Hawks should consider trading Johnson, not Smith

 

Sorry, Joe. But you just haven't measured up in the playoffs. (Kent Johnson/kjohnson@ajc.com)

Sorry, Mr. Johnson. But you just haven't measured up in the playoffs, unlike that guy behind you. (Kent Johnson/kjohnson@ajc.com.)

Almost every player on the Hawks’ roster is either at the end of a contract, or near the end of a contract, or on somebody’s, “Let’s drop-kick this guy out of town,” list.

  Josh Smith doesn’t have a contract issue. That tells you what category he fits in.

  But if you really believe the Hawks need to shake things up this off-season and possibly trade one of their starters, don’t look at Josh Smith. Look at Joe Johnson.

  People, this isn’t even close.

  This week’s Countdown . . .

10: Ordinary Joe: 2-for-18 in playoffs

Joe Johnson is a three-time All-Star. I felt I needed to get that out there right away because it seems like any time somebody criticizes Joe Johnson, one of his defenders screams, “He’s a three-time All-Star!” But this is business and these are the facts: Joe has one year left on his contract. He just completed an awful post-season, during which he played one good game and 10 generally crummy ones. In last year’s playoffs, he went 1-for-7 against Boston. This is not what you want from a guy who’s supposed to be your best player, especially when the game’s matter most. It’s certainly not what you want from a player who should be your leader but seldom acts like one. Or acts like he wants to be one. Joe’s one of those quiet guys who just wants to do his thing, whatever his thing is. But that’s not good enough here.

9. Sund has some difficult decisions

General manager Rick Sund just completed his first season. I’m not suggesting that his first makeover would be a failure if he doesn’t trade Joe Johnson. But it’s something he should look at. Just tweaking this roster may not be enough to get this team to the next level. With Johnson turning 28, chances are we’ve seen the best he has to offer. His skill set would be valuable on the trade market to elite teams that are looking for a complimentary player  to round out their roster. He potentially could fetch a lot in trade. It’s worth exploring. Here’s why:

8. Team’s core is smaller than you think

Yes, Josh Smith can be maddening. But trading him could come back to haunt the Hawks. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com.)

Yes, Josh Smith can be maddening. But he has talent, upside and youth -- and he outplayed Johnson in the playoffs. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com.)

I hear a lot about the Hawks’ having a great core of players. Don’t know about that. But if that’s true, here’s how I would list the guys to build around: 1) Al Horford (absolute); 2) Josh Smith (probably); 3) Marvin Williams (maybe). Johnson is not a core piece. Chances are, he’s out the door next year. Mike Bibby might be gone already. Yes, Smith is maddening. But he remains by far the most talented player on the roster with the most upside. The Hawks’ greatest nightmare would be dealing him and then seeing him turn into a human wrecking machine with another team and under another coach. He scored 26 points in Game 4 against Cleveland. He certainly outplayed and outscored Johnson in these playoffs. You don’t trade Josh Smith. He’s a difference maker. Even if sometimes the difference is for the other team. 

7. Lights! Camera! Ethiopia?

It sounds like a set-up line. “So there’s this heavyweight fight in Ethiopia . . .” But it could be true. Spoke to Evander Holyfield and there’s a chance his next fight could be against some guy named Sammy Retta July 25 in Ethiopia. The bout would be part of a celebrity fundraiser for AIDS research and would pay Holyfield $1 million, which is about $1 million more than anybody else is offering him to fight. Manager Ken Sanders said officials from the potential event have been phoning him for several weeks and seem serious about it but he still puts the chances of it coming as “50-50.” Holyfield and Sanders are going to Ethiopia Saturday for four days on a promoter’s tab to check it out. Meanwhile, Holyfield is still upset that, “They keep making me get back in line.” We explain . . .

Some local residents begin construction on an outdoor boxing ring in Ethiopia.

Some local residents begin construction on an outdoor boxing ring in Ethiopia.

6. WBA: “Nothing to see here. Move along.” 

Holyfield is 46. I don’t even ask him about retirement any more. But he probably was robbed in his last bout for the WBA title against Nikolai Valuev, losing a disputed majority decision in Zurich. Holyfield filed a protest. With boxing sanctioning bodies, this generally is as successful as the mafia’s court of appeals. Holyfield: “They said they had 10 judges look at tape. Six voted for Valuev and four voted for me, and that was it. They said, ‘Well, we looked at it.’” But Holyfield said the WBA all but assured him he can fight the winner of the Valuev-Ruslan Chagaev fight, which is May 30. The potential fight in Ethiopia shouldn’t be an issue. The opponent, Retta, is listed as a 35-year-old cruiserweight with a record of 18-3.

