Archive for December, 2011

Atlanta Hawks at Nets: Game thread

Finally, it’s time for real basketball. The Hawks are the last team in the Eastern Conference to play their first game.

Jeff Teague (ankle) is in the starting lineup with Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Al Horford. Kirk Hinrich (shoulder) and Donald Sloan are inactive.

Brook Lopez (foot) and Jordan Williams (dehydration) are out for the Nets. New Jersey won 90-84 at Washington last night.

The Hawks (and me) got here late because of awful traffic and rain. (Note: never trust the Google maps LaGuardia to Newark route that takes you through the city. Wish I’d known this 2 1/2 hours ago).

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

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Atlanta Hawks: ‘Old rookie’ Ivan Johnson vows to keep his cool after past blowups

Hope you had a good holiday, blog people. The Hawks were back in action today after a break and that means I am, too . . .

Today was the first time I got to ask Larry Drew about the decision to waive Keith Benson, the team’s only draft pick in June.

“It really came down to the progress of Ivan Johnson,” Drew said. “To be perfectly honest, we didn’t know he would come on the way he did. He’s had, not a good training camp, he’s had a phenomenal training camp. His motor is something you can’t teach and he brings that motor every practice. You guys see the way he plays in games. He just plays hard and there’s not enough guys like that.”

Johnson, 27, said he wasn’t sure he’d ever make the league but, before his mother died in 2007, he promised her he would keep trying.

“As you get older your dream starts to fade after a while,” he said. “You have just got to keep pushing, man. That’s what I kept doing.”

Fans at Atlanta’s exhibition game against Charlotte Thursday seemed to take a …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks waive Sy, Wanamaker, Rolle (Update: Benson also released)

The Hawks waived forward Magnum Rolle and guards Pape Sy and Brad Wanamaker today. More cuts are coming later today: The roster now stands at 16, one more than the maximum, and it’s possible Atlanta will carry the minimum 13 players for the regular season.

UPDATE: The Hawks waived center Keith Benson, their only draft pick in June. The team plans to carry 15 on the roster to start the season. There are four players on the roster with non-guaranteed deals: Ivan Johnson, Jannero Pargo, Donald Sloan, and Jerry Stackhouse.

The decisions on Rolle and Wanamaker were not unexpected but the Hawks gave up on Sy after investing in him as a long-term prospect. Coach Larry Drew said Sy’s inability to develop as a point guard played a part in the decision.

“We, the coaches and the management, came to an agreement that he’s been a little bit more effective off the ball than at the point,” Drew said. “With that and the acquisition of Willie Green and [having] a number of other guys that are …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 92, Bobcats 75 (exhibition)

  • In just five days the games will count for the Hawks. It’s hard to know what conclusions can be drawn from two exhibition games against one of the worst teams in the East. So I guess most of the following analysis comes with that disclaimer.
  • Fans responded to Ivan Johnson’s energetic, physical play. So did his teammates. “I was impressed,” Al Horford said. “The thing I like the most about him is he’s aggressive. He goes out there and plays hard. He’s fearless. I think he would be a nice addition to our team.”
  • I never would have thought so–Johnson is an undersized, over-aged prospect at a position where the Hawks have up to five guys as options. But Johnson has produced and made the most of his chance, earning a “very close look” from Drew.
  • “When we had him in the minicamp the thing that intrigued me was how hard he played,” Drew said. “He is capable of making shots but he’s like a Mack truck in there at times. If you get in his way he will run you over. If there is a loose …

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Bobcats at Atlanta Hawks: Game thread

The Hawks signed guard Willie Green.

“You are talking about a guy who is a combo guard that’s a scorer, tough defender,”Larry Drew said. “He’s a guy that plays hard when he’s on the floor. He’s kind of had to do it the hard way therefore he has an appreciation for what he’s earned. I think he’s kind of a throwback. Kind of an old-school style player.”

Like Jannero Pargo, Green is more of a scorer than a playmaker. Green is the better shooter but, also like Pargo, most of his attempts are long 2s and he doesn’t draw many fouls or make many 3-pointers.

However, both players are quick, high-energy guys and Drew thinks they will help the Hawks play the new, aggressive defensive style he wants.

“You can’t play a high-energy defensive scheme if you don’t have the personnel to do it,” he said. “Both guys have played that way pretty much their whole careers. Jannero, when he was down in New Orleans and had his best years, he was very effective playing that way. Willie’s style is very …

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Atlanta Hawks: Camp Report Day 13

Soon after their game against Charlotte tomorrow night, the Hawks will trim the roster down from 18 to no more than 13 (the deadline is Saturday). They have 10 guaranteed contracts and you figure Jannero Pargo is safe. That leaves seven players with contracts that are not fully guaranteed vying for no fewer than two spots and no more than five (16 is the max roster size): Keith Benson, Ivan Johnson, Magnum Rolle, Jerry Stackhouse, Pape Sy, Donald Sloan and Brad Wanamaker.

