Ferry made pitch for Dwight Howard but was stopped short

Your Hawks fantasy for a day: Danny Ferry hands LeBron James a jersey (Hawks, not USA). (Getty Images)

Your Hawks fantasy for a day: Danny Ferry hands LeBron James a jersey -- Hawks, not USA. (Getty Images)

Area codes may help. Pacific breezes and Hollywood on the West Coast, and South Beach and night life on the East may have served as advantages for the Los Angeles Lakers in their ability to land Dwight Howard and the Miami Heat in luring LeBron James.

But that’s really not what this is all about.

If Los Angeles, Miami and Boston always seem to land the best players, it’s not because of the scenery or the local cuisine or the proximity to Universal Studios. It’s because of what those franchises stand for. They chase titles. They don’t act satisfied when the team wins a playoff series. They don’t limit themselves to “safe” moves in the offseason to fill out the bench. They have a vision.

They don’t give elite-level contracts to players who couldn’t spell elite if you spotted them the e-l-i-t. (Joe: Brooklyn is that way.)

“History and tradition,” Hawks general manager Danny Ferry said when asked why the best players like Howard always seem to end up with the Lakers. “They’ve done a great job capitalizing on their tradition and what they’ve built there.”

So where does that leave the Hawks, a franchise whose tradition is not, shall we say, a selling point?

“We’re in the process of working to build a better image, a better program,” Ferry said. “I’m confident players will want to come to Atlanta. This is a city where players like to play — because they like to live here. But we are going to make it a great place to play. The players will know that we’re going to invest in making it championship-caliber team, on and off the court.”

It’s a great speech. It’s something every Atlanta sports fan would love to wrap themselves around. But Ferry never got a chance to make his pitch to Howard.

He approached the Orlando Magic about a trade for Howard in early July but was turned down. He never had the opportunity to share his vision with Howard and try to convince him that the dysfunction that Howard (an Atlanta native) was familiar with was a thing of the past. It never even got as far as being in position to convince Howard to sign an extension.

“We had discussions with Orlando about Dwight Howard,” Ferry said. “They were apprehensive to trade him within the division.”

That may seem to hard to fathom. Logically, the Magic should’ve been more concerned about acquiring strong assets for Howard than him playing for another Southeast Division team. But given the dumpster full of unspectacular players, bad contracts and lottery-protected draft picks the Magic ended up with in the four-player trade, maybe it’s not so hard to believe.

If Ferry was willing to take a calculated risk, without blowing up the team’s roster to get Howard, good for him. It shows aggressiveness and creativity. We’ll see where that takes him, and them.

He is convinced it can be done here. He came from San Antonio, which is a far smaller market than this one. The new collective bargaining agreement also should – should – start to work against some of the high-profile teams’ signings and trades that we’ve seen around the league. Teams over the luxury-tax threshold must pay steeper penalties and will be far more limited in player movement. The sign-and-trade that enabled the Lakers to acquire Steve Nash this summer would not be available to them in 2013 because of their tax situation.

The excommunication of Joe Johnson and his contract gives the Hawks flexibility. Now it’s just a matter of Ferry convincing players other than end-of-the-road guys such as Jerry Stackhouse and Tracy McGrady that there’s a reason to come here. Stars always will have leverage and desires, Ferry said, “But they can’t control the teams. That’s where the CBA comes in.

“We can succeed. You can be a small-market team and succeed – and we’re not a small-market team.”

It’s not just about L.A. The Dodgers haven’t even been to a World Series since 1988. They own two titles in the past 46 years. The Kings took 44 years to win a Stanley Cup. I watched enough Rams playoffs losses in the Coliseum growing up there to know championships didn’t magically flow to there. And eventually the team left for … St. Louis?

Players want to win, and they are drawn to teams with a strong image and tradition. But the Hawks aren’t nearly there yet.

By Jeff Schultz


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107 comments Add your comment

Benjamin

August 10th, 2012
5:28 pm

I like Mr. Ferry and think his vision is correct, but at this point, talk is cheap. I’m looking forward to next offseason to see how things play out.

Benjamin

August 10th, 2012
5:28 pm

Also, I would say “first,” but I’m not sure Schultzie rewards such behavior…

Rick

August 10th, 2012
5:43 pm

Hmmmmmm. Magic got hosed and they brought that upon themselves! If you trqded him to the Lakers then you got what you deserved and I hope it takes another 10 years for them to be relevant! Those clowns learned nothing from letting Shaq walk to LA! I also think it is time for NBA players to think more like college kids ( crazy idea coming). How about wanting to go to a small market and making it relevant? Or a team like the Hawks and making them relevant? We see it all the time in College Basketball now! I know it might be the culture but hey how about helping change that culture? Novel idea?! Juat how many millions can one person spend after the big contract and shoe endorsement deal. Hey I would not mind one myself…..but the deal is you can get the same endorsements in small markets, probably more when fans see how much they appreciate and like you. Do something different superstars…..be a real super star!

bob

August 10th, 2012
5:45 pm

All of this is David Sterns Fault, he should have made a hard cap, with everyone spending the same…like the NFL….

Tom-Dawg

August 10th, 2012
5:45 pm

To hell with Howard. He’s more for himself than anything else. Lakers won’t win a championship with him, that’s Kobe’s team.

