Atlanta Hawks: Noah out, Magic slumping . . . or why it’s good to be in the East

Shockingly, that hair was not the worst news for Joakim Noah tonight. (AP photo)

Shockingly, that hair was not the worst news for Joakim Noah tonight. (AP photo)

BostonLinks from around the Association . . .

When Al signed a contract extension with the Hawks that was nearly identical to the one signed by his Florida teammate and friend Joakim Noah, I figured that was about right.

They are comparable players with nearly identical win shares per 48 minutes. Al is the superior offensive player. Noah (probably) is a better post defender, though Al’s defensive versatility can’t be discounted. The areas in which I thought Al had the advantage over Noah were age (he’s more than a full year younger) and durability.

Noah missed 18 games last season with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, which has to be a concern for a big man. Now comes word that he will have thumb surgery and miss up to 10 weeks:

“It sucks,” Noah said. “It’s not what I want. But I have to get back to playing at a high level. I’m tired of taking anti-inflammatory (pills) every time I play. I’m tired of not dribbling with my right hand.
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“I’m going to miss playing. It’s frustrating because I feel we have a chance to be really, really good. But I know in the long run, this is what needs to be done.”

Even with the bum thumb, Noah went for 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in Chicago’s victory over Toronto. I watched the game alongside Celtics-Knicks (good one, though shocking to see C’s play no D in fourth quarter)) at the sports bar in my hotel and Noah looked pretty good, his ridiculous ‘do (even by his standards) notwithstanding.

The Bulls don’t have much in the way of backups to Noah, unless Omar Asik or Kurt Thomas excite you. Derrick Rose also has been hurting.

Obviously it’s good for the Hawks if the Bulls cool off without Noah, so now we will see if Chicago can hold it down the way the Hawks (so far) have managed to do without J.J.

Magic slumping, not sick

In another item from the “It’s good to be in the East” department . . . .

The Magic are teetering. That’s of course assuming they don’t all still have the flu and aren’t just playing worse than their opponents who are playing bad. Those were the excuses offered by the Magic after Atlanta’s W in their building last week.

But after the Magic loss at Denver Tuesday to end their West road trip at 1-3, Stan Van Gundy didn’t want to hear any of that:

“(It was) not mismatches, not fatigue,” a fuming Van Gundy said. “It was a lack of effort, lack of toughness (and a) lack of any desire to defend anybody … We’re finding every b.s. excuse in the book right now. That’s what we’re doing.” . . .

“It was the same in every game of the trip, even the Clipper game,” Van Gundy said. “We just had a big enough lead at the half to survive. Our offense died in the second half of every one, and we play no defense. We play no defense, whatsoever.

“On this trip we were one of the worst defensive teams in the league. If that doesn’t change, we will be a very bad basketball team.”

(Can’t lie, seeing “a fuming Van Gundy” made me wistful for the days when I could regularly enjoy some good Stan rants.)

Notably, at the Orlando Sentinel’s Magic blog “flu” or “ugly basketball” were not among the choices for a poll asking readers to ID the Magic’s biggest problem. At last look, “Lack of a go-to player,” “Lack of defensive intensity,” and “Lack of effort” were getting blown out by “All of the above.”

Al’s offense

After Atlanta’s L at Detroit Jason Walker at Peachtree Hoops offered the following (thoughtful) critique of Horford’s offense:

I’ve lauded Al Horford time and time again, so allow me to nit pick regarding his performance tonight. Many times Horford holds the ball too long at the top of the key. I know he’s looking to pass because the play calls for it, but there are times when nobody is open and his defender is nowhere in sight that he has to go to the basket with the ball. He defers way too often when he doesn’t have to and sometimes it puts the Hawks in a position where there is no time left (because we initiate the play with 10-12 seconds left) and all that can be done is a long, contested, jump shot.

Walker says Al needs to take the ball to the basket (which he notably did just the other day at San Antonio with great success). I’d add that Al also too often passes up that jumper in those situations. With the way he’s shooting from that range, it’s not like he’s going find many better options passing it around.

