Drew doesn’t waste time sending message to Hawks’ players

"Hi Josh. I'm your new head coach. Lose 10 pounds and if you ever want to see the court again, don't ever shoot another jumper."

Larry Drew to Josh Smith: "Lose 10 pounds and if you ever want to see the court again, don't ever shoot another jumper." Kidding. Sort of.

Can you tell how a coach is going to do by what he says in a press conference? No — no more than what you can tell by how a politician will do, based on his campaign promises.

Jerry Glanville: Entertaining in press conferences but a clown as a head coach.

Mike Smith: Dry in press conferences but solid as a head coach

Larry Drew? He said all the right things at his introductory news conference. Actually, he said more than you would have expected, and without much prompting. Here are eight quotes that stood out Monday and why:

♦ 1. Drew on impending free agent Joe Johnson: “I know there’s been some criticism at times that he may go a little too much one on one. Certainly, I do believe that he’s a focal point of this team. I’ll implement some things that probably will take the ball out of his hands a little bit more but it will make him even more effective.”

Comment: Well, that didn’t take long. Drew basically tells Joe out of the box, “I want you back but under these circumstances.” You have to like that.

♦ 2. Drew on Josh Smith: “I just saw Josh Smith come in here, too. The thing is to get him off the perimeter. Put him in position to be a little more successful. I believe with his athleticism, he has a lot of capablity in low post.”

Comment: Well, that didn’t take long (part II). Drew basically tells Smith, with Smith standing in the doorway, not far from the stage, “Don’t shoot from out there.” Drew is just like the fan screaming at his TV set.

♦ 3. Drew on his coaching staff: “I’m compiling names.”

Comment:  The assistant coaches in the room at the time must realize: Change is forthcoming.

♦ 4. Drew on point guard Jeff Teague, who was seldom used as a rookie by Mike Woodson: “I really believe this kid has the package. Rick [Sund] and I spoke about it. I think he has the ability to make this team better, to have an impact on this team. The offense will really benefit from his speed and his quickness — to break the defense down.”

Comment: I think Mike Bibby just became a bench player.

5. Al Horford, the most universally respected player in the locker room, comparing Drew to Woodson: “He’s totally different. Coach Woodson was more laid back. Larry’s different. He’s already reached out to us and let us know he’s going to change the offense a little bit and how he’s emphasizing the defensive part of things. … Even though Larry was a part of our team before, it’s a big change for us. Because when you have a head coach,  you [the assistant] can’t get the last say. With him being in charge now, things are going to be different.”

Comment:  Horford recognized during his two seasons that Drew had ideas that he couldn’t push through. That’s a bit of an indictment on Woodson.

♦ 6. Drew on the same subject: “When you’re an assistant coach, your job is to give the head coach as much information as you possibly can. He decides what he wants to use, and what he doesn’t want to use he gets rid of. Mike made the decision to use what he used. I don’t fault him for that.”

Comment: Everybody else will.

♦ 7. Drew, on the need to change his relationship with players, now that he’s no longer the assistant coach: “Everybody tells me when you move over six inches, it’s all the difference in the world. But when you’re talking about dealing with players you have to know what buttons to push. I know now. I’ve had conversations with a lot these guys this morning. I’m still going to be Larry. But I’m to be a little more firm in what I want. Things are going to be done a little bit different.”

Comment: The level of accountability just went up.

♦ 8. Sund, on perceptions by fans that Drew was an afterthought as a candidate, not to be taken seriously: “I don’t care what the perception is. He was the very first candidate we interviewed. We know how the process went. I wanted to hear what other candidates thought about our club. I wanted to hear what Larry thought of our club. That was the process. What he’s done in the last six years made him a candidate. The process is what made him a head coach.”

Comment: It’s widely believed there was disagreement among Sund and owners on who to hire.  There was clear interest in Avery Johnson. But thumb-twiddling by all involved, primarily over his salary demands, led him to take the New Jersey job. Bottom line, we’ll probably never know the whole story. But Drew is saying all the right things, and now we’ll see what actions follow his words.

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

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80 comments Add your comment

steve brown

June 14th, 2010
10:10 pm

Okay, I’m in!