5. Layla Kiffin (Did that hook you in?)

Here's one picture of Layla Kiffin, standing with two schmoes.

Here's Layla Kiffin, standing with two unidentified schmoes.

The  Knoxville News ran a story on the Kiffin family, but I’m pretty sure it was just to provide slobbering male SEC football fans with a photo gallery that includes several pictures of coach Lane Kiffin’s wife, Layla. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. By the way, did you know that there’s now a Facebook group that’s called, “Our Coach’s Wife is Hotter Than Your Coach’s Wife”? It already has 5,790 members. If you’re a Facebook member, here’s the link. 

4. Roger Clemens is innocent

Not really. But he says he is. Again. There’s a new book out, “American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens And the Rise of Steroids in America’s Pastime,” and Clemens felt the need to go on the radio again and claim that everybody is lying and he’s innocent, and that he wouldn’t think of taking drugs because his father and brother died young of heart attacks, and, “It would be suicidal for me to take any kind of dangerous drug.” Several syringes are expected to offer rebuttal testimony in the coming weeks.

3. Hey, Jim: Tony Cole still has eligibility left

Tony Cole now wears a different uniform.

Tony Cole: inmate.

I realize this covers a lot of judicial proceedings, but Tony Cole might be the worst human being ever given an athletic scholarship at Georgia. If you missed the latest, Cole, who lit the grease fire that helped eventually bring down Jim Harrick and the Georgia basketball program in one of the most embarrassing scandals in NCAA history, is in Cook County (Ill.) jail and just got into a fight with another inmate. The Chicago Sun Times reported that Cole told a corrections officer: “This is how you run this jail? I am going to call my people and I am going to call the press.” Hah! Wait. Is this where Jeremy Schaap comes in?

 

2. Anybody got Jesse on speed-dial?

Just a little reminder of Tony Cole days in Athens. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com.)

Just a little reminder of Tony Cole days in Athens. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com.)

Cole is in prison (lately) for violating terms of his parole. Something about a protection order of a former girlfriend whom he is accused of punching. He also is being blamed for the forced resignation of the Chief Financial Officer in Cook County, which the more I read about it makes Clayton County government look like nirvana. The CFO, a woman, hired Cole for a $61,000 a year government job despite his past criminal convictions and twice bailed him out of jail without telling anybody. During one recent court appearance, Cole, according to the Sun Times, said, “My whole case needs to be looked at,” and then turned to a reporter asked that they summon the Rev. Jesse Jackson to help him. Yeah. That’ll happen. If you want to get caught up on the miserable life and times of Tony Cole, here’s a helpful link.

1. The new fight scene

If Holyfield’s fight in Ethiopia falls through, I believe Somalia and Yemen have recently built casinos and are looking for a draw.

288 comments Add your comment

Hawks73

May 12th, 2009
11:08 am

Jeff, I agreed with all of your points in regards to Joe Johnson and the players the Hawks should keep. I think it’s also essential that they resign Pachulia, Murray, and possibly Bibby (at the right price). Marvin has upside which explains why they should keep him…Joe could certainly attract the type of trade potential the Hawks need (draft picks and or established center/point guard.

Mr. Fill (formerly ScoobySnacks)

May 12th, 2009
11:12 am

You through me here Schultzy. I am reading what seems to be a very ingaging argument to keep Josh Smith and then suddenly I am in Ethiopia with Evander Holyfield and wondering about an inmates eligibility. Then I realized this was one of your five-things list. Might want to mention that up front before you get sued for causing whiplash with the sudden turns.

Mr. Fill (formerly ScoobySnacks)

May 12th, 2009
11:13 am

P.s. you will notice your shifts and turns caused me to have multiple grammatic difficulties in my previous response. You can expect to hear from my representatives.

Brian_ATLYYZ

May 12th, 2009
11:19 am

True, JJ underperformed for most of this postseason, but I don’t think he was nearly dismal enough to merit these “get rid of Joe” discussions. Let’s not forget, he was pretty-consistently double-teamed in every game with both Miami and Cleveland, and that’s sure to hamper anyone’s success. The other thing to consider is that, as illustrated by the Cleveland “haves” and the Miami “have-nots,” it’s crucial that the supporting cast shows up to play on a consistent level. This means having the niche players successfully execute their roles (memo to Josh: please either spend every other day of the summer working on your jumper, or be happy with driving to the basket).

Let’s face it: injuries were a HUGE part of why the Hawks couldn’t seal the deal against the Cavs. Even though they were on the floor, JJ, Marvin, and Al are only human. I’m not trying to make excuses (and, thankfully, neither are the Hawks), but it’s easy to cheer for a guy who gets injured and then MAKES his foul shots.

To me, the only significant thing that could have been realistically improved prior to the playoffs (besides keeping everyone healthy) was figuring out how to use Mike Bibby on defense. Even with last night’s poor showing, I wouldn’t want to trade his offensive production in ANY case; the Hawks just need to figure out how to realistically make use of a guy who, to be honest, isn’t the best defender (and CERTAINLY not when he’s stuck against Lebron).

Ed

May 12th, 2009
11:20 am

Jeff, did you consider Josh never saw a double team the whole playoffs?
Maybe its more coaching and adjustments than the current players.

Ellis St. John

May 12th, 2009
11:21 am

Jeff, I normally disagree with you. But you hit the nail on the head with your assessment of with what the Hawks should do with Joe Johnson.

Ayanna

May 12th, 2009
11:24 am

I don’t know Jeff. Joe Johnson has a fan base. Most of the people walking around Philips Arena sports a Joe Johnson jersey. Trade Joe and the Hawks will loose fans. Ahhh, and they were just starting to fill up the arena. To further prove my point Joe Johnson just got the Fan Favorite Award. I don’t think the Hawks wanna piss the fans off, okay.

J

May 12th, 2009
11:28 am

Unless your going to trade JJ for LeBron, Kobe, or DWade, you don’t do it. You think this offense stinks? Take Joe out of it and you’ve got a disaster.

I honestly believe we’re one player away from being able to compete with the elites. We either have to get a legit center or legit point guard.

As is, this team is way too easy to defend. Once the double team forces Joe to give it up, we don’t have the players to take advantage of it. Some of that falls on the coach, but certainly not all – we are glaringly lacking in talent at the 1 and the 5. Al, Josh, & Joe are the core of this team – the rest are all fair-to-middling and can stay or go.

Darrin "The Vent King"

May 12th, 2009
11:28 am

It’s the coach, not JJ…

Ayanna

May 12th, 2009
11:33 am

Trade Joe and see a huge part of the Hawks fan base walk just like when they got rid of Dominique. I honestly think they should keep all five starters and maybe tweak the bench. Which I don’t know what the bench is capable of because they hardly played.

jake

May 12th, 2009
11:34 am

yeah, this is good….i remember 10 years ago we wanted to shake things up and traded a guy named steve smith to prtland for isiah rider and jim jackson, and let mookey go…truned out real good for us…. keep joe and josh and poickup another piece, dont go down that road again

HHBO

May 12th, 2009
11:35 am

The Spurs…. The Spurs are one team who would take a serious look at Joe Johnson in a trade, with Manu on the decline. Don’t know what they would/could give in return, but at the least, it would be a nice thank you to Joe for all of his hard work in Atlanta and he would be a perfect fit for their system as a complimentary player. Go tell Sund…

Ayanna

May 12th, 2009
11:36 am

Everybody talking about how great Al is. I didn’t see him do anything all year. HIs rookie year was way better than his sophomore year. How about trading Al Horford.

AGTFan

May 12th, 2009
11:37 am

It’s interesting you list Horford ahead of Josh. Big Al also had a mediocre post-season. I’m not advocating trading Big Al or anyone. This team is still a work in progress. Stay with the plan. Tweak the lineup not overhaul it.

Timus

May 12th, 2009
11:37 am

Definitely got to go Joe!! He will never take the Hawks to the promised land. We should send him and Marvin packing. We should keep Bibby, Josh and Horford. They are a good foundation for a contention squad. We need a marquee player. Someone who could score forty if need be. Someone with a killer instinct like Kobe and Lebron. And excels under pressure and doesn’t wilt like lettuce. It would be a big mistake to keep Joe.

Realist

May 12th, 2009
11:40 am

Yes, please subject us to another few years of Josh Smith’s throwing the ball out of bounds, chucking random 22-footers and generally looking clueless. That is something you can build around.

