Archive for October, 2012

Atlanta Hawks practice report: Horford, Smith interim captains

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.

A couple quick notes to pass on from today’s workout.

* Coach Larry Drew said he has yet to decide team captains and will take 7-10 days to think about it. In the meantime Al Horford and Josh Smith, both on the captains committee last season, will serve in the positions.

* Drew again declined to reveal his starting lineup for Friday’s season-opener against the Rockets. “I’m going to sleep on it tonight,” Drew said with a coy smile. “I will tell you tomorrow that I’ll be sleeping on it tonight.”

* Center Johan Petro (back) did not practice for the third straight day. He worked with the team’s training staff on the side. “He is getting better,” Drew said.

* Forward Mike Scott returned to practice after missing Tuesday’s workout with flu-like symptoms.

* Drew sat down with each player to discuss their role with the team this season. “I really wanted to wait until we got our roster down before I did that,” he said. “We had a good dialog.”

* …

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Atlanta Hawks: Reasons for optimism (updated)

Vivlamore reporting before Hawks practice Wednesday.

I’ve spent the last couple of days thinking about the reasons the Hawks have to be optimistic about the upcoming season. There were so many changes in the offseason, from the front office to nine new players. What is to prevent this team from taking a step backward with all those changes, including the loss of a six-time All-Star?

So I asked.

Here is what coach Larry Drew and three of the five returning players had to say when I asked “What makes you optimistic about this season?”

Larry Drew

“I think we are going to give ourselves a chance every single night because we have guys who can score the basketball. Where we have to become better, to become more of a unit, is on the defensive end. We have to make more of a commitment as a unit on the defensive end. Yeah, we have a lot of shooters. We have speed. We have quickness. But I tell these guys every day that we cannot hang our hat on just that. We have to be a team that …

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Atlanta Hawks: Five things learned from the preseason (updated)

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.

With the Hawks’ regular-season opener just three days away, here are five things we’ve learned after a month of training camp and exhibition games.

1. New offense modifications

With a roster of new players, just five returnees, coach Larry Drew set about re-writing his offensive playbook. There was speed at the guard position and a depth of outside shooters to employ.

The offense struggled at times during exhibition games as players – new and old – worked to implement the new system. Drew and his staff have spent several practices since the final exhibition game going over what has already been put in place. There is more offense to install. In all, the Hawks scored 92 or more points in six of their seven exhibitions.

Drew has tweaked his playbook since getting an up-close look at his roster and seeking player input. He modified it based on such things as what side of the court or angle a player prefers to run an offensive set.

“As a …

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Atlanta Hawks: Teague, Pachulia back, ready for opener

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.

Jeff Teague and Zaza Pachulia, who both missed the final two exhibition games with sprained left ankles, returned to full-contact practice for the Hawks Monday. They are expected to play in Friday’s regular-season opener against the Rockets.

Teague said he can still feel some soreness in the ankle but it is improving every day. The point guard declared himself a go.

Pachulia has been limited much of the preseason, first with a groin injury and then the ankle. The center appeared in just three exhibition games.

“Right now, I’m doing my best to get back as quick as possible with my timing, my legs,” Pachulia said. “I haven’t had too much time to run and work on my legs. I’m trying to get back in good shape.”

Center Johan Petro did not practice Monday with what coach Larry Drew called a sore back. Petro would be an early candidate to the one player the team must declare inactive for the season opener.

Drew was pleased by the return of …

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Atlanta Hawks: Failure was not an option for Tolliver

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.

Anthony Tolliver took the phone call from Hawks general manager Danny Ferry Saturday. His first thought before answering was not a good one. Why would the general manger call if not to break some bad news?

The forward, fighting for a roster spot, feared he had failed to make the team. However, Hawks management wanted to inform the veteran quite the opposite.

“It scared me when they called me,” Tolliver said Sunday. “Usually, it’s no news is good news. I was getting a call (Saturday) and I was like ‘This isn’t good.’ But they said they look forward to having me on this team.”

