Hawks’ Ferry doesn’t foresee Josh Smith going anywhere

Danny Ferry envisions his new team with Josh Smith on it. (AP photo)

Hawks general manager Danny Ferry envisions his team with Josh Smith on it. (AP photo)

In his first few weeks as general manager, Danny Ferry has managed to exorcise the Hawks’ franchise of two mistakes (Joe Johnson for his contract; Marvin Williams for the assumption he had a pulse), acquire nine new players through trades and the draft and live in three different Atlanta hotels.

On Wednesday, he exhaled and we had breakfast (in a hotel).

“I really haven’t lived in Atlanta yet,” he said. “When I’ve been in town, I’ve spent most of my time on the 19th floor [at the Hawks’ downtown offices]. But I’ve enjoyed the challenges.”

The new Hawks haven’t played a game. Yet, Ferry enjoys a level of popularity that Pete Babcock, Billy Knight and Rick Sund never attained. Locating a Russian billionaire to assume $90 million of your team’s payroll can do wonders for a general manager’s Q score.

At least in the short term — and assuming Dwight Howard isn’t walking through that door –  there’s really only one major decision left for Ferry to make in the short term. And that’s: What to do with Josh Smith? The likely answer for now appears to be nothing.

Smith, tired of being singled out for blame when things go wrong and yearning to compete for a championship, told the Hawks last year he wanted out. But much has changed since then. Ferry replaced Sund. He arrived with a “more objective view” of where the Hawks were. He was given autonomy to make needed changes.

Ferry will tell you that he “didn’t come in looking to” trade Johnson, but the opportunity presented itself (and he pounced). But Smith is a different story. Ferry likes him — a lot.

“He’s a really good player,” Ferry said. “I love his ability to pass the ball. I love his ability to make game-changing plays defensively. I love his competitiveness. If I was out there playing, I would want Josh on my team.”

But does Smith want to be here? He wasn’t available for comment Tuesday, but Ferry said he has met with him twice.

“He’s excited for next season,” he said. “We haven’t really gone in that direction with him [on roster plans]. But we’ve talked about how we’re going to play. We’ve talked about other players. His ideas, my ideas. I’m just trying to establish a relationship.”

Smith has only one year left on his contract. While he reportedly has softened his stance on a trade request, he publicly has given no indication yet that he’s looking to re-sign here. He is coming off the best season of his career (18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds), taking on more responsibility after Al Horford’s injury, even with the occasional “Josh” moment.

“All players have strengths and areas where they have to get better,” Ferry said. “All of them are praised and criticized.”

Ferry has a vision for the Hawks next season, and Smith is a part of that. They’ll run more. They’ll have to, given the lack of size. They’re a guard-heavy team, with moves that brought in Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Louis Williams, Kyle Korver and rookie John Jenkins.

“The ball will be in Devin Harris’ hands a lot and Jeff Teague’s hands a lot. We’ll have space for them to attack the rim. We’ll play through Josh a little more. We’ll use Josh and Al to pick-and-roll or post up. We’ll be fun to watch.”

I know. It’s July. Every plan is perfect. Nobody has lost a game yet.

But isn’t it nice to see a general manager with a vision, one who is willing to make the bold move, not the easy one?

Will the Hawks compete for a title next season? Not likely. But Ferry knew when he took over things had to change. The Hawks weren’t going to improve from the one- or two-round playoff team with the core they had.

Actually, Ferry believes, they were going to get worse.

“It would’ve been very difficult for them to get better — as a matter of fact, it would start to turn in the other direction very quickly,” he said. “They had very little [payroll] flexibility, and to maintain status quo would’ve meant being a high-tax team, for a team that wasn’t going to be good enough.”

It remains to be seen how good the Hawks will be next season. But it appears Smith isn’t going anywhere. That would be another offseason surprise.

By Jeff Schultz

144 comments Add your comment

Skillet

July 25th, 2012
3:59 pm

First, although I am uncertain of the importance of such a claim.

BW

July 25th, 2012
4:01 pm

Hopefully his next move is for a small forward. He’s got nice leeway until next offseason with a chance to get CP3 and D12 in Atlanta while retaining J Smoove….excited and intrigued to see what the season will hold.