Here is the depth chart with only the guaranteed guys plus Pargo included (and not including Kirk Hinrich):

PG: Jeff Teague/Pargo
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: Marvin Williams/Tracy McGrady
PF: Josh Smith/Vladimir Radmanovic
C: Al Horford/Zaza Pachulia/Jason Collins

What do the Hawks need most? The answer would seem to be a another guard because both Larry Drew and T-Mac have said McGrady has spent most of his time at small forward. But each time I ask Drew about the backups at positions two through four, he mentions …

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Atlanta Hawks: Camp Report Day 12

Here’s what Larry Drew had to say today about Jannero Pargo, who was officially signed and immediately designated the backup to Jeff Teague:

“Very similar to Jeff, he’s a point guard who can score. But the experience itself is very valuable.”

In my assessment of Pargo last night, I didn’t note that he does have a pretty good scoring rate. In fact, his per-36 minute scoring averages over the last five seasons are comparable to what Jamal Crawford provided last season.

And in the context of the Hawks, Pargo’s experience is valuable. It was not feasible to start the season with one of Pape Sy, Donald Sloan or Brad Wanamaker as the backup point guard, especially since the schedule is so demanding. So adding a veteran, even a marginal one, provides some stability for the Hawks.

But if the goal was to add some scoring punch to the bench on the cheap, the Hawks got a scorer who is less efficient than Jamal because he doesn’t shoot as well and doesn’t get to the line as often. As John …

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Atlanta Hawks: Bobcats 79, Hawks 77 (exhibition)

  • The regulars were kind of besides the point in this one, so let’s go straight to the other guys.
  • Donald Sloan had some shaky moments. D.J. Augustin blew by him on Sloan’s first and second defensive possession (though Josh Smith slid in to take a charge on the second play).
  • “To be honest, I was nervous at the beginning when I first got in,” Sloan said. “But [Larry Drew] surrounded me with the guys that have been doing it for a while and made me calm down a little bit. Second half, I was as comfortable as I’ve been all year.”
  • In the closing moments, Sloan let Kemba Walker rub him off a screen too easily before Walker made that floater and Sloan also didn’t immediately foul Walker after the long rebound. Sloan does have quick hands and he had some nice pick-and-roll action with Al Horford.
  • “Sloan looked pretty good at the point guard position,” Josh Smith said. “Wanamaker looked pretty decent defensively and offensively making sure everyone was set and getting us into our …

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Atlanta Hawks at Bobcats: Game thread

Charlotte–The Hawks plan to sign point guard Jannero Pargo. He’s expected to join the team tomorrow.

Pargo, 32, was didn’t play in a game during a 14-game stint with Chicago last season after playing 63 games for the Bulls in 2009-10. He’s a high-usage guard who isn’t much of a shooter but takes the bulk of his shots from 16 feet and out. His assist rate was among the lowest for point guards in 2009-10, according to

Pargo’s defensive PER numbers as a point guard in 2009-10 weren’t good, according to His Synergy defensive numbers that season were weak and Chicago allowed two points fewer per 100 possessions when he was off the court, according to


  • Larry Drew is using the regular lineup but he plans to play the starters no more than 20 minutes. Jason Collins (knee) is out for precautionary reasons. Magnum Rolle (foot) said he’s good to go.
  • In addition to evaluating the young guards, Drew said he wants to try out different …

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Atlanta Hawks: More on NBA superstars looking past Atlanta

Some stuff that didn’t make it into my story about NBA superstars bypassing Atlanta:

Courtney Brunious, the assistant director of the University of Southern California’s Sports Business Institute, said Atlanta is a good market for players in terms of business opportunities. Plus, he said location is not as important as it once was for building a brand: “You see across the country if you have a major superstar, the companies will come find them. Players also have a wider base through new media opportunities. You can be the proverbial big fish in a small pond if you have a good strategy to reach out to companies.”

More from Chris Webber on Atlanta fans: “I feel sorry for Joe Johnson when D-Rose or New York come to town. Usually you see a player dunk and say, ‘This is my house!’ With the Hawks you have the other team coming down and dunking and saying, ‘This is my house!’”

Webber said he takes heat from Atlanta fans for criticizing them but that he’s not along in his …

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