Atlanta Hawks: Camp Report Day 4
Media Day (David Tulis/AJC Special)
Notes and quotes gathered at Hawks media day while realizing I won’t see 70 percent of these people for the rest of the season. . . .
- I haven’t been in the locker room yet but Larry Drew said he’s put up a new sign that reads: “No excuses.” “I told them there are no more excuses at this point of our careers,” Drew said. “It’s time to take the next step.
- That’s a good point. Hawks players and coaches can wish they had more pieces–nearly every team in the league does–but if this is the team they are going to have, then this is who is going to have to get it done. It’s not as if they don’t have players or experience.
- “In order for us to become champs in this league we are all going to have to step our game up at some point,” Joe Johnson said. “We can’t blame it on ‘what we need.’ We can get it done with this group that we’ve got. We just have to believe it.”
- Drew said Tracy McGrady and Jerry Stackhouse can provide the kind of leadership the Hawks have lacked: “Both guys have been at this long enough, they are not afraid to step on toes. That is one of the most important ingredients for veteran leadership. Irregardless of being here a short time, they are not afraid to voice their opinion, step on toes and call guys out. We haven’t had that in the past.”
- Drew said J.J. needs to do more, too: “He knows the rest of the guys look up to him. He’s always been a leader by example, now we really need him to step up and really be more vocal. Don’t hold it in. We are a team that has been together for a while now and it’s time to turn the corner. To do that, we need him to step up and be more vocal.”
- The biggest drop-off in J.J.’s numbers last season came at the 3-point line. I asked him if his injured elbow contributed to that: “I’m a guy who never makes excuses. I had a down year last year and I’m look forward to bouncing back. I don’t blame my elbow or none of that. I am just going to play the game the way I know how and contribute the best way I can.”
- Tracy McGrady was pretty upfront about where he’s at in his career: “I had some injuries that set me back for two years but I was fortunate to bounce back from those. I’m not a 30-point scorer anymore but I can still play the game.”
- Josh Smith told AJC wise guy Jeff Schultz that he’s worked on his mid-range game but wouldn’t be taking as many 3-pointers: “You’re going to see less of that from me.”
- The stat geek inside of me immediately opened his smart mouth: “But better to take 3s when you have a 49.7 effective field-goal percentage, and make long 2s at a 39-percent clip.” Sometimes that stat geek is no fun.
- Vladimir Radmanovich put on his Hawks jersey for the first time. “Everybody knows I am a 3-point shooter and I am a guy that stretches the offense,” he said. “I am going to try to do that and help guys get more space down in the paint to operate.”
- I told him I noticed he had pretty good blocks and steals rates last season. He attributed it to dropping weight last season: “Not having so much weight gives me the opportunity to be quicker and lighter and I think that helped me last year in terms of steals and blocks. There are some advantages to it and some disadvantages to it. You have to pick your poison.
- Everyone wanted to know if the Jeff Teague we saw against the Bulls is the same one we are going to see this season. The consensus was the Teague is playing as if he intends to back that up.
- Drew: “Looks like he’s had a really good offseason. Judging by the first practices he’s really playing at a high level. His speed and quickness just makes us a totally different team. I expect him to take the bull by the horns. I don’t want him to have to wait on anybody. Let’s force the other guys to keep up with him. He’s the type of player that can impact the game with his speed and quickness.”
- Joe: “I see him picking up right where he left out. I told Jeff coming in to this year he has to be that leader on the court where guys really can trust him. I’ve seen the work he put in over the summer, working on his jump shot and penetrating and making plays for guys. We are going to need him to do it. He’s a great defender, a guy who loves to get in the passing lanes. When he turns that corner, the Atlanta Hawks are going to turn that corner as well.”
- J.J. has noticed what I’ve noticed: Teague is carrying himself differently now. “You can see how he communicates, his body language, knowing that he is going to have the rock in his hand making decisions.”
- There also were some questions about how the Hawks would replace Jamal Crawford’s scoring. “I’m going to step my game up,” J.J. said. “Josh is going to step his up, Al his going to step his up. I think [we do it] collectively as a team. It’s not just going to be one guy. I think we are going to have to do something to pick up the slack.”
- “We are going to have to depend on me and Marvin and Al and Teague to fill that void that Jamal left,” Josh said.
- Kirk Hinrich said he hasn’t been cleared to run yet so he’s trying to stay in shape by getting on the bike and elliptical machine. “It’s just frustrating not to be able to play,” he said.
- The Clippers claimed Chauncey Billups.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat