Archive for June, 2010

Will Hawks draft player (Crawford) who dunked on LeBron?

Jordan Crawford is named in two of nine NBA mock drafts as a potential Hawks' pick.

Jordan Crawford is named in two of nine NBA mock drafts as a potential Hawks' pick.

As the Hawks enter the summer, this is how their future breaks down:

♦ We don’t know what’s going to happen with their ownership (click here).

♦ We don’t know what’s going to happen with Joe Johnson (click here).

♦ We don’t know what’s going to happen with Josh Childress (click here).

So why should Thursday’s draft be any more obvious?

Heading out to the Hawks’ final pre-draft workouts this morning at Philips Arena to chat with general manager Rick Sund. So I thought it would be a good idea to check out some mock drafts to see if I could get a consensus on what the Hawks are going to do with the 24th pick.

Fail. Epic fail.

I checked nine mock drafts. Only two had the same selection. The Sporting News and SI.com both have the Hawks taking Xavier shooting guard Jordan Crawford. Seven other mocks have seven other players.

If Crawford’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he is the player who dunked …

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It’s time for Braves to end the Kawakami experiment

Bobby Cox took the ball from Kenshin Kawakami Sunday -- but why give it back?

Bobby Cox took the ball from Kenshin Kawakami Sunday — but why give it back?

So I stood by Bobby Cox Sunday when he said he didn’t want to talk about any future decisions regarding Kenshin Kawakami, though he added, “He’ll make his next start.” Why? By default. Jair Jurrjens has at least another week of rehab left.

And then I stood by Kenshin Kawakami as he deflected no criticism (a commendable character trait of his) and said of possibly losing his starting job: “I haven’t thought about that much. But being a starter, I’m not really doing my job right now, so I’m ready for anything that is coming.”

What should the Braves do with Kenshin Kawakami?

  • Keep him as a starter.
  • Put him in the bullpen.
  • Sit him on the curb with a sign that reads, “Owner will pay $7 million for you to haul away.”

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Kawakami is baseball’s only $23 million fifth starter. He also has the distinction of being 0-9 for a first-place team. Only three other …

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Does Josh Childress fit into Hawks’ plans?

It looks like Josh Childress may be flying back to the NBA.

It looks like Josh Childress may be flying back to the NBA.

Three weeks ago, we told you there was a good chance Josh Childress might return to the NBA next season for the simple reason that his hair nearly caught on fire (well, it could have) after drunk and moronic Greek basketball fans shot off flares INDOORS at a basketball game.

Now, the possibility of Childress leaving Greece appears stronger than ever — and Olympiakos wouldn’t mind it a bit.

Tax laws apparently are changing in Greece. The new structure would make it more difficult for Olympiakos to pay the final year of Childress’ three-year, $20 million contract and could potentially double taxes for basketball players. It’s important to note that the $20 million in Childress’ contract is net, not gross. Current generous tax laws in Greece make it the equivalent to a $32.5 million deal.

Childress has until July 15 to opt out. Hawks general manager Rick Sund already has said that he will extend a $4.8 million qualifying …

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Bobby Cox doing one of his best managing jobs ever

Bobby Cox's Braves are 29-10 since May 10, despite Kenshin Kawakami. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Bobby Cox's team has gone 29-10 since May 10, despite Kenshin Kawakami. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Eric Hinske has played for eight managers in his nine major league seasons, and he has determined that Bobby Cox stands out from the others in at least one way.

“He’s kind of like a mob boss,” Hinske said on Sunday. “Everybody brings him stuff – chairs, coffee, water. Then he makes the decision. He’s like our own Tony Soprano.”

Nice analogy. Especially on Father’s Day. The Braves even provided the appropriate musical score before the game against Kansas City: The “Godfather” theme played over the public address system at Turner Field.

Hopefully, Kenshin Kawakami was listening, because he might be close to waking up with a horse’s head in his bed.

Cox can’t fix Kawakami. The Braves’ manager will have to focus on simpler tasks, like world peace and planting a vegetable garden on Neptune. But aside of being subjected to the disastrous $23 million import that is his 0-9 starting pitcher, …

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LIVE: Braves go for sweep; Kawakami will take anything

Not to kenshin Kawakami: See the ball. Be the ball.

See the ball. Be the ball. (Photo by Curtis Compton/AJC)

Good afternoon. Happy Father’s Day. It’s Kawakami time.

Of all the things the Braves and manager Bobby Cox have accomplished this season, where would finally getting a win for starting pitcher Kenshin Kawakami (0-9) rank?

Would it rank higher than being in first place for 20 straight days? Higher than not having lost a series since the first week of May?

Is it something that could be eclipsed only by, I dunno, a World Series?

Seriously, this is just too goofy. It’s one thing for a starter to go thr0ugh his first 13 starts (nine losses, four no decisions) without a victory. It’s another to do it for a first-place team that has gone 28-10 since May 10.

It’s precedent setting in major league baseball for a pitcher to have this kind of start for a first-place team. The Braves’ franchise hadn’t had a pitcher start 0-9 in 101 years. The last to do it was Tom Tuckey of the 1909 Boston Doves (seven starts, two relief …

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Whether Spirit is selling teams or not, scrutiny is justified

Can we really know what Michael Gearon Jr. (left) and Bruce Levenson are going to do?

Can we really know what Michael Gearon Jr. (left) and Bruce Levenson are going to do?

This is what we have known about the owners in the Atlanta Spirit for some time.

♦ They are losing money, lots of money, the amount of money that tells you, “I just don’t think Turbo Tax is going to get the job done for all of these write-offs this year.”

♦ They are a dysfunctional ownership group, as evidenced by the fact that one of the primary owners (Steve Belkin) is STILL on the outs with the rest of the group.

♦ They do things on the cheap, as evidenced by the Hawks and Thrashers’ payrolls and recently making new Hawks coach Larry Drew one of the lowest-paid head coaches in the NBA (and with only two years guaranteed on his contract).

♦ They are looking for “investors.”

The only new thing the New York Post brought to the table this morning was its report that both teams and Philips Arena are all for sale in their entirety. Similar stories have surfaced before. Each time the Spirit …

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Tim Hudson: Braves were too ‘passive’ in past seasons

Tim Hudson, who been the Braves' best pitcher this season, sees something in this year's team he hasn't seen before: grit. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Tim Hudson sees something in the 2010 Braves that had been absent. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

There’s something about sports teams that don’t impress you on paper but wow you on the field. It’s what made the story of the 1991 Braves so special. Well, that and just playing a meaningful game after Memorial Day seemed cool.

But for too many Octobers in the 1990s, the Braves seemed just the opposite: They impressed you on paper but not on the field. Some considered the team good but robotic, lacking passion. This year’s team is different. They are playing above their depth, certainly when you consider the “stars” who aren’t performing. We’ve all noticed it. Tim Hudson has noticed it.

In fact, the Braves’ pitcher had some remarkably candid comments late Thursday night following his win over Tampa Bay. While praising this year’s team for it’s passion and aggressiveness, he pretty much indicted Braves teams in the past few years for being “passive.”

Here’s a Q-and-A with the pitcher.

♦ …

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Chipper Jones’ retirement shouldn’t be a punchline

After a two-day circus, Chipper Jones said Thursday he's tabling retirement talk. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

After a two-day circus, Chipper Jones is tabling retirement talk for now. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Announcements of this type generally drip with emotion and drama, but this one had unfortunately mutated into something resembling a Looney Tunes production (did Wile E. Coyote have an “Acme Retirement Kit?”).

So it seemed completely appropriate Thursday that when Chipper Jones emerged from a back room and made his way to the media swarm in front of his locker at 6 p.m., we heard jokes.

“Today … today … today,” coach Eddie Perez cracked in his best, echoing Lou Gehrig, retirement voice.

“It’s about [freaking] time!” yelled closer Billy Wagner (in his own voice).

So this is how a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest switch-hitters in baseball history planned to go out? As a punch line?

One hour before a game, Jones called an impromptu news conference and, with cameras, recorders and eyeballs all pointed in his direction, he tells the assembled masses — at least those not changing …

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We’re LIVE from Braves-Rays (and consider Chipper corked)

Oh no! Chipper retired! Call 911! Boil water! (Kidding. It's just a rest day.)

Oh no! Chipper's not in the lineup! He retired! Call 911! Boil water! (Kidding. It's just a rest day.)

Chipper Jones probably will still retire after this season. He just doesn’t want to talk about it right now.

Jones, holding an impromptu 6 p.m. press conference in front of his locker, told the assembled media: “Let’s face it, we all know which way I’m leaning. But I think it’s best that we put this all behind us. Somehow the cork got taken out, well I’m putting it back in. So I don’t want to hear any more talk about retirement until the end of the season.”

Yeah, well. Good luck with that.

Anyway, my column on Jones’ announcement — and really moreso the absurdity of the past two days — is now posted. You can find it by clicking here.

Ideally, word of recent retirement talks with the Braves would not have leaked out at all. But it probably also would have been better if Jones had tried to end this circus immediately when the story got out two days ago.

In any event, he is …

Continue reading We’re LIVE from Braves-Rays (and consider Chipper corked) »

Poll time: Which Atlanta team is closest to a title?

Who is more likely to win a championship this season: Matt Ryan or Chipper Jones? (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Who is more likely to win a title this year: Matt Ryan or Chipper Jones? (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The NBA championship will be decided tonight between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. This comes a day after the New Orleans Saints received their $30,000 Super Bowl rings Wednesday and a week after the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

Feeling a little left out of title celebration nirvana?

Which Atlanta sports team is closest to a championship?

  • Braves
  • Falcons
  • Hawks
  • Thrashers
  • Nobody will ever win another championship

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I do this every once in a while — seemingly every time somebody wins a championship — but here we go again. If you had to pick the next Atlanta pro sports team to win a title, who would it be? (I could’ve thrown college teams into this debate, but I figured we have plenty of time to have every blog devolve into a you stink/no you stink drunk argument between drunk frat boys from Georgia and Tech, and …

Continue reading Poll time: Which Atlanta team is closest to a title? »