Hawks, Thrashers are still coachless — is this a problem?

Rick Sund doesn't appear close to making a decision on Mike Woodson. (Jason Getz/AJC)The Thrashers “released” John Anderson on April 14, four days after the team’s final regular season game against Pittsburgh.

The Hawks “chose not to offer” Mike Woodson a new contract on April 14, four days after Orlando completed a four-game sweep in the second-round of the playoffs.

(Remember back when we used to call these firings? Lawyers.)

Before you ask — and I feel compelled to address this since readers have already asked me via email and blog comments — no, the Atlanta Spirit is not holding off on hiring coaches

dudley

Hawks general manager Rick Sund and Thrashers GM Rick Dudley haven't made their picks yet.

to save money. The contracts are annual salaries, not hourly wages.

Here’s the bigger question: Is this a concern?

My view: No. And yes.

♦ Thrashers: Not a problem.

From the outset, it was clear that new general manager Rick Dudley had Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti on his radar. Even if  Torchetti isn’t a lock for the job, we know he’s a high-profile candidate. But Dudley couldn’t talk to Torchetti before Wednesday night when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

Dudley has spoken to other candidates for the job, including Boston Bruins assistant Craig Ramsay, so it was just a matter of waiting for Torchetti. Also, for what it’s worth, Dudley said earlier this week that he didn’t expect to have a head coach in place before the June 25-26 draft. He also didn’t feel that was important. We can debate that. It doesn’t hurt to have a coach’s input on veteran players around the league should the Thrashers make a trade at the draft. But that’s Dudley’s view. Most importantly, he has not strayed from his plan.

Hawks: Yes, potentially a problem.

If general manager Rick Sund and owners were waiting on the conclusion of the Los Angeles Lakers-Boston Celtics’ series to talk to a coach, the wait would be understandable. But there’s no indication they’re waiting to talk to an assistant on either staff (Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau already has accepted the Chicago Bulls’ job). There’s the longest of long shots that former Hawks star Glenn “Doc” Rivers could be available. But Rivers has a year left on his contract. He is likely to either return to the Celtics for one more season or take a one-to-two-year break from coaching to spend more time with his wife in Orlando.

What exactly is going on now? Nobody can be certain.

Avery Johnson, the strongest of the four candidates, took the New Jersey job. That leaves Dallas assistant and former Minnesota coach Dwane Casey, Hawks assistant Larry Drew and ESPN commentator Mark Jackson as the known finalists.

All have been interviewed. All are waiting. It had been expected that a decision would come by this week. The lack of a decision thus far has fueled speculation in the media and among fans that Sund and owners are not in complete agreement on a choice.

For the record, this is generally how things work: Sund makes a recommendation and the owners take it from there. Sund has said that ownership has accepted his recommendation in the past, such as the decisions to give Woodson a two-year contract in 2008 and the one to let him go after this season.

So what do you think? Are you concerned neither franchise has a coach yet?

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89 comments Add your comment

PMC

June 11th, 2010
8:58 am

I don’t think it’s a problem quite yet because the playoffs aren’t over. They just need a coach by Free Agency. Maybe they think they can make a run at Doc Rivers and they are just stalling.

PMC

June 11th, 2010
9:03 am

I have confidence in Dudley to find the right guy. The Hawks ownership I think has enough money but just enough. This is the financial behavior people who can’t afford to make big mistakes make. It’s really a smart way for them to be. They aren’t wasting money paying people to not be here and they want to make absolutely sure that they get a guy who will work with the talent they have and still have capital to resign (or sign and trade) critical talent like Joe Johnson.

The Russian dude, he can be wrong about Avery Johnson he’s got more money than sense. The ASG can’t afford as many missteps.

