Hawks make quick exit against Magic, and change is needed

Josh Smith drifted too often and Joe Johnson had a dreadful postseason. It's no wonder the Hawks are out of the playoffs. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Josh Smith drifted too often. Joe Johnson had a dreadful postseason. It's no wonder the Hawks are out of the playoffs after getting swept by Orlando. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

They tried a little harder. Maybe that will count for something when the front office looks at game tape and tries to determine who should stay, who should go, who looked like the only thing that really mattered was direct deposit.

They tried a little harder. A little late, guys.

There has been a sense of inevitability in this series since the Hawks looked comatose in Game 2, getting outscored 28-10 in the second quarter, 32-11 in the third and – well, everybody pretty much stopped paying attention after that.

That’s a problem. Playing in a home arena with empty seats and empty hopes, the Hawks lost to Orlando 98-84 on Monday night.  That’s a wrap.

You were thinking if the Hawks played well, they could win one or two games in this series. If things went really well, maybe they could stretch Orlando to seven games.

Instead what you got was Orlando in seven days.

The Magic won by spreads of 43, 14, 30 and 14 points – an average of 25.2. That’s worse than the average 18-point margin  in Cleveland’s four-game sweep in the second round last year. In fact, that’s the biggest deficit in NBA playoff history for a four-game sweep.

Players seemed to tune out Mike Woodson in the postseason. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Woodson was outcoached in both playoff series. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Forget the 53-29 record. Does 25.2 sound like progress?

Al Horford gets it. He’s one of the few on this team who gets it. Horford ripped into teammates for their lack of effort following the 105-75 loss in Game 3, when the Hawks should have played with desperation. He didn’t back off Monday.

“We had high

One fan spoke for many with this sign about Joe Johnson (who averaged only 10 points in the series). (Curtis Compton/AJC)

One fan spoke for many with this sign about Joe Johnson (who averaged only 10 points in the series). (Curtis Compton/AJC)

expectations,” he said. “We wanted to be the three seed and we felt things would be a little different matching up with them. But it didn’t work that way for us.”

What was the difference?

“Just watch and see [Orlando’s] level of intensity that they played with. That defines their team. They’re a championship caliber team. Just take that in and play like that for next season.

“It takes a whole lot of effort. It’s almost to the point where you have to make yourself feel uncomfortable out there. We didn’t have that this year. With some of our guys when fatigue set in, everybody kind of shied away from it.”

There’s your perfect post-game wrap-up.

Not hard to guess who's moving on in the playoffs. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Not hard to guess who's moving on in the playoffs. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Coach Mike Woodson, despite a 53-win regular season, seemed to lose his players’ attention.

Joe Johnson, despite a fourth straight All-Star appearance, seemed to lose any great desire to earn the respect of this city or his teammates.

Josh Smith, the occasional flash of brilliance, seemed to lose his way.

After so much improvement over the past few years, the Hawks just took a significant step back. They suffered of the most embarrassing playoff exits in Atlanta pro sports history. Good luck to general manager Rick Sund and Atlanta Spirit owners as they try to figure out which team is closer to reality – the team that won 53 games or the one that showed significant character and chemistry flaws in this postseason.

The Magic shot 74 percent in the first quarter and led by 11. That lead grew to 17 in the third quarter. The Hawks didn’t quit this time. They got it back to nine before the fourth. But when the Magic opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run, it was over.

Johnson was booed early in the game. Atlanta sports’ newest home villain said following Game 3 that he didn’t care if fans showed up or not. He repeated his own no-show act in Game 4. He made only 5 of 15 and finished with 14 points. In four games, Johnson went 17 for 57 (29.8 percent), with scoring totals of 10, 19, 8 and 14 (average: 12.7).

There’s a difference between being embarrassed and being disappointed. Losing a playoff series is disappointing. Losing playoff games by lopsided margins because of lack of effort is embarrassing. That’s not about talent.  It’s about character, chemistry and coaching.

If ownership and Sund don’t make a coaching change, they basically are saying that getting pushed to the brink of elimination by an undermanned Milwaukee team in round one and getting waxed by a combined 87 points in three games against Orlando in round two was an aberration.

The bet here is they’ll decide otherwise. Woodson will be gone.

Woodson  hasn’t endeared himself to the masses. The fan base is split on him. The players hardly leave the impression that they’re playing for his future employment.

This must is certain: The postseason shouldn’t have ended with such a bitter taste. Something has to change.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

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175 comments Add your comment

JimmyO

May 10th, 2010
11:19 pm

whatever

May 10th, 2010
11:29 pm

I say get rid of Joe Johnson’s sorry butt (I know, he is a free agent) – let HIM and anyone else on the Hawks who wants to complain about fans booing. ANYONE who made what he made this year (what was it – $14 million?) deserves to be BOOED if he played like he did or the team did. I make about $60K a year – I’ll trade my salary with his ANY DAY (and yes, I work 10-12 hour days, often times 6 days a week) – and get booed. Kick his sorry A** out of Atlanta.

JSS

May 10th, 2010
11:33 pm

No Jeff Schultz, not letting you off the hook on this one… These are not the Thrashers, everyone in the media has had 4 games to dissect this one… You have to give me some specifics other “fire Woodson” and “don’t resign Joe!” What is it that you want the ASG to do and how can they realistically do it?

Fitten

May 10th, 2010
11:33 pm

I would love to FIRE WOODY and let go of Joe and sign D. Wade.

If that’s impossible, the rumors are that Tony Parker is available. While’s he’s beat up, he’s still younger than Joe and more of a clutch player than playoff stinker Joe.

Without D Wade, we couldn’t win it all but imagine a starting 5 of:
Tony Parker (a real point guard)
Jamal Crawford (at the 2)
Marin Williams (no line up is perfect)
Josh Smith (if he could get lobs near the rim from Parker, he’d be an All-Star)
Al Horford at the 5

Big L

May 10th, 2010
11:33 pm

Woodson and Johnson must go. They have hit the roof and can go no further. Their very presence on the team can only be a detriment. I could give two fuzzy squirts about these two. Sund needs to make a real play for D Wade. If u want to be big time, it’s time to act big time.

Dead Bird

May 10th, 2010
11:33 pm

ESPN reported the perfect coda to the Hawks season: During a first half timeout, Josh Smith was more interested in the “Kiss Cam” on the scoreboard than a play Coach Woodson was diagramming. A fan screamed “Pay Attention, Josh!”.

Jerome

May 10th, 2010
11:34 pm

THE VERY FIRST THING NEED TO CHANGE WITH THE HAWKS: OWNERSHIP!!. PLEASE SALE THE TEAM.

Big L

May 10th, 2010
11:37 pm

Hey whatever, they must be servin ice water in hell. U n me agree totally.

RC in ATL

May 10th, 2010
11:40 pm

Whatever,

The worst part about his $14 million salary is that he insulted the very people who are paying him…the fans! Talk about biting the hand that feeds you…you ever hear of a doctor saying “I couldn’t care less if my patients show up?” Or a plummer not caring if his customers call when they have a problem? I don’t think so. He needs a dose of reality. Most of all, in agreement with you, he no longer needs to have his salary paid by the people that he resents holding him accountable for poor efforts.

Jeff Schultz,

I agree with you that Woodson isn’t coming back. I think if ownership was so committed to his accomplishments in the regular season, then they would have extended him last off season, and not let it hang over his head all season long. The fact is, they were most likely going to measure his progress on the Hawks post-season performance. His last extension was probably mostly granted based on regular season improvement. Not this time.

But the Hawks have more than just coaching issues. They seriously need to tweak this roster…at the least. All great teams do that, especially after post-season failures.

dallis04

May 10th, 2010
11:40 pm

wow is all I have to say…first off…we played like a bunch of losers who didn’t care whatsoever about winning an NBA Championship. Next, there’s NO WAY in hell any big name will come to ATL w/ Woody as coach and ownership we have now running this sinking ship. Change must be made at top for us to be real contenders. Finally, I find it ironically funny that JJ was the one who actually didn’t show up in the playoffs. I would say now we have Braves to concentrate on….but I don’t even wanna begin on them. Guess we have to put our faith in and wait for the Falcons.

AG

May 10th, 2010
11:40 pm

Good season for the Hawks. Very entertaining. Yet, going into the post season, they went as far as could be expected. Add pieces to the current puzzle – first talk to Joe to see what coach he wants, then hire him. Then go out a sign a couple of vets who can contribute off the bench. Last, the new coach cannot give anyone a job. If Marvin is back next year, I see him coming off the bench. I also see Bibby coming off the bench. Start Teague and let’s get a sharp shooter to help those guys off the bench. Sign a decent SF. I have asked several times about Bill Laimbeer. I think it will be a good fit.

Dr. Warren

May 10th, 2010
11:41 pm

Don’t re-sign Woody. Go after Bosh and sign him. Trade Josh Smith and Marvin to the Spurs for Tony Parker, rumored possibly to be on the trading block. Sign Childress–or trade his rights for a new small forward. Don’t pass “go” until all of this, or something equally revolutionary, is done.

dallis04

May 10th, 2010
11:44 pm

avery johnson

Correction

May 10th, 2010
11:47 pm

Those bad quarters you spoke of in the third ‘graph happened in Game 1, not Game 2.

Fitten

May 10th, 2010
11:49 pm

I’m not down with Bosh. I say keep Josh.

The “championship switch” would be losing Joe and adding D. Wade

The “better team switch” is sign & trade Joe to the Spurs and get a real point guard in here in Tony Parker

Fitten

May 10th, 2010
11:51 pm

As for coach, if we could Joe Johnson for Knick’s coach D’Antoni, that’d be a good trade.

If not, I like Lambeer or Byron Scott

TruthSeeker

May 10th, 2010
11:55 pm

What about Chris Paul? There are whispers around New Orleans that he’ll be made available. The Hornets have a good, young PG in Darren Collison. Paul’s trade value might be diminished a bit with some of his injury problems. But if he’s healthy he’s still the best PG in the game and exactly who the Hawks need to get beyond this second round roadblock.

A guy like Paul might be the Hawks’ best shot at landing a superstar this offseason. It’s certainly more likely than the D-Wade pipedream people keep floating.

Bosh isn’t a good fit here either. He would allow Horford to move to PF, but then what do you do with Smoove? He’s not a 3.

cloudy

May 10th, 2010
11:56 pm

Awwww Jeff- you stole the Magic in 7 days line!!!! No problem- (it really was a good line)

Dominiques mom

May 10th, 2010
11:57 pm

Solution-
Gone =Wood for brains/Johnson/Bibby/Williams/Smith/
Get =Bosh (hey he played at Tech/Boozer/ a few players that have a heart and brain/Doug Collins
Net =fans that will care/a team that will play hard every night all season winning or losing

For the Record

May 10th, 2010
11:57 pm

I’m just sick and tired of grown men who are supposed to be professionals constantly COMPLAINING every time they’re called for a foul. While Smoove is the poster child for this ridiculous act for the Hawks, he’s by no means the only one. It happens at least 5-10 times EVERY NBA GAME and I’m freakin sick of it!!!!

I don’t even want to watch the playoffs anymore, and it’s not just because the Hawks were bounced around the court like a bunch of amateurs…Wait a minute…..That last comment wasn’t exactly fair to all of the very good amateur players out there….Sorry!

The NBA needs to take a cue from MLB and EJECT any player who starts arguing about fouls. As for what happens now to the Hawks, I suppose the NBA CARES……But I don’t anymore.

cloudy

May 10th, 2010
11:58 pm

BTW- thanks Jeff for the blogs during the games. Even if the results were awful it was interesting to hear what so many fans had to say during the games.

Tech75

May 10th, 2010
11:58 pm

This is the third blog where I’ve said essentially the same thing:

There are only two players that have the right mental outlook for playoff basketball – Horford and Pachulia.

Horford – Keeper. Move him to PF and build around him.
Marvin – he has to be gone or benched if no one else will have him. The “invisible man”.
Bibby – too old, too slow, no defense. Needs to retire.
JJ – enough already. Don’t let the doorknob hit your *** on the way out, chump. The “disappearing man”. I don’t buy all this talk about how we may need this guy. I’d rather have player that scores 75% of JJ’s average for half or less his salary.
Crawford – a keeper because of the instant offense. But must learn to play defense if he’s going to stay around.
Smoove – he’s had long enough to grow up and hasn’t – still a petulant child. A multi-million dollar athlete with no maturity or tenacity. He needs a change of scenery. Trade him.
All the rest – will be gone of their own volition as soon as they can make it happen. Rats from a sinking ship…

Sund will have to be a miracle worker to improve this bunch. He’ll have to start with a coach that is willing to kick the ***es of multi-million dollar spoiled babies and bench them to get their attention if necessary.