June 14th, 2010
10:11 pm

What did the headline, “Drew Doesn’t Mix Words” mean? Did the writer intend to say “mince” words? If so, kinda embarrassing.

Dub C

June 14th, 2010
10:12 pm

I’m curious to see how all of this translates onto the court. The comments about Josh and Teague are very positive. Moving away from the iso-Joe’s are a major plus too!!! I’m ready for the season to start!!!


June 14th, 2010
10:15 pm

best hire from what is out there. he could be a great one. time will tell. good luck Drewby.


June 14th, 2010
10:20 pm

4th– wheres ‘Nique?

Big Ray

June 14th, 2010
10:32 pm

I’m looking forward to Drew helping this team to be more disciplined and more effective. It doesn’t have to mean less fun.

And freedom will be earned the acknowledgement and acceptance of responsibility. This is what Drew will do differently than Woodson. That, and actually know both sides of the game.


June 14th, 2010
10:41 pm

Now that that’s done, it’ll be slow around here until draft night. And then slow again after that until free agency. I hate the off-season. I guess Larry Drew didn’t address Josh Childress’ situation, but then again, he’s probably not in the position to, considering Sund will have a lot to more to do with that.


June 14th, 2010
10:42 pm

His son is a Tar Heel like me, feel me? I’m too good for this press conference!! Jason I saw you in a pic my boy!! Holla!!

MW24 > CP3



June 14th, 2010
10:47 pm

Larry Drew, Mark Jackson, Dwayne Casey, Red Auerbach or Phil Jackson can’t coach this BROKEN ROSTER to the championship!!! Between Marvin, Josh, and Horford, at least one HAS TO BE TRADED. Until then we will continue to suffer for the sins of Drafts gone by. And I still won’t be upset if Joe does leave, ONLY LeBron, Dwight Howard, Rondo or Chris Paul can make him more effective…NOT the coach!!!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by . said: [...]


June 14th, 2010
10:54 pm

As long as he get Josh to quit shooting jumpers I’m all in!

Astro Joe

June 14th, 2010
10:55 pm

Breaking news… in the battle between drew and Woody… drew won. But honestly, Woody isn’t the competition.


June 14th, 2010
10:59 pm

I’m not blaming you for this, Jeff. I don’t think you write the headlines on the home page. Isn’t the phrase “to mince words” rather than “to mix words?”

I really enjoy what you write, Jeff. You often force a smile from these curmudgeonly lips and your insight is spot on lots of times.

I like what Larry Drew said, but in this game, it seems the guys on the team can make these things work or not much more than in football or baseball. If Joe Johnson signs for his big bucks and doesn’t buy into what Drew is preaching, will the Hawks be any better off? What if Josh Smith chooses to tune him out? Will they move Josh? No, I am afraid they will fire Larry Drew. I wish these guys could take a page out of the Celtics’ book this year when Doc Rivers called his “Big Three” in and said that if they want to win a championship, they needed to be rested. Not something they wanted to hear. But they did it. And it is on the verge of working for them. Joe, Josh, take a look! All you Hawks, take a look! It’s a team game! Win as a team, no matter who the coach is.


June 14th, 2010
11:01 pm

I wish he said that the offense would be more than “little different.” Hopefully it’s totally different. I like that he said he can take the ball out of JJ’s hand and make him more effective… think Rip Hamilton running off screens. And Josh should be in the post. These are tough things to figure out…. but I guess they were for Woody. The thing is, will these guys listen, and how will he react if they don’t?


June 14th, 2010
11:03 pm

I agree they need to tie a rope to the basket and not let Josh go further than 10 feet. The problem is the middle is going to get really crowed if Josh, Horford and a real center are all in there where they belong.
I like both Horford and Josh but Josh has to go. They need to trade him for a real center.


June 14th, 2010
11:07 pm

Best wishes Coach Drew, hopefully we can get fortunate in the draft and/or free agency to perhaps bring in a little more support in the front court.


June 14th, 2010
11:11 pm

This sounds about right now that Don Waddell is calling the shots. Down grade the coach the year after a playoff spot. It is only fair that the Hawks fans feel the pain the thrashers have lived with for ten plus years. Next the hawks will be leaving town too.
am sorry that this is the state of things in this town that should be one of the greatest basket ball towns in the NBA.