Marcus

June 11th, 2010
9:06 am

Thrashers, No – Hockey isn’t my thing
Hawks – 50/50

Marcus

June 11th, 2010
9:09 am

oh … let me break out my my commeorative, just-exercised my 2010-2011 Mo Evans HOME jersey … ;)
for those that don’t know, he rocks jersey No 1 :D

Jeff, as long as they pick the right guy, they can wait until kickoff of the Falcons season opener [exaggeration off]

Marcus

June 11th, 2010
9:10 am

oh, crud … looks like I gotta break out my “see ya wouldn’t wanna be ya” free agent-to-be, NBA.com discounted Joe Johnson No. 2 (AWAY) jersey :(

cheese

June 11th, 2010
9:27 am

there will always be a problem with the hawks & thrashers as long as asg are owning them.

Astro Joe

June 11th, 2010
9:29 am

Considering that several new coaches are building their staffs and we haven’t even chosen our coach yet, yes, it’s a problem (for the Hawks). Based on the last few days of the Woodson regime, it appears that we need both a strong head coach and assistants who can support a group of players who are not always “serious” enough. With Thibodeau, Collins, Avery and Monty Williams out there completing their staffs, the Hawks may get less than ideal assistants to help direct the ship.

JC

June 11th, 2010
9:33 am

With Avery out of the picture, Sund would clearly favor Casey in this situation. Which means that ASG want one of the other two candidates. I’d be happy with either Casey or Drew, but really don’t think Jackson’s “great knowledge of the game,” as all his boosters have put it, guarantees success as a coach. He’s a risk, which I wouldn’t want to gamble on to lead a playoff-caliber team.

Khao$

June 11th, 2010
9:35 am

I think the Hawks situation is a problem. For starters, I do think it is a good idea in any sport to have your coaches input before the draft and in preparation for free agency. Although I don’t expect the coach to buy the groceries (to steal Parcell’s quote), they are the one’s cooking the dinner for 82 games plus the playoffs. Therefore, they should have some say so in the ingredients. This is clearly another sign of the ASG’s ineptitude. The sad part about it is, I believe they really think fans can’t see their issues and are oblivious about their internal turmoil. Said problems trickle down from the courthouse to the ball court.

JC

June 11th, 2010
9:35 am

Prediction – Sund wants Casey, ASG want Drew. Sund wins out. Casey the next head coach of the Hawks.

Ted Striker

June 11th, 2010
9:39 am

Not overly concerned, as long as they get a hire in place by the draft. I’m on board with Casey, Drew, or (no-way-he’s-coming) Rivers. Jackson, no thanks. Nothing against the guy — he’s scored a lot of NBA points and had a lotta NBA assists.

However he and I have coached exactly the same number of NBA games.

BIRDDAWGONE

June 11th, 2010
9:51 am

Jeff, collegefootballnews.com (not CFN.com), I usually Google “cfn”. I always go staight to this site after I check with the AJC.

TommyJack

June 11th, 2010
9:58 am

Is it me, or does Rick Sund look like a creepy Burt Reynolds circa 1980?

Mr. Phil

June 11th, 2010
10:07 am

I think ASG are a bunch of no account clowns who don’t know the first thing about basketball or what it takes to build a winning sports franchise in general. Further, non of them seem to have either the time nor inclination to spend any real amount of time learning what either of their sports teams need. So no matter what the final choice is (Be it Casey, had it been Avery, or be it Doc Rivers) it will be a failure. Because this ownership group is weak and indecisive with no direction or leadership.(notice how that trickles all they way down to the players) This ownership group does not know how to allow the people they hire (Rick Sund) to do their jobs. When you have a respected and experienced GM who has to make recommendations and wait on a group chat/vote to determine the teams direction. C’mon this is a friggin joke.

The Wad

June 11th, 2010
10:08 am

Until the Hawks get a center of better than average ability to control the paint it won`t matter if I coach the team.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
10:19 am

Marcus — Falcons kickoff? I guess we can skip that whole training camp thing then.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
10:20 am

Cheese — I understand that segment of the population exists.

balismith

June 11th, 2010
10:20 am

i just wonder if the new hawks coach will be any kind of upgrade.I have ahard time understanding the reasoning in firing a coach after he leads a team to 50 plus wins.Maybe it was time to part ways after 5 years,wish the new coach well…know the heavy lifting has been completed…kind of reminds me of when the braves traded jeff fran forryan church

the TRUTH

June 11th, 2010
10:21 am

Yeah…no worries here. The only place the Thrashers can go is UP, UP, UP and away to Hamilton. The Hamilton Horn Frogs. I like that name for the team.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
10:21 am

Astro Joe — Excellent point on the the assistants. It’s true that the teams that already have hired coaches have a head start, although sometimes head coaches have “their guys” already from previous jobs or friendships.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
10:23 am

Ted Striker — Are you throwing your hat in the ring?