Tolliver secured the final spot on a roster of 14, one below the NBA maximum. The Hawks waived James Anderson and Damion James Saturday to finalize their roster well before the Monday deadline. Coach Larry Drew said the final decisions were not easy, especially in the case of James. The former Hawks draft pick turned heads with his preseason play.

“Going into our …

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Atlanta Hawks: One year later, ownership ‘extremely’ fortunate to keep stake in team

Here is the story Tim Tucker and I did on the Hawks current ownership situation that appeared in Sunday’s print edition of the AJC. I think you will find some details that haven’t previously been reported.

One year later, the Hawks’ ownership group considers itself fortunate that its deal to sell a majority stake in the team to a Los Angeles businessman fell through.

“Extremely” fortunate, Bruce Levenson said. “Extremely.”

In an exclusive two-hour interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Levenson — the ownership group’s co-managing partner and NBA governor — described in detail for the first time how and why he and his partners moved from having one foot out the door to a full re-engagement.

Levenson said the group has made no effort to sell the team since the deal with Alex Meruelo was called off Nov. 4, 2011. He said the group hopes to add minority investors, but is focused on building the franchise and owning it long-term.

Levenson’s account of the group’s …

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Atlanta Hawks: Anderson, James waived (updated)

Vivlamore reporting.

The Hawks waived guard James Anderson and forward Damion James Saturday, the final roster cuts of the preseason, to reduce to 14 players ahead of next week’s regular-season opener.

Forward Anthony Tolliver made the roster as the only non-guaranteed contract. His contract would become guaranteed if he remains on the roster on Jan. 10.

The Hawks go into the season with one less player than the maximum of 15 allowed by the NBA. By keeping one roster spot open, the Hawks have the flexibility to add another player via trade or signing. Also, keeping Tolliver adds veteran depth to the bench with guard Jeff Teague and center Zaza Pachulia both nursing sprained ankles. The Hawks had until 5 p.m. Monday to make their final cuts.

Tolliver had the best preseason numbers of the final three vying for a roster spot. He appeared in all seven games, with two starts,  and averaged 8.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in 18.7 minutes. His size, at 6-foot-8, gives the Hawks options …

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NBA commissioner David Stern to step down

By Michael Cunningham

David Stern’s time as NBA commissioner will soon come to an end so it seemed an appropriate time for him to talk about his legacy as NBA commissioner.

But Stern, 70, said he’s not a big believer in the “‘L’ word.,” though he wasn’t modest about his resume.

“I just want people to say that he steered the good ship NBA through all kinds of interesting times, some choppy waters, some extraordinary opportunities and … on his watch, the league grew in popularity, became a global phenomenon, and the owners and the players and the fans did very well,” Stern said during a teleconference.

Stern informed the league’s owners Thursday that he will step down as commissioner on Feb. 1, 2014, 30 years after he was hired. The league has experienced several highs and lows on his watch but by nearly all measures is healthier than when he got the job.

The game has grown in popularity and global reach since Stern became commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. Back then the league was …

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Atlanta Hawks: Q and A with Josh Smith

Vivlamore reporting (from vacation, shhhhh).

Here are five questions I asked of Josh Smith as part of the season preview that will appear in Sunday’s print edition of the AJC.

Q. What are your expectations for the team this year and have they changed since the start of training camp?

A. My expectations are the same expectations I set for this ball club every year and that’s to compete for a championship. I think that we have the talent. We have the cohesiveness. All we have to do is be able to figure out a way to play consistently together on the defensive end. I think when we get that down pat, the sky is the limit for this team.

Q. Would that be the biggest challenge with a revamped roster?

A. We were pretty good defensively the last couple of years. We’ve been pretty solid. We might just be a little undersized. We were undersized before but are very undersized now. But that shouldn’t be an issue. I think that we have a lot of feisty and competitive people on this team that …

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Video: Hawks still implementing new offense

What will the Atlanta Hawks starting lineup look like on opening night? CineSport’s Brian Clark and the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore discuss this and the implementation of the Hawks’ new offense.

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