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

Old School

July 25th, 2012
8:15 pm

Josh Smith is a cancer on any team he plays on. Bad attitude, no defense and lazy. It won’t take long for him to begin pouting about not having the ball… There is a reason he consistently is passed over in the NBA All Star game.

Danny Ferry needs to trade him before the season begins.

Najeh Davenpoop

July 25th, 2012
8:20 pm

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

a) Nobody said Al was a superstar

b) Al isn’t even close to being the most overrated athlete in this town right now, let alone dating back to the Keith Brooking era

LakersFan

July 25th, 2012
8:22 pm

The Hawks had to drop Joe Johnson’s contract. Danny Ferry can get alot of good players for 90 million dollars. Also the Hawks had to let Marvin go. He forever will be Judged by the 2 poimt guards that the Hawks should have gotten. At least Utah is close to where he grew up.
If the Hawks push the ball they could be fun to watch, and even good at times…but not a Championship team.

Moorman

July 25th, 2012
8:33 pm

Andre iggy……..this year, do it now…….

Ferries wear boots

July 25th, 2012
8:47 pm

Ferry should give him the boot while the rest of the world thinks he’s worth something. Of course we all know he’s a half-@$$ show boat that blames everybody else except himself for losses. Trade him.

Luv Josh Smith

July 25th, 2012
9:04 pm

Luv the article
Luv Josh Smith
Just a big man and an effective coach away
Horford plays like a 6′10″ All Star starting Center. Oh yeah, that’s what he is.

@old school...

July 25th, 2012
9:13 pm

flunked again huh? ID10T. That’s why josh is second team all defense, Lazy? more like you are retarded.

bigcalidawg

July 25th, 2012
9:25 pm

Has anyone thought about how much better Josh’s attitude can be without Joe Johnson’s “too cool to play” attitude?

We gave up Sund, JJ, Marvin, and whatever his non-defendin, injured name is. We got Ferry, Devin Harris, Korver, Anthony Morrow, Lou Williams, and some bigs.

I like what we got back better than what we gave up.

steven A.

July 25th, 2012
9:26 pm

Love Josh Smith’s game, however, he is not a championship level PF at this time. I would move him for the right price.

steven A.

July 25th, 2012
9:35 pm

I would move Josh to Utah for Al Jefferson in a heartbeat. Al Jefferson is a more efficient scorer right now than Josh. He also would not jack up “ill-advised shots” late in games. He is a much smarter basketball player than Josh.

steven A.

July 25th, 2012
9:35 pm

I would move Josh to Utah for Al Jefferson in a heartbeat. Al Jefferson is a more efficient scorer right now than Josh. He also would not jack up “ill-advised shots” late in games. He is a much smarter basketball player than Josh.

steven A.

July 25th, 2012
9:47 pm

Low risk-High reward move, “sign Greg Oden to a 2year deal as soon as possible. He will play again.

Jeff Schultz

July 25th, 2012
9:49 pm

MattyB — “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?”

Let’s see: 1) I wrote a column related to the MLB trade deadline the day before; 2) I wrote about the Falcons in Sunday’s paper and I’ll write about them again tomorrow; 3) I wrote about college football for three straight days at SEC media days AND Monday night from the UGA Bulldog Club. … And I haven’t written a Hawks column since Danny Ferry was hired because I was on vacation.

Anything else?

Jeff Schultz

July 25th, 2012
9:50 pm

JSS — I wish I was in London. Alas, I have not been blessed with the keys to the budget.

da[01

July 25th, 2012
9:59 pm

MattyB: Why are you even on this blog? Good article Jeff.

bjohndawg

July 25th, 2012
10:11 pm

Strong guards on offense. They need a defensive specialist as Jenkins is not the best defender but can stretch it on the offensive side. Oh and they do need a small forward. Forget a center like howard. He is a limited player in clutch time. Especially at playoff time. End of game disappears.

questionable

July 25th, 2012
10:20 pm

Idiot here –
I know I’m not the only one who isn’t quite buying the “we need a bigger C” argument. Miami and San Antonio (among others) are killing it despite having no 7-footers, so I think it may just be that the NBA is shifting toward a smaller and quicker game.
But what about this: Is there any reason why we can’t play Josh and Al at PF and C as usual, but when on offense have JOSH who’s the C and Al as the PF? It’d still be the same 5 guys on the floor for both teams, so it’s not like it would create matchup problems. They’d still be guarded by the same opposing defenders as if they were playing their current positions (in fact, for all the defense would know, they still WOULD be playing those positions). But Josh is at his best when he plays like a C, and Al when he’s a PF. So why not just sneakily have them play those positions on offense while still playing with Josh as PF and Al as C on defense?
Frankly, I don’t know enough about basketball to see why this wouldn’t work. Anyone care to enlighten me?