June 14th, 2010
11:18 pm

Jeff: Is it true that the Hawks are going to start issuing vuvuzelas to spectators as they enter Phillips arena?

Hawk fan

June 14th, 2010
11:26 pm

Time will tell..I’m not sold yet. Talk is cheap but I’ll be watching and praying.


June 14th, 2010
11:28 pm

@ Jeff Schultz…
I’ve been here before, oh it was last week when I laid out my expectations for the next coach… Now as the British say: “The proof is in the pudding!”


June 14th, 2010
11:32 pm

Sounds good, Still need a true big from the draft. Need someone to just be big. If they draft a 3, then Marvin has to be traded for a big. IF LeBron or Wade falls in our lap I’m all for it. Other then that, I could care less about bringing in someone new. Let Joe test the market and if someone wants to overpay him, bye bye. If he wants 9 mill a year, sign him back in a heartbeat!!!


June 14th, 2010
11:33 pm

@ Jeff Schultz (part 2)
What time does he fire Tyrone Hill?


June 14th, 2010
11:39 pm

Good Stuff Jeff. At first I was concern about hiring Drew but now I look forward to seeing him coach this team. He sound like a guy who is prepared and ready to be a head coach….


June 14th, 2010
11:54 pm

I’m not happy with Larry Drew saying we need Joe Johnson, we really don’t.


June 14th, 2010
11:57 pm

Joe Johnson can take his overrated @ss to New York, or Chicago.


June 14th, 2010
11:59 pm

Jeff Teague will be the next Rondo for sure!!!


June 15th, 2010
12:07 am

At first I was thinking the Hawks should go get a big name head coach, but then I thought about guys like Phil Jackson who was Doug Collins assistant before taking the Bulls to the next level. The players seem to like and respect Drew, this could really work.


June 15th, 2010
12:36 am

How about you take yo wanna be a** to your trap.


June 15th, 2010
2:40 am

I’m not knocking Woodson. The team did great things on his watch. That they quit on him in this year’s playoffs (actually, last year’s too) means he had to go. But he did well.

The fact that Woodson didn’t implement all of Drew’s suggestions means nothing. Maybe they were bad suggestions. Ever think of that?

I don’t think x’s and o’s are important here. What’s important is the Phil Jackson Phactor: getting the players to buy in, being able to manage the personalities and the egos and get everyone pulling in the same direction. If they can do that, they’ll be successful regardless of the tactics.

That’s Drew’s biggest challenge.


June 15th, 2010
4:20 am

Teague as a starter. I like it. Who needs JJ?


June 15th, 2010
5:04 am

Wow!! Im excited about Larry Drew already..I am also looking forward to his after-game/post-game comments..they will definely be better than Woodson ole sayings..”We didnt play good to-night, I guess we have to go back and breakdown the tape and see what went wrong’…’OH, I’m proud of our guys to-night, our defense WAS HUGE.” Mann, I was tired of hearing the same ole same ole comments..looking forward to seeing u in action Larry!!

Oh and Larry, all I ask for is if you can keep your players always hungry and fired-up at all games. I just want all-out hustle from them. Of course, I want a win but if we lose, just know that that PLAYED HARD!!


June 15th, 2010
6:48 am

I am Larry Drew fan. I said it before that the organization should look within instead of outside. The insider, most of the time knows better than somebody coming from outside. It takes time for the outsider to learn names, etc, before adjusting. But meanwhile, he is already on the clock like an NFL draft team. That being said, I am going to go against you a little bit brother Larry. I heard you talk, and it sounded so good on paper. That is the way it should be. As a matter of fact, Mike Woodson said the same thing and as most coaches looking for a job. But action speaks louder than words. I want you to understand that you are now on the clock just like the former coach, and whatever you just said would be used against you. You could be just what the Hawks needed; you could be the recipe for disaster. Also you could have just been hired to be fired. Whatever you choose yourself to be, I personally wish you the best.

Bill Campbell

June 15th, 2010
6:52 am

Hawks will continue losing tradition! You get what you pay for…

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 15th, 2010
7:55 am

Horford on Woody: “He was more laid-back.”

Comment: Woody was too lazy to develope HIS second PG draftee. Much easier to call him “Rook.”


June 15th, 2010
7:57 am

1st year…Josh S sits several games because of…locker room becomes a little distraction because of the new sheriff…45 wins and first round knockout.

2nd year…several players gone several added to quell previous years let down…losses begin to mount…Drew frustrated…Spirit group waites tilll end of year to fire Drew…low seeded playoffs…second round knockout….coaching search begins.

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 15th, 2010
7:58 am

The D. Wade summit will be catered by Joe Johnson.


June 15th, 2010
8:05 am

Face it you internet GM’s Smoove, isn’t going anywhere. so get over yourselves..


June 15th, 2010
8:42 am

Why does it matter?? Any game where the star players have different rules than the rest of the players is no longer a sport. Its basketball’s version of Monday Night Raw.

Unless Drew can secretly hand Horford a foreign object when the refs aren;t looking, its more of the same. C’mon guys, NASCAR is more of a sport than this crap.


June 15th, 2010
8:56 am

I love it! He’s saying the exact things Hawks fans have been screaming at the television during the playoffs – Joe needs to pass, Smoove needs to get inside, Teague needs to start! It’s simple common sense stuff like that that was absent during the Woody regime.

I also think Joe is more likely to stay with this hire than any of the other options, save maybe Avery Johnson.


June 15th, 2010
8:57 am

Also Jeff, I noticed Bradley doesn’t like the hire, and it sounds like you do. Would us humble AJC readers be lucky enough to get a point-counterpoint from you guys on Drew’s hiring? That would be phenomenal!

It matters

June 15th, 2010
8:58 am

Elsewhere on the AJC sports page, some editor is promoting your column with the headline, “Drew doesn’t MIX words.” It’s MINCE words. This stuff matters and it used to at the AJC.


June 15th, 2010
9:05 am

Shake up the roster!
Now that’s my contribution LOL

Armond Hill

June 15th, 2010
9:09 am

In the NBA, it is the players, not the coach. Look at great coach, or those perceived to be great coaches. They have STARS, who are willing to be coached to a certain extent. Even then it may not work out, as you also need role players who are willing to contribute the dirty work. Terrible drafts have killed the Hawks.

No Spirit Group

June 15th, 2010
9:19 am

How can he not waste time sending a message when he stutters as bad as he does? I mean, really? this is the guy that the hawks want us to buy into and he talks like the defense attorney from My Cousin Vinny? I just heard an interview with him on the radio and the guy stutters something fierce. How’s he going to draw up a play late in the game when he can’t spit out the first word for 15 seconds?? Unbelievable.

John Stossil

June 15th, 2010
9:20 am

See- stutterers can be successful just like me!


June 15th, 2010
9:22 am

This is the guy that management wants us to buy into? Really? I just heard an interview with the guy and he sounds like the defense attorney from My Cousin Vinny. The guy can’t draw up a play when it takes him 15 seconds to get the first word out. We picked a stuttering players’ coach to run things- really?


June 15th, 2010
9:26 am

Mike Bibby will be worth a lot more over the course of the year coming off the bench as an offensive assassin. The guy cannot play defense at all… but he’s a very nice PG to have off the bench.

For Drew to have a really good shot though, I think they still need Joe.

Ken Strickland

June 15th, 2010
9:32 am

Sounds to me like the ASG wanted to make minimal roster changes, and wanted a HC who was willing to work with and develop the players on their existing roster. It’s also quite possible that the other candidates had issues with, or suggested getting rid of, a certain player(s)that the ASG valued.

It makes sense perfect sense not to make a whole sale departure from a system and a group of players that finished 3rd in the East with 53wins, 3 consecutive playoff appearances and 2 consecutive 2nd rd appearances. If you discover your car has 2 flat tires and/or the roof of your house has a leak, you don’t abandon the car or your house, you fix them.

LDrew’s job is to use his knowledge and familiarity with the team and it’s players to repair the damage Woodson caused by what he did and/or didn’t do, not rebuild everything.


June 15th, 2010
9:48 am

He does not mix words- he stutters them.

True 5

June 15th, 2010
10:00 am

THANK YOU JEFF SCHULTZ! finally an article that says all the right things about LD and not picking out his flaws and talking about other people we should have chosen. great article and great writer.