Atlanta Hawks practice report: Defense, cuts and tweets

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.

Upon returning to practice after Wednesday’s 101-99 exhibition loss at San Antonio, it’s clear the team is still working out defensive issues.

“We spent 90 percent of our practice just going over some defensive situations that we didn’t do a good job with in San Antonio,” coach Larry Drew following Friday’s practice. “We watched film this morning and made some corrections. We want the focus on getting back to what we’ve done the first week of training camp as far as transition defense, our pick-and-roll coverages, our play in the post, our weak-side help. All those things we want to get back to and get the guys’ minds trained to do it one way. Clearly, particularly that first half, we didn’t do a good job with that.”

The Spurs, playing without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, shot 51.9 percent from the field in the victory.

“It was the most glaring issue I had,” Drew said of the defensive issues. “I told the guys at halftime, all the things we spent working on the first week of training camp and then we come down to San Antonio and it’s like we haven’t been together. That was a little bit discouraging. We are a team that will have to continue to learn along the way. The things that we have implemented thus far, we can’t go into games and just lose focus on. I thought we did that the first half against San Antonio.”

In other practice news:

* Devin Harris (knee) and Zaza Pachulia (groin) were full participants. DeShawn Stevenson (swollen knee) was limited.

* The Hawks’ roster stands at 17 players following the release of forward/center Keith Benson and guard Isma’il Muhammad Thursday.

Here is what Drew said about the roster moves: “It’s just one of those situations where we have to get our numbers down gradually. Both guys we brought in camp and we’re very excited about bringing both of those guys in. Benson has been here before, has some length and is long around the basket. He can block shots and I really wanted to take another look at him. I really thought he improved from a year ago. Ish Muhammad, I watched a lot of him all summer from our pick-up games. He just plays hard. He gets after it and makes it hard for the opposition. I thought both of those guys would be very good in our camp. They both did a pretty good job it was just unfortunate that we had to get our numbers down and we’ll continue to have to get our numbers down. Therefore, we made our first two cuts.”

I asked Drew if he thought Benson needed another season in the NBA Development League or is he NBA ready for another team.

“I think he probably needs another year in the D-League,” Drew said. “He’s made tremendous improvement from a year ago. He’s got size. He’s got length. He’s gotten stronger in a year’s time. Maybe more work down in the D-League where he can play every day in the post and not be with somebody and sit on the bench. I think he’s made tremendous strides.”

Drew said he has not yet decided when more roster moves will be made.

* Finally, I caught up with Stevenson today about the tweets he sent out the other day, apparently in reference to comments made by the Nets’ Deron Williams in an ESPN The Magazine article.

Williams told the magazine he didn’t expect to get frustrated with his teammates this season, as he often did last season. Williams said he was upset because players would often laugh in the locker room following losses.

Of several of Stevenson’s tweets were:

- “I hate Fake [expletive] That Quit on team but talk [expletive] to ESPN Mag.”

- “If u gonna say ppl Quit say Names I Don’t Quit I work hard period when u say that my name in it and I work hard I don’t quit!!!”

I asked Stevenson who his comments were intended for and he said the following: “If people know who I was talking about, if they don’t, they don’t. I’m done with it. I’m worried about the Atlanta Hawks right now. This group of guys. What I said is done with. If you know who I’m talking about, you do; if you don’t, you don’t.”

I then asked what was behind the tweets.

“I’m done with that,” Stevenson said. “I would never just say anything just to say it. I’m not that type of guy. I stand behind my teammates. If I played with you in the past beforehand, I’m just a stand-up guy. I won’t just say erratic things for no reason.

It should make for an interesting meeting with the Hawks and Nets play on Jan. 16 and 18.

- Chris Vivlamore

THE LATEST NEWS

* Benson, Muhammad released

* Hawks changing offense without Joe Johnson

* Spurs win exhibition game on buzzer beater

* Ivan Johnson returns after offseason of reflection

* Up-tempo offense can’t forget about the low post

* Hawks players to serve at The Varsity

* Harris cleared for full-contact practice

Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks

21 comments Add your comment

O'Brien

October 12th, 2012
3:15 pm

FTPB,

Buddy,

I do not want Lou Williams as the starting PG. I like him in the role as PG/SG/gunner off the bench. And I think 2 years, $10 mil will not be enough to keep Zaza. If he has another solid year like he did last year, I won’t be surprised if a team overpays for him. Plus he is still only 28.

O'Brien

October 12th, 2012
3:23 pm

I like C-Viv and the new up tempo blog system.

As for LD and team defense (or lack thereof), I think it will be a constant theme all year. LD will focus more on offense, and then complain about the bad defense, despite the fact that his substitution patters will favor offense.

Chris Vivlamore

October 12th, 2012
3:28 pm

All: I appreciate the passion that I’ve already seen on this blog in the short time that I have been on the Hawks beat. Differences of opinions are good things. However, I would prefer not to spend two hours going through blog comments and deleting /banning those who insist on posting comments in poor taste using someone else’s handle. It takes away from my reporting and writing time. Let’s just carry on healthy discussions. Rest assured I will ban violators. Thank you.

Astro Joe

October 12th, 2012
3:37 pm

Make them play nice C-Viv. And drop the hammer when they don’t.

Stevenson will be a little different than the usual Atlanta professional athlete. Sounds like he actually has an opinion and is always willing to share it. That will surely mean that we won’t see him in an Atlanta uniform beyond a single season. But honestly, if his play doesn’t match his mouth/typing, then there won’t be any need for him to stick around anyway.

doc

October 12th, 2012
3:39 pm

and thank you CV. what a refreshing approach.

up tempo game for the hawks and blog in synchrony. now if we can remove some of those cloggers in the lane for their violations maybe even slimj will see it is a new game after all.

brigadierjerry

October 12th, 2012
3:42 pm

chris v,

can we get a mandatory email address or social media accout login?that would clean up a lot of trash on this blog sometimes

Jody

October 12th, 2012
3:46 pm

Thanks CV. I’m glad you won’t take the non sense that detracts from enjoyable discussion lightly. Look forward to more of your blogs as the season progresses.

hawksfancents95

October 12th, 2012
3:52 pm

brigarierjerry i agree with your 3:42 post. C-Viv- we need a login of some sort because people will just come on here and talk about bs just to get a rise and insert fake names and email.

This new blog style is awesome but I gota make sure I can get my thought shared before a blog closes and a new one opens, i am way happier with this style rather than one blog a week and its closed after two days.

after hearing stevensons comments im a big fan, i cant stand players who make big money and think cuz they are very good they can degrade others and act like they are doing everything and others nothing(deron williams!). I also read a lot on hoopshype today about smush and kobe and how kobe is a real jerk, i like kobe the bball player but he is that popular kid in high school who only wanted association with other popular kids and doesnt give a darn about anyone else, and to be like that to a co-worker and fellow teammate?? that is garbage kobe/deron williams

leon

October 12th, 2012
3:58 pm

Yup, I like Deshawn already. A team guy that could care less about a star’s complaints, but more about the guys in the locker room.

Astro Joe

October 12th, 2012
4:04 pm

I wouldn’t go too far in heaping praise on Styevenson or jumping on his side. If he is such a team-first, big-time winner, then was he getting in the face of the Net players who were joking and laughing last year? I don’t think we know enough to say who was right or wrong… but clearly he has a viewpoint and isn’t afraid to share it.

doc

October 12th, 2012
4:08 pm

Astro Joe
October 12th, 2012
2:51 pm

doc, I understand prune juice does wonders if you are clogged.

aj, we got enough fecolalia without adding to it with prune juice or milk of mag.

Slimjr

October 12th, 2012
4:20 pm

That 2nd Quarter defensive meltdown was not imaginary….Hmmmm

Drew watched that debacle and had enough!

Defense wins Championships!

Doc= LOL!

Got my scroll key ready for mister know it all…

Ra'mon

October 12th, 2012
4:25 pm

O’B, here’s a question. If you had to choose between re-signing Zaza or Teague, do you know who you would sign? Is there a clear cut answer?

doc

October 12th, 2012
4:26 pm

as well it seems like it was a team thing there slimj rather than one individual.

O'Brien

October 12th, 2012
4:28 pm

I will not be surprised if Stevenson and Ivan get into it at some point, because both guys seem to have that edge.

Slimjr

October 12th, 2012
4:28 pm

“Of several of Stevenson’s tweets were:

- “I hate Fake [expletive] That Quit on team but talk [expletive] to ESPN Mag.”

This guy has already won me over already! Just hope he can back it up on the court?

This franchise need more tough guys..

Slimjr

October 12th, 2012
4:31 pm

yes doc and it will be Danny’s job to find that “eraser” of the [mental] and [physical] defensive lapse..

Guess that’s why they pay him the big bucks.

O'Brien

October 12th, 2012
4:34 pm

doc,

Don’t waste your time with slimjr, because no matter what you say…his opinion will always be that 75% of the Hawks problems are because of Horford.

Ra’mon,

There really isn’t a clear cut answer, because salary will be a big part of it, and whether or not we keep Al Horford. But given Teague’s potential to continue to improve (he is 24, Zaza is 28), and the fact that Horford is under contract for 4 more years, I would let Zaza go.

doc

October 12th, 2012
4:35 pm

glad you agree there slimj.

Ra'mon

October 12th, 2012
4:37 pm

Re-post from last night.

Guys, I have a question. I’m not saying I would or would not do this deal. However, I’m curious to see what people think. If Boston was for the deal, would any of you guys be for trading a young contract secured Al Horford and Morrow for an old 2 seasons left Kevin Garnett? Would a front court of Garnett and Josh change the perception and culture of Atlanta basketball? Would that be something to make a player like CP3 or even D12 take a long look at Atlanta again? Garnett is the one big aside from Dirk who has just as good of a touch from outside as Al does. Of course we know his injury history and his age. However, if Al was ever dealt, I’d rather take a chance on Garnett than to take a chance on Jefferson. (and I’m curious about Garnett, and not Gasol because of the vast difference in salaries). So, would you make the deal if offered as Atlanta’s GM?

I MUS WRITE

October 12th, 2012
4:48 pm

From the last blog …..Grandad my fault, I didnt know you had people trolling under your name.Been on a short hiatus…