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 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 cameo appearance.
“Coach’s decision going forward,” L.D. said. “I’m looking for certain things out of our big guys. I need presence, I need physicality, I need rebounding, I need screens being set to open up our perimeters. Prior to last night’s game we had lost five out of six, and I wanted to make sort of a change to give us a different look and jump start us a little bit.
“Josh Powell came in and did a good job for us. He came in and got eight rebounds in 18 minutes. I am just looking at some different things especially because we had been struggling lately.”
So it seems Zaza is out of the regular rotation for now. And Drew said after looking at the video from Friday, there’s a “strong possibility that more changes could be coming.”
Will they be changes to the starting lineup or the rotation?
“Both,” L.D. said.
No doubt Zaza has had some poor games lately. But here’s the thing with him: Look at his game logs and he had some of his most efficient and productive nights when he played the most minutes. And the on-court, off-court stats show that Zaza has been an effective defender, especially when he plays alongside Al (and isn’t playing alongside Powell.)
It’s not just the numbers. When Zaza gets more minutes he just seems more into it.
“It’s obvious,” he said. “Especially the role I am in, to bring energy. I am role player bringing energy and effort off the bench. Not only just me, but I am talking about any role player to come off the bench and [it's difficult to] make a difference in five, six minutes right away. I have had the games played more than 20 minutes [and] this is where you see the efficiency and my effort and energy.
“Especially I don’t come to the game and [have] any plays–not complaining, just saying that’s my [role]. In my situation to play five or six minutes, you have a defensive slippage or teams make most of their shots and don’t give you a chance to get a defensive rebound. Or offensively you make a mistake. My time is going fast meanwhile and you don’t seem that efficient.”
Zaza said that since the season started he hasn’t really talked to L.D. about his playing time. He said when he met with Drew last summer the coach was aware of the similar frustrations he had under Woody. In the interests of being professional, Zaza said he’s not going to go into L.D.’s office and complain now.
“Bottom line is whenever I get a chance to get on the court I am trying to do my best and help the team,” he said.
L.D. said he knows Zaza tends to go in a funk when he doesn’t get regular minutes but it seems that’s not in the cards for the near future.
“I’ve been in this thing too long, and this is just not a time to be sensitive,” Drew said. “This is a results business. I am willing to give every guy an opportunity but we have got to come up with wins. And everything I do has got to give this ball club an opportunity to win.
“I wish I could play every player. I wish things worked out for every player. If we are struggling in areas I have got to do something about it. I made a decision last night to give Josh Powell a look. Not that I am giving up on Zaza; I am going to need Zaza. But right now this is a decision that I had to make.”
The Hawks had a light practice session today at ClubSport, a palace of a gym outside Portland. Weird scene: Kids playing a league game on an 8-foot rim on one court, multimillionaires going through their paces on the next.
Some guys hit the weight room. Josh, Marvin and Jamal played a 3-point shooting game. Drew’s focus was running Hinrich and Armstrong through the offense. He said Hinrich might start against the Blazers because big Andre Miller isn’t a good matchup for Teague.
The expectation still is that Hinrich will eventually become the starter. But after Drew’s comments about lineup changes and his still-fluctuating rotation, I’m not sure what to think anymore. I guess we’ll see.
(Update: Teague will start again tonight. “Just as soon as Kirk gets more familiar with what we are doing he will move into the lineup,” Drew said. “Kirk is really picking stuff up faster than I thought he would, which is good.” Marcus Camby will start for the Blazers after missing 16 games following knee surgery.)
No more ‘Rook
One aspect of the trade I’ve overlooked is that Teague no longer has JC2 to lean on. Teague now is back to being the only young guy. It’s not the biggest deal, I know, but he still is just 22-years old.
“The first day it was tough,” Teague said. “I did everything with him, so he was like my best friend on the team. I know there is a business side of basketball and things happen and I’m glad he gets to go down there and play. I am still going to get to see him in the summer, so it’s all good.”
As for Jordan, Teague said: “At first he was a little hurt, I guess you can say. He knew the business of basketball and he knew the decision the team had to make. I think he is probably happy now. He actually got to suit up the other night.”
Crawford played tonight, too, and had a very good line.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat