Want to be Rick Sund right now? No, you really don’t

Rick Sund is dealing with more high-profile issues than any of Atlanta's four general managers right now.

Rick Sund is dealing with more high-profile issues than any Atlanta general manager right now.

Over the next month or so, Hawks general manager Rick Sund will make decisions that set the team on a path headed decidedly north or south. A case could be made that a sports GM does this every off season. But seldom does a franchise have so many significant issues at once.

Sund needs to hire a coach, resolve the Joe Johnson issue, do something to fix the rest of the roster (Mike Bibby? Marvin Williams? Center?), ease the Josh Smith headache and get this team to win a game in the second round.

All of which is why Sund’s Atlanta peers — Frank Wren, Thomas Dimitroff and Rick Dudley — all must be thinking the same thing: Glad I’m not him. Here are the four, listed in order of current job difficulty:

SUND/HAWKS: He could try to make a splash at coach and hire Avery Johnson. Or keep it in house with Larry Drew. Or hope to get somebody excited with Dwane Casey. Then he needs to convince Atlanta Spirit owners of his recommendation, and we’ve learned not to assume they’re in agreement.

Sund likes to take his time but he can’t wait too long. Six NBA teams are looking for coaches. That list could grow by as much as four: Boston (Doc Rivers is considering step down), Orlando (Stan Van Gundy could get fired if the Magic lose), Los Angeles (Phil Jackson’s future is uncertain) and Charlotte (Larry Brown hasn’t said definitively that he is coming back).

The Braves' starting pitching has been fixed, for the most part, but the lineup remains Frank Wren's big problem.

The Braves' starting pitching has been fixed but the lineup is a problem.

The coach hire figures to influence Johnson’s decision on whether to stay, leave in free agency or agree to a sign-and-trade (and then how up in the air is roster?). Forward Al Horford represents the lone real sign of stability.

♦ FRANK WREN, BRAVES: He has three starting pitchers (Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens) who aren’t going anywhere and two others (Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami) who are sucking the payroll dry. The biggest problem is the everyday lineup.

Outfielder Jason Heyward — yeah, he’s a keeper. Catcher Brian McCann is great when he can see. Second baseman Martin Prado has become an unexpected player to build around. That’s it. Chipper Jones is breaking down. Yunel Escobar is enormously talented but has regressed to the point that he’s a question mark now. Almost everybody else is either a stop-gap (until a prospect develops) or duct tape. Wren made it no secret that his focus has been starting pitching. Now his focus needs to be the lineup.

♦ RICK DUDLEY, THRASHERS: Dudley probably has more to fix than any of the four GMs. He certainly inherited the most baggage. But owner apathy had led to fan apathy, and the byproduct of that is a low expectation level. So in a strange and unfortunate way, that diminishes the pressure on a general manager. The Thrashers are consistently ranked among the NHL’s bottom five in total payroll. That is not likely to change with this ownership group, whose priority is to limit hockey losses and give most of their attention to the Hawks.

Dudley has to hire a coach. He seems to have zeroed in on Chicago Blackhawks assistant John Torchetti. It’s a low-budget hire, but at least Torchetti would come with slightly more cache than John Anderson. On the ice, the Thrashers have a few pieces (Evander Kane, Niclas Bergfors, Zach Bogosian, Ondrej Pavelec). But they lack a big time goal scorer and much else.

♦ THOMAS DIMITROFF: After three drafts, several early high-profile roster cuts and the hiring of a new coaching staff, Dimitroff has shifted into touch-up mode. In 2008, he had the hardest job. In 2010, he’s mostly letting things grow. His major acquisitions this offseason — cornerback Dunta Robinson (free agency) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (draft) should help the defense. Things are unlikely to go south this season, but there are two players in particular to keep an eye on: quarterback Matt Ryan, who was less efficient in year two, and running back Michael Turner, who also was disappointing and now admits he was carrying too much weight.

If either Ryan or Turner fizzle, Dimitroff’s job gets exponentially more difficult.

79 comments Add your comment

DCbravosfan

May 25th, 2010
1:05 pm

first again . . .?

DCbravosfan

May 25th, 2010
1:11 pm

agreed that Sund has the toughest job, but with his rumored departure in 2-3 years (his deal expires then, correct), how into this gig is he?

Also, what kind of bench roster changes can we expect from him? Is there any reason to bring back anyone on the bench besides ZaZa and Teague . . . every one seemed to under-perform in the playoffs?

I know that Joe Smith and Collins came in for the vet minimum, but are they even worth that? also, west makes 1.2, and mo evans makes a couple mill . . . aren’t all of these guys overpaid considering how little they gave the Hawks this year?!?!?

JC

May 25th, 2010
1:15 pm

ID hate to be a yech

May 25th, 2010
1:17 pm

JC

May 25th, 2010
1:21 pm

Hey Jeff, would any of those coaches leaving (SVG, Rivers, Jackson or Brown) be potential candidates for any other head coaching positions? Specifically, ours?

Clay

May 25th, 2010
1:23 pm

” Yunel Escobar is enormously talented but has regressed to the point that he’s a question mark now.”

Huh? Shultzie, did you sleep through last season? .299 average, 70+RBI, second in the league in batting with runners in scoring position (clutch hitting). He’s been on the DL this season and in Bobby’s dog house for a couple of games, but I think he’s earned more than 1/6 of a season before he is deemed a question mark.

Rikus

May 25th, 2010
1:25 pm

Ryan was less efficient and Turner was “disappointing?” Turner got HURT. Before that, he was on pace for another great year. Everyone talks about Matt Ryan throwing (3) more picks, but they conviently overlook throwing (6) more TDs… and not having the threat of Turner for several weeks… and being injured himself in several games…

J dubb

May 25th, 2010
1:29 pm

Esco’s just got mental issues right now, hopefully he snaps out of it soon. Just call Dowe and order up some Cuban chicks for the next road trip. That might even help cure Melky, Nate and Chipper, come to think of it… (Nate IS bi-lingual and Chipper likes the Strange).

J dubb

May 25th, 2010
1:33 pm

Make that “Bowe” as in Dwayne….sorry.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TDC, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Want to be Rick Sund right now? No, you really don’t http://bit.ly/d9Yj2F [...]

beauvighn

May 25th, 2010
1:38 pm

Bobby Cox is the reason for Yunnell’s mental issues. If Cox were gone Yunnell would just relax and play.

J dubb

May 25th, 2010
1:45 pm

Bobby doesn’t do SH!T…How is he Yunel’s problem. You cant blame the man for messing it up when he doesn’t do anything, and then blame him for Yunel when he’s not doing anything. All he does is yell “Come on Kid” every time Yunel is up. All he does is keep sending Yunel out there when Yunel is stinking it up, instead of playing Infante like he should. If Bobby’s his problem, then its because Yunel would rather be warmin up the pine….he shouldnt be playing everyday when Infante is the better option right now.

S.C.Smith

May 25th, 2010
1:45 pm

Yunel’s problems have nothing to do with Cox. Relax? Hell nobody is more relaxed than Bobby, and if you can’t play for him who can you play for. No he needs sombody like Gonzalez or Guillen to lite a fire under his butt.

NC Braves Fan

May 25th, 2010
1:54 pm

One thing I really hate about the NBA is the convoluted salary cap structure. All these fancy-schmancy terms like “mid-level exception” are confusing. Makes it hard for someone like me to understand player movement, and team rules/limits when it comes to signing or retaining players.

I hope Sund gets extra pay for having to know and care about all that crap.

Walker, Texas Ranger

May 25th, 2010
1:54 pm

Yunel is immature, that’s not Cox’ fault. Imagine if he had to play for Lou or Valentine. He would probably openly weep on the field.

Ted M

May 25th, 2010
1:54 pm

Yunel is the quintessential enigma of baseball players.

ryan

May 25th, 2010
1:56 pm

beauvighn…yeah, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

hop

May 25th, 2010
1:59 pm

the major problem with the market is ,as stated recently in the ajc it is only a college football market.

professional sports has not been a big draw unless some teams are winning in a major way,i.e. braves, and falcons.

the market has little desire to support basketball and hockey,even football and baseball only do well when they are doing very well on the field.

to the average atlanta fan, they really don’t care until college football season rolls around and then that is the talk of the town and nothing else matters.

atlienforlife

May 25th, 2010
2:00 pm

At first I was on the Avery Johnson wagon, and to a high degree, I still am. But the more I think about it, Tom Thibodeau is look very appealing. As the celtics have proved defense wins championships, and wherever he has coached, that team is tremendous on the defensive end. Defense has failed us time and time again throughout the pass two seasons, especially this year. I am a die hard hawks fan, and have watched every game this year, and we could have won anywhere from 58-60 games this year, with a better defensive effort, particularly on the perimeter. If you haven’t noticed the celtics games against the magic, they are lockdown on the perimeter, with an old paul pierce, ray allen, and yes rondo. But joe johnson, marvin, and teague (next year), are much younger, longer, and should be doing a better job. That stupid switching defense, always put them in bad positions. Futhermore, offense was not a problem with the hawks, even with woody’s indifference to it. Tom would at the least institute more ball movement and less iso’s. I see it as a win win! Hopefully, that is why Sund is taking his time, to be able to interview Thibodeau.

J dubb

May 25th, 2010
2:07 pm

Is Doc retiring? if not, we should bring him here. If he can handle the Garnett-Pierce-Rondo-Allen eogs, surely he could put JJ and Smoove in their place when they start slipping into those bad habits of ball-hogging and quitting/pouting.

GoldenRetriever

May 25th, 2010
2:26 pm

I would have loved to be Rick Sund last year. As I have mentioned on about 10 blogs posted within the last 3 months, the Hawks could have EASILY made the finals had their GM made enough good moves during the offseason. Granted Sund did bring in Jamal Crawford which was huge and enabled the Hawks to progress to a 53-win team. However, Crawford wasnt enough and there was plenty more talent on the table that the Hawks could have gotten. Im not going to go over it again, but Im sure had Sund made those moves, the Hawks would have won the championship because collectively the Hawks talent base, from a chemistry standpoint would have pushed the Hawks past the lakers in overall talent and ability. The hawks certainly would have won the title had they made those moves. This offseason is different this year because although there is a lot of talent available, most of the guys are expensive free agents (Bosh, LaBron, Dirk, D-Wade, etc.) and I know the Hawks dont have deep enough pockets to deal. The Hawks should still clean house and dispatch Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby. I think the Hawks should let Joe Johnson go and attempt to sign Dirk Norwinski to replace Joe. The Hawks will be much more powerful with Dirk because, from my perspective, Dirk is an automatic scoring machine. Then all the Hawks have to do is bring in a proven coach like Avery Johnson to guide and direct this talented group.

ryan

May 25th, 2010
2:34 pm

I think the Braves should get into Roy Oswalt sweepstakes the braves do need improve the pichting staff i know its a long shot Astros want prospects. Braves do need a bat !

gcs

May 25th, 2010
2:40 pm

Yes, Sund has the toughest job ahead of him and based on who he is interviewing for head coach, he is probably most likely to screw everything up.

ScottBravesfan

May 25th, 2010
2:53 pm

No one cares about the Hawks or Thrashers. The Hawks got everyone excited in 2008 with the Celtics series and then that wore off. The Braves, Falcons, and college football are all anyone cares about here. So Sund’s job is actually not that bad. If he signs Joe Johnson it’s not going to make a difference because they will still lose in the second round of the playoffs if they don’t sign Joe Johnson they will still make the playoffs and probably lose in the 1st or 2nd round.

Big Daddy

May 25th, 2010
2:56 pm

Everybody seems to be ignoring the elephant in the room. If I was any one of the top coaches mentioned here, why would I want to come to an organization as scrambled as the Hawks/Thrashers. With the ownership situation still not settled there is much to be desired for one of the top coaches to come here. All of them are in situations where the ownership is settled and not afraid to spend money. The Hawks were the only team in the playoffs that was not paying the luxury tax. As bad as that seems, with team having to pay so much to field a competitive squad, it has become the standard for top tier teams. It is apparent that ownership doesn’t have the resources to pay the kind of money to field a team that has the kind of bench that can come in a really spell the starters. THAT is where we fall down.

Okay, now that is out of the way, let’s see what we can do. We can look for an assistant who is really ready to step into that spot and comes from a currently winning franchise. In the interview this coach has to describe the offense he plans to run with the talent who is here and how he can improve the defense. Hopefully, Sund can differentiate between the pretenders and those who are really rock solid. Looking at hires for various teams over the years, not just the Hawks, that cannot be as easy as it sounds. When this determination is made, ownership has to back this person up because believe me there is going to be some friction because most of these guys are going to be resistant to change. That is why this person has to come from a winning franchise. He will be able to show that his system works and the team of coaches he will/has brought in will be “the answer”. Some of them will have to leave. I won’t say who, because people will surprise you.

Given the right guidance, with what we really have to work with in funds, smart shopping will have to be what is needed. Everyone keeps looking at these superstars but Rondo, Jameer, Barnes, were not household names. It took recognition of talent, within the salary range and with potential to bring in the right person who will be here for the long term, put team first and defense in the forefront of his game. Then, we can move forward.

