Hawks being too passive in free agent market

Listen up: Rick Sund wants you to know he thinks the Hawks are going to be just fine.

Listen up: Rick Sund wants you to know he thinks the Hawks are going to be just fine.

When the Miami Heat went shopping in this NBA offseason, they chose to bypass the markdowns at the strip malls, the polo shirts from Old Navy that morph into dust rags after two washings and the lime green shorts with a broken zipper from the $1 table at the neighborhood yard sale . They cruised Rodeo Drive. Why? Because they could. Maybe they also have some strange desire to win.

The Hawks are still in the midst of their shopping this offseason. It has been quiet, even as they roam the aisles of Value City. There’s still a chance they will come home with something other than used Play-Doh and a bag of defective socks. But don’t count on it. They have made it clear that their heads are bumping up against the ceiling of their budget. They won’t add a player if it means having to pay a luxury tax. They won’t add a player if it means trading a perceived player of significance. It doesn’t matter if the new player can actually make them better, or if he would ignite a fan base that’s just looking for a reason to walk through a turnstile.

Have the Hawks improved themselves enough this offseason.

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Maybe this passive approach works. There was that whole tortoise-and-the-hare thing. Maybe drafting Jordan Crawford, giving more playing time to Jeff Teague and getting Joe Johnson to share the ball will make a difference. But after going 0-8 in the second in the last two years, is this the mindset an NBA franchise should have?

General manager Rick Sund said what he often says: “I like our team.”

He is hesitant to trade a perceived core player, disrupt chemistry or blow the budget. Let’s put aside for a moment that the organization recently overpaid to keep Johnson, who has fizzled in the postseason and doesn’t quite unite the fan base. Sund still sees the Hawks are trending upward.

He states his case: “Our goal is to continue to put an elite caliber ballclub on the floor and stay within the model [owner] Bill Davidson had when the Pistons were winning championships and what San Antonio did with their spending and the way they stayed under the luxury tax.”

Not every team can sign Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Most can’t even sign one. But sorry. The idea should be to aim higher. Bringing back Jason Collins, just because he lost weight in Europe and comes cheap, doesn’t cut it.

Replacing Solomon Jones and Randolph Morris with Solomon Jones and Randolph Morris clones is not what aggressive teams do. It’s like painting over a water stain on the ceiling without fixing the leak.

Strange. Sund’s analysis of the roster actually jibes with everybody else’s.

“We need two bigs – a center and a power forward,” he said.

But after some negotiations, the Hawks bailed on signing free agent center Brad Miller because he got too expensive. (Miller ultimately signed with Houston.) They’ve played footsy with Shaquille O’Neal, but they believe the would-be Big Peach’s asking price is too high (for now) and he seems unwilling to take a bench role (for now).

The problem: Shaq is the best player left in the depleted free agent market. It’s not even close.

Here’s the question Sund and ownership should be asking themselves: Who makes us better? They’ve convinced themselves that a center-by-committee (Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, Collins and maybe you if can get a resume in) will be enough to challenge Orlando, Boston and Miami in the Eastern Conference.

Maybe Sund really believes this. Maybe his hands are tied. Maybe he just likes playing it safe, and if it doesn’t work out, well, he’s near retirement anyway. But can you feel comfortable with the status quo?

Sund again: “I think we’re pointed in the right direction. I’m hopeful we’ll improve with some changes to our offense and our young players getting older, and we can stay among the top four teams in the Eastern Conference.”

It doesn’t make much of a rallying cry.

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369 comments Add your comment

Show me state

July 20th, 2010
3:05 pm

I seriously believe that the ASG is thinking their the only one’s really pursuing shaq….so their waiting until he sees that and decides to take the MLE and play for the hawks…..

B.O.B

July 20th, 2010
3:06 pm

1st?? but prolly 3rd

B.O.B

July 20th, 2010
3:06 pm

or the First Loser….

Chris

July 20th, 2010
3:07 pm

ChippersLoveChild

July 20th, 2010
3:08 pm

The thing is now it isn’t even Boston, Orlando, and Miami…. Chicago has gotten considerably better with their additions of Boozer and Korver, imo, and Milwaukee, the team that took the Hawks to 7 without Andrew Bogut, will not only have Bogut and Michael Redd back next year, but they also kept Salmons in the fold, and also brought in Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders (1st round pick), Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Keyon Dooling… I think both those teams leap frog the Hawks next year… so bye bye home court, and hello 6 or 7 seed… the Hawks must do something quickly if they want to stay competitive with the other teams in the East.

GT Alum

July 20th, 2010
3:09 pm

Schultzie, unfortunately, this is not really news. Even Cunningham lost pretty much all hope of the Hawks doing anything of significance before he went on vacation. And I’m just tired of this non-story. Unless there’s actually a signing of significance, I don’t really care to hear about the Hawks again until Halloween. And depending on how Tech and the Falcons are doing at that point, I might not even care then.

GT Alum

July 20th, 2010
3:12 pm

Who wants to bet the Hawks’ win total and attendance both drop next year? And who wants to bet Sund and ASG will be scratching their heads to figure out why? Meanwhile, everyone else will know it’s because they spent the offseason scratching their posteriors while other teams were finding ways to get better.

Show me state

July 20th, 2010
3:16 pm

As hawks fans, we have to feel aggrevated that the ASG isn’t really trying to pursue bigs to help improve this team….but at the same time were still a top 4 team in the east regardless of what chicago is getting….were still better than them and the rest of the eastern conference teams (not named: orlando, miami, and boston) it’s better then being in the cellar of the east like we have most of the last decade…..i’m not satisfied with the current team because we want a title but were not too far off either….go hawks….

All I'm Saying...

July 20th, 2010
3:17 pm

No aggressiveness and zero creativity is what I’m seeing from Rick Sund.

Re-signing JJ was, according to virtually everyone in the NBA, a must for the Hawks but couldn’t a sign and trade have been worked out if we didn’t want to give JJ a max deal with, say, the Knicks with us taking David Lee in exchange along with having additional payroll flexibility? I don’t know if that would have been the best thing to do but I’m just saying that would have least displayed some type of desire to do something.

Also, at the Center position, he could have sought Brad Miller as you pointed out. He also could have reached for Tyson Chandler who was obviously available as he was traded by Charlotte. He also could have gone after Brendan Haywoode (which was my choice) who was UFA. He could have even gone after an aging Erick Dampier to plug in for a year or two. Now, he’s stuck with going after Shaq. Unlike some, I think this would be a positive development given the paucity of options and the fact that we have to have a big man in the middle to give us any type of chance against Orlando (unless Drew moves to Phoenix under D’Antoni type offense which is almost completely out of the question).

As for the forward position, why did we not court Carlos Boozer? Clearly the man was open to suggestions given his move to the Bulls.

While acknowledging a problem may be 80% of solving it (i.e. Rick did say we need a center), at some point you do actually have to do something in order to fix it. And signing Larry Drew as coach, drafting Crawford, and starting Teague and calling it a day ain’t gonna get it done.

LET’S GO HAWKS!

♥Mz. Hawkdafied♥

July 20th, 2010
3:17 pm

LMAO! Whatever!

ChippersLoveChild

July 20th, 2010
3:19 pm

Show Me,

Really? The Hawks are the 4th best team in the East? Still? I think you will be disappointed next season with expectations like those. I don’t see it.

eturn

July 20th, 2010
3:22 pm

I agree the ASG really screwed up this time…they overpaid Joe J.. and to top it off Joe told the fans in so many words.. screw you. Imo i doubt if they even make the playoffs. Attendance will fall.

SR

July 20th, 2010
3:23 pm

Jeesh, so what else is new?? These cheap bastards wouldn’t pay a dime to get a real coach, won’t get a center (who wants to sign with these chumps anyway?), keep paying a loser like Marvin Williams (move on already with this bust) and got their arses handed to them in the playoffs two years running, this most recent thumping being the most lopsided rout in NBA history- now that’s progress… the only positive this offseason is the ouster of Woodhead.

nahila

July 20th, 2010
3:24 pm

Still say that they need to make a trade or two to clear room for Shaq and bring on Kwame Brown as well. Shaq will make the Hawks play off bound again and maybe get to the East finals against either Miami or Boston. If our were the Hawk players, I would sit down with Sund and work out a percentage reduction of everyone ’s salary to produce a “money bank” to sign Shaq, it would be their best chance to earn a ring.

We Need New Ownership.com

July 20th, 2010
3:24 pm

ASG has to go before we should ever attend another game at Phillips. Trust me, if they lose enough revenue… they will sell the team.

We Need New Ownership.com

July 20th, 2010
3:27 pm

Most of you bloggers have on the rose colored glasses… this team will go nowhwere until it’s leadership does. Stop all of the trade possibilities and salary options… WE AREN’t GOING to GET Better until ASG is out the door! So let’s do what we can and get them out the door!!

GT Alum

July 20th, 2010
3:28 pm

nahila, I don’t think the CBA allows players to renegotiate contracts like that, at least, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it happening in the NBA.

Fundamentals

July 20th, 2010
3:31 pm

I’m starting to feel like we just don’t care. We have a mid-level exception and some cap space we traded for, plus the cash from the draft picks. Why can’t you at least bring in someone, anyone to make it appear you’re doing all you can. Collins doesn’t cut it to satisfy our fan base. We could use a good SF who can shoot 3’s and rebound to help Marvin and a big center to help big AL with D and rebounding!

S Hawk Fan

July 20th, 2010
3:31 pm

Jeff… you really didn’t expect the ASG to do anything did you? They are the new “Rankin Smith Family” of the NBA!!!!!! Please somebody buy the Hawks!

calico

July 20th, 2010
3:35 pm

Fire Rick Sund and we need new ownership

kirkinga

July 20th, 2010
3:35 pm

I think it’s safe to say that JJ will not finish his career as a Hawk.

The question now is will Al Horford? I think the organization wants to give this group one more chance together as it appears one or more of the core players will certainly have to exit next offseason for financial reasons.

Just Being Real

July 20th, 2010
3:37 pm

our front office is a JOKE, Rick S-Dumb can’t get it done, their too cheap, they complain about how we don’t show up but they don’t show up either, then the use the ” we’re building our team like Detroit” lol, they got one title and flamed out every other time to better teams, also this core has nothing on that Detroit core, Detroit could defend, we switch till we mismatch ourselves, we stink, fan’s and the team.

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Kenbud

July 20th, 2010
3:43 pm

Hey Jeff ….. what free agents are left? …. Can you give a list? …. It’s not pretty I’m sure.

Love your column and couldn’t agree more. I like Sund and understand his apprehensiveness. It’s not the “greatest” free agent market after the marquee players. But trades are STILL an option.

allan in texas

July 20th, 2010
3:44 pm

The fans that live in Atlanta are not crazy. There are too many other things to do in Atlanta. The team as currently constituted is not good enough to beat Orlando, Boston,Chicago with their new coach who will emphasize defense and oh yeah, the Superfriends down on South Beach. I still wanna believe that there is a move coming. I mean who saw the Jamal Crawford trade coming last year? I wanna keep believing in the Hawks but D**m,D**m,D**m!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KevinM

July 20th, 2010
3:45 pm

Jeff, thx for taking on this challenge of making sense to the moves of Sund. He has made one move of significance to try and improve this roster: Crawford. He is about to have to move him though because we aren’t going to pay him after this season.
He has Marvin,Bibby and Zaza at 17M/year…….that’s a lot of change that could be given to better players….far better players. Does anyone have these 3 on their fantasy rosters?

We still don’t have a center to go up against Dwight and the Celtics.
We are throwing all of our eggs in the Teague basket.
We give LD 2 years to prove himself….really, 2 years for a team that you like?

Is this the makings of a championship contender?

ASG, don’t exceed the cap, that’s fine. But don’t come out and complain that you can’t get support for a team that has been dreadful in the 1/2 court the past 2 playoffs.

Sund, keep the model of Detroit and San Antonio. The only problem is those are exceptions more than the rules. Duncan and Billups aren’t on this roster. Detroit and SA has bulls to deal with Shaq. We don’t have that.

If you like this team the way it is, then why is Knight or Woodson gone? They brought it to this level and you are only the caretaker that gave one player 25% of your cap minimum for the next 6 years.
Talk about faith in one player who has done little in the playoffs.

I can only hope that both Milwaukee and Chicago will have chemistry issues. That still puts us 3rd or 4th in the EC. Am I reaching here?

KevinM

July 20th, 2010
3:49 pm

KenBud,

There’s a list on hoopshype.com that might give you an idea…..lots of names can be crossed off as each day goes by though.

Jeff, ask LD is he has a plan in mind once Joe decides to go into his playoff funk again.

GT Alum

July 20th, 2010
3:50 pm

kirkinga, well, Jamal Crawford’s contract expires after this season, as does Mo’s. And Bibby will be a lot more tradeable next offseason, since he’ll be in the last year of his contract, but the Hawks would likely have to take on a longer term contract in return. Unless they just re-sign Crawford and Mo, those contract situations would seem to dictate that there should be a good bit of movement with regard to the roster after this season.

bob

July 20th, 2010
3:51 pm

Ownership by committee. Mediocrity, at best, is the only possible outcome.

buckhead benny

July 20th, 2010
3:51 pm

I don’t understand then why they didn’t draft Gani Lawal with the 30th pick then- He would have fit in the budget, and He would have fit the bill as your power foward- He just made the all NBA summer rookie league- He would have been a tremendous pick and would have been a great guy to bang for us.

ASG is going to regret selling that pick- That may end up going down as a Sheldon Williams type deal for them. Especially knowing their budget restraints. They need to find young guys to fill that Center and Power foward spot- It accomplishes two things- Their cheap, young, and have tremendous upside. Rather than expensive and no upside.

ryan

July 20th, 2010
3:56 pm

Rumor has it that the Hawks are quietly going put a trade to send Josh Smith and Marvin Williams to Denver for Carmello Anthony . And could be why they have been quiet about adding anyone.

Just Being Real

July 20th, 2010
4:03 pm

ryan said
“Rumor has it that the Hawks are quietly going put a trade to send Josh Smith and Marvin Williams to Denver for Carmello Anthony . And could be why they have been quiet about adding anyone.”

lollolollollollollolhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah, the ASG is not that savy!

Just Being Real

July 20th, 2010
4:06 pm

rumor has it the Hawks won’t make changes till eight teams in the Eastern Conf surpass the Hawks, they fell this will happen in six years i.e. that’s why the sign Joe for six years

GT Alum

July 20th, 2010
4:08 pm

ryan, didn’t Denver recently say they have no interest in trading ‘Melo? Not that teams haven’t said stuff like that before a trade before.

Also, that trade really doesn’t clear significant cap space. Unless there’s some corresponding deal to get a big man (which would likely put the Hawks into the luxury tax), our back court would be great, but our front line would be incredibly weak. It would probably put more butts in the seats, but I’m skeptical that it would lead to more wins.

STRETCH

July 20th, 2010
4:09 pm

My question is after all these NONE moves is…WHERE IS BIG MONEY JOE? He did what any crook would do, took the money and ran. Now he’s layin low with “his” take of the loot. SELFISH guy that Joe Johnson!

He may be able to lay low for now, but come November, the lights are gonna shine ever so bright Mr Johnson.

And ASG has a sniper assigned to Mr Sund so he knows what to say and when to say it. Any general manager in his right mind would look at the last two seasons 2nd round debacles and immediately turn things around.

ASG and Sund remind me of the small town guy everyone knows and his wife is cheating on him and every Friday at the local bar he sits there watching his wife getting drunk with the guy thats bangin her. And all he has to say is “i dont wanna mess up what i got at home.”

Simply UNBELIEVABLE this organization!

dap01

July 20th, 2010
4:13 pm

Thanks Jeff, I am glad someone else shares my frustrations.

Now if we do end up with Shaq, he will be even more disgruntled than usual and will disrupt our team just like he has with his past teams.

Right now our management has no credibility with me and I am sure others.

Eventually, these fans will tire and fade away.