jfreak13713

July 25th, 2012
10:32 pm

FOOL! Okay maybe not a complete fool but once he has a season to watch Josh Smif play he will like so many others here desire to part ways with a guy whos ceiling has been reached. Its a high ceiling by the way! Josh is a really good player but he is not an A or really even a high B player in this league. Josh is really not a great defender as he lets his guy by him then tries to block his shot at the rim. Sometimes that works but many other times Josh is left crying to ref about how he didn’t get the right call! Josh is a good shooter when he stays within 10 feet but low IQ forces him to see himself as Kobe or Durant which he is not!

What is funny about this article is that Ferry thinks Josh is a good passer! He has clearly not watched one Hawks game because Josh does NOT pass the ball! Josh NEEDS to play with a TRUE star who can put him in his place and THEN Josh will settle down and have a good career with less pressure. I like Josh but he is not a talent that can lead an NBA team.

Tired Tired Tired

July 25th, 2012
10:39 pm

Apparently Ferry hasn’t watched film of Josh hanging arount the three point line because it’s too much work to play the power forward position we are paying you for. 40 years of losing, next year will be 41.

SteveW

July 25th, 2012
10:56 pm

If the season opened today, if we played Big, our lineup would be:

C – ZaZa
PF – Al
SF – Josh
SG – Lou (maybe)
PG – Teague or Harris – both pretty good

Bench:

C – Petro
PF – Ivan
SF – Korver, Stevenson
SG – Morrow, Jenkins
PG – Let’s just say Harris

We played last season w/o Al for most of it. 10 games +5 minutes is all he played in the regular season. This season, no JJ, so let’s say that’s roughly a wash. Close anyway.

Lou starting is better than either Hinrich or Marvin. Teague will be a year better. So our starting 5 will be as good or better than 56 games of last season.

Petro is better than Collins. More durable.
Ivan should still be Ivan
Korver and TMac is about a wash, only because TMac couldn’t stay healthy (or LD wouldn’t play him)
Morrow is better than Green
Harris is a ton better than Jannero “Can’t Bring the Ball up the Court, Bounce it Off my Leg” Pargo.

So the bench is better. When we play big, we’ll be a better team than last season.

But a bunch of other teams in the East will be better also.

If we play small, the lineup will probably look something like this:

Al
Josh
Morrow
Lou
Teague

With a bench of:
ZaZa
Ivan
Korver
Jenkins
Harris

Again, ZaZa is way better than Collins off the bench, Morrow is better than Hinrich, and Lou is better than Marvin – and Harris is still better than Pargo by leaps and bounds.

We have 2 guys entering their prime in Josh and Al. Teague should be better. Look at how Rondo and Lowry progressed from 23 to 26. Even Conley from 23 to 24. Teague should be better.

Lou is in his prime
Morrow is in his prime
ZaZa is in his prime
Petro is 26 – he may not have a prime – but he did have some nice games last season
Harris is just past his prime
Korver is just past his prime
Stevenson ain’t looking too good except on D lately.
Ivan has a year under his belt.

BTW – ZaZa and Ivan are the two nastiest players the Hawks have had since I don’t know when. Reminds me of a poor mans Lambier and Mahorn.

SteveW

July 25th, 2012
11:00 pm

Two other things I like Danny has done:

The salary cap situation is great!

And look at the ages of our main guys:

Play small:

Horford – 26
Josh – 27
Morrow – 27
Lou – 26
Teague – 24

Bench – ZaZa 28/29 (turns 29 during season)
Ivan 28/29
Korver 31
Jenkins 21/22
Harris 29/30

Play Big: Throw Petro in at age 26.

Good, young team.

I say we go about 46-36, as constructed, barring catastrophic injury.

Fantastic

July 25th, 2012
11:03 pm

It’s Amazing people still blame Joe Johnson for the contract he received! If someone offers you 100 plus million dollars you would be an idiot not to take it whether you were worth it or not! I agree, he is not a max player, but he did this town well with his play. He came to Atlanta when free agents didnt want to come here. So get off his Nutts! None you you bloggers never attended any games anyway, but you love to sit back and complain about everything! Be a Fan! Support your team and have faith in what Ferry is doing.

SteveW

July 25th, 2012
11:06 pm

That small lineup, of

Al
Josh
Morrow
Lou
Teague

With a bench of

ZaZa
Ivan
Korver
Jenkins
Harris

Would really be lethal. Would they get abused at times? Yes, absolutely. But they would be dominate at times also.

Boston showed me last season you could be a really terrible rebounding team, and still have success at a high level. Like a few minutes from being in the Championship level.

Danny Ferry

July 25th, 2012
11:09 pm

wow some new Hawks content. Cunninghan has been a little lazy the past week or so. Has not been a story or action on the Hawks page. I mean come on, the summer league has good content to write about. Jenkins has looked Ray Allen-esk and Cedric Benson (our former 2nd RND pick) has been playing great (although he does not fit the profile of NBA center).. He would make a great 3rd possibly 2nd 4 man. Come on MC, still on vacation?

SteveW

July 25th, 2012
11:10 pm

I give big kudos to Joe Johnson – Great basketball player. I don’t blame him for his contract one bit.

Danny Ferry

July 25th, 2012
11:11 pm

Cedric Benson is out of Oakland, just to add if anybody wanted to know.

JSS

July 25th, 2012
11:16 pm

I’m still holding out hope that next week’s primary goes smooth and I can get there, Not looking good: My friend Monroe has two national teams to look after, he’s having a ball… It is Cold though…

It won’t be a Summer Olympics without Mr. Bisher around, especially in the British Isles, the Open felt funny too…

SteveW

July 25th, 2012
11:17 pm

Again, a lineup of:

Al – Age 26
Josh – 27
Morrow – 27
Lou – 26
Teague – 24

You have a whole bunch of guys entering their collective prime. Morrow is kinda the weak link in that lineup – I hope last season was just an anamoly – if he could step it up even a little, that would be a dangerous team.

Great bench also.

JSS

July 25th, 2012
11:18 pm

Ferry, Cunningham is on vacation! He told everyone he was taking a break…

SteveW

July 25th, 2012
11:20 pm

Keith “Kito” Benson I think you mean – Cedric is a running back with the Bengals or something.

And I think he would be good as a 24 year old big man on this team. 13th guy type this season, but he could develop – seems to have the drive to succeed.

PaulieOldschool

July 25th, 2012
11:43 pm

I’m liking the new GM alot. Sounds like he does not suffer from cranial anal inversion and he has a heart, too. Jeez, we fell into this one, didn’t we? Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it all works out and JS signs again. With us.

sapelodawg

July 25th, 2012
11:56 pm

Atlanta does not need or want Dwight Howard. Howard is a loser.

Courtney

July 26th, 2012
12:08 am

MOVE NOW !!!!!

July 26th, 2012
12:49 am

I AM EXPECTING THIS FRANCHISE TO FOLD HERE AND GO TO SEATTLE OR ST.LOUIS.
I LIKE SO MANY ARE SICK OF HEARING ABOUT THEM, NEVER ATTEND A GAME AND HATE THE LITTLE LYING OWNERS… PLEASE GET THIS TEAM OUT OF TOWN ASAP, HELL, EVEN BILLINGS,MONTANA WOULD BE BETTER THAN HERE ANYLONGER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JUST MOVE !

Najeh Davenpoop

July 26th, 2012
1:41 am

Cunningham is on vacation, but Vivlamore is still fully capable of putting up a two-sentence blurb about Jason Collins signing with Boston.

Hawks Blog Legend Worldwide Clyde

July 26th, 2012
1:58 am

LD is they key. Does he know how to coach the team he has?

Hawks Blog Legend Worldwide Clyde

July 26th, 2012
2:09 am

LD talks a good game but his actions are suspect. When his starters decided they did not want to play he put Ivan in and if you fast forward to 1:07 the Hawks had the lead with 11 minutes to go in the fourth. We all know what happened when he went back to his starters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kZFMXLqru4

Columbus

July 26th, 2012
5:01 am

Some of you people are stuck on the roster for this year as it is going to be like this forever. This is a ONE year roster. Ferry will bring in a center and small forward when he can. But it wont be until 2013, during the season or in the summer after season ends and free agency starts. Hes done enough right now to put the Hawks in position to be a buyer, a player in the next rounds of free agency or trades and THEN can get the missing pieces….This team will score. They might not play great defense but they will score and run. They are young, can shoot, some can drive and some can post up. Ferry wont win big this year but Hawks are in position to win big and get some big names in here for the season after this one…..you people who are whining about not having a center or small forward MUST see the big picture and be patient. All in time. All in due time. Tried to get Dwight, it didnt happen. He tried. Come January the clock starts ticking on getting the final pieces….its not if. its who…be patient. You act like there are great centers around. Personally I look forward to hopefully seeing a lot more of Zaza this season. He brings heart and fire and energy. He will do until we get our man. We arent going to win it all in 2012-2013. Be patient and be thankful we will be players come 2013 and then put the best final pieces we can get in their place….Who knows, we might make a trade during the season and make a good run this year…..patience boys. PATIENCE…

Jamaaliver

July 26th, 2012
6:35 am

Man, I hate watching Josh Smith play basketball.

He is terrible.

yeahsure

July 26th, 2012
6:58 am

We need a leader on this team. Something that Joe wasn’t. Something that Teague and Horford aren’t. The answer is CP3 next year. A player that will demand the ball and not allow Josh to take those shots.

I hope Dwight plays the year out in Orlando and is booed every home game. If he doesn’t want to play for Atlanta, forget him. He can continue to get beat by us for years to come.

Just Joe

July 26th, 2012
7:04 am

As constructed, I think the Hawks start Teague & Harris at the guard spots, play Josh & Al up front, and then insert a shooter at the SF spot (Morrow or Korver). Lou Williams will be the first guard off the bench to spell either Teague or Harris. Pachulia will be the first big off the bench. Ivan & Stevenson play limited minutes off the bench for defense. That’s what I expect the 10-man rotation to be AS OF NOW. Jenkins and Petro get last two active spots. Scott & Williams in suits or dleague.

Ferry knows that this lineup is too small and can’t defend, but I think he also knows that there’s a good chance that fans will enjoy watching the uptempo/back and forth style for a year. In a perfect world, the Hawks and Rockets slide in to the 8th spots in the playoffs (playoff revenue for Hawks), and we end up with the 15th, 16th, 45th, and 46th picks in next year’s draft plus over $30M in cap space.

One other side note, an uptempo style can do wonders for a player’s trade value. I think Korver and Harris will be the first two to go, but Teague, Smith, Horford, and Pachulia could put up really good offensive stats this year. I would not be surprised to see career highs in scoring for all four, with increases in other “per game” stats like rebounding and assists (as more shots are taken).

JSS

July 26th, 2012
7:24 am

@ Davenpoop…
You know Chris V is gonna be sniffing the Falcons instead “really” sticking around informing us on the Hawks… What a luxury it was for us when Ken S was the floater before he took over the Tech Blog! He was the best!

Peachtree John

July 26th, 2012
7:30 am

COACH. When is a new coach going to be addressed. We will need a coach who can follow the goals set by the GM. Is there a Dukie coach out there who will fit the bill?

ntrigue

July 26th, 2012
8:28 am

Terrible we’ve recieved no updates regarding summer league don’t you miss the days when Sekou was our beat writer he never left us hanging

Snoop Graham

July 26th, 2012
8:31 am

If Ferry isn’t smart enough to dump Josh Smith on the first idiot willing to take him I will seriously question what a Duke education really means.

Peter

July 26th, 2012
8:37 am

I personally like what Ferry has done, and if the Hawks are a little worse off for trading away JJ, they are really a big man away from truly competing again.

The should reward Josh with a very nice extension, pay the man a reasonable amount as he will be an All-Star this year.

I also agree both Al and Josh play the same position, but with a legit Big, if he can find one, wouldn’t it be nice to have a Big and both Josh and Al on the court at the same time ?

Allot of teams go big and Josh can guard a 3, while helping our at the rim. It would be wonderful to see Josh hitting 75% of his free throws, as his scoring will really rise.

I am sure we all go no when he attempts the longer shots, but he seems to be improving there.

I would love to see him really spend allot of time backing guys down, and using his strength, and jumping ability to score around the rim….worse case he will be going to the line, and creating foul difficulties for those guys who have to guard him.

Thank you Danny Ferry… i finally feel like we could be going in the right direction as a club !

Ray

July 26th, 2012
8:47 am

@ ntrigue

Out new one is on vacation he even had a blog that said “On Hiatus.” He left CV to do the work, but I don’t know what he’s up to.

kw

July 26th, 2012
8:57 am

CHRIS VIVAMORE SUCKS!!!
http://www.hoopsworld.com/the-nba-summer-league-must-sign-list

The NBA Summer League Must-Sign List
By Stephen Brotherston
NBA Writer
EmailPrint4 Comments
Every year there are undrafted and unsigned players who are invited the NBA Summer Leagues and get their chance to show they deserve another look. While the focus may be on how the rookies and other players already under guaranteed contracts are performing, most of the players on the court are hoping to get any kind of NBA contract or training camp invite for next season and as always, a few players earn their ticket to the big dance.

Maalik Wayns, Villanova Junior, Undrafted 2012

Maalik Wayns established himself as one of college’s better scoring point guards last season at Villanova, but never heard his name called at the draft in June. Wayns understandably felt slighted.

Picked up for the Magic’s summer league team, Wayns made a huge impression in game one going head-to-head against Tyshawn Taylor of the Nets with a double-double of 11 points and 10 assists while getting to the free throw line nine times. Wayns also reaffirmed his scoring prowess with a 16 point effort against the Jazz two days later.

Wayns was invited to the Warriors summer league team in Las Vegas, but tweaked his groin in a scrimmage against the Suns the day before games started and didn’t play.

There are rumors that Wayns may have an offer to play in Europe for next season, but the 21-year-old left a positive impression with both the Magic and the Warriors and it should net him at least a training camp invite if he decides to wait.

Kent Bazemore, Old Dominion Senior, Undrafted 2012

The 6’4” swingman with the wingspan of a center went undrafted and part of the reason may have been his conviction for impaired driving and subsequent arrest at a game this past March for failing to complete an alcohol safety program as part of his probation, but playing with the Warriors in Summer League, Kent Bazemore confirmed he has a lot of basketball talent.

In three games, Bazemore averaged a solid 10.7 points, five rebounds, 2 steals and 2.3 blocks, but he left a lasting impression in 36 minutes against Chicago with 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots.

The reining college defensive player of the year won the award back-to-back and showed the potential to contribute at the offensive end in his final two seasons at Old Dominion as well. His Summer League success appears to be drawing interest from the Warriors, Hawks and likely a few more teams.

Dionte Christmas, Temple Senior, Undrafted 2009

After going undrafted in 2009 and becoming a late training camp cut of the 76ers, 6’5” shooting guard Dionte Christmas headed to Europe for two seasons where in his last 26 games with Rethymno in Greece he averaged over 18 points and showed he could be a scorer as a professional.

Boston took a long look at Christmas in Summer League. In five games in Orlando followed by five more in Las Vegas, Christmas only failed to score in double-digits once and he consistently racked up good numbers in rebounds, assists and steals as well. A good three-point shooter and decent defender, Christmas was one of the better players in Summer League.

Boston still needs depth on the bench and the 25-year-old is being offered his chance to make the Celtics in training camp and this time, Christmas has a realistic chance of staying in the NBA.

Hilton Armstrong, Connecticut Senior, #12 Draft Pick 2006

After five seasons in the NBA, the 6’10” center/power forward found himself playing in France last season and on this year’s Clippers summer league team in the hopes of landing another NBA contract.

Hilton Armstrong averaged an unremarkable 3.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and half a block while playing with the Hornets, Kings, Rockets, Wizards and Hawks, but last year in the Eurocup, he managed a more interesting 10.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks. Summer League seems to confirm Armstrong has progressed since his time in the NBA. In five contests, Armstrong managed 7.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in just 25.6 minutes.

Armstrong played hard in Vegas and it should earn him a look at training camp with the Clippers or another NBA team in need of a fifth or sixth big man to round out their roster.

Adam Morrison, Gonzaga Junior, #3 Draft Pick 2006

If you are looking for proof that the number of championship rings you own does not define your NBA career, then look no further than the two Adam Morrison wears from his time with the Lakers. The scoring machine from Gonzaga had a typical rookie year with the Bobcats before he was traded to warm the pine on a championship team in Los Angeles.

Morrison played in the Adriatic and Turkish leagues last year and just wanted to give the NBA one more shot this summer before deciding if it’s time to move on with his life, but the former dominant college player certainly didn’t want to leave the professional ranks without giving it his all. In five Summer League contests with the Clippers, Morrison averaged 20 points and five rebounds while shooting a blistering 61.9 percent from three-point range. It was enough to get Clippers’ fans chanting M-V-P in Las Vegas at the game five win over the Celtics.

At 28-years-old, Morrison still has the shooting touch and after going through the school of hard-knocks, he might just have the maturity to become an effective player in a smaller role. Any team in need of scoring off the bench should be inviting Morrison to their training camp for a look.

P.J. Tucker, Texas Junior, #35 Draft Pick 2006

P.J. Tucker played 17 games for the Toronto Raptors in 2006 before he was waived, but the under-sized power forward from Texas didn’t give up on his dream and has played on several overseas teams since departing the NBA.

The Suns represent Tucker’s fifth Summer League team since college and Tucker averaged 5.8 points on 50 percent shooting and 6.2 rebounds over five games, but he saved his best for last against the Grizzlies with a 10 point, nine rebound, one steal and one block effort. The hard work Tucker has become known for in Europe was evident this summer in Vegas.

Tucker’s team in Germany wants him back, so the Suns have put a two-year partially guaranteed deal in front of him to keep him here. Tucker is looking at a big pay cut to get his chance at returning to the NBA, but this Summer League veteran isn’t likely to pass up an opportunity to get back to the big show.

Josh Akognon, Cal State Fullerton Senior, Undrafted 2009

The diminutive guard was one of the fastest players in college and at 23.9 points per game, he was one of college’s most prolific scorers during his senior season. Not known as a playmaker, the 5’11” Akognon has deep range and the ability to get to the free throw line. A shooting guard in a small point guard’s body, getting drafted in 2009 was not likely.

Akognon has spent the past two seasons tearing it up China, averaging over 28 points per game with the DongGuan Leopards and in his three Summer League games with the Kings, Akognon averaged 19.3 points in just 18.7 minutes. There is little question Akognon can still score the ball in a hurry.

While NBA teams will undoubtedly believe Akognon is too small to defend for prolonged periods and opposing teams will quickly adjust to his shooting range, there have been many small guards that could disrupt an opposition’s defense for stretches during a game and Akognon certainly seems to fit that description. This 26-year-old guard has earned a training camp invite from a scoring-challenged team.

Malcolm Thomas, San Diego State Senior, Undrafted 2011

The best overall performance in Summer League may belong to Malcolm Thomas. Undrafted out of San Diego State a year ago, Thomas played on three different NBA D-League teams and three games with the Spurs last season earning All NBA D-League first team honors.

The 6’8” power forward has a 7’2” wingspan and used all of his natural gifts to impress everyone watching in Las Vegas. Over five games Thomas averaged a solid double-double, but in the first four games when he averaged 30 minutes a contest, he dominated with 13.3 points, 14.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

Not surprising, Thomas is now garnering interest from the Hawks, Bobcats, Bulls and Clippers and should get another shot at making an NBA club this fall.

The NBA Summer Leagues represent many unsigned players best chance to get noticed before rosters are set heading into training camp and every year several of these hopefuls get a contract or camp invite. The players above are among the most likely to show up on a NBA roster at camp this fall. Let us know in the comments below if we have missed anyone and why you believe they deserve a shot.

GDAWG

July 26th, 2012
9:59 am

Hail to Danny Ferry, not only was he a great basketball player, but he is a damn good GM. So far he has done an outstanding job as the Hawks new GM. I love the fact that he see’s what any good basketball man should; the fact that Josh Smith is a damn good all round player, and it wasn’t his fault when the Hawks have sucked it up (Playoffs). Keep up the good work Danny, your work is appreciated by us Hawk fans!! We can build around what we got, Teague, Johnson, Horford, etc.Work it DF!

haha

July 26th, 2012
10:19 am

he obviously has not seen that knucklehead up close for an entire game. The truth is that not all the wires in Josh’s head are wired together

The guy has no clue what it takes to win games, he would rather attempt a highlight reel rather than take the safe two points.

Hey Josh there is a reason anyone guarding you always gives you space to take a jump shot. You can’t shoot bra.