Ryder

May 25th, 2010
3:02 pm

Schultz, you say that Ryan was less efficient in year two. Funny, I seem to recall he missed a few of the bigger games due to injury. In addition, I also seem to remember him leading the Falcons to victories late in games against the Jets and Bucs. He even led an almost complete comeback against the Giants. You’re just nitpicking too much on that one.

Sund is actually in a good spot. It’s obvious that this roster is made to run an up-tempo offense, which could be why they stalled so much in Woodson’s isolation offense. A coach that can preach up-tempo basketball may be just what the doctor ordered in Atlanta. Not only would Atlanta’s talented roster have more offensive flow, it may convince JJ to stay.

I think the GM with the hardest task is Dudley. Trying to breathe life into this franchise before they move to Seattle could be quite the challenge.

[...] Want to be Rick Sund right now? No, you really don't [...]

Hampton

May 25th, 2010
3:10 pm

I want a center and someone that will show up in the playoffs. If Sund is not careful he is gonna let all this talent get old before we make a serious push.

I hope JJ does leave it forces Sund to be creative. I am also not opposed to trading Jsmoove. The reason is he takes naps in games. If we can get a legit Center and let Horford move to PF that would make us better. Then you just sign another PF to come off the bench.

JV

May 25th, 2010
3:31 pm

I do not get (but maybe I should) the obsessive belief among media types (and some fans) that hires and signings should create “buzz.” I want them to create “wins.”

Ricky Sund

May 25th, 2010
3:38 pm

Here’s my plan:

1. Sign Joe Johnson
2. Trade Joe Johnson, Marvin and Teague to the 76ers for Andre Iguadolo, #2 pick in the draft, and a bench forward
3. Draft Derrick Favors
4. Hire the coach the can come up with the best offensive/defensive plans to utilize this starting 5:

Favors at Center, Horford at PF, Josh at SF, Crawford at SG, and Iguadalo at PG

Maybe J-Chill will get excited enough about this team that I can talk him into coming back.

yeahright

May 25th, 2010
3:57 pm

wow, big daddy, you sure are impressed with yourself aren’t you??

Keep it Real

May 25th, 2010
4:00 pm

Dem Dirty Birds are going to win before UGA, GT or any Georgia team. For the first time we have both a top notch management team and a good coaching staff.

The Falcons will excite this town like never before!

Alejandro Alejandro

May 25th, 2010
4:01 pm

“and two others (Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami) who are sucking the payroll dry.”

The two that Wren overpaid himself…

Howard

May 25th, 2010
4:13 pm

Jeff…in your countdown, couldn’t believe you didn’t make mention of that Spanish matador getting it up the frontside by that irate bull. That horn coming out his mouth put anything Venus Williams showed looked lame. The grossiest, sickening and disturbing video I ever saw.

atlienforlife

May 25th, 2010
4:13 pm

ricky sund you can’t be serious! All everyone complains about is that Horford is a pf and is playing out of position. And you wanna draft another 6′10 guy and put him at center? Furthermore, if you did make that trade, you don’t draft the best player in the draft (evan turner) to replace Joe, but a project in Favors? Moreover, all this city has cried about for the last five years, is they have no point guard,and you wanna trade someone who shows alot of potential teague to let Andre Iguodala play PG? Are you serious!! WOOOW!!!

atlienforlife

May 25th, 2010
4:15 pm

Ricky Sund, you can’t be serious! All everyone complains about is that Horford is a pf and is playing out of position. And you wanna draft another 6′10 guy and put him at center? Furthermore, if you did make that trade, you don’t draft the best player in the draft (evan turner) to replace Joe, but a project in Favors? Moreover, all this city has cried about for the last five years, is they have no point guard,and you wanna trade someone who shows alot of potential teague to let Andre Iguodala play PG? Are you serious!! WOOOW!!!

More dumb stuff

May 25th, 2010
4:20 pm

I’m confident he’ll make more bad decisions about coaches and personnel, as these atlanta owners usually do. That’s why they call the city loserville up in New York where I’m from. It fits.

Mitun

May 25th, 2010
4:33 pm

why not get trade JJ, Marvin, and Josh for Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert and Andre Iguodala. bench Bibby, keep Mo Evans and extend Crawford contract problem solve.

Ricky Sund

May 25th, 2010
4:44 pm

ATLien

Favors is 6′10″ with a 7-1 wingspan, and he’s shown he’s a great shot-blocker and has good low-post moves. Looks like a center to me.

