Archive for June, 2012

Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson included in Hawks trade talk

Hawks guard Joe Johnson is included among several trade possibilities being discussed by the team but no deals are imminent, according to a person familiar with the talks.

New Hawks GM Danny Ferry is focused on the trade market as he seeks to re-tool the roster. Johnson is owed $90 million over the next four years and trading him could provide the Hawks salary-cap relief and far greater flexibility for the future.

The Hawks have received calls from teams interested in forward Josh Smith but Ferry so far has considered the price to be too high, according to a person with knowledge of the talks. The person said the Lakers and Magic are among the teams who’ve inquired about Smith.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, who first reported the Johnson trade talks, the Nets are looking to pair Johnson with point guard Deron Williams. Williams will be an unrestricted free agent after midnight and Brooklyn is making an effort to entice him to re-sign.

The Hawks still haven’t …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson included in Hawks trade talk »

Atlanta Hawks: Danny Ferry looking to trade but avoid the tax

Danny Ferry didn’t make the decisions that led to the Hawks owing $61 million in salaries next season to six veteran players on a team that’s topped out in the second round of the playoffs.

But now that’s he’s Hawks GM, Ferry will have to build a roster for next season without much financial flexibility. And he will have to start doing it pretty much on the fly because the free-agent negotiating period opens Sunday, less than a week after he took the job.

“It’s a crash course, for sure,” Ferry said. “I think we want to make the best decisions possible in the short term. We want to make right decisions, whether it’s a trade, whether it’s free agency. But especially trades.”

The trade market remains the best way for the Hawks to make significant additions to the roster (which of course means they’d also have to make significant subtractions).

They continue to get a lot of calls about Josh Smith but the impetus for pursuing Pau Gasol came from Rick Sund and Ferry so far hasn’t …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Danny Ferry looking to trade but avoid the tax »

Atlanta Hawks: Hawks select John Jenkins and Mike Scott in draft

The Hawks selected Vanderbilt sharpshooter John Jenkins and Virginia forward Mike Scott in the draft.

Jenkins was projected to go later in the draft than No. 23 but Larry Drew said the Hawks didn’t think he’d even make it to them.

“When Boston made the No. 22 selection, there was a lot of happiness in the room that John would be there,” Drew said.

That presumably means the Hawks weren’t waiting on Syracuse center Fab Melo. It definitely means they preferred Jenkins, 21, to prospects that might have more potential to improve such as Tony Wroten and Perry Jones.

At first glance, that doesn’t seem to fit with Danny Ferry’s focus on long-term development. But Drew said Jenkins has room to improve while providing an NBA skill now.

“He is a guy that has potential to get into rotational lineup,” Drew said. “But being a young kid, he’s a guy that can grow and provide some youth for us. He is a kid that wants to be the best. We have to think about not just the present but the …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Hawks select John Jenkins and Mike Scott in draft »

Atlanta Hawks: NBA draft open thread

Update: The Hawks selected Vanderbilt junior guard John Jenkins with the No. 23 overall pick. The Hawks had two workout sessions at Philips Arena with Jenkins, who was the top perimeter shooter in NCAA Division I last season.

Update: The Hawks selected Virginia forward Mike Scott with the No. 43 overall pick.

There has seemed to be a subtle shift in comments by Hawks folks since Danny Ferry came on board.

Before there was lots of talk about possibly selecting a player who could join the rotation right away. Now there seemed to be more of a focus on drafting the best talent, regardless of that player’s immediate readiness.

“The ‘best player’ scenario probably fits us the best right now,” Hawks assistant manager Dave Pendergraft said.

That’s not to suggest that the Hawks weren’t considering a long-term prospect before (and, really, most of the players available late in the first round fit that bill). It’s just that Ferry and co-owner Bruce Levenson both have stressed …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: NBA draft open thread »

Atlanta Hawks: Prospect focus: Syracuse’s Fab Melo and Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli

The league trend is smaller lineups. The Heat’s small lineups defeated the Thunder’s small lineups in the finals–though it helps to have the best player in the world, a guy who can play all five positions.

But the small ball movement seems to be one of circumstance rather than innovation. Remember, Erik Spoelstra resisted it to the point that he tried starting Dexter Pittman in the playoffs.

Teams would use traditional lineups if there were more quality bigs.

“Sometimes the counter to that [small ball] is make teams match up to you,” Hawks assistant GM Dave Pendergraft said. “There are still several big centers in the league. I think there is always going to be a premium on big guys. Anytime you can get size and are convinced they can compete at this level, it’s hard to turn down.”

That brings us to the tonight’s draft, when the Hawks could have the chance to select one of two centers with the No. 23 pick: Syracuse’s Fab Melo and Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli.

Each prospect have …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Prospect focus: Syracuse’s Fab Melo and Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli »

Atlanta Hawks: Hawks said to pursue Josh Smith for Pau Gasol trade

According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the Hawks have tired to trade forward Josh Smith for Lakers forward Pau Gasol.

