If it’s past 4 p.m., it must be time for the 3 p.m. blog . . .
Spoke to Hawks general manager Rick Sund today. Wanted to ask him about a variety things leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft but one in particular: The input he will afford coach Mike Woodson on the team’s decisions before the draft and potential trades and signings thereafter.
That might seem like an automatic, given the Hawks are coming off of good season. But coaches and GMs often are not on the same page in pro sports. It also became clear that Woodson and Sund’s predecessor, Billy Knight, were in a completely different library two years ago — particularly after Knight went to ownership more than once and tried to get approval to fire the coach.
“Philosophically, I believe the head coach should be involved in the process,” Sund said. “I don’t know what they’ve done here in the past. But certainly Woody’s involved here now. He has been in the meetings. I’m a consensus type of guy. I really and truly believe that the league is so difficult now and there’s so much to do as a general manager that you have to have a good division of labor. [Assistant GM] Dave Pendergraft, [director of operations Mike] McNeive and [pro personnel director Steve] Rosenberry and our scouts have done an outstanding job. I like them giving their presentation and doing film analysis and rankings and then sharing information with Woody and I. And then I like Woody and I making sure we’re asking the correct questions. Then on Wednesday or Thursday morning, we’ll break it down who we want to draft.”
Sund wasn’t not done yet. (Just so you know, this long answer followed one question.)
“I like my head coach being involved. I’m a firm believer that the coach is involved in this process. If a coach isn’t involved in the process and you draft somebody, he doesn’t know what his strengths and weaknesses are. Then you’re running the risk that he’s going to fail.”
I’ve been critical of Woodson in the past. (He would be the first to tell you, between expletives.) But after the Hawks won their first-round playoff series against Miami, I believed it validated the team’s 47-win season and Woodson as a head coach.
Imagine my surprise when several readers took issue with that. (Mike: I’m not making that up.) Woodson will enter the final year of his contract next season. But Sund waved off any question that suggested that situation would prompt him to change his consensus philosophy.
“It doesn’t matter,” Sund said.
And later: “I won’t draft a player without a coach’s input. I won’t make a trade without talking to him. I want him to listen and talk to the scouts. Now, I may pull rank at some point. But I want him there, listening and talking to everybody. One thing I don’t do is is make decisions alone.”