When Danny Ferry said it, I felt like Micheal Keaton in “The Paper” (underrated flick, by the way).
“He said the headline! The guy actually said the headline!”
Ferry succinctly summed up the frustrations I’ve heard expressed so many times by my blog people. That’s why the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive to Ferry’s decision to extract the franchise from two burdensome contracts.
But already I sense some anxiety among you about the next step. No doubt that feeling is heightened by Ferry’s failed (for now) pursuit of a trade for Dwight Howard, who’s status is in limbo. I’ve seen Hawks fans already fretting that no superstar would ever actually choose to sign with this franchise.
None of this surprises me, of course. It didn’t take me long in this job to learn that a sense of insecurity and pending dread appears to be a common symptom of your affection for the Hawks.
But, more than that, these concerns are reasonable. You recognize this is just the first step in a plan that’s difficult to execute. Bold moves may be necessary at times but they don’t always or even usually lead to more success than the status quo.
Ferry’s decision to take a step back comes with significant risk. That’s still true even if you believe there never would be any greater reward for staying pat.
Ferry chuckled when I told him that elation among Hawks fans about the trades had been supplanted by some nervousness that there would be no follow-through.
“I can’t give you all the answers,” he said. “We were good but not good enough, and now how do we find a way to get even better than before?”
Some tweeps interpreted Ferry’s comments about the status quo not being good enough as a shot at his predecessors and the team’s ownership. I didn’t read it that way–and, besides, Bruce Levenson himself was blunt in acknowledging that the franchise’s basketball operations needed a fresh philosophy.
On the day Ferry was introduced as GM, he mentioned that the organization seemed a bit too humble in light of its accomplishments. He seemed a bit incredulous when reporters peppered him with questions about his plan to make the Hawks better.
“They’ve been good here and I have to come to that with respect,” Ferry said. “There are teams that are trying to get to where the Atlanta Hawks are at now.”
These new Hawks are now behind those Hawks and it’s up to Ferry to get them where they’ve never been. He has the assets to do it now: expiring contracts, productive young players with reasonable deals, draft picks and massive cap space in the near future.
In fact, those chips should help alleviate your worries about free agents choosing Atlanta. Ferry has the tools to bring talent here in trades (the cap space will make that simpler, too). It’s telling that when Ferry is asked about free agents, he usually comes back to trades.
“There should be options but it’s also not all going to happen on July 15,” he said. “We have through to the trade deadline and we will continue to build on our team.”
Ferry decided that the Hawks’ good wasn’t good enough. It may take a while before my blog people can hope for greatness and it’s possible it may never come. But you said all along you wanted the Hawks to shoot for a championship and now they can at least try.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat