The Atlanta Spirit appears on the verge of selling the Thrashers to a group in Winnipeg and are in negotiations to sell the Hawks, which would rid Atlanta of the often dysfunctional ownership group all together. But Rick Sund isn’t going anywhere.
The Hawks have exercised an option on Sund’s contract, meaning he will be back for a fourth season as general manager. The story comes via our Michael Cunningham and originally was reported by Zach Klein of WSB Channel 2.
There are mixed feelings on Sund. Last season he fired coach Mike Woodson, which most agreed with, but replaced him with Larry Drew. Drew was viewed by some as a weak candidate. But he seemed to prove himself during the Hawks’ playoff run when the Hawks upset Orlando in the first round and stretched the Chicago Bulls to six games in the second, despite the absence of starting point guard Kirk Hinrich.
Sund made a great trade last year for Jamal Crawford. But he also signed Mike Bibby and Marvin Williams to contract extensions, which didn’t work out (Bibby’s play declined after he received the new deal; Williams never has met pre-draft expectations).
This year, Sund’s late-season deal for Hinrich was a key move in the series win over Orlando. But when Hinrich was injured and Jeff Teague played so well against Chicago, some wondered why Teague wasn’t playing before and if the Hinrich deal ever had to be made. The fact rookie Jordan Crawford was included in the trade to Washington and flourished late in the season also didn’t look good.
The most controversial move of all was the max contract ($123.7 million) given to guard Joe Johnson. But Sund felt the Hawks would take too big of a step back without Johnson. We’ll also never know to what extent ownership had on that decision.
This much seems certain: Sund faces another important offseason. After three straight seasons of being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, there’s a good chance he will trade at least one member of the Hawks’ core. Because of Johnson’s contract and Al Horford’s value, the most plausible candidate is Josh Smith.
Bottom line: Sund may have had some missteps. But he’s a vast improvement over his predecessor, Billy Knight. I don’t have a huge problem with him coming back for another season to see if he can fix this roster. Also, with ownership in flux, it wasn’t realistic to believe a significant change was going to be made at the top.
So what are your thoughts on Sund? I’ve got a poll up also: Thumbs up or thumbs down?
By Jeff Schultz