Vivlamore with your (early) Hawks report.
Today the 2012-13 season officially gets underway with media day. I have a lot of people to introduce myself to before we really get things started. Practices begin Tuesday.
There are obviously a lot of topics to cover as this season begins. I have a lengthy list myself. However, if there is something you want me to write about please post your ideas. I will add as many as I can to my list and we’ll get moving. Thanks all.
This will be my first chance to talk to Josh Smith since the end of last season – and there is a lot to talk about with all the off-season changes, trade rumors, his contract status, etc. In preparation for today’s story on J-Smoove here a couple of quotes from GM Danny Ferry and coach Larry Drew about the franchise fixture.
Q. Are your impressions of Josh Smith the same now than they were before you got here?
A. Josh is a good player. I’ve said that from the day I got here, from the outside in. The things I like about Josh’s game is he can be a game changer defensively and cover up a lot of mistakes and ground and he’s versatile in doing so. Offensively, he’s capable of scoring. He’s a very good passer. I like that about his game. Offensively, he can get the rebound and take it up court. It throws an [opposing] team off balance a little bit when guys can do that. He’s had a really strong career so far and let’s see if we can take it another level. Larry will push him, I will push him, to go from that really good to try to get to that next level.
Q. Josh Smith is entering the final year of his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent following the season. As I’ve been told, it is unlikely a new deal will get done before the summer. Will that be a distraction? How will to prevent it from becoming a distraction?
A. I try to maintain my focus on the big picture. Certainly, Josh Smith has been a vital, vital part of the success that we’ve experienced here. He’s been phenomenal. These type situations are the business side of it and you certainly understand his side, you understand the organization’s side. We know we love him. We know we want him back. We certainly understand what he’s thinking is. It’s my understanding that there has been some dialog with his representatives. Whether something is resolved during the season or whether they wait until after the season, that’s the business side of it.
My job and my focus, as a coach, with Josh Smith is to get his game to that next level. And that next level means that he is an All-Star. I don’t think there is any question about Josh’s ability to be an All-Star. It’s up to me to try to get him there. Me and him have had some dialog this summer. Josh is a very bright kid. Certainly with what he brings to the table in order for us to achieve any type of success, we need Josh to be at the top of his game and committed. From the conversations that I’ve had with him, he’s committed to that. I don’t anticipate any type of distraction. What I anticipate Josh Smith doing is going out and focusing on basketball and allow everything else to work out itself.
Q. When you say ‘Get him to the next level,’ can you give me tangible examples of what needs to be done?
A. I think it’s a combination of things. I think it’s an overall approach to how to you reach it. I think he has improved his outside shot. I think he has to be a little bit more selective with his outside shot. He has certainly improved his low-post game. I still think he can be even better. I think he’s one of the best power forwards in our league in rebounding out of his space and getting the ball and initiating the break. I think he is one of the best defenders in our league because he can defend all five positions. I think he is one of the smartest basketball players that I’ve coached. This guy sees things before they even take place. He is a student of the game. He watches a lot of film.
Does he have to be better in how to deal with the officials? Yes he does. I think his overall game, his overall approach, he has to improve in all those areas. I think he knows that. These are things he and I have talked about. He knows in order for him to reach that next level, he knows the areas he has to get better. It’s going to be my job to push him to do that. I certainly plan on doing that.
- I will update after I speak with Smith.
- Chris Vivlamore
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