Realist

May 12th, 2009
11:42 am

Oh by the way, how could the Atlanta Spirit Group even consider trading away the player they once called the Hawks’ version of “Larry Bird?”

And wouldn’t it be ironic if Joe Johnson’s time in Atlanta came and went before the ownership dispute ever got resolved? Maybe we can just forget the whole thing happened and all be friends again.

cursive

May 12th, 2009
11:42 am

The funniest (and saddest) thing about Clemens was that he didn’t even say that his father had a heart attack, he said step-father. I heard him on Mike & Mike this morning and he made it sound like his bloodline had a genetic disposition toward heart disease, then he name dropped his step-father… Ha ha ha.

Football Ken

May 12th, 2009
11:45 am

Hey Jeff,

Gotta disagree with you on this one. Josh Smith will never ever reach his potential playng in ATL(home). He has too many distractions, now that he has money, he will never feel the need to become an elite player. Let’s not forget Horford is a PF, by position. So it’s not like we are losing at that position. Josh Smith and the Coach Woody thing has gotten old. Smith wants to be a leader but doesn’t know how to. Granted JJ was exposed this playoff season for what he really is, a complimentary player, but he has to be top 2-3 SG in guard in the East. Whereas, Smith mentally may be the 2nd best PF on our team. Plus , you could get more for Smith in a trade than Johnson. Schutlzie, you got this wrong, get rid of Smith, potential is just that potential. Johnson is proven.

BugKiller

May 12th, 2009
11:45 am

Ayanna… I’m sorry, but you’re basketball ignorant.

This postseason proved without a shadow of a doubt that Al Horford is the most INDISPENSABLE player on the Hawks’ roster.

Every game he missed due to injury, they lost.

Joe Johnson is a joke. He’s the worst “leader” I think I’ve ever seen.

He doesn’t lead by example, as his crappy performance in the playoffs have proven.

He doesn’t lead by words, unlike a non-playing Kevin Garnett is doing with the Celtics from the bench in a suit.

He couldn’t inspire a thirsty man to drink water, let alone this basketball team. He is by far the least inspirational “leader” I think I’ve ever seen on a basketball team.

He’s a bit player with good skills. He is not the guy who gets his team fired up. He’s not the guy who leads.

Joe Johnson is the guy who follows.

AL HORFORD is the guy who LEADS.

This postseason cemented that fact.

Jeff, who’d a thunk, that when all is said and done about Joe Johnson, that Steve Belkan was right all along.

Then again, we should have known about Joe Johnson. I mean, Billy Knight wanted him so bad he WAY overpaid for him, kinda like he did with Marvin, Sheldon, Speedy, and every other draft pick / free agent not named Smith or Horford.

Looks like this team is STILL cleaning up after Knight’s messes.

RealSquawk

May 12th, 2009
11:46 am

Enter your comments here

GT

May 12th, 2009
11:48 am

This team was an improvement. It had gone from the very worst to respectible. So what if Cleveland blew them out, they will and have blown out a lot of teams. No one has agreed with anything the Hawks have done like they were the Braves during the 70s or something. No change of course is needed yet, they are owed some respect or the paid experts are losing some of mine by not knowing what they are talking about or knowing and not caring enough to make it right.

Ayanna

May 12th, 2009
11:50 am

Trade Joe and I guarantee he will score 40 pts on the Hawks when he plays for his new team. Joe works harder on that court than any player on the Hawks squad. He’s double teamed, tripled teamed, and most of the time still manages to get at least 21 pts. He’s the Hawks’ leading scorer and assists man. Bibby is our point guard and yet JJ gets more assists than him. How the heck does your shooting guard get more assists than your point guard.

Trade Joe instead of Josh Smith, please. The reason why Josh doesn’t get double teamed and tripled teamed is because teams don’t respect him as a shooter. They only worry about him dunking on them. He’s not very level headed. Sometimes I question his IQ.

The Hawks will be better off keeping both players and building around them.

MJ3

May 12th, 2009
11:52 am

I have to seriously, seriously question the intelligence of anyone who implies we keep Josh over Joe. Seriously. Wow.

RickNole

May 12th, 2009
11:53 am

Al certainly took a step backwards this postseason. I hope that was due to injury. But he look uncomfortable the whole post season. Not once in any of the playoff games did we see that fire that he had last season against Boston where he was all over the floor and flexing his muscles.

