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,. . .
Now on to the interview with Sund:
Q. Before the deadline, you said you would only make trades that improve the team and wouldn’t make any lateral moves. In your view, how did this trade make the team better?
“Larry wanted to upgrade the point guard position, particularly defensively, and still try to be able to maintain the shooting that we had with Bibby’s presence out there. We looked at this deal and thought it made some sense. It was tough to let Jordan go in particular. I don’t mind so much the draft pick but we really like Jordan. He’s got a huge upside. It was difficult to get him minutes this year. He’s going to have a fine career. But at the end of the day, like with most teams in transition, you have got to give up a draft pick and/or young player to whet their appetite. So that’s what we did.”
Q. By trading Jordan and your first-round pick in 2011, does it signal a win-now approach as opposed to developing players for the future?
“We also have a pretty young team. We’ve got three starters that started opening night at 24. You still have Jeff in a backup capacity, where he should be a senior in college. He’s young. Then you’ve got a couple of players that are in their prime. Joe is in his prime, and so is Jamal and certainly Hinrich is in his prime. You look at the two teams in the championship last year in final game, of the 10 starters nine where in their 30s.”
Q. How much did uncertainty of labor situation affect your approach to making deals?
“Not a lot because nobody knows what the rules are going to be. To be very honest with you I was really surprised there were as many trades as there were. Somebody mentioned that since the season started there have been 24 trades of various sorts that you would consider semi-significant. You have the big trades like Carmelo; Deron was a huge trade. And there there were other semi-significant trades. That seems like a lot compared to other years. And I thought there wasn’t going to be a lot of trades.”
Q. Now that the smoke has cleared, how do you think your team stacks up in the East?
“We have to see it out. All year we have been basically playing for the fifth, fourth and third hole. And of those three teams, everybody goes through their highs and lows. We have had some highs–January in particular was a good month–and now we are in a slump. Miami had some slumps and then they went on a huge streak, and then they went back to a slump. Chicago seems to be like us last year. They are great at home and they are .500 on the road and so they are sort of where we were at this point last year going forward. You’ve got Boston who have an NBA championship and has three players who are headed to the Hall of Fame. Miami has got two players that have been battling for MVP of the league and three players who have made the All-Pro. Orlando has an MVP candidate this year in Dwight. And you have Chicago who has an MVP this year in Derrick Rose. And then you have Atlanta that has two players that made the All-Star team. I thought it was ironic in LA they interviewed Kobe and he said, ‘Well, I feel like I am playing Boston, Miami and Atlanta [because nine East All-Stars are from those teams]. Also the Knicks are going to be no picnic if you have to play them and Philly can surprise you. It’s up to the players now, I think, on all of the teams. March and April are the home stretch and it’s up to the players and how they are going to respond to it and how they are going to respond in the playoffs. It’s a challenge for us, certainly. It’s as challenge and an opportunity at the same time.”
At last check, the (completely unscientific) blog poll asking whether this trade was good or bad for the Hawks was running about 50-50. I haven’t looked at all of your 1,600 or so comments from the last couple of days (thanks much for reading, blog people) but I think I can take a decent stab at the reasoning of the differing perspectives.
I’m guessing most in the “good” camp like the trade because they think the team is better now. Hinrich is a better player than Bibby. He’s a better defender, comparable shooter and should be able to diversify the offense by running pick-and-rolls. JC2 could become a good player but he’s not part of the plans now so off he goes.
I’m guessing most of those in the “bad” camp don’t like the trade because, even if it makes the team better now, it doesn’t improve the Hawks enough to give them a good chance at beating the elite teams in the playoffs. So why make a deal like this while sending away a young player and a pick, sacrificing the future while doubling down on this “core” group that may not take the Hawks where they want to go?
I think the views in both camps are reasonable. I also know that we can’t see the future. The Hawks should be better with Hinrich instead of Bibby, both from tangible and intangible standpoints. I understand if you don’t believe they will be good enough, but let’s see what happens.
Sund said declined to comment on trade scenarios that didn’t happen, including whether he tried to get in on any of the major deals by dangling any players from Atlanta’s “core” group. From what I’m hearing the Hawks did try to get in on some of those discussions but didn’t get very far.
If you are upset the Hawks couldn’t make a splashier deal then realize it takes assets like expiring contracts, productive players with reasonable contracts, young players with potential and draft picks. The Hawks don’t have much of any of those because of decisions made in the past, so those should be the focus of your ire if you don’t like this trade. I can’t speak accurately on what deals they may or may not have offered (or turned down) for their “core” players so it’s hard to evaluate those hypothetical scenarios.
In any event, the Hawks have 25 games against a tough schedule to figure out what they are about. From my perspective, at least, it should be interesting.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat