Archive for May, 2012

Atlanta Hawks: Rick Sund Q-and-A

More from my interview yesterday with Hawks GM Rick Sund.

MC: What is your evaluation of the season?

Sund: There are two seasons. Once you become a real playoff team, there are two seasons. I thought we had an unbelievably great first season: 40 wins, key people hurt, the players and Larry [Drew] kept their focus. We ended up having the fourth-best record in the East. I thought with all the adversity it was really a great year with the compressed schedule and all the obstacles a team has to climb, which every team has those obstacles. I thought it was good.

The second part of the season is the playoffs and that’s disappointing. I think a great thing when you go through the [exit] interview process you get to talk to the players, and to a man—I still have a couple to do—but to a man they all think we should still be playing. And that’s a good thing. There’s disappointment in their heart. They look [at the playoffs] and feel they are good enough to be playing at the …

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Atlanta Hawks: Still no decision on GM Rick Sund’s return

Nearly three weeks after the end of the Hawks’ season, general manager Rick Sund’s future with the team remains up in the air.

Sund’s contract expires at the end of June and he’s had discussions with the team’s owners about re-signing. But Sund said today no agreement has been reached to return for a fifth season.

“We have had a little bit of discussion but we’ve been focusing so much on putting closure to the season,” Sund said. “Nothing has been resolved at this point. We will have some more discussions and then the process will play itself out at some point and time. I’m here until July 1.

“Have I thought about it? Yes. Have I focused on it? No, because we just have too much that had to be done here in the last two weeks.”

Sund is scheduled to leave tomorrow for the scouting event in Minneapolis. He said he also still has to conduct exit interviews with a couple players.

Sund declined to comment on the details of his discussions with Hawks owner or say which factors play a …

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Atlanta Hawks: On Josh Smith’s future

Before Josh Smith started his summer vacation, he was asked about the possibility of signing a contract extension with the Hawks.

“I can’t get extended,” Smith said. “They didn’t give me the money; I had to go get it. That’s something I have to play it out and see how it goes from there.”

Two things stand out about that statement. The first is that Smith, who presumably got the info from his agent, is wrong about his contract not being eligible for an extension.

I looked at Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ and could see no reason why Smith is not eligible for an extension. It’s been at least three years since he signed the deal, it’s never been renegotiated and it doesn’t include an opt-in. I checked with Coon and he confirmed the Hawks can extend Smith’s deal (they actually have been able to do so since August).

But the more interesting aspect of Smith’s statement is his allusion to having to “go get” his contract. He’s referring, of course, to the offer sheet he signed with Memphis in …

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Atlanta Hawks: The Larry Drew half measure

In Orlando, the Magic fired Stan Van Gundy and said they did so essentially because he’s not a players’ coach. Or as the Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins put it: “[Van Gundy] occasionally annoyed veteran players with his demanding expectations, his demonstrative sideline demeanor and his blunt assessments of their play during press conferences.”

In Atlanta, meanwhile, the Hawks exercised Larry Drew’s contract option and I’ve head fans complain he’s too much of a players’ coach. These fans covet a coach who annoys veteran players with expectations, shows more “fire” on the sideline and takes to the media to call out players (or at least the players they don’t like at that moment).

(That sounds suspiciously like Mike Woodson, except with more quotes ripping players. But I digress.)

No matter your opinion on Atlanta’s decision to retain Drew, it doesn’t seem to be a strong decision. Instead, the Hawks took half measures with Drew and pulled off the tough trick of choosing …

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Atlanta Hawks: Larry Drew to return as coach

The Hawks said they’ve exercised the option on coach Larry Drew’s contract for next season. The team signed Drew to a two-year contract with an option in 2010.

The Hawks have posted an 84-64 record with Drew as coach. They lost to Boston in the first round of the playoffs last week, ending a streak of three consecutive years in the second round. But the team’s owners and management cited the team’s 40-26 regular-season record as a success in light of several injuries to key players, including center Al Horford.

“Larry did an outstanding job this season in guiding our team to the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference, despite a condensed schedule and unfortunate injuries,” Hawks GM Rick Sund said in a statement released by the team. “The Hawks have reached the postseason in each of his years on the bench, and we feel Larry’s experience, expertise and dedication to the game were a key ingredient to our success.”

Sund’s contract expires next month. He’s been in …

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Atlanta Hawks: Roster report

The season ends abruptly and fans immediately engage in the annual tradition of wishing their team had different players (if they wait that long). But before you start dreaming about the Hawks adding quality free agents, it’s best to take a sober (somber?) look at their payroll and circumstances.

This summer looks a lot like last summer for the Hawks: They have no cap space, lots of roster spots to fill and not much room under the luxury-tax line to do it.

The Hawks have approximately $61 million in guarantees committed to six players. The salary cap this season is about $58 million and the luxury tax threshold is about $70 million. Each of those figures could increase next season (they can’t decrease) but unless there’s a massive increase in BRI the Hawks won’t have any cap space and won’t gain much additional wiggle room under the tax threshold.

I don’t have to tell you the Hawks are unlikely to spend above the tax line again next season. They tried to avoid doing so this …

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Atlanta Hawks: NBA admits blown call in Game 6 (plus notes)

The NBA said Marquis Daniels should have been called sooner for fouling Al Horford on an inbound play with 3.1 seconds left in Game 6. If game officials had made the correct call the Hawks, who trailed 81-79 at the time, would have been awarded a free throw and possession of the ball.

The league posted a link with an explanation on one of its official Twitter accounts:

During the last two minutes of the fourth period or overtime, if a personal foul is assessed against the defensive team prior to the ball being released on a throw-in, it is considered an Away-From-The-Play Foul and the offensive team is awarded one free throw and possession of the ball. With 3.1 seconds remaining in the the Boston-Atlanta game last night, a foul was called on the Celtics’ Marquis Daniels after the Hawks’ Marvin Williams had released the ball and therefore the foul was correctly treated as a common foul and not an Away-From-the-Play foul. With that said, however, the replay shows that the foul …

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Atlanta Hawks: Video: Season ends at Boston

Boston–My video report following the Hawks’ season-ending 83-80 defeat to the Celtics.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

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Atlanta Hawks: Season’s over

Boston–The Hawks’ streak of second-round playoff appearances ended at three. After a 40-26 regular season, the Hawks lost in six games to the Celtics in the first round. There will be time to dissect things later but, for now, here’s what the participants had to say. . . .

  • Larry Drew on the season: “Given everything that we went through in the season with all the injuries and not having Al and so many guys missing games, I am very proud of our guys. We could have folded the tent. We responded very well, very professionally. Given 40 wins I’m very happy about that, given all we’ve been through. Tonight was disappointing [because] we didn’t advance. I thought we played a very gutsy series other than the one game. Overall I’m very proud of this bunch for what they accomplished.”
  • Al Horford on if there are any ‘what-ifs’ for the season: “There is. I’m proud of the guys the way they reacted and came out every night and competed. That’s tough having so many injuries and different …

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Atlanta Hawks at Celtics: Game 6 thread

Boston–The Celtics said Paul Pierce has a sprained left MCL. Doc Rivers: “It’s not the best situation but he’s going to play. We have to find out what he can do on the floor. We have to find the most effective way he can score. He said he has more life energy-wise [than Game 5], but the knee is the same.”

  • Same starting lineup for Hawks. Larry Drew on the lineup in Game 5: “It did pretty much what I expected. We’ve been waiting on Marvin [Williams] to make some shots. He’s had some good looks.”
  • Drew on Hawks’ health: “They are holding their own. We have got some guys that are a little banged up. But looking around the league, other teams do as well. It’s playoff time. The play has been very physical. We have just got to push through it.”
  • Drew on Josh Smith: “I think he’s getting better. He’s been battling a sore knee pretty much the whole season. He’s been quiet about it. He knows we need him and he has to play hurt, so that’s what he’s doing. I give him a lot of credit for …

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