Bresnahan tweeted that no deal is imminent. And a big caveat is that his report says the Hawks first expressed interest in Gasol after Los Angeles was eliminated from the playoffs by the Thunder, back when Rick Sund was still Hawks GM.

The Hawks have since hired GM Danny Ferry, who says he’s focused on building long term. Gasol turns 32 next week and is owed more than $38 million over the next two seasons.

Also, Bresnahan and ESPN’s Chad Ford reported the Lakers are open to trading Gasol for a high lottery pick and players, a price the Hawks can’t match.

The Rockets, who have been accumulating draft picks, could meet the Lakers’ price. Houston already tried to trade for Gasol as part of the infamous Chris Paul deal that was eventually nixed by NBA commissioner David Stern.

Update: Ford now says the Rockets aren’t pursuing Gasol.

Smith, who can …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Hawks said to pursue Josh Smith for Pau Gasol trade »

Atlanta Hawks: Prospect focus: Memphis’ Will Barton

During his sophomore season at Memphis, Will Barton was among the best guards in the NCAA at rebounding, finishing around the basket and getting to the free-throw line.

A couple things stand out about that for me. One is that Barton managed to do all of this in spite of a very thin build. The other is that if he could eventually do those things for the Hawks, he would be the only guard on the current roster with that skill set.

That’s an big “if,” though, because Barton isn’t likely to add much much more weight to his 175-pound frame. He’s old for an NCAA sophomore at 21 and it’s not as if he hasn’t tried to bulk up.

“It’s just tough to put on weight,” he said. “I eat a lot. I do push ups. I lift weights. It’s a thing where I will probably just never put on weight. But [if I can] just keep gaining strength and be able to take hits and defend my position and rebound and do the things I do, I will be fine.”

Barton scored 1.328 points per possession around the basket as a …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Prospect focus: Memphis’ Will Barton »

Atlanta Hawks: Prospect focus: Vanderbilt’s Jeffery Taylor

Here’s something different: An NBA hopeful who’s about defense.

“I think it’s more of a mental thing,” said Vanderbilt wing Jeffery Taylor. “It’s more about how you approach the game. I think a lot of guys nowadays don’t really value defense. It’s all about scoring, the highlight plays and whatnot. My dad always instilled in me a defensive mentality. You need to be prideful in what you do on the court, and part of having pride is not letting someone score on you.”

Taylor was voted to the SEC’s all-defense team three times, joining Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado as the only players in league history to do so. He says he’s been a “big fan of [Thabo] Sefolosha for a long time.”

“I think defense is kind of like a lost art, almost,” Taylor said. “If you look at Sefolosha in the playoffs, he’s playing tremendous defense. He’s making a lot of key plays for them. A wing defender that’s good at what he does and can score the ball as well is a valuable asset.”

Taylor’s focus on …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Prospect focus: Vanderbilt’s Jeffery Taylor »

Atlanta Hawks: Co-owner Bruce Levenson Q-and-A

Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson was the point man for the team’s recruitment of general manager Danny Ferry. He said he took the lead because he had a previous relationship with Ferry back when Ferry was Cleveland’s general manager.

My impression is that the Hawks are more likely to make major moves with Ferry in charge rather than Rick Sund, who would have been more a caretaker if he’d stayed on as GM. Levenson said he’s not sure of Ferry’s plans because the two didn’t talk much about the current roster before he was hired, instead focusing on building a long-term program.

But Levenson said he believes the Hawks will benefit from an outsider’s fresh perspective because the owners are close to the current players.

“It will be interesting to see what direction he goes,” Levenson said.

Here are some excerpts from Levenson’s session with reporters yesterday:

From Levenson’s opening remarks at the press conference.

“We had hurdles to overcome to get Danny to come here. Not just …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Co-owner Bruce Levenson Q-and-A »

Atlanta Hawks: Danny Ferry uncut

Some excerpts from Danny Ferry’s session with reporters following his introduction as Hawks GM.

From Ferry’s opening statement:

I was not looking to leave San Antonio. [Owner] Peter Holt, [coach] Gregg Popovich, [GM] R.C. Buford were incredible to me and my family. Obviously it’s a wonderful place to work.

But getting to know Bruce [Levenson] over the last several weeks made myself think and challenge myself whether this is the right thing to do. I was struck by his humble approach to the past [especially] for a team that has done well. There was a real sense of humility. I was really struck by his intensity, his focus, his energy about going toward the future and trying to build something from the ground up. This was critical to me to know that it can and will be done the right way.

Over the last four years, from 10,000 feet looking at it from San Antonio, this place has done pretty well. Rick [Sund] is a big part of that, Larry [Drew] last year obviously was a big part of …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Danny Ferry uncut »