I am a Nole but I definitely want that Gator to improve upon his performances and I am sure he will.

ON anothter note, It really is time for Woody to step aside and let someone improve on the X’s and O’s. Someone that has the cazones to slap Josh everytime he jacks up a jumpshot (unless he significantly improves over the summer)

willie

May 12th, 2009
11:53 am

Joe is too good a player to let go. Is he a superstar that can beat double-teams? No, but only a few guys in the league are. We need to find another player comparable to Joe to put with him, Josh, Horford, Marvin, Flip. Bibby should definitely not be re-signed. We need to finally give Acie Laws a chance, but bring in a decent veteran PG also. We need another scorer to go along with Joe!

ILL-logical

May 12th, 2009
11:55 am

Interesting premise but the devil is in the details: Yes, Bibby is gone so you have to get a point guard,pronto. And yes, Joe is still considered a good 3rd option on a championship team not named the Hawks. And certainly Josh has emerged from the local media led assault on his character by performing well on the national stage.But the real issue is the Hawks system which did not win plaudits from the national media during the playoffs.

Simply put, the Hawks require a system that plays to the players strenths,ie athleticism, and places them in the positions that allows them to exploit their strengths. What they have now is a ssystem that is built on executive fiat and personal vendetta that does not develop the individuals who are not favored regardless of their ability to contibute to the team.That is a problem and until that is solved, all other issues will remain secondarily relevent.

Bernie Matt

May 12th, 2009
11:56 am

Finally, a sports journalist using his own ability to analyze what’s really wrong with this team, rather than the follow the crowd mentality of the so called experts, yelling trade Josh. Sure, Josh may miss a lot of jump shots and take some ill advised shots at times, but what is he supposed to do when Joe dribbles the shot clock down to 3 seconds on almost every possession then passes the ball(Woody’s offense – send him out of town with Joe). With Josh, you never have to wonder whether he’s here to play. He’s always passionate with his play and he’s willing to put himself on the line for the team, like he did with the hard fouls on people driving to the lane to let them know the Hawks are not pushovers. Contrast that with Joe’s passion and effort or lack thereof. Jump shots can be developed and learned, HEART AND PASSION can not. Nique couldn’t shoot the jumper when he came into the league either, but the passion to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and the Pistons Bad Boys is why he in the Hall of Fame, along with his ability to score (which Josh can do). Fancy dribbling by Joe leads to crap, people who say otherwise, don’t know the GAME!

jonathan friedman

May 12th, 2009
11:56 am

jeff you don’t have a clue! Without Joe johnson we would never be in this position, your forgetting to mention that in the playoffs he was double teamed throughout. The team is still building and your ready to jump ship. Cleveland wins games because lebron has a great supporting cast which has taken 6 years to build. Learn a little pro basketball then write a column, what did you expect, for us to beat cleveland? Just look at the numbers to see how this team has improved throughout the years. Also Johnson got hurt and continue to give us production, now thats a leader.

Ayanna

May 12th, 2009
11:56 am

I haven’t seen Horford lead squat. Give me an example. Horford is the scariest big man I have ever seen. Every time the team is challenged he tries to say that he’s hurt. Horford is not a leader. If he was then the question of who is the leader on the team would not have come up.

Ain’t nothing Boss about Horford. Horford didn’t even score any points last night. After I got home from the game I saw the stats. Check your stats.

WillieWilson

May 12th, 2009
11:57 am

After seeing Joe last year in the series with Boston, I wouldnt trade Joe Johnson for anyone. Joe is a great player and simply had a bad series against Cleveland. Players are human and go through dry spells when they have awful shooting nights. It has nothing to do with talent. I saw it happen to Boston’s Ray Allen last year when he had 1-12 and 2-20 shooting nights. Allen is a first ballot hall of famer and if it can happen to Allen it can happen to anyone great. Joe Johnson is better than most people give him credit for. I feel like Joe was frustrated because he knew that even if he were dominating the series with Cleveland, he wasnt getting the proper help from his supporting cast and the Hawks were not clicking on all cylinders. If the Hawks were all playing well and they were injury free, the Hawks would have swept the Cavs this year, but it didnt happen. I think the next piece to the puzzle for the Hawks is to acquire Antonio MyDyess from the Detroit Pistons. Then acquire one more BIG body after that, an athletic player and the Hawks SHOULD be on the level with the Cavs, Magic, Celtics and Lakers, provided they resign Mike Bibby and everyone comes back to camp improved.

RealSquawk

May 12th, 2009
11:57 am

Jeff I would not trade Joe. The TNT crew talked about this exact same thing, whether they build around Joe Johnson or Josh Smith. They didn’t give a clear answer, but the general consensus was Joe. One of the reasons why is that they would never get back enough in return. Joe Johnson is the third best shooting guard in the league. And I personally think that Josh Smith is our most trade able asset and here is why

He is viewed as having the most upside around the league ( I am guessing) so he would get the greatest return. We could get a veteran on an expiring contract and draft picks probably not lottery protected. Now we got a veteran whose contract expires in 2010 and Joe’s who contract expires in 2010 we got Al Horford and Acie Law still on their rookie contract and Marvin on hopefully a reasonable deal. We have cap space to sign another big named free agent a center most likely and Joe Johnson. You can’t beat that. It’s a risk, but its possible.

If you trade Joe on the other hand what are you going to get from a team a few pieces away. Draft picks will be worthless and players of lesser value.

BugKiller

May 12th, 2009
11:58 am

It’s interesting the point that everyone brings up “Joe is a great scorer” (um, no he’s not) and “Joe just needs more help” (maybe it’s the team that needs someone besides Joe)…

… but not a single “Joe Fan” is saying anything about Joe’s abysmal leadership skills or the fact that he has the personality of a wet paper bag.

Once again, Joe Johnson is not a leader. He’s a follower. He’s not a guy you pay max money to, BECAUSE he’s not a leader, he’s a follower.

This means Joe must go, and someone else must be brought in. Joe isn’t worth the money he makes, because the money he makes says he must lead.

But all Joe wants to do is follow.

scott

May 12th, 2009
12:01 pm

JEFF-

the problem isn’t that you argue that Joe should be traded, but that you never propose what we should reasonably expect in return. if we’re going to trade (arguably) our best player, then we need to get fair market value in return. i understand Joe can be valuable for another team, but what player will be valuable for us going forward who we can get in return?

Jonathan

May 12th, 2009
12:03 pm

I’m not sold on getting rid of Joe. He came to Atlanta when he knew we were in rebuilding mode and he helped us steadily improve to become the 4th best team in the conference. Billy King who has been steadily dissed over the years actually built this team into a young, talented group who was bolstered by bringing in Murray last summer.

Now we need to address the center position. Keep Pachulia and Horford, the indispensable man. All of our main players have had injuries over the years but when Al was injured this year, we were not a competitive team. Zasa played well in the playoffs and should stay as he is still very young.

Bibby is not getting younger and, other than being a clutch 3-point shooter, he doesn’t help much. He cannot guard big point guards and his ball handling is spotty.

Marvin has made steady progress but needs to take it to the next level to justify his draft position years ago.

Focus on getting a big man and trading for a new point guard.

freshd

May 12th, 2009
12:04 pm

The HAWKS need to drop BIBBY and MARVIN “always hurt” WILLIAMS. To trade JOE would validate STEVE BELKIN claim about JOE. I do think they overpaid for JOE, but they need get some veteran big men with size, who can bang on the inside. The HAWKS big men are soft and undersized. Lebroun was thicker than any of the HAWKS big men. MIKE BIBBY is still a good outside shooter, but he is a “MATADOR” on defense.

Ayanna

May 12th, 2009
12:04 pm

Last night Josh could have gotten a few loose balls. Instead he was just standing there looking like who’s gonna get that. And guess who got it, a Cleveland Cavalier.

Yes, Josh stepped up in the post season. He was supposed too. But when we the crowd kept begging him not to shoot jumpers he shot them anyway. Jumpers killed the Hawks in this series. We needed our bigs to step up and stay in the paint. Josh wanted to be the hero in the playoffs, but he went about it the wrong way. Team comes before individual pursuits.

RealSquawk

May 12th, 2009
12:04 pm

Bernie Matt. Josh does not always play with passion. most of the time he plays as if some little kid stole his lunch money.

And then there is a difference between playing with passion and yelling at the referees every chance you get. Just because Joe doesn’t yell after every made shot or dunk, does not mean he isn’t passionate. He is passionate, but he has bigger goals.

Just look at the post game comments. Joe: this will leave a sour taste in our mouths. Josh: I am not going to let this SWEEP get me down.

NEW CARS

May 12th, 2009
12:06 pm

I like Joe…but I’m with you…he has shown no leadership qualities..I don’t know where we would trade him, but I wouldn’t mind looking up and seeing a different point guard (Bibby is not going to be worth the money), two guard and coach…If we don’t, we will stagnate at 40-42 wins and not move forward

newkid

May 12th, 2009
12:07 pm

About Smith you said: “But he remains by far the most talented player on the roster with the most upside.” Well if basketball were golf or tennis, then perhaps you’d have a solid argument. But then if I were Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, I’d be financially comfortable. Basketball is a team sport best played when individuals synchronize their on court activities in pursuit of a common goal, regardless of differences in levels of physical talent (reference: Cleveland Cavaliers). A significant, but less often considered, team attribute is the display of basketball intelligence by the on floor ensemble. Despite the writer’s tribute to his enormous physical ‘upside’, Smith kills the team in its pursuit of the single most important goal (i.e., winning) with his equally enormous ‘downside’ from the shoulders up.

Should the Hawks consider trading Johnson, not Smith? Don’t know, but whatever the calculus is, it must also include a strong consideration of who will work best within the team concept. You seem to discount or disregard this minor consideration.

NC Braves Fan

May 12th, 2009
12:09 pm

About the Joe vs. Josh debate, and I’m just throwing this out there for discussion … what does it say about perceptions about Josh that only one team showed any serious interest in signing him last off-season when he was a RFA?

oldmike

May 12th, 2009
12:10 pm

well here’s a thought on JJ. look at his minutes during the season. coach rode him all year. 40+ minutes per game. ball in his hands. defend the #1 opponent scorer. he just may be exhausted. last year as well. before we ship him out of here i’d say shipping the coach out is the better option. get someone in here who can run a system that takes advantage of the length and athleticism of this squad. they are not bult for the “system” coach runs – whatever that is. i believe this team wins 50+ games witha new coach. Anyone agree?

Submariner683

May 12th, 2009
12:12 pm

It’s been a long, long road for the Hawks to get to where they are at now. A four seed in the Eastern conference. And like a four seed should, they lost to the one seed.

I can’t believe sports writers are writing and people are talking about breaking the team up already after one series. Do you remember how freaking pathetic this team has been for the last decade? They went to the playoffs for the first time in forever last year and took the eventual NBA champions to 7 games. They improved their record by 10 or 11 games and made it to the 2nd round this year. All progress, in my book.

The Hawks have shown how horrible they can draft over the last 25 years. The worst drafters in the NBA and might be the worst at the draft of all major sports in the United States. They got Joe Johnson to come here 4 years ago when we were completely horrible. Granted, the team payed a ludicrous price for him, plus two first round pics, a bit pricey for a free agent. I’m pretty sure Phoenix could not have resigned him for what Atlanta paid.

Atlanta has some good pieces. Although they should have much better pieces than they do if they just draft the right guy. Add Chris Paul and Brandon Roy to the starting line up along with Johnson, Smith and Horford and you have a team that would have won almost 60 games this year. Granted, if the Hawks took Paul instead of Marvin Williams, maybe they improve too much that year and don’t have a chance to pass up Brandon Roy for Sheldon Williams. I guess while I’m dreaming, why not have Pau Gasol at center, move Horford to PF, move Josh to the bench and have a line up of Gasol at center, Horford at PF, Brandon Roy at SF, Johnson at SG and Paul at PG. With Mike Bibby and Smith coming off the bench, that team could beat anybody in the league, anyday.

Better to dismantle the team and start over. What morons you guys are for thinking that. It’s not like the Hawks have been stuck at 47-52 wins for years and losing in the 2nd round every year like in the 80s. Add a couple of more pieces to this line up. What big time free agents are out there?

niremetal

May 12th, 2009
12:14 pm

I’m sorry, but what? Have you been watching the Hawks at ALL this year? JJ gets doubled or tripled on every single play while Josh is left open off the ball and is almost never doubled when he has the ball. JJ scores pretty much every single time that he doesn’t face a double team, but our offense is so transparent under Woody that teams know to double or triple team JJ as soon as he touches the ball.