Jamal, square peg

Walker also weighed in on what will probably be a continuing theme, the dilemma Jamal faces when asked to run the team:

Crawford takes way too long to get the team going in an offensive set, sometimes defaulting to breaking down his man off the dribble to create some offense for himself. Last night in Detroit, there were times when the shot clock got to 10 and the ball was still in Crawford’s hands without a single pass.

Crawford is misused in this capacity, he needs the freedom to spot up, come off picks, and score the basketball. Getting guys in the right position and cranking up an offense is not his forte. Getting guys to foul him while knocking down a three is.

Sometimes you can just see Jamal yearning to bust out like he did in his days with Woody. It’s what he does best, after all, and it’s not that he isn’t willing to set guys up, it’s just that it goes against his instincts.

Jamal, by the way, is iffy to play against the Celtics due to a sore back. Shaq apparently has ruled himself out for the game, so Doc will have to somehow get by with Big Baby, KG and surprisingly serviceable Turk rook Semih Erden in the power rotation.

Trade talk CBA guru Larry Coon lists the players who can be traded starting today (which is different from saying they are in fact tradeable). J.J., Josh Powell, Etan and Twin make the list for the Hawks, though Collins can’t be traded without his consent under CBA rules.

So take a look at Coon’s list and dream up your own trade scenarios, blog people. I’ve noticed that 90 percent of the conversation on most NBA blogs is devoted to this pursuit, and that a higher percentage of those scenarios tend to be unrealistic. I know it’s fun, though.

Michael Cunningham

80 comments Add your comment


December 15th, 2010
11:50 pm


December 16th, 2010
12:01 am


Kevin Willis

December 16th, 2010
12:31 am

If the Pacers would do it i would package JJ and Marvin and Jeff Teague for
Hibbert, Grandger, Tj Ford and jeff foster

Kevin Willis

December 16th, 2010
12:41 am

Pg Ford/Bibby Bench pg Bibby/Ford
2g Granger 2g Evans/wilkens
Sf Josh Smith Sf Powell
Pf Horford Pf Foster
C Hibbert C Zaza/Collins

Kevin Willis

December 16th, 2010
12:43 am

ps I can still play better than Zaza, but his restrant is great


December 16th, 2010
1:28 am

We need to get Turkoglu from Phoenix. He is out of favor with the coach. Marvin for Turkoglu

{MAC-Town Georgia 478}

December 16th, 2010
1:47 am

Whatever we do with trades and using different rotations….we need guys on the court that can keep guards in front of them, guys that can rebound, and guys that can guard without fouling people every other possession.


December 16th, 2010
3:46 am


drmaryb (*_*)

December 16th, 2010
4:20 am

Mike is Back said it best:

” Dang, Je Je …u even post in all caps on the Birds blogs dawg …is there any sanctity on the blogs these days…I may bad if I’m wrong…but the comments…sound eerily like the same BS…U pushing on the Hawks blog…dude clearly…u got some kind of extra stuff going on…or sumin. lo

December 15th, 2010
10:05 pm”

Co-Sign Mike! All the caps gives me a headache, even when scrolling past it all.

It’s like Tyler Perry’s “Mr. Brown’s” wardrobe, He walks into the room screaming and yelling, just in case you didn’t see him coming from a mile away.

The good thing about the caps is it’s easier to scroll past the MOUTH that has absolutely nothing relevant to add to any conversation or basketball related topic.
How many times to have to say the exact same thing, repeatedly, before it stops?

Section 303

December 16th, 2010
6:00 am

And so it begins…..Michael, the last section of your post will set off a chain reaction of Trade Machine posts. I’ll check back in before the game tonight. I hate reading people talking about trades that will never happen.

drmaryb (*_*)

December 16th, 2010
7:54 am

Mending Fences!

Too bad for Noah, I really like him a lot. Get Well Soon Joakim!
Can’t help but think, WWKD?

I bet Kobe would bag it up and rip off 50 points per game for 10 straight games, just to spite his thumb, and throw his sore knee in there, just so the thumb doesn’t get lonely.