@DanWeiner

July 25th, 2012
4:02 pm

“I love his ability to pass the ball. I love his ability to make game-changing plays defensively. I love his competitiveness. If I was out there playing, I would want Josh on my team.”

Hopefully now Josh feels wanted.

MattyB

July 25th, 2012
4:05 pm

A week before the MLB trade deadline, 1 day shy of Falcons training camp, NCAA football right around the corner and we’re still talking about the Hawks why?

NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW THEY BURNT OFF

July 25th, 2012
4:07 pm

MIKE WOODSON’S EYEBROWS

Brian

July 25th, 2012
4:08 pm

Finally the Hawks have employed someone who knows what they are doing……….I was a season tix holder from 1993-1998 and I am now back!

Josh is own man

July 25th, 2012
4:08 pm

Josh and Horford and Teague.

That’s 3 good, still young players.

But they should forget about Harris, Korver and Morrow.

Give the playing time to the rookie Jenkins!!!!!!

Give the playing time to

mountain_jim

July 25th, 2012
4:12 pm

I for one am happy to hear that Ferry has met with Josh twice and is showing him some ‘love’.

He was the Hawks best player last year, and I am sure he felt alot better about this franchise after Sund was gone.

I hope he with Atlanta long term.

jlewis

July 25th, 2012
4:14 pm

Seriously, if he’s going to build a team around Josh Smith, you are truly drinking the Kool-Aid. This will go south quickly, Josh will want max money and will be upset when he doesnt get it. Kiss Ferry’s butt all you want to, but if he couldnt build a team around Lebron James, ATL is never winning or will compete for a championship.

MattyBWho?

July 25th, 2012
4:22 pm

MattyB, Maybe its because they’re the only professional team to win a playoff game since____________? Ill let ur dumb ass answer that one.

LuellaPatterson

July 25th, 2012
4:23 pm

Give new hawks gm Danny Ferry a gold star for his first three weeks in office. Ferry has gotten past the trades of joe johnson and marvin williams; both previously scoring 20pts and 10pts respectively and replaced 30 points of nightly scoring with 48 points in Jordan Farmer, 10ppg; Louis Williams, 13ppg, Kyle Korver, 10ppg and DeShawn Stephenson, 15ppg. The Hawks just increased their scoring output by a net increase of 18 points, while getting considerably younger with the additions that they acquired. It wont be long before the Hawks will be raising a world-championship banner if Ferry continues to work his magic in the front office. Great job.

da[01

July 25th, 2012
4:25 pm

Ferry has a plan for how to use the talent. I wonder if LD is willing or able to be a part if Ferry’s plans

chuck

July 25th, 2012
4:25 pm

Ferry can out up a statue of Josh if he wants but the simple fact is he and Horford play the same position and neither is very effective when playing out of position.

Buddy Grizzard

July 25th, 2012
4:26 pm

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ChuckPerson

July 25th, 2012
4:30 pm

Its hard for the hawks to recover from the “black eye” that joe johnson left on the organization with his huge salary (greed) and mediocre play (too cool to play hard), hustle and give an all-out effort for the organizatioin that made him the richest player in nba history!

PaulWinchester

July 25th, 2012
4:33 pm

I hope the hawks erect a statue of former hawk joe johnson as a tribute to joe for joe helping to put hawks basketball on the map.

JSS

July 25th, 2012
4:37 pm

MattyB
July 25th, 2012
4:05 pm
“A week before the MLB trade deadline, 1 day shy of Falcons training camp, NCAA football right around the corner and we’re still talking about the Hawks why?”

????
That’s provincial crazy talk! Message to Earth, you’re less than 72 hours from the greatest spectacle on Earth and you’re pretending that folks in 86% of the world cares about the MLB trade deadline or sadly enough stalking 18-22 year old undergrads on Saturday afternoons (Sunday evening at the Clarke lockup)!

i'm a big georgia fan

July 25th, 2012
4:41 pm

joe johnson, jon konkak, josh smith. wow.

DP

July 25th, 2012
4:45 pm

Funny that Ferry says he didn’t come in looking to trade Joe Johnson. Billy King, Nets GM and former teammate of Ferry’s at Duke, said he called Ferry to congratulate him on getting the Hawks GM job and Ferry asked him if he would be interested in trading for Joe Johnson. But Ferry is smart to be diplomatic, no point in boasting about dumping Johnson’s contract which everybody thought was undumpable. He might want to trade with Billy King again.

IceColdATLFan

July 25th, 2012
4:47 pm

I think that Danny Ferry should attempt to acquire two more players in building the hawks to a championship calibre level. The two players they need to acquire is Dwight Howard and Rashad Lewis. If the hawks can pull the trigger and acquire those two guys, i think there is no doubt the hawks will have enough talent to win the nba finals, provided that jerry stackhouse and tracy mcgrady both discover the fountain of youth at the same time to make it happen.

Swingman

July 25th, 2012
4:47 pm

Sound like D. Harris is getting the SG starting spot. A two PG set can work in a fast pace offense. Teague and Harris can both play off the ball IMO. I like it.. Can’t wait to see it in action

Paul

July 25th, 2012
4:48 pm

Hawks hire Larry Drew in 2010, proponent of the ball-movement offense. Iso-Joe never gets “Ice-Od” (see what I did there?)

Now the talk is again about tempo and ball movement and the sour aftertaste of the Sund/Woodson/Knight/ASG run Hawks remains in the mouth of the fans. Skeptisism will be the adjective of choice for Hawks nation for at least another year.

Questions that interest me: Will the casual fan or observer be sold on progression by regression in the new season? How much should this market invest on the faint hope of “Free Agency 2013″ and the big fish? Is Josh better off without Joe? Why is everyone forgetting about Al?

Sage of Bluesland

July 25th, 2012
4:49 pm

Any article that references the incomparable incompetence of Pete Babcock is one to treasure. One local AJC writer (i.e., Mark Bradley) did nothing but continue to defend the indefensible on that buffoonish clown….and did the same concerning Don Waddell of the departed Thrashers.

There is only one opinion-writer worthy of trust and independence through his product: Jeff Schultz.

Bradley should be investigated. Maybe Billy Knight didn’t provide the perks/benefits that ol’ Pete did?

All on board with Ferry–but still refuse to put a single dollar of mine into the ASG’s undeserving pockets. That stance will likely never change.

Sage of Bluesland

July 25th, 2012
4:50 pm

“…Why is everyone forgetting about Al?”

Because he is the most overrated “superstar” in this town since Keith “The Tankler” Brooking….

JSS

July 25th, 2012
4:50 pm

Who said “build around Josh Smith?” He said build a team “with” Josh Smith as a cog! That’s a big difference!

alex

July 25th, 2012
4:54 pm

a big man with the skills is a must, is it clear Ferry? otherwise despite great deal with BN going to be step back this season, maybe out of play off. with 6 worse fan support even with 5 years of play off participation this team not going to need Philips arena, just relocate to closest high school gym. that helped you clown owners to save some money by using arena for concerts all year.

bird

July 25th, 2012
4:59 pm

Definitely sounds like Devin Harris will be starting.

Dawg On A Leash

July 25th, 2012
5:00 pm

I was on board totally for trading JJ & Marvin. But for you to interview him and afterwards no mention of trading for or signing a center is disheartening. Zaza cannot score enough or defend centers like Howard,Bynum,Griffin,Hibbert,etc. Horford is a PF plain and simple. If he got a good center then this group could compete. Teams are gonna go big on them and play half-court and kill ‘em…

mediocrity continues...

July 25th, 2012
5:08 pm

Really liking the Ferry hire here… What is it going to take to get a Ferry type of mind to run the Braves. Ferry is making Wren look like Millen from his Lions days drafting WR’s #1 for 10 years straight

Rick

July 25th, 2012
5:13 pm

Man it is sooooooo tough to see how many people hate on ALL Atlanta teams. This guy is building a team and all of you who have those “Hawks wont do anything” remarks are the same ones who said Hawks cant do anything with Joe and Marvin. Sad! Great comment about building with Josh JSS! Smart GM knows what the heck he is doing! Might take a couple of years but I know we will see some exciting basketball in the Highlight Factory next year! Go Hawks!

BobTrumpy

July 25th, 2012
5:13 pm

I too am really liking the Ferry hire. I am hoping that the lakers pursue dwight howard, making andrew bynum expendable. This will give the hawks a chance to aquire bynum to put in the center spot and move josh smith and al horford back to their natural positions. If the hawks had a front line of bynum, smith and horford, they would be the odds-on favorites in the east to make it to the finals against howard and the lakers. i hope it happens because anything else would be a fantasy.

