s newspaper, going down the usual list of suspects, when it occurred to me I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about one key question:

What about Marvin?

I know my blog people haven’t forgotten him since you’ve included his name in every possible dream trade scenario all summer. I’ve seen him criticized for seemingly not spending enough time developing his game over the summer (the dude is a gym rat by all accounts) and too much time developing as a human (he can’t spend every minute in the gym, can he?)

That’s not to say I don’t understand the frustration. Fans are selfish by nature, and what you want to know is now what did Marvin do to become a better person but how can he help the Hawks be better. Does it provide any solace to hear that Marvin knows he needs to be better, too?

The Hawks are pinning much of their hopes for …

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Atlanta Hawks: With start of new season near, end to ‘10 still burns

Hawks say they remember what this felt like.

Hawks say they remember what this felt like.

For the first part of this summer, everywhere Marvin went he got different variations of the same question.

What the heck happened to the Hawks in that series against the Magic?

“Early in the summer [he heard it] but, after a while, people started to get ready for football season, thankfully,” Marvin said today after informal workouts at Philips. “But, God, the first month, month-and-a-half, it was: ‘Yo, what happened?’ Dude, you were watching the games. You tell me what happened?”

The Magic beat down the Hawks in historical fashion, everybody saw it, and Hawks players know their reps took a major hit. After finishing third in the East and openly talking about a championship run, the Hawks folded in the face of adversity and eventually earned the wrath of their own fans.

True competitors with any sense of pride are not going to go out like that. Each time I’ve talked to L.D. he’s made it a point to say he believes the way last …

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Atlanta Hawks: J.J. to Teague: ‘Don’t defer to me’

Hawks want Teague to push the pace.

Hawks want Teague to push the pace.

The pickup games at Philips in advance of training camp are loosely organized affairs. The Hawks’ full squad hasn’t been on the floor yet. The stakes are low and the comp isn’t what Teague will see once the ball tips for real.

But J.J. was out there with Teague this week, and already he’s pushing Teague to stop being Rook’, taking a backseat to the vets, and start being the guy who’s ready to be the starting point guard.

“‘Play your game. Don’t just defer to me a lot.’ ” Teague said J.J. told him the other day on the court. “When he said that, that helped me a lot. I’m going to be a lot more aggressive.”

That message already had been delivered by L.D. and his assistants. But it’s one thing to hear it from the coaches, another to hear it from the All-Star guard who for a while now has been the guy everyone defers to on this team.

“That’s his next step,” J.J. said. “When he is out on the court, he has to be the leader. He is the guy who makes …

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Atlanta Hawks: Pape Sy in the fold (Update: Sy and Sund comments)

It’s finally official: Pape Sy, Atlanta’s second-round draft pick in June, has signed with the Hawks after securing a buyout from French club Le Havre. Sy’s three-year contract is fully guaranteed for 2010-11 at the rookie minimum of $473,604.

It should be noted that for all the heat ASG takes for the perception that they clutch their wallets too tightly, it is believed the Hawks contributed about $125,000 on top of the salary to buy out the contract of a long-term prospect. You can tell L.D. is really high on Sy, so the Hawks spent some cash to get him over here now so they can start developing him.

“We sat down with [the owners] and told them we saw [Sy] in Summer League and we liked him and we wanted to get him in here as a developmental guy for the future,” Rick Sund said today at Philips. “We talked about the buyout, and they had no problem with that.”

It’s a good personal story for Sy, 22, who paid his own way to work out for the Hawks and was virtually unknown in …

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Atlanta Hawks: Their Crawford conundrum

Can the Hawks keep Crawford smiling?

Can the Hawks keep Crawford smiling?

Just two weeks until training camp, blog people, and all is quiet on the Hawks front. And under the circumstances, “quiet” really means: “Jamal Crawford and the Hawks might be headed for a showdown.”

As everyone knows, Crawford wants a contract extension for what he believes to be his market value or, failing that, a trade. He’s pushing for an extension both because of the past (his Sixth Man of the Year season) and the future (the looming specter of a new CBA).

The Hawks have contemplated Crawford’s request for going on two months now. But they seem reluctant to offer him a long-term contract because of the past (long-term deals for Bibby and Marvin last summer and J.J. this summer) and the future (possible contract extension for Al).

That brings us to the present. The best-case scenario for the Hawks would be for Crawford to report to camp and put the extension talk on the backburner with promises to take care of him later, no hard …

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Atlanta Hawks: Larry Drew ditching switches

L.D. probably wouldn't consider this a 'switchable switch.'

L.D. probably wouldn’t consider this a ’switchable switch.’

(Checking in from a Miami holiday weekend filled with beaches, BBQ and . . . beverages)

We’ve heard about L.D.’s offensive philosophies but what about D? The short answer to what I know is the No. 1 question: Atlanta’s base defense under Drew will not feature switching on all (or most) screens.

But what he hopes to accomplish goes beyond Xs and Os and lineups. L.D. said he wants to develop a true defensive disposition for a team known more for finesse.

“Playing defense, it can be ugly sometimes,” Drew said. “Sometimes guys don’t like to do the ugly stuff, the dirty work stuff. Good defensive teams, their mindset is to go into games and outwork you. They don’t care how they do it. They do whatever it takes to shut you down. They have that aggressive mentality, where each game they go into it thinking ‘I am going lock in on my guy.’ and that works its way to the rest of the guys. You have to have that team concept …

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