Hawks’ decision to bring back Rick Sund was expected

Rick Sund has had some obvious hits and misses as Hawks general manager. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Rick Sund has had some obvious hits and misses as general manager. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

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.

What's your thought on decision to bring back Rick Sund?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

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

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

109 comments Add your comment


May 18th, 2011
9:41 am


May 18th, 2011
9:41 am

Thumb down.

I think Rick is a perfect fit for the ASG, because his changes are very slow and minimal. And that bodes well for the ASG, becuase it takes them forever to make a decision anyway.


May 18th, 2011
9:43 am

Rick Sund cares. That might be about it. His extensions were his downfall.

Reid Adair

May 18th, 2011
9:44 am

Jeff Teague’s performance against the Bulls proved what some of us said when the trade was made – it was a waste. Getting rid of Jordan Crawford was a huge mistake.

But, then again, we’re talking about Rick Sund and the Atlanta Spirit Group.

Terrance Leake

May 18th, 2011
9:46 am


May 18th, 2011
9:47 am

For giving Joe Johnson the max deal alone he should be let go. The owners probably had some say in that as well because they are trying to sell the team, but it is ridiculous to pay Joe the kind of money Rose or Lebron or Kobe get when he disappears in the big games. Those guys score big when it matters, Joe scores big when it doesn’t. Been a Hawks fan all my life, but when you know going into the season you don’t have enough to contend for title and your star isn’t really a star….bad moves all the way around.


May 18th, 2011
9:49 am

No real offense to Rick Sund since the sins of Billy are not really able to be cleansed and his primary job is not winning but managing the budget…..

The headline writer might as well write….

“The Hawks decision to once again peak in the second round was expected”


May 18th, 2011
9:54 am

Please ask Rick though why he felt the need to resign Marvin?

That guy has stolen an NBA Career. He should be in Israel playing ball right now.


May 18th, 2011
10:00 am

They didn’t fire Woodson! His contract wasn’t renewed! How about reporting the facts correctly and quit whining about having to deal with sports in Atlanta! The Hawks had a great year and you know the man has his hands tied by the owners.


May 18th, 2011
10:08 am

Well, he’s cleaning up the Billy Knight fiasco so I’d give him time. Don’t like the Crawford trade, but he’s not responsible for keeping Crawford on the bench / hiding his 20 plus points. That’s Drew’s issue. When people talk about large contract, I can think of a lot of bad contracts in the NBA worse than Joe Johnson. Greg Oden, Yao Ming, Grant, Hill, Speedy Claxton, Tracy McGrady. Rarely played, but got paid. Can we say they had more losses than their teams actually had?


May 18th, 2011
10:11 am

Sund’s got the best GM job security in all of sports, except for maybe Waddell, as he is working for the ASG who are afraid to make any move…ASG is like deer in headlights!!!

Sund’s best move before the Hawks was drafting Nene! His last best move was bringing in Crawford, after that he’s a buster!!!


May 18th, 2011
10:13 am

I’m less concerned with Sund and more concerned with ASG. Get them out of town and then let the new owner address the GM issue as he sees fit.

Davy Dmx

May 18th, 2011
10:15 am

I agree with you PMC. Marvin is who he is and that is a player with no heart or desire to raise his game to another level. Rick Sund made Washington better by giving them Crawford, Evans, and our first round pick for two players that will soon be jettisoned elsewhere.


May 18th, 2011
10:17 am

Well well well its bout time you got down to the nitty gritty!!! First off nobody knew Marvin would go belly up, I mean who goes from 16 to 17 points a game to 3 or 4 in the playoffs 11 for the reg season. For what its worth I still believe he is talented , i just believe our coaches just dont know how to use him. This season alone when Joe was hurt and he played at SG he did great… I think he scored 29 one game and like 25 the next so the talent is there. I just feel from top to bottom we dont know how to develop talent or incorperate talent we have on the team. Most coaches on other teams seem to be able to get tthe most out the talent they have. Look at the 76ers for instance their coach came in and turned a bomb group into winners, New York Nicks, the Pacers, all these teams have developed there players some kind of way .We have not we seem to want players that already know what they are doing and are usually old. The Magic for instance Dewight had no post moves in the begining, he and Josh came in the league at the same time. Every year Dewight added something new to his game, you often heard of him working out with the old greats, none of our big men do that. Derrick Rose had no jump shot when he came into the league, he went to see the shot doctor, now he can shot, our young point couldn’t even get off the bench when he was clearly better than Bibby clearly.
We seem to be scared to make the tough decisions, in Utah and in San Antonio you have heard stories of players knowing that if that dont do what the coaches ask they will be benched. Sometimes you have to do that if a guy is not performing or the first team is loffing around bench the whole group and put the bench in I’ve even seen Phill Jackson do it, if guys are not performng, or are hurting the team they have to know they can be pulled at anytime. Chicago coach pulled Carlos Boozer when he wasent playing well against the hawks, Carlos came back with fire when he was put back in.
But we just need leadership all the way around..so yeah i think all of them should go!!!! IF you cant lead then get out the way…Players have to be affraid and dissappointed when the fail you and themselves if not then….you get what we have…….THE HAWKS!!!!!


May 18th, 2011
10:29 am

Man…. I don’t know.. I’m not going to stress myself. Out anymore about the hawks.. josh smith my favorite player on the hawks and I feel is our best player… if he goes.. this team is back in the lottery .. unless we get a true superstar. Which we won’t . But if sunds actually traded Marvin this off season for a decent deal, or at least an expiring contract, then I’m all for keeping him here. Because I believe by just getting rid of Marvin Williams. And lettin another player get his minutes ( damien wilkins ) the hawks will be that much better !!


May 18th, 2011
10:32 am

Wow Mel. That was amazing. #GrammarAce


May 18th, 2011
10:33 am

Resigning/wasting money on Marvin and trading JC2 are enough reason for me to say thumbs down.

His coach decision still has to play out, but playing Bibby over Teaque was terrible.

Jerry West

May 18th, 2011
10:35 am

Thumb sideways, like so many other things for this franchise.

Moves I liked:

- Signing Flip Murray
- Trading for Jamal
- Maneuvering to acquire Jordan Crawford

Moves I didn’t:

- Re-signing Marvin before you HAD to (why not let him test the market like they did with Josh?)
- not giving Bibby a lesser/ more team friendly deal (can you say final yr as a team option?)
- acquiring Hinrich without ever seeing what Teague could do with consistent mins (and thereby giving up Jordan Crawford and this yr’s #1)

Note: no points for drafting Teague. a PG was getting taken there regardless, Lawson, Teague, Collison or Maynor, all of whom would’ve worked.

Bryan G.

May 18th, 2011
10:36 am

I think the deal Marvin got was WAY worse than the one Joe got.


May 18th, 2011
10:36 am

Yall have to remember that when John Moores or whoever comes in, then they can change anything he/she (the sports world need more women owners) wants. So Sund could still be replace if the owner wants it.

Sund has one year to provided himself and to find a deal to get the Hawks over the second round itch or he will retired. no if, aint or buts.


May 18th, 2011
10:37 am

Just for getting rid of Bibby, he deserves another year.

Josh Smith

May 18th, 2011
10:38 am

Hey, Hawks fans. Thanks for all the advice about not shooting so many 55-footers. I feel pretty good about next season now. ‘Preciate it.

Underground Atlanta

May 18th, 2011
10:45 am

Transfer Rick Sund and the Atlanta $pirit Group to Winnipeg.

Rick Sund

May 18th, 2011
10:45 am

Now that I’m back for another season, we can all celebrate Marvin Williams’ tremendous UPSIDE, Josh Smith’s BASKETBALL IQ, Joe Johnson’s LEADERSHIP, and the entire team’s POTENTIAL. Tickets on sale now!!


May 18th, 2011
10:47 am

@Fake Sund

Ummmmmmm, NO. Williams needs to go like 7 years ago, Josh Smith needs to go the Gym everyday and lose weight. Joe Johnson also needs to go as well.


May 18th, 2011
10:55 am

Rick Sund is a joke. He has actually made the Hawks a thin over-priced roster. Terrible GM. Another 30 year old point guard. Allan Houston part 2 in the making. No draft picks to get better

Dr. Warren

May 18th, 2011
11:04 am

The Jordan Crawford deal combined with Teague’s emergence in the playoffs means Sund should GO. Jordan was the key to letting Jamal Crawford go and saving lots of $$. Teague, well, we know that story. Knowing your own players is a key part of the GM’s job description. And it’s not like football where there are 45+ on your roster.

Rick Sund

May 18th, 2011
11:09 am

Of course I deserved that deal and even an EXTENSION. It was because of my moves that the Hawks are an ELITE team. Remember fans our team has UPSIDE, especially MARVIN. We met our GOAL this year of IMPROVEMENT because after all ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY. Our GOAL this year is not to be SWEPT in the SECOND ROUND. Maybe next year we can win THREE games in the SECOND ROUND. Every season has its PEAKS and VALLEYS. Joe SUPERSTAR Johnson had a GREAT YEAR. Josh has turned into quite the STUDENT OF THE GAME and is quite an INTELLIGENT PLAYER. Horford showed is PHYSICALITY. I deserve the money I made this team ELITE and ELITENESS (if that’s a word) is showed in the REGULAR SEASON not the PLAYOFFS. Let’s not forget that I hired LARRY DREW who is perhaps the new PHIL JACKSON.


May 18th, 2011
11:11 am

Trade a combination of four of the following to Minnesota for Kevin Love and #1 draft choice. Josh, Marvin, Jamal, Joe, Kirk, Jeff.


May 18th, 2011
11:12 am

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.

^Rick Sund has nothing to do with Jeff Teague. if you actually followed the team before the trade, you knew there was NO WAY Teague was ever going to start over Bibby [maybe Teague didn't try in practice]

SMH, Schultz

He Aint Squat (GARBAGE)

May 18th, 2011
11:14 am

The Wrongs
1. He resigned Joe for the highest paid sallary in the NBA – He is not worth it and it broke the team
2. He gave away two #1 picks for Hinrich – He is not worth it now we can’t draft
3. He doesn’t believe in his ability to draft top players – The #1 he picked he gave away for nothing
4. He can’t make good deals – After we give up everything for Hinrich Utah trades Deron Williams for less
He is much worst than Knight!
Knight gave us our core team and left money to wheel and deal and we had draft picks
Sund – No Money and No Draft picks No future on the bench for at leat 3 years.


May 18th, 2011
11:14 am

I wish people would stop blaming Joe Johnson, if ATL didnt pay him, others would have, he still would have gotten his money. He is not the problem with ATL, its the roster, no shooters and lacking a big man in the post, with that, they are in the eastern conference finals this year, scary thought isnt it?

matt r

May 18th, 2011
11:19 am

“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.” … I would imagine you can just ask him once the ownership changes??


May 18th, 2011
11:21 am

How is Rick Sund better than Billy Knight when technically all of the top players excluding Crawford are here because of Knight? Sund haven’t done a darn thing, but extend contracts. Are you serious? Get somebody in here who is not afraid to get rid of guys and lame duck coaches!


May 18th, 2011
11:22 am

Trading Josh Smith would be the biggest mistake the Hawks could ever make it this point.Sure he takes bad shots but part of that has to do with playing for a coach that he has no respect for.If he winds up on another team with a coach that can get in his ear he becomes a top ten NBA player.Who blocks more shots on this team than Josh? Other than Josh and Jeff Teague who showed up for the Chicago series? Keep in mind Orlando made trades just for the sake of trading and was eliminated in the first round of the play offs.After watching the Orlando series and seeing Larry Drew go with the big starting line up I think the Hawks need to add a solid piece at center which will allow Al and Josh to play forward.There is nothing in the draft this year that comes close to Josh Smith so trading for a draft pick is out.Package Hinrich and Marvin Williams and see what you get.


May 18th, 2011
11:22 am

Lowest paid GM in the NBA. Hired the lowest paid head coach in the NBA. Anyone who doesn’t think Sund is doing a great job under the circumstances is misguided.

He deserves a chance under a management group who is willing to spend to win.

5150 UOAD

May 18th, 2011
11:23 am

Could he do any worse than he did before? Can it get any worse?


May 18th, 2011
11:24 am

HEy Y’all:

You better not trade Josh Smith!!! What they need to do is to teach Josh how to play in the paint more so that he can do his thing. That needs to be his “priority” during this entire off season: Learning how to play and come up with creative moves in the paint. That is his strength and someone needs to consistantly tell hime that. I hate to see us trade him and he starts flourishing in that position, working in the paint, for another team, and becoming a terror in the leaugue, as if he is not a terror now. And of course, as usual, we need an effective center that can run, jump, shot, and block shots. Also, the players need to get in excellent shape to play Coach larry drew’s high paced offense and defense. They know what he wants know and what it takes to play it. They have to have a lot of “WIND” to “RUN and GUN” and “PLAY DEFENSE”.


This is a SECRET from a HAWK FAN!!!! TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!

…………………..”SHOCK THE WORLD”…………………….


May 18th, 2011
11:32 am

@ Barry

Well said my man!!

Bird Brain

May 18th, 2011
11:35 am

Thumbs up. Settle down people. The guy has taken the team to the 2nd round of the playoffs three straight years without going over the luxury tax (the only team in the NBA that can claim that combination). Yeah, there have been bad salaries. Guess what, every team has them. If he lost Joe Johnson and couldn’t replace him and we finished 10th in the East, all 3,000 fans that go to the games would have killed them, The fact that Teague emerged, shouldn’t be a negative to the Crawford trade, it should be a positive. He drafted Teague and Crawford, they can play. Jo. Crawford wasn’t going to play here for 2 years. He got 20 for a Washington team with nothing to play for and usually jacked up 20 shots to get that. (Cue Applause sign). Hinrich is a nice player. He may be the starting 2 guard next year, with Teague and JJ atthe 3. Lot of glass half empty drinkers in the ATL.

Let NONE in

May 18th, 2011
11:36 am


Mark C.

May 18th, 2011
11:38 am

Hawks have the 7th highest payroll in the league, they are willing to spend. It’s just that the players they sign arent all that great.

If the Mavs come up short and Cuban feels the need to add a solid number 2, I could see them trading Jason Terry, Shawn Marion (terrible contract) and a #1 for Joe Johnson (even worse contract). Then we can let Jamal sign elsewhere and more importantly free up Joe Johnsons deal.

Hinrich and Marvin Williams to the Lakers for Shannon Brown and Vujacic

Probably wouldnt give us more wins right now but it would free up a lot of dough. These moves probably wont happen, but under Sund I doubt they would even be tossed around.


May 18th, 2011
11:38 am

@5150 UOAD

yes it can get worse.
or it can get better
Horford+Marvin+Hinrich for Sanders+Bogut+Gooden+Salmons

Teague starts.
Josh Smith loses the weight and goes back to running the wing and attacking smaller players at the 3 or running pick and roll clear outs with the PG for dunks.

Salmons replaces Crawford as a big guard that can actually put Rose in foul trouble.
Sign a C.J. Watson type. I prefer Sundiata Gaines or a draft pick if they can play DEFENSE. No more scorers.
Sign Al Thornton.

Sanders+Thornton+Bogut+Smith+Gooden+Pachulia > Boozer+Noah+Asik+Gibson+Brewer+Thomas

our bigs could then compete, if Smith is not lost weight trade him for Granger/Iguodala. I believe Smith can lose the weight and play the 3.

He said it’s a controversial question because Atlanta doesn’t know what direction they want to go in! Trade Horford+Williams or Trade Smith + keep Williams.

Should be a no brainer that a SF/PF will not net you a center + bigs to get boards. A PF/C (Horford) and SG/SF (Williams) will get you the bigs we need.

And above all else keep Bogut healthy and make Smith lose the weight!

Big: Teague/Johnson/Smith/Sanders/Bogut
(pg-sg)-Salmons/Al Thornton/Gooden/Pachulia-Collins


May 18th, 2011
11:38 am

Let see what happens with Sell of the Hawks, if that passes. I think who ever going to get this team well address that issues with Rick Sund. Once ownership changes hands then the new owners can do whatever he wants.

I think that this will be his final season in Atlanta, give or take. Right now, we need this team to sold off from ASG then we go from here.


May 18th, 2011
11:45 am

Maybe, just maybe Teague sulked everyday at practice and didn’t make the best of his time until he was thrust in the spotlight. Maybe, just maybe Josh is pig headed, determined to do things his way, no matter what the coaches, broadcasters, fans tell him to do. We need to focus on toughness and guys who will accept their roles.


May 18th, 2011
11:47 am

Jordan Crawford cannot play defense. He would have only stolen shots from JJ and minutes from Teague.

Check Crawford’s advanced #s. Go ahead. Even his basic FG% is telling. He had only 6 games with above 50% shooting for a 6′4 guard that’s atrocious.

He’s a gunner people. Teague is better.

However, people should be very mad that GM Rick Sund gave up the future pick. Could have had a consistent defender ie Travis Leslie.

Let NONE in

May 18th, 2011
11:49 am

BETTER QUESTION: WHO WILL OWN THIS TEAM? Gearon and Levinson spent all their daddy’s money so they said they don’t want to play anymore. WAAA…WAAA…WAAA little babies.


May 18th, 2011
11:49 am

Does anyone else think it might be a good fit to move Joe to 3 and put Hinrich at 2? (That is if we trade Josh for a center).


May 18th, 2011
11:51 am

I don’t like him coming back. I like Joe Johnson, but he gave him to much money. Now it hard to sign a good free agent to help the team. I hate the Jordan Crawford trade. I think he will be a very good player. Him and Jeff Teague both will be very good players. Somebody tell me what did Sund do so great before he came to the Hawks.


May 18th, 2011
11:53 am


-resigning Marvin to a ridiculous contract extension. (yes, it was Sund)
-resigning Mike Bibby to a ridiculous contract.
-resigning Joe Johnson to the a max contract and becoming the laughing stock of the NBA.

ALL crippled the roster and the ability to adjust and make trades. Only way we trade Bibby was to give up a young potential guard and a 1st round pick (another crippling move).

I wish i could be judged and highly compensated at my job like this with these results!