The American Dream

May 25th, 2010
4:48 pm

I am back and better than ever. I would like to be Sund right now. I would trade Josh Smith for Tito Santana and the Skywalkers. Anyone comes down the lane they get body slammed into the third row.

bob

May 25th, 2010
5:29 pm

Rick Sund has done a great job with the limited options available to this point. Now is his chance to shine.

May you make good choices Mr Sund.

Veteran Fan

May 25th, 2010
5:38 pm

Hire Stan Van Gundy or his brother as coach. Resign Childress. Sign and trade Joe and Bibby to Nets for Harris. Trade Josh and Marvin to Toronto in sign and trade for Bosh and their draft pick. Use two picks to get Heyward kid from Butler. Line up Horford, Bosh, Childress, Crawford, and Harris. Key backups Zaza, Heyward, and Teague. Look around for another shooter or a big man. Line up is young, athletic, very fast, and starters will average 20 pts. Heyward and Childress add length on defense and both can rebound. Team is highly competitive for next 3-5 years. Bosh only large contract. Only loss is Josh’s shot blocking. Bosh, Childress, and Heyward can all play three positions. Teague gets to develop and contribute. Nets get Joe and veteran pg in Bibby to pair with Lebron, Lopez, and Evan Turner. Highly competitive team. Toronto gets Josh to put some excitement in their building and Marvin to develop his potential for someone who is leaving. Just ask the Van Gundy’s if they could win with this line up!

atlienforlife

May 25th, 2010
5:59 pm

Mitun, again we are talking about moving Horford to pf and you want to get Elton brand (who has a horrendous contract and hasn’t played anywhere near all-star ball in three years) to play what center. And what is all this love for the bootleg A.I., he is nowhere near as good Joe Johnson. A lot of overreacting to what happened in the playoffs. I guess you guys would prefer to go back to 500 ball. Philly didn’t even make the playoffs with those players, why would they be a contender in Atlanta?

atlienforlife

May 25th, 2010
6:02 pm

More dumbstuff, I am from New York too and trust me no one calls Atlanta loserville. Over the past 4 years, there has been a huge migration of people from NY to Atlanta. Just walk around the A and ask people where there from and you will see!

Delbert D.

May 25th, 2010
6:11 pm

Jeff – good appraisal on the Braves situation. I’m glad somebody said it.

cdog

May 25th, 2010
6:15 pm

yes i would love to be sund.i would do something he doesn’t do, that is the right thing and the obvious thing by hiring the most qualified coach, avery johnson.but being the loser sund is, he’s going to play games and delay which is dumb and stupid but thats his nature.

Veteran Fan

May 25th, 2010
6:17 pm

Wren has a lot of work too in that he built a team that Bobby likes. No speed and wait for the three run home run. The next manager will want some speed and they have good young players coming up to accomplish that. It will be an interesting year there too!

bushwacker

May 25th, 2010
7:05 pm

Don’t laugh until you hear me out.

Are we even trying for Lebron or D Wade?

There is no way in heck either of those guys are going to NY or NJ, THEY WANT TO WIN, AND BOTH THOSE TEAMS SUCK.

Either of them would have to sign many mor eplayers than just LBJ or DWade.

We keep hearing Chicago?

Who has the better supporting cast and only needs the SUPERSTAR LBJ or D Wade to put them over the top?

Chicago,with Derrick Rose and Noah?

Or Atlanta, Al Horford, Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford,Marvin Williams,Mike Bibby, Jeff Teague”he’s going to be good if ever given a chance”.
We don’t Joe Johnson if we can get “my preference” D WADE or LBJ.

Seriuosly, the ATL is where its happenign now and you cannot compare Chicago’s line up to Atlanta’s.

Some one should at least point that out to D Wade and LBJ, I think they want to WIN NOW and we have all the ppieces in place to go with either SUPERSTAR.

LETS GO FOR IT DAMN IT!

Seriously, who has the best supporting cast of ALL the teams that made the playoffs.

Chhicago,

Jeff Schultz

May 25th, 2010
7:14 pm

DCBravosfan — Sund originally signed a 3 year contract, which means his deal would expire after next season, unless he already has received an extension.

Jeff Schultz

May 25th, 2010
7:15 pm

Clay — I was one of Yunel’s biggest supporters and still am. But there’s no question he’s viewed as a question within the organization right now because of his lack of maturity.