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
10:24 am

Birddawgone — Oh yeah, been there before. Thanks.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
10:26 am

TommyJack — Next time I see Rick, I’ll ask him if he was in “Cannonball Run.”

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
10:27 am

The Wad — I hear ya on the center. But they’re in the same boat with about 20 teams.

ant banks

June 11th, 2010
10:36 am

i detests sund’s style and the asg. jj wasn’t signed until LATE august. smoove wasn’t signed until august. we NEVER make any f/a moves on july 1. we see whose left and add them in august. we may not have a coach til august. i have no reason to believe otherwise. 3dam weeks!! pick someone, anyone. look decisive!!

Alejandro Alejandro

June 11th, 2010
10:38 am

The headline should read…

Atlanta Spirit Group are still the owners – BIG problem

Clay

June 11th, 2010
10:41 am

ant banks, yeah, Sund needs to make a move. I do think he’s done a good job though, so far.

tony

June 11th, 2010
10:41 am

I’m very concern because if they hired the wrong coach there are going to be alot of unhappy fans around Ga. Hire Bill Laimbeer and end all this talk about who we need so we can start focusing on the draft and free gency.

Telfo

June 11th, 2010
10:41 am

no problems with Dudley. He has been saying all along it would be awhile. I have no reason to doubt him yet.

Hawks either cant agree or have been turned down numerous times, which is a problem either way

NOLA

June 11th, 2010
10:42 am

Nobody wants to coach in that cesspool city of yours. It stinks.

You have no culture whatsoever except scrip clubs.

Come to New Orleans, now we truly have an identity.

ant banks

June 11th, 2010
10:45 am

WATCH
as soon as the hawks make their selection, they will SWEAR this was their man all alone. smh.

HawkKingBibby

June 11th, 2010
10:45 am

Sund is learning why Billy Knight chose to be unemployed over working another year with the mess known as the Atlanta Spirit Group. Could we have another Joe Johnson fiasco here over which coach to hire? Could we have another Joe Johnson fiasco over….. well Joe Johnson this summer?

ELVISINTHEHOUSE.

June 11th, 2010
10:49 am

Hey jeff just wanted to apologize for the prank the other day,was just having a little fun.Sorry sir.I would not be surprised if atlanta spirit sell the franchises.But if not i think the slow process is good considering these teams(hawks,thrashers)history of losing.But also they bring in quality and not a plug in.

Big Ray

June 11th, 2010
10:49 am

I care nothing about hockey.

For the Hawks, this is a problem, plain and simple.

Big Ray

June 11th, 2010
10:51 am

Nah….no Joe Johnson fiasco this time. Either Joe leaves, or Joe stays. It’s up to Joe.

N.D.T.K.A.

June 11th, 2010
10:53 am

Jeff, How do you think all of this indecison by the Hawks affect our chances of resigning JJ? Do you think JJ or the rest of the team will respond to any of the finalist for head coach the ASG & Sund are considering at this point?

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
10:55 am

Elvisinthehouse — You’re off the banned list. Just leave any race-baiting comments out. Thanks.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
10:58 am

N.D.T.K.A. — I think any player would get excited to play for a certain coach. We don’t know obviously who the coach would be for Joe. But let me say this: I still think it will come down to money for Joe, not who the coach is.

Big Ray

June 11th, 2010
11:04 am

This just in….

The ASG are meeting today to determine when they should have a committe on when to have the conference call.

Paddy

June 11th, 2010
11:04 am

Jeff….I am not concerned about the Hawks and the ASG now. I have been concerned about them a long time ago. Nothing they do will rattle my cage any longer. You sort of get numb after awhile and just turn the page to the BP oil spill stories. You get the same kind of feeling reading either!

Remarkable

June 11th, 2010
11:07 am

I don’t think the coach is available who can help the Hawks now. Not unless it is Doc. I know you think highly of Larry Drew but thats a crap shoot at best. It does give them time and plenty of excuses when and if it doesn’t work out. But of them all I think Mark Jackson is the only name that can help draw players and fans in.

Paddy

June 11th, 2010
11:10 am

Big Ray, this just in….the ASG has organized a sub-committe to study the conference call agenda item. So there will be no meeting to determine the conference call issue untill the sub-committe’s findings are examined. What I am hearing is an answer around 15 July on the proposed conference call. This is all going rather well, don’t you think?

Remarkable

June 11th, 2010
11:16 am

Until there is one man making the decisions, the Hawks will never get their act together. Committees of owners with no clear cut leader or decision maker is a recipe for disaster. They never should have let Mike Woodson go unless they had agreed on a new head coach. They have been in limbo and it’s no contest, we all loose.

Sonny Clusters

June 11th, 2010
11:19 am

Some big walks would look good right about now. That’s a baseball post, though. We was thinking Dudley has a lot of suits like Arthur Blank does but probably a different tailor.

Ted Striker

June 11th, 2010
11:22 am

Jeff — I have too many skeletons in the closet to be in the public eye.

Khao$

June 11th, 2010
11:40 am

My question to all is this: what is the true role of an Assistant Coach NBA? Are they simply called upon to help run drills in practice or are they relied upon to provide significant imput to the Head Coach that will influence the game plan?

If it is the latter (ala Tom Thibedeux for Boston, Avery Johnson under Don Nelson, or Tex Winters and his Triange for Phil Jackson), I do believe people are are justified in their concerns that Larry Drew is going to be the next coach. Based off Thibedeux (sp), Johnson, and Winter’s examples, word gets around the league when an assistant has placed his imprint on a team without usurping power from the HC. I don’t see nor have I heard that Larry Drew has done such with our Hawks…and he’s been on our sidelines for 6 years. Nobody has been knocking on our door to make him THEIR HEAD COACH. The Alvin Gentry comparison falls short because Gentry has been a head coach before.

IMHO Either 1) Drew didn’t bring anything to the table to make Woody rethink his strategies, player development or rotations, 2)Drew was in agreement with Woody’s style of play, 3)Drew was too silent OR 4) Woody was too stubborn to listen to Drew and ownership and the players knew it.

If it’s not example four, there is NO WAY Drew becomes my coach. I’m sorry, but after losing by the largest point margin in PLAYOFF HISTORY, the idea of anyone coming in from Woodson’s staff terrifies me.

I believe Drew is a good guy. He’s a family man, for sure. He wanted to move out west to be closer to his son, but the ASG wouldn’t let him out of his contract. All that being said, I’m not sold on him being our coach.

Truth be told, Woody’s rep around the league (if we recall media reports before we hired him) shined brighter than Drew’s.

Dr. Warren

June 11th, 2010
11:47 am

Let’s not forget the job Mike Smith has done with the Falcons. A no-name head coach can succeed in the NBA, too.

masivatack

June 11th, 2010
11:47 am

Schultz…. You are the guy who is always calling for a coach’s head… Shouldn’t you know how to best replace the ones who are actually fired.

Waiting….

N.D.T.K.A.

June 11th, 2010
11:50 am

I wonder if the ASG is considering selling the Hawks as some rumors have indicated? Hawks fans, players, etc. would probably prefer a more stable owner. Preferably, someone like Arthur Blank who wants to win a championship and doesn’t mind spending the money to do it. I wonder if there are any singular owners with deep pockets interested in buying the Hawks that won’t move the team out of Atlanta? The fact that the Falcons are so well supported in Atlanta should be proof enough to the ASG that if you put a good product on the floor fans will come. Hawks have no consistency in winning under the ASG. That is why fan support is so weak.

dap01

June 11th, 2010
11:52 am

DISFUNCTIONAL!