Archive for February, 2011

Atlanta Hawks at Nuggets: Pregame notes

Denver–Some quick pregame notes . . .

  • GM Rick Sund said the team is unlikely to add any of the waived vets. Doing so would push the team’s payroll over or near the luxury-tax line even when accounting for the prorating of minimum salaries. Under the CBA, the prorating also is affected by a myriad of factors including the record of the team that signs the player.
  • If the Hawks do decide to add a vet they would likely be looking for a shooter.
  • Sund also said that after not trading Jamal Crawford’s expiring contract the Hawks would attempt to re-sign him: “I’ve said from Day One I’m a big fan of Jamal. Once we figure out what the new [CBA] rules are we will do everything in our power to re-sign him.”
  • Kirk Hinrich (calf) is a game-time decision. (UPDATE: Hinrich is out.) He shot baskets before the game but hit the trainer’s table before I could catch up with him. L.D. is starting Jeff Teague alongside J.J., Marvin, Josh and Al.
  • Mike Bibby’s buyout was the buzz in Atlanta’s locker …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 90, Blazers 83

Hawks have gotten defensive since adding Hinrich. (Bruce Ely/The Oregonian)

Hawks have gotten defensive since adding Hinrich. (Bruce Ely/The Oregonian)

Portland–Watching the Hawks these last two games, I kept thinking back to what some All-Stars on good defensive teams said in L.A: It’s difficult to stop NBA players one-on-one but you can do it as a team if there is a real commitment to the system.

  • I don’t know if the Hawks can become that kind of team. I do think it’s more realistic for them to do so now that Hinrich and Teague are playing most of the minutes at point guard. It made an obvious difference at Golden State and again tonight.
  • There no longer is an easy swinging gate open to ball-handlers. That had led to breakdowns and obvious frustration as the Hawks were forced to scramble and cover for the guards. They don’t have to do it so much now and it seems to have had the effect of lifting everyone’s defensive level.
  • “Obviously during a game you are going to have to help but when it’s limited to a minimum that makes it that much better,” …

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Atlanta Hawks at Trail Blazers: No zest for Zaza

Portland–The trading deadline came and went and Zaza is still with the Hawks after the team tried to deal him.

Is he happy about that?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I will say, yeah, I am happy because to moving in the middle of the season, especially [from] a team like Atlanta Hawks, you never know where you are going to go. So, yeah, for now I am happy but in the bigger picture, on different team it might be a better situation where I am getting more playing time and being more involved.

“For now, I am happy. I am not even thinking about next summer [that] I might go somewhere else or something. I definitely want to enjoy this year and do my best for this team.”

Zaza in happier times.

Zaza in happier times.

Zaza said that before he got a DNP-CD against the Warriors last night. He didn’t play against the Suns, either, but that was because he was potentially going to be moved. That’s not the case anymore, yet he still sat while Josh Powell played 18 minutes in Oakland and even Hilton Armstrong made a …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 95, Warriors 79

Joe and the Hawks were ripping and running. Anda Chu / Oakland Tribune

Joe and the Hawks were ripping and running in Oaktown. Anda Chu / Oakland Tribune

Oakland–The Hawks are something to watch when they defend, rebound and run the floor like this. Add in the kind of unselfish offense they played tonight, and they can look dang near unstoppable at times.

  • Of course no one is going to mistake the Warriors for a strong or even competent defensive team. But they are pretty good on offense and the Hawks made them look awful.
  • “I felt we really made an effort to contest and challenge every shot,” Al said. “Its’ a little frustrating for me because I wish we played like this all the time. I hope there is no looking back now. We saw how we can play so we have to be able to keep that up.”
  • Kirk Hinrich, pregame, on playing with little preparation on Hawks’ schemes: “It’s important that I understand what we are trying to do at both ends. But a lot of times our lineups and our athleticism, I think the best way for us to play is to just play. Work hard on the …

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Atlanta Hawks at Warriors: The new guys, plus Rick Sund

San Francisco–Caught up with the Hawks here this morning (tip: never, ever drive in this city) before heading to Oaktown. Here are some quick notes, followed by a Rick Sund Q and A,. . .

  • L.D. said Teague will start again tonight along with J.J., Marvin, Josh and Al. Hinrich will play, too. Hinrich and Armstrong met the team here last night. Drew said they put some tape down in the ballroom at the hotel and gave the players a crash course on the team’s concepts.
  • Drew expects Hinrich and Teague to push the Hawks to play faster: “We definitely have got to get the ball in to both guys’ hands. I thought Jeff did a good job in Phoenix of keeping the pressure on the defense and pushing it. Kirk has the same ability. He’s not as fast as Jeff but he still pushes the ball at a pace that forces other guys to keep up.”
  • Based on his initial impressions of Atlanta’s offense, Hinrich likes what he sees: “We have good players. Just put them in the right positions and play together, and we …

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Atlanta Hawks: Suns 105, Hawks 97

Phoenix–The news of the trade shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the Hawks are suddenly reeling. That’s three straight Ls and five of six with Golden State (tough matchup), Portland (tough team) and Denver (tough building even without Melo) still to go on this trip.

  • Zaza was held out as the Hawks continued trade discussions. I’m thinking any swap would be big for big but no word yet on the details of the teams/players involved.
  • But first some more reaction to the trade that did go down. . . .
  • L.D. said the Hawks had been calling around on point guards for the last couple weeks.
  • “As everybody knows we’ve been searching for a point guard for a while, somebody who can come in and run this club,” he said. “Not saying that Mike didn’t go a good job, but there just comes a point where a change has to take place. We as an organization felt like it was that time.”
  • L.D. on Hinrich: “Kirk brings such a wealth of toughness at that position. He’s a heady guy, he’s a smart guy. All the …

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Atlanta Hawks: Bibby for Hinrich in five-player deal

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Phoenix–After striking out in their efforts to acquire point guards Devin Harris and Raymond Felton, the Hawks agreed to terms with the Wizards on a trade for veteran Kirk Hinrich and athletic big man Hilton Armstrong, the team announced tonight.

As part of the deal, the Hawks sent Mike Bibby, rookie Jordan Crawford, swingman Mo Evans and their 2011 first-round draft pick to the Wizards.

Bibby, Crawford and Evans were informed of the trade prior to the team’s game against Phoenix tonight. Jeff Teague replaced Bibby in the starting lineup.

Hawks coach Larry Drew declined to comment on the trade before the game because it wasn’t yet official.

The Bulls selected Hinrich, 30, with the seventh overall pick out of Kansas in the 2003 draft. The Bulls traded him to Washington last summer along with Kevin Seraphin.

The Hawks expect Hinrich to shore up their weak perimeter defense, which has …

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Atlanta Hawks: Lakers 104, Hawks 80

This was just one of several mismatches for the Hawks. (AP Photo)

This was just one of several mismatches for the Hawks. (AP Photo)

Los Angeles–If I know my blog people, I figure you’d rather hear about trade chatter (some hope for the future) than a recounting of this debacle (a depressing reminder of the team’s stasis).

  • So, OK . . . Yes, Kirk Hinrich is a possibility and Ramon Sessions remains in play. No to Devin Harris (who is probably headed elsewhere) and Raymond Felton (whom the Nuggets apparently aren’t looking to move).
  • Basically, it seems like the Hawks have called about every decent-to-good point guard who might be available. Of course it will take more than a new point guard to fix what ailed the Hawks tonight.
  • The Lakers were smarter, faster and tougher than the Hawks.
  • “I can go down competing, but we are not competing at our highest level it’s frustrating,” Al said.
  • These beatdowns are becoming more commonplace. That’s four Ls in five, with three of them by at least 15 points. It’s also Atlanta’s fifth loss by at least 20 …

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Atlanta Hawks at Lakers: Point presence desperately needed

Los Angeles–The following question was put to Al over All-Star weekend: How can the Hawks be a better defensive team when they so obviously struggle to contain the perimeter and opponents relentlessly attack that weakness?

“Our guards have got to do a better job of that,” Al said. “Obviously we [bigs] have to be there on the help side, but we need to have that presence to try and keep the ball out of the paint as much as we can.”

The answer to that has been “not much at all” with the current group and as long as that’s the case it’s going to be too difficult for the Hawks to get consistent stops in the playoffs. L.D. has tricked things up with zones and switches but that’s just smoke and mirrors that teams like Boston, Orlando, Chicago and Miami will exploit.

This fundamental issue explains why they are so desperate to add a point guard like Devin Harris. The advanced stats say Harris has declined defensively–perhaps because of a poor attitude in New Jersey, as reported by …

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Atlanta Hawks: Point guard search includes Devin Harris

Los Angeles–It seems Hawks GM Rick Sund has cast a wide net in the team’s search for a bona fide point guard.

In addition to Cleveland’s Ramon Sessions, the Hawks also have inquired about New Jersey’s Devin Harris. Those discussions could pick up now that Harris won’t be going to Denver as part of a deal for ‘Melo, who was traded to the Knicks tonight.

Harris, who turns 27 28 on Sunday, would meet Atlanta’s desire for a capable defender who also can push the pace and create shots for others. But he makes $9.3 million in 2011-12, and adding his salary to the roughly $65 million Atlanta has committed for next season would push Atlanta’s payroll above the current luxury-tax threshold (which could change in the new CBA). Harris also is owed $8.5 million in 2012-13.

It’s not clear whom the Hawks would offer for Harris. Jamal Crawford seems to be the obvious candidate because his expiring $10.1 million contract would allow the Nets to carve out even more cap space for next …

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