KevinM

July 20th, 2010
4:13 pm

Carmelo to the Hawks for Josh and Marvin? Really? Sounds like another core supporter that highly values our starters.
We aren’t getting Carmelo, no matter how quiet the ASG goes about it. We could give our starting 5 and they wouldn’t do it. What’s quiet is the ASG’s ignorance to admit the limitations of this team.
Do you really believe Denver wants Smoove and Marvin to team up with Billups and that will get them past the Lakers? Wow…..

djohn

July 20th, 2010
4:14 pm

No matter how well they play during the season,its all to clear they will quit when the playoffs reach round 2. Who needs a team like that? These guys should all have been run out of town. It’s going to be a repeat. yuck.

dap01

July 20th, 2010
4:15 pm

Maybe Joe could give up a small % of his contract and we could have Shaq or anyone else.

I am so sure….

Just Being Real

July 20th, 2010
4:16 pm

dap01
“:Right now our management has no credibility with me and I am sure others.

Eventually, these fans will tire and fade away.”

I have tired but I don’t know where to fade away too I was born down here

Coach

July 20th, 2010
4:18 pm

Ryan don’t tease us like that!! Where did you see that?
Get Melo and Shaq, Wow!! Instant contenders.
Shaq
Horfy
Melo
Joe
Teaque/Bibby/Crawford

newkid

July 20th, 2010
4:19 pm

Some owners are content to sit it out in hopes that some young phenom will fall into their laps and dramatically improve the fortunes – on and off court – of their franchise. Is it financial constraints or ‘throw your hands up’ incompetence that leads to this sideline sitting? Who knows. Others actively and creatively seek to better the fortunes of the franchise with a well conceived and executed plan. Seems apparent what we have here, doesn’t it?

dap01

July 20th, 2010
4:20 pm

Justbeingreal: I agree, I am sick of the Hawks but I have been a fan since Dan Roundfield and Tree Rollins.

But it is frustrating to watch many years of mismanagement.

KevinM

July 20th, 2010
4:21 pm

Comments like Sund just presented to us explains everything to us about being a team that doesn’t have any intentions of contending for a title.

And Shaq, like Iverson, isn’t going to sit behind anyone….

Coach

July 20th, 2010
4:21 pm

LOL – yall are hilarious.

Asheville Dawg

July 20th, 2010
4:21 pm

ASG= LOSERS. Both teams, Hawks and Thrashers, sinking toward the bottom together. Nuff said.

Mr. ATL

July 20th, 2010
4:22 pm

what about cap space to keep al i think we trade jj to the mavs an marvin to the cavs an bibby to any one who will take him maybe we get butler an haywood for joe an mo williams for marvin an cap space for next year

Willie Coyote

July 20th, 2010
4:23 pm

The Hawks match up at the 4 & 5 positions well against everyone except LA and Orlando.
Can they compete with Boston? Well, they swept them last year.
Can they compete with Miami? If they can’t, it won’t be because Al Horford can’t guard their center & Josh has proven to be able to guard Bosh.

None of the guys the Hawks could have signed this offseason would have improved them to championship level. Brad Miller would have been a nice addition and Shaq off the bench isn’t bad but that will not get them out of the second round.

If this team, as it currently is constructed, develops some mental toughness, stops complaining to refs over bad calls (there will be plenty of those), and focuses on the task at hand on a nightly basis; that will take them a lot farther than any of these free agent big men.

They still need some personnel changes to have a shot at a championship but the attitude adjustment is the most important thing for this team in my opinion.

beone

July 20th, 2010
4:24 pm

We have one chance at a significant change in personnel. Jeff Teague and Jordan Crawford show that they can hold their own, making Jamal Crawford & Mo Evans (2 expiring contracts) expendable. Those 2 big contracts are then traded perhaps with another player for a star at the trade deadline from a team looking to dump salary and start over. So the only hope is to root for Jeff & Jordan.

TomB

July 20th, 2010
4:24 pm

Here is the bottom line truth: I would never pay a dime to see this team play. If they can be cheap, well… so can the fans. Great job Sund. You can retire as the mediocre GM that you are. Good riddance. The sooner this team is sold, and a new management team arrives, the better. Reminds me of the Rankin Smith owned Falcons of the 80’s.