That Kobe guy is pretty special. If Some players, ahem ahem .. Had an ounce of the Heart these two guys have? We would be settled at SF. I’m just sayin’.


December 16th, 2010
8:17 am

dmb, thumbs are different than ring fingers which is kobe’s problem i think. it is what sets us apart isnt it? you as a doc knows the intricacies of its movement and the chance of permanent harm if it isnt taken care of. if it isnt he wont be taking in too many more boards as it is the power to grip, not a simple finger that can be taped in the case of kobe.


December 16th, 2010
8:45 am

From the previous blog;


Some of Al’s numbers against Detroit came when Ben Wallace was not in the game. And you can’t judge banging based on rebounding. Twin does not get a lot of rebounds, but he does a decent job slowing down the big guys.

And I’m not saying Al does not bang. I’m saying he does not do it as well as he used to. And I think that’s because he is more focused on excelling at PF instead of excelling at Center.


With Marvin’s size, I can’t help but wonder if LD should give him some minutes at backup PF, especially on defense.

For a SF, he is not a good ball handler (he fumbles or gets stripped a lot), he is not a good 3pt shooter (26% on the year), and he is not good at taking people off the dribble.


December 16th, 2010
8:48 am

It was not a bad pick,

The FACT is JJ is a 3 time all star, and made the all NBA (3rd) team last year. So regardless of how much he sucked in the playoffs last seaosn, he was going to get a MAX contract from somebody (ask the Knicks and Bulls).

And you want to talk about Marvin being the 5th and 6th option, which he is. But I always use Bruce Bowen as an example. Playing SF for the Spurs, he was the 5th or 6th option too.

His career scoring average is 6 ppg. But he played shut down defense (made the All NBA defensive teams numerous times), and he could always be counted on to knock down a big 3 from the corner.

Is that too much to ask from Marvin? Consistent lock down defense, and make the open shot. That’s all the Hawks need from him, and he can’t do it consistently.

Playing great defense and making open shots CONSISTENTLY have nothing to do with being the 5th or 6th option. It’s about desire, drive, and skill. Areas in which I think Marvin is lacking.

drmaryb (*_*)

December 16th, 2010
8:52 am

What’s Up Doc?

I thought Kobe had a thumb injury too. Oh well and I thought he was Superman. LOL. I am guilty of only closely following the Home Teams. I don’t really follow the West Coast teams.

I tell you what, I’m impressed with all the Knee injuries that these players muddle through, Bynum and Roy come to mind from out West.


December 16th, 2010
9:06 am

Trade Marvin for a real duck……


December 16th, 2010
9:20 am

Wow, a 3rd string NBA player receives the highest contract in the entire NBA?

drmaryb (*_*)

December 16th, 2010
9:41 am

Don’t confuse 3rd String with 3rd Best SG in the NBA. You prolly got DWade and Durantula slated ahead of Joe at that position. Also, supply and demand sets the pay scale in Market Places. That’s Marketing 101.

Having said that, that IS a lot of cheese. Multiply Joe’s salary 10 times and that’s what the owners are making off his services. You are worth what you can get in a free market. Joe is not paid to make baskets, he is paid to entertain in the NBA Market Place.

You and I will never see that type money in 10 lifetimes.

real hooper from hell

December 16th, 2010
9:47 am

im a big hawks fan and i been watchin them for a while
so with all the trade talk for have to maximize the most out of the potential. so a line-up of

your bench

zaza or collin depends on matchup

teague and jc2 will come into their own (dont really think that about teague he freezes up

so when joe gets back thats the line up

i know some say wilkens starting thats for a reason defensive(heard of george hill)and take slack off joe at the three

drmaryb (*_*)

December 16th, 2010
9:47 am

And from the last blog, I posted the top 20 salaries:

Kobe has by far the richest contract in the NBA by a land slide at 25M/Per.
Joe is 16th on that list. Rashard Lewis is a distant 2nd @ 20M/Per.

Just the Facts!


December 16th, 2010
9:51 am

O’Brien at 8:48 – PERFECT


December 16th, 2010
9:54 am



December 16th, 2010
9:57 am

I kinda hope Rondo plays tonight with bad ankle so he holds the team back and takes minutes away from Nate who owns us


December 16th, 2010
10:05 am


This is odd for me because I usually agree with you on most issues. I still wonder if you are not reading something that’s not there.

Tell you what, let’s both watch Al carefully for the next ten games, and then compare notes. I’m not saying you are wrong, just that it’s not my perception. If he IS changing his mental approach, we should be able to see it in ten games.

But I want to clarify this: Can you not bang equally as much as a 4 than a 5? Aren’t there “non-banger 4s” and “banger 4’s”? (R.Lewis and say, D. Blair)

So if that is true then why would Al’s focus on being a 4 necessarily make him bang less?


December 16th, 2010
10:06 am

“Is that too much to ask from Marvin? Consistent lock down defense, and make the open shot. That’s all the Hawks need from him, and he can’t do it consistently. ”

We need Marvin to do more than that. Bowen didn’t make the type of money Marvin makes, and we are not as talented as San Antonio. We don’t have a Tony Parker PG who can take over games and get into the lane. We don’t have the greatest PF of all time on our team. We don’t have a crafty SG and a brilliant head coach.

We need lock-down defense from Marvin and 14 ppg and some damn HEART

Mike is back

December 16th, 2010
10:14 am

MC, Great Stuff…I don’t see how you trade a guy like JPowell…dude is a keeper!!!

I hear ya drmaryb…Show U Right!!

I think there are some teams we could work a deal with involving moving Marvin and Zaza…However, I wouldn’t include Teague…it’s too soon to give up on Teague…dude is basically starting out like JC2…I would hold on to Teague and JC2.

People are going to scuff at me…But wouldn’t mine have a guy like Baron Davis…if wasn’t too costly.

J from the A

December 16th, 2010
10:29 am

Co-sign O’Brien 8:48

I agree with do not necessarily need 12, 14, 16 ppg from Marvin every single game. As has been said, he is the 5th/6th scoring option.

We need from Marvin (a) consistent, strong defense (b) for him to be able to consistently step up when needed.

(b) includes stepping it up offensively during whole games when others are out/struggling, and (b) includes needing to be able to knock down the open 3 (or get the nice and 1 around the rim) when needed.

I am fine with Marvin averaging 8ppg as long as his big games are consistently coming when the Hawks need those big games the most (and conversely, that his (offensive) disappearing act occurs in games when everyone else is on).

The beauty about Bruce Bowen was that he consistently brought lock-down D, and even though he had a low ppg average, he was able to step up his offensive game when it was needed the most.

Rev in Tampa

December 16th, 2010
10:30 am

MC, you need to give us one of those voting polls with Marvin as a choice. Simply writing the same things over and over to ourselves on the blog about Marvin’s passivity is not satisfying our sense of dissastisfaction. We need some other outlet. We need to unify our voices with one loud shout of frustration.

Rev in Tampa

December 16th, 2010
10:34 am

Mike is back,

I saw your shout out to me on the last blog. I’ve checked up on the young lady that is playing at South Florida. It looks like she is contributing but they seem to be bringing her along slowly in her freshman year. If I remember correctly, she is the tallest player on the team. I hope to take my girls to see one of the games over the Christmas break if there are any home games.

Rev in Tampa

December 16th, 2010
10:37 am

@drmaryb – “Too bad for Noah, I really like him a lot. Get Well Soon Joakim!”

I disagree. This is war. I hope his plantar fasciitis returns.

I’m just kidding (sort of)


December 16th, 2010
10:39 am

I believe JJ was signed to ensure we stayed relevant in the East and if it didn’t work we got something back in return. Somebody is going to want him – maybe for Nash if PHX wants to get younger or Bynum in LA if Phil doesn’t think he can hold up. Don’t think trading Marvin or Zaza is going to get us the quality player we need.

Mike is back

December 16th, 2010
10:51 am

Rev in Tampa, thanks for the follow-up…I talk to my daughter…she said they were bringing her alone slow. She is a Big girl…but in D-1 basketball…they grow on trees…I told her how long the girls were at Wake…and not to be surprise if she endures some struggles…I’m looking forward to catching one of their games.


December 16th, 2010
10:51 am


noticed on the falcons blog these video-previews of the games that show clips of players talking about the games. It would be nice for us that don’t have fox sports / exposure to post-game reports to hear the players voices in non-quote form before big games occasionally (and i’m not talking about the incredibly rare video of the guy on asking unimportant players stupid questions). Also it would be interesting to hear you actually ask the questions and have them answered in full instead of merely providing tidbits for answers.

Also, it would be awesome if there was a way for us to vote on interview questions to ask a different hawks player/coach every week. People submit questions, the board votes on which to ask, grilling of players ensues. All would rejoice.


December 16th, 2010
11:05 am

Only trade we need…

Teague and Mo for Will Bynum
Teague and a 1st and 2nd rd pick for Aaron Brooks

Wally Walker

December 16th, 2010
11:17 am

It is time to end the conversation and tenure of Marvin Williams in Atlanta. He is clearly a bust and there’s else that needs to be said. The Hawks need to make moves to improve the team, period! On the blogs, people are still concerned with the improvement of the # 3 position. This position and any trades concerning it will only produce a marginal improvement. NO paint presence and No PG are real the problems. Any trades for the Hawks MUST ADDRESS THESE AREAS!!!
I will say it for the 100th time; JJ is not the problem. There are only two centers available Portland’s Pryzbilla(7.3 mil) and the Clippers’ Kaman(11.8 mil). Jamal and the # 1 round pick are the only prizes which will command solid players in return. Marvin’s salary has to be dumped and the only way this happen is if one of both pieces mentioned above is included. Maybe Marvin and a 2nd round pick will get Pryzbilla. Kaman will require more; probably Jamal and Marvin. The Clippers really want to dump his salary and quite frankly Jamal is solid, but not worth more than a solid center. Of course, the Hawks will have to take a garbage player for this deal. Either deal improves the Hawks and closes a bad chapter (Marvin).
Next, Jamal is not the difference for getting past the second round of the playoff. The different is if he has to be traded to attempt to do it, then DO IT, NOW! Finally, Bibby, JJ, JC2, or Teague are the answer at the PG. Trade the # 1 pick (late round) to Wahington for Hinrich (9 mil). With Marvin, Jamal, and maybe Mo salaries gone, the Hawks could have a legit PG and Center by Christmas!
The Hawks have do something to make the fans believe they are serious about contending.


December 16th, 2010
11:30 am

Marvin is out tonight. !@#$

We need 30 point games from Horford AND Smoove.

Who the hell on this team is going to score? We’re 40 ppg down with Craw and Joe out.



December 16th, 2010
11:32 am

If we lose tonight, there better be a players-only meeting.

I’m ready to see Horf and/or Smoove call out Marvin for being a worthless basketball player

Rod from College Park

December 16th, 2010
11:34 am

O’Brien and J from the A,

I tend to agree with Jeje. We need more than what you say we need from Marvin. He needs to be able to guard the top Wing guy on the other team nightly, so that JJ does not have to do it. He can’t do that. Damien Wilkins has already proved to be a better defensive option than him. My main problem with him offensively is that he does not knock down WIDE OPEN shots. Also the NBA is a game of mismatches. Teams that take advantage of mismatches usually win. Marvin should be a mismatch every night. He is bigger than most small forwards, so he should be able to easily post smaller players and get fouled or score over the top. He is pathetic at posting anyone. As an NBA player, if you can not take advantage of a mismatch, you should not be on the floor (let alone starting and playing heavy minutes), especially if you do not bring anything else to the table.


December 16th, 2010
11:49 am

Amen, Rod from CP.

I’ve said this 100,392,109 times, and I’ll say it again: I saw Marvin post up Luther Head a few years ago in a Hawks/Rockets games and get BLOCKED/STUFFED by Head (6″2).



December 16th, 2010
11:51 am

If Marvin was a lockdown defender and made open jumpshots, we’d easily have made the ECF by now.