Josh is basically left open (his man backs down at least 4 feet) whenever he’s more than 15 feet from the basket. When he’s within 15 feet, he rarely has more than a single defender guarding him until he makes his move to the basket. And there’s a reason for that – Josh is not nearly, not even remotely as dangerous as JJ on offense.

Also, don’t know if you notice, but the only players in the NBA who are asked to do more for their team than JJ are LeBron and Wade. JJ is asked to be our main scorer, our top perimeter defender (even with Marvin’s emergence as a solid defender, we STILL have JJ guard the opposing team’s best guard/wing every night), and one of our two primary ballhandlers/facilitators. You actually think we’d be closer to a title with, say, Amare and Josh than we would with Amare and JJ? Hell, even with Wade and Josh instead of Wade and JJ (keep in mind that JJ can play the 2 or the 3 effectively)?

It’s just amazing to read this from an Atlanta sportswriter. It honestly sounds like you never watched the team, but instead just looked at the box scores (and even then, only the playoff box scores) and came to your conclusions on that basis alone.

Ayanna

May 12th, 2009
12:15 pm

Oh, I get it. You want JJ to be a media attention grabbing, strutt around know it all, love the limelight ball hogger, who cries and whines to the refs. Sorry that’s not Joe’s style.

Dan

May 12th, 2009
12:15 pm

Trade Joe Johnson, huh? This is a classic example of someone who pays no attention to the Hawks (until the Lakers come to town or the team is in the playoffs) and then tries to make an assessment on what the team needs. Just stop it.

This sudden media trend that “Joe Johnson is not a leader” is not true. People who have actually paid attention to this team know that. Both Billy Knight and Rick Sund have commented (at season ticket holder functions) that Joe is someone the other players look up to.

Schultz, why don’t you join the rest of the d-bags that write for this paper and go back to talking about the Falcons draft everyday. You guys never pay any attention to this team. Stop trying to act like you have any idea where things should head.

Astro Joe

May 12th, 2009
12:17 pm

Seems like judging players based on their playoff performance is a fundamentally flawed idea. Kind of like evaluating college players based solely on their NCAA Tournament performance (see Goose Givens). No one wants to consider the fact that each of our very young front court players missed a lot of time during the season with various injuries. That stunted their development and left them with inconsistent offensive skills in the post season. All of the remaining teams have consistent front court scorers (who at a minimum complement their backcourt star). It makes little sense to break up a 23 year-old front court that likely missed 50 games during the season due to injuries. Add a veteran big (or 2) to the bench… someone who can play (as opposed to Lorenzen Wright and his popcorn antics). Antonio McDyess, Joe Smith, Rasho Nesterovic, Matt Barnes and Brandon Bass are available and experienced bench players who know their roles and will complement our current front court. Let’s see how well we can be defended in a playoffs if our youngsters are healthy and continue to develop their offensive skills. But the key is to stay in the playoffs. Don’t gut the roster trying to chase the pot of gold. Stay in the playoffs.

Hawk Eye

May 12th, 2009
12:17 pm

This seems to be more like an impulsive point of view. Joe Johnson is one of the key players of the Hawks…He is third in most minutes played during the regular season. The reason? Stupid coaching.Mike woodson hardly uses his bench players like Acie Law, Othello Hunter..If you dont have rotation, the players will not gain any confidence and eventually the pressure is on the tiring main lineup..Poor Joe..Give him a break..
Bottomline:
New coach (Avery Johnson or Flip Saunders)
Trade Bibby,Zaza and Marvin Williams ( I am still furious why no one notices how sloppy,funny and paraplegic he looks when he drives to the net..) for Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo

crs

May 12th, 2009
12:19 pm

Why did Joe underperform? Could it be he and the bulk of the starters played far too many minutes all year? Yah, I think it could. There is a reason that late in the year, three of the major cogs broke down physically. Woodson has failed to develop any of the young talent. Smith, Horford, Williams, Law, Jones are all severly underdeveloped at this stage. That lies with no one other than Woodson and the other coaches.

RealSquawk

May 12th, 2009
12:19 pm

Just throwing this out there Mike Woodson was here for the 13 win season. Joe was not. I would say we have significantly improved since Joe got here and the players grown. Not because of Mike Woodson.

You think about any top scorer and the iso and the post up aren’t the only plays run for them there are screens, backdoor cuts, etc., but Joe has been working with iso’s and the occasional post-up for awhile now and he is still a top scorer.

now joe did say he would like to see Mike return last year so who knows.