My blog people have spoken, and the vast majority of you say the Hawks need another center now and should sign a free agent or trade for one.
Rick Sund also has spoken, and he says: “It all depends on who you match up with [in the playoffs] and how you do it.”
“Some teams you’ve got to be able to match up big and some you’ve got to be able to match up small,” Sund said.
He’s right about that. Miami goes small a lot. Philadelphia does so when Spencer Hawes is on the bench. Chicago is smallish when it’s Joakim Noah instead of Omer Asik (though that’s happening less and less).
But the problem for the Hawks is they can’t always go big when they need to. Zaza Pachulia is it as far as effective two-way centers. At power forward, they’ve got slim Josh Smith, green (and limited) Ivan Johnson and perimeter-oriented Vladimir Radmanovic.
Al Horford, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson all came into camp saying the Hawks needed another center. In Sund’s view, he covered the position with Horford, Zaza and Jason Collins.
“I always start the season, everywhere I’ve been, with three point guards and centers just in case you lose one of them,” Sund said. “We started this with Al, Zaza and Twin. To me, three to start is good. We are looking and watching [at other options] but, who knows?”
The obvious hole in that analysis is that Sund counts Collins as the third center when really he’s a specialist suited for a narrow role. Collins’ on-court, off-court numbers at basketballvalue.com suggest he still has a positive effect on the defense but has been a major drag on the offense.
After starting Collins at center for three games, Larry Drew didn’t use him until garbage time against Cleveland and gave him DNP-CDs at Milwaukee or San Antonio. I’m assuming that’s an acknowledgment that Collins just isn’t very good when asked to do much more than keep strong post scorers away from the basket. His lack of mobility clearly is a liability when he’s forced to defend the pick-and-roll, chase down rebounds or close out on shooters.
Good centers are hard to come by so it’s not easy to just go out and get one. But there wasn’t much indication during training camp that Sund was even looking for another big. His comments now suggest that he really did think Horford, Zaza, Twin, Josh and Ivan provided enough depth in the power rotation. So the Hawks loaded up on guards instead.
Now that Kirk Hinrich is back, I know many of you want to trade him for a big. That’s a reasonable view, even if it seems as if I might be the only one who thinks Hinrich has real value for the Hawks.
Over his career, Hinrich has been a better offensive player than Jannero Pargo. Subjectively, I’d say Hinrich is Pargo’s equal at defending point guards. And Hinrich’s real value is in his ability to check two guards, which would come in handy against most any team in the playoffs but especially Miami (I remember how he used to irritate Dwyane Wade) and Philly.
But the reality is Pargo has proven to be an adequate backup point guard. The Hawks have other options to score and defend twos (even if J.J. and Willie Green don’t inspire as much confidence) . Meanwhile, the Hawks don’t have many good alternatives in the front court and they don’t like any of the free agents (that changes once Kenyon Martin is released from his Chinese Basketball Association contract).
All of those factors, in addition to Hinrich’s expiring contract, would seem to make him a good candidate to be traded. I’m still not sure if the Hawks are willing to trade for a player that has another year(s) on his deal–Sund didn’t want to discuss anything like that. If not , it probably limits the trade market for Hinrich since teams that acquire an expiring contract almost always are looking to get rid of players with additional years left on their deals.
Sund, by the way, offered this explanation of why the Hawks waived Donald Sloan: “We really like what Pargo has given us. He’s played a lot and [Jerry] Stackhosue gives us experience. Sloan, we liked him. I think he’s a guy who will be in the league.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat