Hawks’ Sund puts onus on players: ‘Challenge is up to them’

Mike Bibby isnt always this overmatched, but it seems like it. (MCT News Service)

Mike Bibby isn't always this overmatched. It just seems like it.

Let’s dispense of the whines first, because it’s impossible to debate the Hawks’ future without the obvious elephant in the locker room, or in this case the entire herd:

♦ They have a slow and inefficient starting point guard (Mike Bibby) who averages 9.6 points and 3.7 assists, which would be fine if this was a 40-and-over league or a YMCA in Springfield, Mass., in 1891.

♦ They have an occasionally dominating forward (Josh Smith) who sometimes forgets that there’s a whole world of possibilities inside the paint.

♦ They have another forward (Marvin Williams) who was the draft’s second pick but has proven to be little more than a $7 million-a-year rotational player (if that).

♦ They have a roster resilient enough to record the third-best road record in the Eastern Conference (17-12) but schizoid enough to lose home games by 23, 41 and 34 points.

Now let’s discuss reality.

Whether or not general manager Rick Sund makes a move to improve the team’s fortunes – and it’s significant that he’ll be traveling with the club on a five-game trip that opens the post-All Star stretch – the Hawks will win or lose with this bunch. The chances of Sund spinning any earth-shattering deal are directly proportional to Carmelo Anthony suddenly declaring, “I hate New York! I want to be a Hawk!”

This is your team.

Joe Johnson stayed. Smith stayed. Bibby stayed. Williams stayed. The only change of significance the Hawks made after being swept in the second round of the playoffs two straight years was to fire coach Mike Woodson. The message delivered: This is the core — let’s see where it takes us.

Time’s about up. If the Hawks don’t do something this season that makes us stop slapping our forehead, blow the sucker up.

Sund never has been one for public analysis during the season. He certainly doesn’t discuss trade possibilities.

But he did say this Sunday: “The next two months and our performance in the playoffs will indicate as to exactly what this team is. The challenge is up to them.”

And this: “We’ve put ourselves in position to do something, so let’s see where it goes. We have to do it collectively and with chemistry and coaching and all that.”

I think he just said: “Bob Pettit is not walking through that door.”

We can debate whether retaining this core for another season was right or wrong. But it’s significant that Sund is declaring it’s show-me time. The Hawks obviously aren’t as good as Boston or Miami. But they’ve shown at times they can be better than a second-round punchline. They won at Miami a few weeks ago without Al Horford (which is more significant than the Heat missing Chris Bosh). They’ve beaten every East team currently in a playoff position except Boston (0-2) and Chicago (whom they haven’t played). The Hawks are a combined 10-4 against Miami (1-1), Orlando (2-1), New York (2-1), Philadelphia (2-1) and Indiana (3-0).

Sund again: “I think our players feel like they can play with anybody. It’s the first time in the last two years I’ve sensed that.”

Yes, this team is flawed. The most fixable problem is point guard. Cleveland’s Ramon Sessions, the object of trade rumors, isn’t an All-Star or a great scorer. But he’s younger, faster and would be a significant upgrade to Bibby, Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford (who is better as a scorer coming off the bench). Sessions is playing fewer minutes than Bibby but he’s averaging more points (12.3) and assists (5.3) and is better defensively.

Bibby’s three-year, $18 million extension in 2009 is looking like an albatross. He was far more effective in his contract year (15 points, 5 assists) than now (he ranks 40th overall and 25th among point guards at 3.7 assists per game). As a team, the Hawks have the second-fewest steals (5.9) and are forcing the second-fewest turnovers (12.7) per game. That stems at least in part from a lack of defense up top.

The trade deadline is Thursday. If Sund makes a change, it won’t be the equivalent of major reconstruction. More like a new couch and a couple of throw pillows.

This is your team — maybe for the last time.

By Jeff Schultz

Earlier

♦ Hawks’ Rick Sund puts onus on players: ‘Challenge is up to them’

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

121 comments Add your comment

Ted Striker

February 20th, 2011
11:42 pm

Roseman13 — There is no street cred for insulting a (potentially hot) woman on a sports blog.

Ted Striker

February 20th, 2011
11:51 pm

Naj — Always enjoy reading your comments.