Instead, we have 3/3.5 starters every night, depending on what Bibby does (all Bibby can do is shoot contested jumpshots. He can’t get in the lane and he is so bow-legged he takes two steps sideways before he takes one step forward).


December 16th, 2010
11:57 am


We’re on the same page. We need Marvin to play lock down defense, make the open shots consistently, and score when he has a smaller player on him.

And when other players are struggling (like with JJ injured, and Jamal only taking 5 shots against Detroit), it would have been nice to see Marvin step up.


There are banger 4’s, and non-banger 4’s as you pointed out. What I mean by Al not banging (as much), is he spends a lot more of his time outside the paint.

And when he plays some of the more physical 5’s, he appears timid sometimes, and takes too long to make his move (as MC referenced in his blog). I wouldn’t be surprised if he picks up more fouls than usual in those kind of games too.

The good thing for us, is Shaq might not play later. And with the Celtics playing last night, it wil be interesting to see which team brings the energy early on.


December 16th, 2010
12:00 pm

Rod, so in other words, Marvin stinks.


December 16th, 2010
12:03 pm

*I meant to say: “Jamal is out tonight. !@#$”

drmaryb (*_*)

December 16th, 2010
12:09 pm

Dragging Knuckles!

If you have a 7′3″ wing span and your knuckles are dragging the ground? Then you should be a helicopter in the paint! Why drop your arms below your waist Ever?

Heck, Mugsy Bogues and Earl Boykins become your shot blocker.
Has anyone besides me ever saw Marvin and ZaZa get every shot blocked on the post? That’s because they play small for their size.

Isn’t it a fundamental skill to play with your arms up on defense and offense in the post. To block shots and dunk on smaller people. Marvin has no
“back to the basket” game, low post moves, no pump fakes nor jab steps on the perimeter either. Where IS his game? Does he even have one?

Why not take a little of that money and go buy yourself a game instead of a house and a Mercedes Benz – Marvin?

J from the A

December 16th, 2010
12:10 pm

Rod from CP and JeJe,

I think we agree much more than disagree about Marvin.

I think the only point of disagreement is that I don’t think Marvin needs to provide a consistent 14/16 ppg. However, he does need to be able to consistently step up (offensively) when our other offensive threats are out/off. Further, we both agree that Marvin need to be able to exploit the mismatches and hit open threes when his number is called. Offensively, I am fine with Marvin 8ppg as long as he is able to consistently step up when his number is called (both in terms of whole games when others are struggling and in terms of exploiting his mismatches when the situation calls for it).

We completely agree on the defensive side of things.


December 16th, 2010
12:10 pm

I’d start:

Bibby Damien Josh Horford ZaZa

and let Marvin play 35+ min OFF THE BENCH.

Will be interesting if Jo-Craw can do anything tonightt

J from the A

December 16th, 2010
12:11 pm

O’Brien ninja’d my “on the same page comment” lol

JoJo the Godfather

December 16th, 2010
12:12 pm

Dallas has to believe that they’re close, and trading for Joe Johnson might put them over the top.

I still think that a Joe Johnson & Jason Collins (with his permission) trade for Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler (expiring) & rookie Dominique Jones (Hawks were high on him this Summer) makes some sense.

Jones (to me) makes Teague expendable. He’s definitely a guy whose “inner dog” is not in question. Great pre-draft, Summer League, and now D-League showings. A 6′4″ PG with a huge wingspan, that’s not afraid to get in the lane and mix it up.

That also gives us over $22.5M in expiring contracts to try to deal away or re-sign (Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler & Mo Evans).

J from the A

December 16th, 2010
12:14 pm

Speaking of the bigger line up … it proved fairly successful. Was that success simply a matter of match ups or is the bigger line up in general a better line up for the Hawks?

I would like to see more of the bigger line up against a variety of teams, even once JJ comes back.


December 16th, 2010
12:14 pm


That trade may look good on paper, but Caron is expiring and this team will never not start Marvin. Plus, if you get Haywood I’d assume he starts, shifting Horf and Smoove down a position.

But I do think Dallas is one team that would bite on Joe Johnson – no homo