Hawks dropped the ball on not signing Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal squares off with Justin Bieber, who I think is playing center for the Hawks next season. (Orlando Sentinel photo)

Shaquille O'Neal squares off with Justin Bieber, who I think is playing center for the Hawks next season. (Orlando Sentinel)

The Hawks want to believe they’re knocking on the door of the NBA’s elite. This is confirmation that they’re not.

Shaquille O’Neal is expected to sign with the Boston Celtics for the NBA veterans’ minimum salary of $1.4 million per season. For O’Neal, who was determined to try to play for up to two more seasons with the hopes of winning another league title, this means one of two things:

♦ Either Shaq doesn’t view the Hawks as being that close to a title (certainly behind Boston, Orlando and Miami in the Eastern Conference), or . ..

♦ The Hawks don’t believe that O’Neal does anything for them. Because for all of the smoke coming out of the organization that O’Neal wanted way too much money or was demanding way too many minutes or even a starting role, the fact is that he’s going to Boston for a bench spot and NBA pocket change.

ESPN reported Boston coach Doc Rivers, “began pursuing O’Neal last month when the two met in Orlando …  and sources say O’Neal chose the Celtics [over the Hawks] because he believes they have a better chance of winning what would be his fifth NBA championship.”

There you go.

The Hawks can be an entertaining team. But they’re also a flawed one. Signing Josh Powell and Jason Collins doesn’t cure their size problem in the post. Al Horford is playing out of position. This decision more likely ensures that they again will be the No. 4 playoff seed in the East and exit in the second round.

How much of this is the result of money? A lot. Ownership and general manager Rick Sund did not want to go into a tax situation with the salary cap. That meant not doing anything of significance to improve the team in free agency this offseason (other than overpaying to keep Joe Johnson).

There are obvious issues with O’Neal, not the least of which are age and weight. But he can still play and provide valuable minutes off the bench, at both ends of the floor. He also would have taken some of the media attention off of Johnson (in a good way) in the locker room. Marketing-wise, of course, he would’ve been a bonanza.

But now it appears he will be a Celtic. The Hawks will point out that they defeated Boston four times in the regular season. Shaq would point out that the Celtics reached the NBA finals (losing in seven games to the Lakers) while the Hawks were swept in the second round (after being taken seven games by Milwaukee in round one). Checkmate.

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160 comments Add your comment

Steve

August 4th, 2010
9:49 am

Reggie

August 4th, 2010
9:50 am

Yes we did drop the ball by not signing Shaq. I dont think anyone is saying that he means a championship however we certainly wont win one this year anyway so whats the harm in bringing him in? Tis ownership main problem is money and if nothing else Oneal offers you a box office attraction still. His 13 pts and 7 rebs a game are a lot different than Marvins 12 and 6.

Reggie

August 4th, 2010
9:51 am

Oh yea congrats Steve

Herschel Talker

August 4th, 2010
9:56 am

Schultzie:

You the man!

HT

Kev

August 4th, 2010
9:57 am

cheap dump management

Kev

August 4th, 2010
9:57 am

cheap dumb management

BATTER UP

August 4th, 2010
9:57 am

This franchise is cursed!

Mr. Mojo

August 4th, 2010
10:03 am

shows you how stupid they are Shaq would of made them money. ASG sell the team and do us all a favor your a joke.

ryan

August 4th, 2010
10:06 am

I am done with Hawks I don’t know what anyone can do except boycott this horrible team. This ownership is not committed to winning wither we get Shaq or not the moves and past draft picks Chris Paul is our Babe Ruth .

doggoneit

August 4th, 2010
10:08 am

THe Hawks are Idiots! THey would of sold out every home game had they signed him. Who the hell is running that organization? stupid stupid stupid!

gtmike

August 4th, 2010
10:08 am

I don’t know if it even means they will get back to the second round. Milwaukee with Bogut would probably have dropped us in the first.

allan in texas

August 4th, 2010
10:13 am

With all due respect to readers of this blog as well as Mr. Schultz, I don’t believe that Shaq had any intention of coming to Atlanta and even if he did he wouldn’t have want to come off the bench. The Celtics are also better equipped to put up with his foolishness should he decide to act up. Think about it, from Ainge to Doc to the big four, Shaq will respect them when he walks in the door. I love the Hawks and will continue to support them but sometimes you just have to be realistic! Let’s go Hawks!!!!!!

Hoops

August 4th, 2010
10:13 am

I understand balancing your budget. Something that our political leaders need to understand! In this situation with the Hawks, the ASG needs to understand that you will not make money unless you are willing to spend money wisely. Shaq will make the Hawks better on the court and he will put people in the seats. That’s increased ticket sales, parking, concessions, & increased merchandise sales! Not to mention that the Hawks fans need a morale boost!

What a mistake! We are letting the Celtics sign Shaq when all we have to do is give him the MLE and pay for the luxury tax with the 3M that we got for the 31st pick! Unbelievable!!!!!!

NCBravesFan

August 4th, 2010
10:16 am

The points about the Hawks’ franchise & team are well-taken, but I don’t know that Shaq is a good fit here. He’s a polarizing presence in the locker room – he might have been a handful for a rookie head coach who is leading a still fairly young team.

allan in texas

August 4th, 2010
10:16 am

Give this team 30 games under Coach Drew to see who does what in this system and if it doesn’t work then look to move pieces.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

BMC

August 4th, 2010
10:21 am

The only way this Hawk’s team gets better ,is if, the Atlanta Spirit Group will sell it to a locale owner that has deep pocket’s and a sense of pride the existing owner’s do not have!

dap01

August 4th, 2010
10:22 am

The Hawks dropped the ball on the whole offseason. Wasted opportunity. Poor management. The Hawks are destined to stay only above average.

The best case senario for the Hawks to get to the 2nd round again. Sigh…..

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by J.E. Skeets, Steve Alexander, Daniel Harari, Amanda Duncan, Darnisha and others. Darnisha said: RT @JeffSchultzAJC: Hawks dropped the ball on not signing Shaq http://bit.ly/bpujWh (I so agree we could've used him) [...]

Jeff Schultz

August 4th, 2010
10:25 am

Herschel – How can I be the man if you’re the man?

Jeff Schultz

August 4th, 2010
10:26 am

Mr. Mojo — I imagine they coud’ve sold a few jerseys and you know he would’ve been in EVERY ad and commercial.

Jeff Schultz

August 4th, 2010
10:27 am

Ryan — “Chris Paul is our Babe Ruth.” Never thought of it that way.

Ted Striker

August 4th, 2010
10:27 am

I don’t see it as a big deal either way. First of all, I don’t blame Shaq for preferring the Celts over the Hawks (if he did). Boston has a better recent history in the playoffs and well, their overall history ain’t too shabby either.

That aside, I don’t see this as a failure on the part of the Hawks. Shaq isn’t a big enough piece of the (Hawks) puzzle to warrant even addition as a minimum salary cap add. Yeah, Boston thinks so. But if Doc Rivers wants to jump off a cliff, that doesn’t mean anyone in Atlanta needs to do it.

Here’s my comparison, with wide latitude. T.O. would’ve been a talent addition to the Falcon’s roster. He has game. O’Neal has limited upside and simply put, isn’t an upgrade at this stage of his career. Bottom line: he doesn’t feel a real need.

Hoops

August 4th, 2010
10:28 am

ESPN is reporting that Shaq has agreed to go to the Celtics!

Ted Striker

August 4th, 2010
10:29 am

p.s. I’m feeling a fill.

Mr. Mojo

August 4th, 2010
10:33 am

Jeff plus the tickets they would of sold. Signing Shaq made alot of sense from a basketball perspective as well as a business persepctive. I would love to hear the ASG’s explanation on why they didnt want to bring him in.

ken

August 4th, 2010
10:34 am

The only cure for this team is a new ownership that’s serious about building a championship level organization. These guys are just looking to be competitive and make the playoffs at most. They are just not smart basketball people. Don’t blame Shaq for going to the Celtics because their actions demonstrate a willingness to do whatever it takes not just compete, but win it all. As currently consrtucted, these Hawks will regress . Its really sad that in a city like Atlanta, we have to settle for this type of mediocrity from our professional sports teams. If the fans quit paying their hard earned money to support such nonsense, maybe they will sell the team to some real owners.

Mr. Mojo

August 4th, 2010
10:37 am

So basically we bringing the exact same team back and even downgraded from Joe Smith to Josh Powell. What happened to them using the MLE? Didnt they promise that? Or what about Joe recruting other players to come here? He must of did a heck of a job getting Powell to sign. This franchise is disgusting and pathetic they are so clsoe to being an elite team with the right couple of peices and they are just sitting doing nothing. I mean as an owner can you honestly say this roster being same as last year can compete with Miami, Boston, or Orlando. And I dont wanna see the kool-aid fans statrt saying we beat the Celtics 4 times last year in regular season cause everyone knows if we would of played them in the playoffs we would of lost.

Mr. Mojo

August 4th, 2010
10:39 am

BTW I am a Hawk fan that lives in New York. I may be the only Hawk fan in NY.lol

AJGREENFAN

August 4th, 2010
10:41 am

When will you guys scrutinize Sund the way you did Billy Knight? Sund did nothing to improve this team during the off-season and for all the talk about how brilliant the Jamal Crawford signing was. The 2010 result was no different than the 2009 result except that the 2009 team looked slightly more competitive during their expedient 2nd round exit.

Dave

August 4th, 2010
10:42 am

I watched every Hawk game I could last year, and it was obvious to even a casual NBA fan like myself that the Hawks are most effective when they run and fast break.

When that is not possible, their half-court game is most effective when the players move and make the extra pass to get the open shot,

If Shaq had signed with the Hawks, NEITHER of these things would have happened whenever he would have been in the game, because he has lost all of his mobility, Charley Rosen of Fox Sports has analyzed Shaq’s game in detail, and he correctly notes that anytime Shaq is in the game, you lose any movement that you would otherwise have as soon as Shaq gets the ball.

Would Shaq have sold tickets? Maybe initially, but once the novelty had worn off, the sales would have reverted back to pre-Shaq levels.

Would Shaq have meant more wins? I doubt it.

Could Shaq have made a difference against Dwight Howard and the Magic in the playoffs? Not likely, given the fact that, even with Howard’s limited offensive moves, he is much younger and MUCH quicker than Shaq and would have exposed Shaq’s immobility early and often.

By not signing Shaq, the Hawks got this one right IMHO.

JerryT

August 4th, 2010
10:49 am

Shaq is no help. He won’t even be able to participate in half of the plays while he’s on the floor because he won’t get down the court fast enough.You don’t put a guy like that with a team as athletic as the Hawks. It would damage the very thing the Hawks are good at.
Also, if you were the Hawks owner, is this the year you would break the bank trying to win a title? Really?

Jeff

August 4th, 2010
10:49 am

We can do two things.
1. Don’t buy the tickets to the games
2. Don’t watch them on T.V and the ratings will plummit.
We can hurt their wallets like they do ours. It is that simple. All the talk in the world isn’t going to change anything. But these two actions will speak volumes.

[...] Hawks dropped the ball on not signing ShaqAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)(Orlando Sentinel photo) The Hawks want to believe they're knocking on the door of the NBA's elite. This is confirmation that they're not. …Hot stuff for NBA's opener: Celtics vs. MiamiBoston GlobeNBA Rumors: Shaq Close To Signing With CelticsBleacher ReportSources: Shaquille O'Neal to BostonESPNYahoo! Sports -The Associated Press -Los Angeles Times (blog)all 717 news articles » [...]

ChippersLoveChild

August 4th, 2010
10:56 am

1. Miami
2. Orlando
3. Boston
4. Milwaukee
5. Chicago
6. Atlanta

Going to get weaker and weaker… ASG needs to go.

Tony

August 4th, 2010
10:58 am

LOL, Great Article!! Jeff!!! I agree with you 100%Holla!!

IDK Y

August 4th, 2010
11:07 am

Maaaaaaaan praise the LORD!!!!!! Why would anyone want washed up Shaq in ATL? He already stalking someone here, this would set the franchise two huge size 22 shoe steps back

IDK Y

August 4th, 2010
11:08 am

and do you all seriously think we would sell out every game to watch Shaq lolly gag down the court on defense and score a whooping 10 points? the man is trash, he should retire while he has his legacy

jon

August 4th, 2010
11:12 am

Jeff I couldn’t agree with you more! That was a bad message to the fans… He could have only helped and help put fanies in the seats. We have not improved the ball club AT ALL. The message is loud and clear….very disappointing.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 4th, 2010
11:15 am

Jeff,

I think we should just trade chipper. Love the show. I’m going to hang up and listen.

DP

August 4th, 2010
11:16 am

Who cares where washed up Shaq goes? He clogs up the basket area on offense, has little mobility on defense and can’t be on the floor at crunch time because of his terrible free throw shooting. And he could be a cancer in the locker room, particularly on a team that doesn’t have a player with the stature to stand up to him (like the Hawks).

Shaq went to Phoenix to play with Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire and they didn’t make the Western finals with him. But they did make the Western finals the year after he left. He went to Cleveland to play with LeBron and they got knocked out in the Eastern semis. If he couldn’t make those teams any better what was he going to do for the Hawks?

ryan

August 4th, 2010
11:17 am

Hawks has missed other opportunities Shaq or not I mean there were other good centers out there like Tyson Chandler , Brad Miller, Kurt Thomas , Okafor was on the block Al Horford is not a center . My patients has warned out this team .

F-105 Thunderchief

August 4th, 2010
11:20 am

The ASG sucks … wind. Again.

Halsey

August 4th, 2010
11:23 am

The NBA is a league of a few teams that can compete for titles and a bunch of also-rans. The Lakers, Celtics, Bulls, Knicks(if they ever get thier act straight), teams in Texas and teams in Florida can compete because they can get top free agents. The rest of the league is just a bunch of also-rans. Shaq is just the latest free agent to show that only those select teams can compete in todays NBA.

Johnny3Steps

August 4th, 2010
11:23 am

SHAQ is an attention driven HAS BEEN Good move by Hawks

Bishop

August 4th, 2010
11:24 am

SELL THE TEAM! JESUS!

rock

August 4th, 2010
11:26 am

The Hawks have dropped many other balls. They are:
1. Overpaying Joe Johnson
2. Not Signing Josh Childress
3. Hiring the cheapest coach they could find
4. Not trading Marvin Williams

Veteran Fan

August 4th, 2010
11:27 am

Shaq is over-the-hill and slow! This team needs to get serious and try to move Marvin and Bibby for Thabeet with Memphis. Other than that, keep in touch with the Knicks so we can move JJ as the season deteriorates for at least a first round pick! The problem is really Josh Smith and his lack of basketball smarts. I sincerely hope Coach Drew is a miracle worker as all we have is Al and a bunch of overpaid back up players!

F-105 Thunderchief

August 4th, 2010
11:27 am

To improve, the Hawks must have a better coach. They hired an assistant of the old coach. Jury out, but highly skeptical. Teague must be a really good starter. It’s possible, but hard to know, considering Woody didn’t let him play. Again, I’m highly skeptical, but hopeful.

If some improbable things happen, like Jason Collins again becomes a useful NBA player, Marvin becomes more than just a guy (i.e., plays remotely like his draft position demands), Zaza plays more like 2008, etc., etc.

Close your eyes, cross your fingers and wish really, REALLY hard, Hawks fans and our dreams might come true.

Mojo

August 4th, 2010
11:28 am

Shaq would have been a terrible influence on Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and the rest of the players not named Horford. Shaq coasted through his prime without worrying about how good he could have been. Wait a minute… that sounds just like Josh Smith. He also would have made Larry Drew even more of an after-thought in the locker room.