Archive for June, 2009

Closed for renovations

Time for some downtime before the real season.

Time for some downtime before the real season.

The Braves are scrambling to stay afloat in the National League East.

The Hawks face several difficult roster decisions with four of their top eight players unsigned.

The Thrashers have the fourth pick in tonight’s NHL draft.

Time for me to go on vacation.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned living in the South for 20 years, I need to take my time off in the calendar year before football starts. That means scheduling a few weeks between now and late August. I’ll be back here in two weeks and will take another week sometime between now and the Georgia-Oklahoma State game.

No telling how many doors Jeff Bennett punches between now and then,

I’ll parachute back in from vacation only if major news breaks and Mark Bradley can’t fill the void because he collapsed from writing 279 blogs in a 12-day period.

But I tend to not stray far from my laptop, which means you can reach out and jab me on Twitter, Facebook and email.

Otherwise, …

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Hawks take a risk but may finally have their point

Jeff Teague thinks he may be the best point guard in the draft. That'll work.

Jeff Teague thinks he's the best point guard in the draft.

A few days before the draft, Hawks general manager Rick Sund sat in a conference room down the hall from his office, beaming about the franchise’s present and future.

“I like where are right now,” he said. “We’re one of the youngest teams in the league and we have the 19th pick. That’s generally a player who has a bright future and can play for you right away, or he can fill in if somebody gets hurt.”

Remember those words when Jeff Teague comes to town. He needs to be somebody who can contribute. He needs to be somebody we remember, because Sund may have taken a slight risk when he drafted the Wake Forest point guard Thursday night, passing on Ohio State center B.J. Mullens.

“I feel like when you look back down the road, I’m going to be the best point guard taken in this draft,” Teague said.

When informed of that quote, Sund said, “He said that? Good. I hope he’s right.”

Teague doesn’t have to be that …

Continue reading Hawks take a risk but may finally have their point »

We’re live! (And has Ainge stopped talking yet?)

Here's Danny Ainge with his mouth open. Gee, there's a shock.

Here's Danny Ainge with his mouth open. Gee, there's a shock.

(It’s 3:30. The Clippers are still on the clock.)

Sometimes the news gets better for a team even when it’s not doing anything. Case in point: The Hawks.

While the Hawks have positioned themselves for a chance to build into legitimate contender status in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the recently dethroned-champion Boston Celtics could be sliding down. They were hurt by injuries and were bounced in the second round of the playoffs by Orlando. But they’re also getting old, and now they’re sniping at each other.

You probably heard rumors earlier this week that Boston was soliciting trade partners for point guard Rajon Rondo. I didn’t think much of it until general manager Danny Ainge went on a Boston sportstalk station Wednesday morning and – while shooting down the rumors – said Rondo needed to “grow up” and become “more of a leader” and “his presence hurt” the Celtics against …

Continue reading We’re live! (And has Ainge stopped talking yet?) »

Crawford blindsided by Nelson (and another ESPN turnover)

Orson Welles can't believe Mike Woodson doesn't want Jamal Crawford.

Here's Orson Welles giving us the latest updates on martians, Mike Woodson and Jamal Crawford.

While we wait to see if there’s any ripple effect on the Hawks’ draft plans with their impending acquisition of guard Jamal Crawford from Golden State, I wanted to dispel rumors of two HUGE stories:

♦ 1. Martians did not land in New Jersey in 1938. It turns out Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” broadcast was just a goofy radio bit.

♦ 2. Mike Woodson is not holding up the Crawford trade. It turns out ESPN gets stuff wrong sometimes. Who knew?

The most entertaining thing about the NBA draft is not the draft itself but the rumors leading up to it. So it follows that ESPN’s Andy Katz had a whopper late Wednesday that Woodson didn’t want Crawford, in part because the Hawks’ coach was concerned about Crawford’s opt-out clause in his contract.

Of course, part of the fallout is, you read that and send me emails or post comments, reading: “Why is Woody blocking the deal?!” or “Crawford …

Continue reading Crawford blindsided by Nelson (and another ESPN turnover) »

With Crawford on the way, should Hawks draft a big man?

Wouldn't B.J. Mullens look good in a Hawks' uniform? (AP photo)

Wouldn't Ohio State's B.J. Mullens look good in a Hawks' uniform?

It’s All-Draft Thursday here in Blogatopia. I’ll be with you through midnight, so get comfortable. I thought I’d start this morning by letting you know what everybody else thinks the Hawks will do, because when I asked general manager Rick Sund the other day what he had going on, his response was: “Not much. Except for the Shaq trade.”

Funny guy.

(If you missed it, Sund actually had a lot going on. According to my long lost twin, Sekou Smith, the team is close to finalizing a trade for Golden State guard Jamal Crawford, and all Sund has to give up is Speedy Claxton and Acie Law. And if I’m Mike Bibby, I’m thinking I just lost significant contract leverage.)

I went through a dozen mocks drafts to accumulate the consensus top five picks and the Hawks’ selection. Most outlets still have the Hawks picking Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague.

But here’s a question for you: With the probable addition of Crawford, …

Continue reading With Crawford on the way, should Hawks draft a big man? »

Crawford for Claxton and Law? Is this heaven?

This is Speedy Claxton, a dapper dresser. I couldn't find any pictures of him in uniform, though.

Speedy Claxton is a dapper dresser, but I couldn't find any pictures of him in uniform. (AP photo)

I almost started this blog by writing that Rick Sund is a better general manager than Billy Knight or Pete Babcock ever were. But then the expression, “Damning with faint praise,” came to mind.

Pull this off and Sund deserves a statue.

Barring any breakdowns, the Hawks are about to acquire scoring point guard Jamal Crawford from the Golden State Warriors for Acie Law (who never plays) and Speedy Claxton (who’s never seen).

I know. You’re waiting for the punchline.

This is sort of like going into your attic, finding a twice-used bowling ball and an old pair of shoes with the soles blown out and trading them to your neighbor for a new lawnmower.

OK. Crawford isn’t new. He’s 29 and has played for three teams in nine seasons. But he’s a 20-point-a-game guy who can either start or come off the bench. This affords Sund tremendous leverage in negotiations with both incumbent …

Continue reading Crawford for Claxton and Law? Is this heaven? »

ESPN still likes Phillies, but everybody has issues in East

Since the Braves have won the first two games on this home stand and so many people seem excited again about the team’s chances to win the National League East, I thought it would be good idea today to get a sampling of what’s being written about their primary competition in the division: Philadelphia, New York and Florida. I’m sure I will hear about this from Stan Kasten in Washington.

You know what stands out? Nobody seems to be terribly thrilled. (That said, I still don’t see the Braves winning the division. For my one-sided debate with Mark Bradley, click here for this week’s Wednesday Face Off.)

Around the division:

From Philadelphia . . .

♦ Former major-leaguer Eric Young wrote for ESPN that the Phillies fans shouldn’t be concerned, despite a recent stretch that saw the team lose seven of eight games. Here’s his kicker: “The biggest reason why there is no reason to worry about the Phillies, even when they fall into ruts like the one they’ve experience the past 11 …

Continue reading ESPN still likes Phillies, but everybody has issues in East »

Face Off: Numbers say Braves can’t do it

Click on photo to read Mark Bradley's response

Oh, Mark. So quick to get drunk off two wins, aren’t we?

Welcome back to the Wednesday Face off. As usual, there are two sides to this debate: the right one and the wrong one, which Mr. Bradley will handle.

This week’s topic is the Braves: Can they win the National League East Division? Considering they have started this important 10-game home stand with two shutout wins, it’s easy to get deluded. And if they can just get 10 or 15 more games against Chien-Ming Wang (0-6, 11.20), this should be easy.

I still don't see anybody in the East beating this team.

I still don't see anybody in the East beating this team.

But there are issues. The problem isn’t that the Braves are four games back of Philadelphia with 92 to go. The problem is having reasonable expectations of what they can do the rest of the season, given the team they have and the way they’ve generally played.

I used some of these numbers in a blog last week, but here’s the updated situation. Over the last 10 years, …

Continue reading Face Off: Numbers say Braves can’t do it »

Can this possibly be a sign from the Braves?

Tommy Hanson battled the Yankees and excessive adrenaline but won his third straight.

Tommy Hanson overcame the Yankees and his own adrenaline issues to win again. (Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com)

It had been nine years since the Braves played host to the New York Yankees. In that 2000 season, they turned out to be division champions (again) but hit the wall in the playoffs (again). The Yankees won the World Series (again).

When Tuesday arrived, both teams were struggling with identity issues. New York hasn’t won a title since 2000, while nobody in Atlanta has been allowed to complain about little division flags in the past three. But at least one seemed to recall what success felt like.

Looking to the future with, well, their future, the Braves got 5-1/3 innings of shutout ball from rookie Tommy Hanson on Tuesday night. They blanked the Yankees 4-0.

This win follows a shutout of the Chicago Cubs the night before, which followed a competitive series (albeit two losses) in Boston last weekend.

The obvious question: Is this it?

Is this when a team that largely has …

Continue reading Can this possibly be a sign from the Braves? »

We’re live from Braves-Yankees! Where’s Kate Hudson?

Alex Rodriguez will get more rest now, at least when he's not in South Beach.

This is Alex Rodriguez, who is supposed to be getting more rest now.

caption

This is Kate Hudson, who sure seems to get around a lot.

(WE HAVE UPDATES BELOW)

Before heading out to Turner Field to see if the Braves can actually string together consecutive home wins, I thought I’d check in with a quick update from the often fascinating and occasionally warped and pathetic world of Alex Rodriguez. So here goes:  So far, no Kate Hudson sightings in Atlanta.

We know that A-Rod says he has been quite “fatigued” of late. We also know he’s kinda stunk. He went from hitting .260 in May (not so great) to .153 (9 for 59) in June (hello, Angel Berroa), entering tonight’s Braves-Yankees game. New York attributes the problems, at least in part, to fatigue and Rodriguez possibly still feeling the effects of off-season hip surgery (which forced him to miss the first 28 games).

The lack of performance-enhancing drugs also could be an issue. But I’m not a doctor. Or a drug-dealer. Or even a …

Continue reading We’re live from Braves-Yankees! Where’s Kate Hudson? »