Miles D

February 21st, 2011
12:41 am

A trade, specifically for Nash, would be nice! But lets face it the Hawks ain’t gon do nothin! Now what really needs to happen is for LD to stop handcuffing Teague and let him play! The only way he is going to learn is by getting extensive minutes! I’ve noticed that when Teague is in the game and makes a mistake coach takes him right out! But he lets other guys that are veterans repeatedly make poor decisions without reprecussions. And that says alot about who’s the boss of the team he’s the coach but not all that respected! LD needs to take a stand and start demanding the vets to have accountablility by sitting them when they screw up! At least with Teague or JC2 he can coach them up..but for veterans that are making way to many mistakes something needs to be done to get their attention! With Teague and JC2 they are still young! Noone else on the team can claim that at this stage! So LD needs to take a stand or get ready to go back to being just an assistant cause he is going to lose his job if he continues to allow this to happen. He always says the right things and makes all these threats but never makes good on any of them. So, just as he is learning to be a head coach his young players are learning how to be pros. Til he learns that…same song! LET’S GO HAWKS!!!

JSS

February 21st, 2011
12:43 am

Sign Carmelo Anthony? This team can not even get journeymen players to sign for mid level exemptions… Sund has as much egg on his face as anyone…

Bob Pettit

February 21st, 2011
1:18 am

[...] topped his All-Star high of 31 points set in the 2002 and 2007 games. MVP: Bryant puts on a show atBob Pettit – Bryant won his fourth All-Star MVP award, Tying the record of Hall of Famer Bob Pettit. Also [...]

MELO!

February 21st, 2011
1:25 am

The hawks need to break the bank and get Melo—-his agent wants $65 million for 3 years, which is a bargain. That’s less than they are paying the mediocre joe johnson who got a max contract. Melo will bring the fans back and the hawks can jack up prices of tickets and stuff to pay for all those millions.

FACTS

February 21st, 2011
3:35 am

Gotta get up very early to travel to FLA, Sund is doing what every couch potato is doing absolutely nothing, but getting paid for it!

Winnipeg, Canada

February 21st, 2011
7:35 am

`
. . . . . To blow the sucker up is the best idea.

Lum

February 21st, 2011
8:39 am

Hurry baseball, hurry! There’s not two people in ten who give a rip for the NBA.

JSS

February 21st, 2011
10:02 am

@ Jeff Schultz…
Did you miss you the extra “i’s” in “Driiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive by Hawks Blog?”

I gave you a little credit for more lines… I swear I’m going to Jib-Jab a scene from ‘Boys N Da Hood’ one day about the Perils of the ASG…

aizdaman

February 21st, 2011
10:22 am

What would you rather have the hawks win 45-50 games for the next 5 years with Joe, Marvin,Josh Horford, an average pg and a quality bench then rebuild be in the lottery for the next 5 years get lucky and get 2 picks right and have 3 busts and win 25-30 games a year. Which one would you want

DawgBoi

February 21st, 2011
10:45 am

any way Sund can con the Lakers into this trade..
I think it would help both teams..haha
http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=6aay85s

JeJe

February 21st, 2011
10:49 am

Worst starting PG in the NBA and there is a handful of team with 2nd and 3rd PGs FAR better than Bibby

Our coach plays Bibby HUGE minutes even against backup PGs

No Center

Josh Smith who tries half the time
Joe who goes to sleep half the time
Jamal who doesn’t show up half the time.

Great team, Sund!
The guy has made 1 move of any significance in 3 years with this team. Wow

JeJe

February 21st, 2011
11:10 am

Note how the players and coaches never mention WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP as a goal for this team. It’s always “we know what we can do” or “we have goals” even though we never actually hear them. I’ve never heard anyone on this team mention winning a title

JeJe

February 21st, 2011
11:14 am

Our schedule the next 7 days or so is ridiculous.

After tomorrow’s obligatory 25 point thrashing to the Lakers (could be 15 if we come back in garbage minutes), we will go to Phoenix, where Vince will save his 35 point game for us.

smdh

JeJe

February 21st, 2011
11:22 am

WHY IS THERE ONLY TALK ABOUT GETTING SWEPT LAST YEAR? HOW ABOUT 2 YEARS AGO? WE DID NOTHING THESE LAST 2 YEARS. WE GOT SWEPT IN THE 2ND ROUND 2 YEARS IN A ROW

WHY DO WE STILL HAVE THIS SAME CORE?

SUND HAS SPENT 31 YEARS IN THIS LEAGUE STEALING PAYCHECKS AND FRAUDING THESE FRANCHISES OUT OF MONEY. WORST GM IN SPORTS HISTORY

Worse2First

February 21st, 2011
12:18 pm

Jeff Schultz has captured it all at this time. Management has patiently kept this core together to see how far it can take us. It is time for this assembled bunch to produce or Sund will have to engineer the significant changes that Larry Drew has been calling for.

Has anyone noticed how putrid JCrawford’s game has become? How far has our first draft pick progressed since being drafted? Give Teague a chance!

The Dude Abides

February 21st, 2011
12:20 pm

If this is true you can count me out of coming to playoff games. Empty Crowd.

ICECOLD

February 21st, 2011
12:54 pm

http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/features/rumors?date=20110219&action=upsell&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba%2ffeatures%2frumors%3fdate%3d20110219

this is the best rumor i read .. it makes me so happy that at least its a rumor!!!! cuz he got to go!!! and get sessions, why not.. any change is a good change.. at least they showing him.. trade zaza and marvin for sessions.. or bibby and zaza.. but who ever u trade for, make sure zaza, or marvin is in those talks… please!!!!!

ICECOLD

February 21st, 2011
12:59 pm

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=62p9z53

this trade works!!!!

why would cleveland do it… I dont know…

why would the hawks do it…!!! It would make me so happy!!!

ICECOLD

February 21st, 2011
1:03 pm

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=6ysl5jk

this is a dream.. it gets rid of all the players who is trully inafective for the hawks.. and in return.. get some players that is decent bench players… and maybe two starters!!!

sessions and j.j hickson

ant banks

February 21st, 2011
1:05 pm

JEFF,

who is on the hawks scouting staff? someone reports back to the coaches and gm don’t they? acie law, sheldon williams, royal ivey, pape sy, cynk ankol, solomon jones, jeff teague, stoudamire…THE SCOUTS COULDN’T FIND ONE GEM? like san antonio found in GARY NEAL? THAT PAPE SY DEAL SHOULD GET SOMEONE FIRED

Jeff Schultz

February 21st, 2011
1:08 pm

Doc — Used to chuckle. Now I mostly find the whole thing sad.

Jeff Schultz

February 21st, 2011
1:08 pm

Ted Striker — Thank you.

Jeff Schultz

February 21st, 2011
1:09 pm

JSS — There’s a wealth of material there.

Jeff Schultz

February 21st, 2011
1:10 pm

Dawgboi — Short answer: No.

Jeff Schultz

February 21st, 2011
1:10 pm

Worse2First — Thanks. And yes, Jamal’s game has dropped off.

Jeff Schultz

February 21st, 2011
1:12 pm

Ant Banks — Scouts aside, in the end the GM makes decision. So any bad draft picks fall on Billy Knight (before) and Rick Sund (now).

The Dude Abides

February 21st, 2011
1:20 pm

Word is that Denver would trade Felton/Harris if the Melo deal gets done. Obviously need to get in on that u fn idiot Sund.
http://twitter.com/STEIN_LINE_HQ/status/39731477889417216#

W.R. Terrell

February 21st, 2011
1:25 pm

Mike Bibby continues to take a beating for the Hawks misfortune, as far as the point position, but there is reality in this particular scenario. Josh Smith really inhibits point guard play by bringing the ball up court. He can really screw up timing by not giving the ball up, folks need to look at that. It’s not all Bibby. Josh get a rebound and instead of giving the ball up he’s dribbling up court like he’s Michael Jordon or somebody and if you’ve paid any attention you know that it breaks down timing and flow of the game. Mike can only do so much because they won’t put a harness on the smoove. He is a major fault in Bibby’s ability to run the floor and so is ISO who bogs down ball movement. Stop blaming Mike, he can only do so much, afterall, he has sacrificed his game for ISO.

W.R. Terrell

February 21st, 2011
1:31 pm

Well I see folks continue to blame Mike Bibby for poor point guard play. Not all his fault, somebody need to tell the “SMOOVE” he is not Michael Jordon or Magic Johnson an his ass need to give the ball to the floor general which is Bibby, also, ISO needs to stop breaking down ball movement with all that damn dribbling. Bibby does his job when he can. Players are suppose to blockout, pic for each other and cut to the basket, if that was done like it is suppose to be then Mike Bibby will be fine.

Ken Strickland

February 21st, 2011
1:38 pm

There are obviosly differing opinions as to the cause of the problems that’s holding the Hawks back. Some feel it’s the result of playing AHorford at C, rather than his so called natural PF position, even though he’s earned 2 All Star selections at C. Some feel it’s JSmith, because of his attitude and willingness to shoot jumpers, even though he’s our most impactful player overall, has proven so far to be one of our better outside shooters, and plays 2 positions effectively, which allows us to change our starting lineup periodically.

Still others say it’s JJohnson, mainly because of his contract. However, his versatility, his DEF, ability to score, create assists, control the ball and the OFF, and in general his all around talent and ability, makes tolerating Bibby’s OFF/DEF limitations and lack of production possible. Then there’s MWilliams, who seems to be everyones whipping boy. While he is inconsistent, and tends to disappear at times, he’s certainly done enough, especially when there have been injuries, to show he can be a factor. All that is needed is a PG that’s able and/or willing to control the ball and the OFF, to keep him involved, or a HC that insists that his PG carries out that responsibility.

Finally, we come to the issue that I strongly support, and that’s the issue of almost no meaningful OFF/DEF production from the most important position on the team, PG. When your starting PG plays 30MPG on a team that’s proven to be good enough to win 50+gms, make the playoffs 3 consecutive yrs and advance to the 2nd rd 2 consecutive yrs, but ranks no better than 40th among NBA PG’s, that tells you 3 things.
1-You definitely have a liability at PG if he ranks no better than 40th, which means there are 10 backup PG’s providing more production.
2-The core of the team must be very talented if it can accomplish so much while compensating for what is a definite liability at such an position of importance.
3-An upgrade at PG would work wonders toward improving the overall production of this team and it’s players.

The problem that still remains is, will LDrew continue Woodson’s habit of:
1-having certain tolerances for certain players over certain others,
2-implimenting separate rules and expectations for certain preferred players over certain others.
3-making excuses to justify sticking with decisions and/or players that are clearly hurting the team, rather than admitting a mistake and committing to at least trying to find a potential solution.

Despite all this team has accomplished over the last 3 seasons, there are fans of teams like the Nets, Knicks, Pacers, 76ers, Bucks and Bulls, who are far more excited about their teams future than we are about ours, even though their teams haven’t come anywhere close to accomplishing what the Hawks have over that period. Those teams do have 2 noticable advantages over the Hawks, and that’s:
1-solid ownership and management,
2-solid and consistent PG production.

GoldenRetriever

February 21st, 2011
1:41 pm

I dont care what ANYONES assessment of the Hawks is. I know how good they can be when they play up to their potential. Whether anyone believes it or not, the Hawks are capable of winning the NBA title this season without making any additions or subtractions to the existing club. How do I know? I know based on what Ive seen from the athletism and the overall talent level. I’m not saying the Hawks are the most talented bunch in the league, what I am saying is that when they are playing their best basketball, they are almost unbeatable. I know thats true and maybe no one else has seen that. I think the hawks can win a championship this season, but only if they play together as a team and lockdown opponents on the defensive side of the basketball.

RayBud

February 21st, 2011
1:56 pm

@Ken Strickland…good job…you hit everything right on the nose. We all know that for the last 5-6yrs, the hawks have drafted a few point guards, yet it seems that none of them can develop. I thought teague would come in this year and provide the energy that the hawks would need, but for some odd reason, he can’t beat out bibby. I’m really believe that the coaches don’t trust the young guys. The only way we will know what he’s capable of is if he’s averaging 25-30 minutes a game, and not 5 minutes. Bibby is averaging numbers of a number 2 pg on a team, yet he’s the starter. I think its been time to give teague the ball and allow him to really run this team. If not, he’ll turn into an eventual bust, not to be seen/heard from again. As for Marvin Williams, we all know that he strived in college as a 6th man. I think he can do it now. They should have him and crawford coming off the bench. If the Hawks are to make a trade, and they want to get rid of Marvin, I would say package him with bibby and go after someone like ramon session/jj hickson….i know cleveland will be reluctant to give up hickson. i think they are a pg/big man away from being a serious threat to the NBA title. Other than that, we only have a team that will make it to the second round.

Air Zaza

February 21st, 2011
1:58 pm

Jeff, why is ASG so incompetent in your opinion?

You gave harsh and truthful reasoning to all teams and ownership groups in Atlanta but ASG might be one of the worst ran ownership groups in the NBA/NHL. I am to the point where I want to call Stern and get these imbeciles removed from ownership of any franchise in any sport.

Gearon is an idiot. The rest of them like Levenson and crew are idiots. They just don’t care. It’s okay, I will never give these idiots another second of my time. I am done with all ASG teams. I will just join the Melo bandwagon to any team he’s on. I wouldn’t be a bandwagon fan. I would just be a refugee seeking asylum.

Ken Strickland

February 21st, 2011
2:09 pm

WR TERRELL-Since the PG is the QB of the team and controls the ball and the OFF, wouldn’t you say it’s his responsibility to position his players, and call the appropriate plays that determines who takes the shot and from where? And wouldn’t you also say it’s the HC’s responsibility to make certain his PG carries out those responsibilities?

It’s revealing to see you singled out JSmith for criticism for even daring to think of himself in a positive way, by claiming he thinks he’s in MJordan or EJohnson league. But in the same breath, you, like so many of you BIBBY APOLOGIST, start making LAME, and what should be, embarrassing excuses for MBibby, like, “BIBBY DOES THE JOB WHEN HE CAN.”WOW!! And what does he do when he can’t do the job, FUNNEL, SET PICKS, PUT TREMENDOUS OFF/DEF PRESSURE ON HIS TEAMMATES, HURT THE TEAM?

The team is really starting to struggle, and we’re stuck with a PG that makes the players around him worse rather than better. He can’t even make himself better. However, it’s not Bibby’s fault. It’s the fault of stupid/stubborn HC who insists on ignoring the obvious, and continues to force Bibby into no win situations he can’t handle. The he comes out making one LAME EXCUSE after another trying to justify the unaceptable outcome. With no leadership at PG, or on he bench for that matter, it’s little wonder why JJ, Jamal and Smoove take a I don’t give a damn attitude and do as they please during the course of gms.

[...] – Hawks’ Rick Sund puts onus on players: ‘Challenge is up to them’ [...]

HWJ

February 21st, 2011
2:30 pm

MAKE A TRADE this team will never make conference finals or nba finals with this team. Need a point guard and a center, which has been the case for 15 years. Al Horford is awesome but hes a pf in my opinion… Marvin needs to be traded

ICECOLD

February 21st, 2011
2:30 pm

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yzbhw8v

I just tried a straight up trade, mike bibby for derrick rose.. and they say the
Hawks will win 15 more games with derrick rose ..

But the funny thing is, they just said the bulls will win 3 more games …
That’s weird. I thought it was gon say -15 wins or something.

So you can’t trust the trade machine projected wins !!!!

Air Zaza

February 21st, 2011
2:40 pm

The way the Hawks system is a true PG is not needed but neither is one who is below average on his best nights and bad otherwise.

eric

February 21st, 2011
2:43 pm

Rumors have it that the Hawks have Marvin Williams on the block, and are looking to score a point guard. One name came up that I think the Hawks must do everything possible to make it happen, “Aaron Brooks”.

Mike

February 21st, 2011
2:52 pm

Aaron Brooks average 5.3 assist and 19.6 points per game last year, the guy is a beast!!! The numbers are only down this season because he’s just coming off injury, still close to 12 ppg. Got to take this guy over Ramon Sessions, plus he has playoff experience.

The Game Has Changed

February 21st, 2011
2:57 pm

@Eric- Man we could use Aaron Brooks. We could give them Teague and a couple of draft picks. Also, the Hawks need to start Marvin and shooting guard and put him in the post and start Joe at point. That would give us a more perimeter defense and two guards that could go inside and outside.

eric

February 21st, 2011
3:12 pm

@The Game Has Changed- I repeat Marvin Williams is on the block, meaning the Hawks are trying to shop him once again. It’s been reported that they put out an A P B for Marvin over the summer and no team in the N.B.A. would touch him or that big contract.

Buddy Grizzard

February 21st, 2011
3:26 pm

THAT PAPE SY DEAL SHOULD GET SOMEONE FIRED

And that someone is Rick Sund. Pape Sy was projected as a point guard, and he can’t bring the ball up against D-League defense.

Buddy Grizzard, President and Founder of The Rick Sund Glue Factory Committee

ShempHoward

February 21st, 2011
4:33 pm

THE HAWKS WILL WIN THE NBA TITLE THIS SEASON (GOLD TROPHY). HOPEFULLY IF IM NOT DREAMING, THAT SHOULD SILENCE ALL THE NAYSAYERS AND ALL THE UNBELIEVERS AND FAIR WEATHER FANS. SPUD WEBB WILL RETURN NEXT YEAR TO PLAY FOR THE HAWKS AND WILL ENTER THE SLAM DUNK CONTEST DURING ALL-STAR WEEKEND.

rocknblues81

February 21st, 2011
4:43 pm

I challenge Rick Sund to do his job. Something he hasn’t been doing since he became the GM. He is worse than Pete Babcock.

ag

February 21st, 2011
5:18 pm

Ken hit the nail on the head. I really think prior to making a trade for a pg, we should play Teague to see what we have. If Teague pans out, trade for an athletic big (Thabeet). Let Bibby finish the 4th quarters or come off the bench for those 3 point shots. I also agree with GoldenRetriever, sometimes the Hawks are the BEST team in the league. They are very athletic and look great. I think they faulter on defense and when they are not making their jumpers.

Puzzled

February 21st, 2011
5:45 pm

ag,
Hav you seen Thabeet play? If so, how would he improved the Hawks? He’s not ready yet. SHould have stayed at UCONN another year.

CONservative Johnson

February 21st, 2011
5:56 pm

Don’t blow it up. Sell it off to someone who gives a damn and will keep it here in ATL . . .