What I would have given to see Woodson bench Smoove after every one of his sulks or when he’s lazy… that would have been priceless, but Woody doesn’t have the cojones to do that.

cloudy

May 11th, 2010
12:02 am

I have a question Jeff- how many of the 18 thousand plus announced attendance were there?

AJ

May 11th, 2010
12:02 am

Get of rid of Woody, Get rid of Marvin Williams, Get rid of Joe Johnson. Sorry to say but the hawks are going to have to start over. Go after Dwayne Wade and get a good center in here. Over talking about the hawks unless some serious changes are made.

beone

May 11th, 2010
12:07 am

Ok, Jeff, now that you have stated the obvious, what should the Hawks do to improve their team? You have to be realistic to make your response worth reading. Who is available from other teams? Rumors, Free Agents, anything to offer. The lack of substantive content in this article reminds me of, well, the lack of productive play by one JJ in the postseason.

KSEE

May 11th, 2010
12:09 am

i love our team
i like our coach
i HATE getting swept…so with that being said…do whatever needs to be done because this just aint cutting it.
Summer Prediction: Joe starts hosting dog fighting…goes to prison..and ends up the #2 QB on the eagles.

b17211

May 11th, 2010
12:10 am

Mike Bibby played absolutely no defense all season. He was inconsistant as a scorer. Marvin Williams had a disappointing season. The Hawks had no bench to think of beyond Jamaal Crawford. They have no true Center because Al Horford is a PF. They were blown out by the Orlando Magic during the regular season so i knew the post-season would be no different. Elite teams win on the road but they were unable to do that. Something good can be said about the regular season because they won 53 games.

PISSED!!!!!!!!!!!

May 11th, 2010
12:11 am

I agree with all of the comments, the Hawks not only embarrassed themselves, but the whole city as well. Joe you are what I always thought of you, an overrated piece of sh*t!!!!! You are now part of my personal crap list category of other overrated Hawks (that obviously too, didn’t wish to play for this team) which includes punks like Isiah Rider and Gary Payton…. good luck with whatever team picks you up, unless they already have a TOP TIER Superstar and they just need a Scottie Pippen type of player, then you will be only sub-par for whatever team buys you…. my realistic advice for the Hawks would be to do a three/four team trade that sends Joe, Marvin, and perhaps Bibby packing for a players such as Rudy Gay, Tony Parker and Chris Bosh. Sorry everyone, but there is a very slim (almost impossible chance) that Dwayne Wade ends up in a Hawks uniform.

DASHIZZ

May 11th, 2010
12:15 am

How quick you guys turn, Charlotte, San Antonio, Utah all got swept…….We are the only team killing our top player & coach instead of building around and supporting! ……Each team left in the playoffs have 2 or 3 sure shot all-star’s, Hawks had 1 – Joe. The bottom line is the Hawks have to spent money and get a superstar here! Joe is good but not a superstar & you guys mad him the way he is, now you want to run him out of town faster than you did Vick! Who you gonna blame or write about next year…….busters!

Jeff Schultz

May 11th, 2010
12:16 am

JSS — You’ll have my 5 point plan on a blog in the morning.

slimjr

May 11th, 2010
12:17 am

Rick Sund, you better step up your game!! We are watching you closely now. You are going to be under a microscope.. You already screwed up by drafting a point guard without a very good jumpshot in JT! Not good. Then I heard you passed on a European 7 footer center who was player of the yea in his league. I am researching this. If it turns out true then you are another version of that Genius Billy Knight the former GM of your Atlanta Hawks…Jamal and Joe were neutralized by that terrific perimeter defense that Orlando displays time and again. But since you have Marvin “tin man” Williams as your starting small forward, you are doomed to fail and fail you did BIG-TIME.. You are gonna be held accountable for getting it right when the former GM got it wrong. This team was a Debacle of epic proportions!!!!!!!!!!! Deep down you had to see this coming since your team is like 1 and 14 against Orlando losing by double digits time and time again.. Sir you are not going to skate by. You will be held accountable. Hawks fans deserve much better than this. We are tired of the muti-million dollar paid GM’s who are not qualified for the job!!!!!!! You are at the cross roads, at the helm of this organization that has been the poster child of under achievement from the top down. ENOUGH with this GARBAGE!!!!!! I am watching your moves closer than ever and so will others..

My man Woody

May 11th, 2010
12:18 am

Here would be my plan:

First Clean house
1) obviously fire Woody
2) renounce JJ’s rights the first day of free agency
3) Buy out Bibby and Zaza
4) Let go of all the trash at the end of the bench i.e. Randolph, Joe Smith, Collins and Evans

Realistically retool (meaning no way Wade, LeBron or Bosh are coming)
1) Hire a good coach, Avery Johnson, Dan Majerle, JVG preferably someone who can actually diagram plays and inspire the team would be nice
2) Bring back Childress, Greece is poorer than BP’s about to be, trust me he wants out
3) If Tony Parker opts out of his contract offer him good money
4) If/when Parker turns us down, offer Rudy Gay a contract that Memphis wont match. This would entice them to sign and trade with Memphis getting Marvin Williams and 2011 1st rounder and cash and the Hawks getting Gay and Mike Conley
5) Get Kurt Thomas as a backup big, after watching the first round he obviously still has it. He can serve as a good locker room presence
6) Offer Ray Allen or MIchael Redd more than the veteran’s exemption
7) Go after Louis Amundsen, high energy guy for the Suns, he is a free agent
8) Grab Steve Blake of Luke Ridnour or some other cheap experienced point guard in case Teague and Conley Jr. flop
9) Draft the best big man available

That leaves the team as follows:
Coach: Someone Legitimate

C: Horford
PF: Josh Smith
SF: Rudy Gay
SG: Ray Allen or Mike Redd
PG: Mike Conley/Teague

Bench:
Crawford
Kurt Thomas
Childress
Louis Amundsen
Steve Blake/Luke Ridnour

That is a better team than the heartless bunch that got blown out today.

MrHughes

May 11th, 2010
12:19 am

I go with TruthSeeker on this one, if Chris Paul is available go after him.. if there’s no way we can go after D.Wade.

After all, Chris Paul should be here in the first place.

Hairy Dawg

May 11th, 2010
12:20 am

The Hawks layed a stinkys again and let it loosed on whole town.

grady coleman

May 11th, 2010
12:20 am

Hey,If there are any Hawk fans that think that there is a chance of signing D-Wade,FORGET IT—-Wade is a sure bet to resign with Miami. The Heat will sign a top free agent just as Wade wants them to and he will remain in the city that he prefers—–Wade loves Miami and by upgrading this franchise in the free agent market,D-Wade will remain in his first Love—-MIAMI!

Najeh Davenpoop

May 11th, 2010
12:22 am

Woody and Bibby have to go. Any changes have to start there. Joe was disappointing as hell in these playoffs, definitely, but replacing him is harder; whatever you may think about him, he is the centerpiece of the Hawks’ offense, and replacing him will be problematic without cap room. I am open to keeping him for a reasonable (not even close to the max) contract or sign-and-trading him, depending on how the draft shakes out and what other teams offer in return. But there’s no question to me that Woody is gone and Bibby is gone.

Alien in ATL

May 11th, 2010
12:24 am

Reasons the Hawks lost so bad:
1) Josh Smith wanted to be home in time to be able to watch the other games on TNT and shoot 100% 3-pointers on his Xbox or review all those “unfair” no-calls against him so he could cry himself to sleep;
2) Joe Johnson wanted to be home in time to watch the other games on TNT and to play with his cash register, calculating his next “max” contract.
3) Marvin wanted to be home in time so he could work to improve his game on his Wii;
4) All those fans that believed in their team (I am one of them) but were so naughty to boo those poor lazy overpayed self declared superstars.

Jeff Schultz

May 11th, 2010
12:24 am

Cloudy — Yeah, but at least I was up front about it!

Jeff Schultz

May 11th, 2010
12:26 am

Cloudy — Thanks for reading .. and thanks to all of you for the great response on the live blogs.

Sutton's Fro

May 11th, 2010
12:26 am

I like this team on paper…too bad the games are played on wood.

In my opinion, there is a good enough nucleus here not to “blow it up” and start over. You can turn this team around by making 4 changes:

1. Fire Woody (duh!) and get a coach like Avery Johnson or Byron Scott in here. Get someone who will inspire and challenge Josh Smith; stay on the team went they let their opponent off the mat; and actually go to the bench all season, so they’ll be ready come playoffs.

2. Dump Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, and Mike Bibby. They are too slow and disinterested to run the court with high-energy guys like Horford, Smoove, and even Mo and Teague.

3. Get a real center (either through the draft or FA like Bosh) who can fill the lane, so that Al can move to the 4.

4. Get Josh Childress back, so this team can run!

Starting 5: Crawford, Childress, Smoove, Horford, and a 7′ center.

Bench: Teague, Mo Evans, Zaza, and another 3-point specialist.

I’m really interested to see what the ASG let Rick Sund do to make this team his own.

PISSED!!!!!!!!!!!

May 11th, 2010
12:30 am

DASHIZZ,

The problem here wasn’t the fact that the Hawks got swept, in fact, many people had predicted that it would happen, the problem was HOW they got swept, losing by freakin 40 whatever points, 30 points at home, and the list goes on….. Its crazy!!!! This series has given true Hawks Fans a serious headache…..this is a series in which (unfortunately) we will not soon forget….. No matter what the sport, games are usually determine by heart, some skill, coaching, front offices… the Hawks lacked all of the above (except for at times some skill)…. Some of us ( as Hawk Fans) might sound unthankful, I mean, we did win 50 + games right? It sure is better then those 15 win, 70 losses years…However, this series actually hurt just as much to me… As long suffering Fans, we do indeed deserve better……….

Sutton's Fro

May 11th, 2010
12:31 am

Oh, and dream on about Tony Parker; he’s not moving to the East Coast. Plus, he’s getting older and even more injury-prone. I think Jamal can run the point until Teague is ready to take the reins.

b17211

May 11th, 2010
12:31 am

The Hawks have 4 solid starters other than an aging Mike Bibby. Boston doesn’t have a true Center but they are doing just fine. The Hawks need a point guard, upgrade the bench, improve team chemistry and hire a Head Coach who can coach. Preferably Avery Johnson.

slimjr

May 11th, 2010
12:31 am

The Hawks will probably be in the lottery by 2-3 years..

Reid Adair

May 11th, 2010
12:38 am

Time for Rick Sund to make some changes. He’s got the perfect opportunity to get his own coach now. Mike Woodson was definitely outcoaches in both rounds of this year’s playoffs, and I see no reason to believe that would change.

While Sund is at it, he should not offer a new contract to Joe Johnson. Not one dime. Let him go.

Hairy Dawg

May 11th, 2010
12:39 am

Hawks would stinky up lottery with other smelly bad planning.

jeremiah

May 11th, 2010
12:39 am

joe johnson or marvin williams has no heart or hustle.

JSS

May 11th, 2010
12:40 am

I like what Laimbeer did in the women’s game; but be forewarned, he will burn your roster out… Don’t expect for players to be lining up for a return dose of that… Jeff Van Gundy has never succeeded with talent beyond what he accomplished in a strike shortened season 11 years ago… There is no sugar coating that matter. Byron Scott reminds me of literate Isiah Thomas, sooner or later he is going to burn a bridge with his team on it… If you can’t work for Mark Cuban’s money, you sure are not going to win with ASG’s money, so that eliminates the mini preacher!

benchwarmer

May 11th, 2010
12:40 am

AG- you are living in the already past. The little tweeks you suggest are not enough.

Sutton's Fro

May 11th, 2010
12:41 am

@slimjr…that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Any discussion you hear or read about this summer’s moves will include some version of “the NBA system favors the teams at the top and the teams at the bottom, and being in the middle can kill a franchise.” If the Hawks can’t get to the mountaintop soon, then they need to fall back to the basement. Teams like the Nets and Knicks not only get to be in the lottery, but they’re also given more contract exceptions and trade approvals in order to prop them up. That’s how the Nets dumped all that salary to make cap room; just when they a got rich, new owner dying to make a splash in the league.