Heisenberg

July 25th, 2012
5:25 pm

In a way I can see why the Nets would want Joe Johnson (salary considerations aside). He can spot up for the corner 3 and wait for Deron Williams to penetrate and kick. Much like his Phoenix days. But I cannot see what in the world Utah was thinking that Marvin Williams for Devin Harris was a good deal for them. Wow! And they even had several days from the time it was announced to when it could be consumated to change their mind.

kidstunna

July 25th, 2012
5:27 pm

Jlewis didnt Lebron make da finals with Ferry as GM and he put talent around hin but u cant play for those players

kbb

July 25th, 2012
5:42 pm

Danny Ferry for president!!

donte080

July 25th, 2012
6:15 pm

LOL at all the know-it-all GM’s on this board….leave Ferry be, he’s got a plan in place for this team. And Devin Harris was the best acquisition this offseason….this guy has some serious game….

pointguardslim

July 25th, 2012
6:28 pm

Assistant GM Wes Wilcox told Dennis Scott in summer League that Josh Smith can play both forward positions effectively.

Maybe they’re waiting on a center. But it would be good to get Smith even more familiar with defending the elite perimeter players. Outside of you know when those guys go small and match up with Smith/

WhyMe??

July 25th, 2012
6:32 pm

Ferry is a soup sandwich. He has gutted this team for a bunch of guards. He is looking like who da hell is dat taking a pic of me in the photo above. Yeah he likes Josh now… Lets see how he feels around the Holidays when this wreck he has assembled is standing in the gutter.

hawks21

July 25th, 2012
6:45 pm

Please guys tell me how many NBA teams that don’t NEED a big men???????

Dawg On A Leash

July 25th, 2012
6:48 pm

Okay. Magic,Celtics,Lakers,Heat,Clippers,Pacers,Spurs,Thunder,Mavericks.

Dawg On A Leash

July 25th, 2012
6:56 pm

By the way, these are the teams that made the playoffs and two of them the finals.

moorman

July 25th, 2012
7:03 pm

WHY CANT WE GET ANDRE IGUODALA in to atlanta to play small forward????

moorman

July 25th, 2012
7:03 pm

pg teague
sg jenkins
sf iggy
pf smikth
c horford

a one year stop gap team….

Bravesfan79

July 25th, 2012
7:35 pm

“if he couldnt build a team around Lebron James, ATL is never winning or will compete for a championship.”
He actually built a pretty solid team around James. A huge center that could change shots on defense and shoot well on offense (Illguaskas), some good scorers in Mo Williams and Jamison, and several other good role players. James didnt win in Cleveland because HE WASNT CLUTCH! From missed free throws to missed jumpers. James just didnt have the touch in the playoffs until this year.

superiorblogman

July 25th, 2012
7:39 pm

Ferry is a fraud and very much lost. Josh Smith is one of the most undisciplined and ineffective offensive players in the league. The guy needs to be gone

Roger

July 25th, 2012
7:53 pm

Ditto to superiorblogman. If josh couldn’t jump He wouldn’t even have played hs. They will never win as long as mr me is there

CP

July 25th, 2012
7:53 pm

It is so damn refreshing to have this type of story to enjoy rather than all of the previous negativity.

Btw, cosign moorman on Iggy for SF.

CP

July 25th, 2012
7:56 pm

Moorman, I think that would be more than a stopgap. That team would be damn competitive. It’s about execution play in and play out.

Posterior...

July 25th, 2012
7:59 pm

blogman & sidekick roger don’t ish about ball.

Najeh Davenpoop

July 25th, 2012
8:02 pm

It’s that time of year again, when the Hawks blog never gets updated and gets closed for comments indefinitely.

Ferry should have signed Kirilenko. 2 years $20 million seems like a lot but it’s pretty reasonable considering that the 2nd year is a team option. The Hawks desperately need reinforcements at SF. AK47 and T-Mac would be a pretty decent SF combo for this season.

Moorman

July 25th, 2012
8:14 pm

Thanx CP…. Iggy would be the perfect fit for the uptempo style ferry says he wants to bring….