WeBurn

August 10th, 2012
5:48 pm

This is a super star league. I hope Ferry somehow pulls it off. Good effort trying to get Howard.

Jeff Schultz

August 10th, 2012
5:50 pm

Benjamin — 1) I like Ferry. 2) Yes, talk is cheap but I’d say trading Joe Johnson shows he’s not all talk; 3) Correct — not into that whole “first” thing.

jeffrey d

August 10th, 2012
5:57 pm

but at this point, talk is cheap

He’s been all talk? After getting rid of Joe’s contract he could run for mayor

GT Alum

August 10th, 2012
5:59 pm

Well, he can try selling him on it next offseason, unless LA signs him to an extension. But I’m glad ASG seems to be getting serious and have gone out and hired a man who seems to be serious about making this team a true contender.

The Flats Are where its At

August 10th, 2012
6:06 pm

Schultzie………u called Joe dumb(which he is)……are u sure u can handle the backlash?

Ward

August 10th, 2012
6:07 pm

Wow the venom from some because Ferry speaks on trying to build Atlanta into a winner… I think he has earned the benefit out the doubt from us all. I really think it will be next summer to see how good he will really be for this franchise. There will only be a couple of players on the books, so the Hawks will have a lot of flexibility. I would love to see the team not re-sign Smith and pair Hortford with a center like Bynum and have them concentrate on building out around a good front line… Imagine a team after next summer with Bynum, Hortford, ??? @ SF, Williams, and Paul…That’s pretty good…

Rob

August 10th, 2012
6:08 pm

So that means there’s a chance he’ll still go after Howard aggressively this offseason since it doesn’t sound like Howard specifically said no, but rather, the Magic who wanted to get him out of the East like the Lakers did with Bynum. I respect him for trying, the man’s showing ambition.

Dwight Howard

August 10th, 2012
6:15 pm

Ferry wanted me to play for Atlanta?! Me, the great Dwight Howard, play in Atlanta?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha; oh man,
Hee hee hee hee hee
That is really funny!

Jamaaliver

August 10th, 2012
6:16 pm

Just think, if Billy King hadn’t traded Brooklyn’s 1st round lottery pick for Gerald Wallace, Dwight would already be with the Nets.

wpl

August 10th, 2012
6:19 pm

You do not need several superstar players to win a nba championship, the piston won a title with 12 good basketball players a few years ago, the mavs won with one superstar at the time, dirk and 11 good players, the spurs won their last two titles with duncan and 11 good players. How Soon We Forget!!!!!!!!!!!

Jt

August 10th, 2012
6:26 pm

There was no chance Howard was coming to atl. He made that clear. He wants NY/LA level cities. Visibility. Huge coin. Tell you this too- there is no way in hell I would give up an Al Horford for the self-proclaimed superman. Not even a 2nd thought.

JSS

August 10th, 2012
6:29 pm

You need to put that last paragraph in BOLD print! Myths are hard to break!!!

GT Alum

August 10th, 2012
6:35 pm

wpl – I don’t know, Ginobli is pretty special, as is Kidd (although on the downside of his career). Also, just because it can be done that way doesn’t mean that method is nearly as likely to work.

Since we traded away ‘Nique, the Hawks haven’t even had the one superstar that Dallas and SA did, so we still needed to do something.

New Orleans 'Inhales'

August 10th, 2012
6:48 pm

Thinking a big reason why Dwight doesn’t want to play for the Hawks is he doesn’t want to play in his hometown. That would be even more pressure than playing in L.A.

wpl

August 10th, 2012
6:51 pm

The Spurs are amazing, they don’t chase after all these so-call superstar players, their believe’s are if we can draft good players in the 2nd rd and our top notch development staff develop them, then we can bring these players up from development, and still win 55-65 gms a year and championships, and by the way, never go over the salary cap. AMAZING!!!!!!

Brian

August 10th, 2012
7:08 pm

This franchise is just one great big massive failure….

We have heard all of this talk before, but it will be empty words just like before.

I don’t care that Danny Ferry was good at fetching coffee for Spurs management. He had nothing to do with their success.

Hugh Jass

August 10th, 2012
7:09 pm

The system is broken. This is why the NFL makes more money than the NBA, NHL, and MLB put together. Look it up. Parity and the chance to turn around in one year gets you more fans. The tail is wagging the dog in the NBA with spoiled, rich players dictating where the parity lies. What a joke. I am glad that the Hawks didn’t get Howard because they couldn’t afford powder to put on his bottom.

Brian

August 10th, 2012
7:11 pm

You do not need several superstar players to win a nba championship, the piston won a title with 12 good basketball players a few years ago, the mavs won with one superstar at the time, dirk and 11 good players, the spurs won their last two titles with duncan and 11 good players. How Soon We Forget!!!!!!!!!!!”

Don’t gvie me that garbage about Detroit one lucky championship in 2004. There are reasons why teams rarely win titles that way. They played the right team at the right time. Detroit’s playoff run up until that finals was nothing special. That didn’t even destroy the mediocre east teams that they played in the playoffs that season.

Hugh Jass

August 10th, 2012
7:11 pm

The real story behind the Spurs is that they won the draft lottery for Tim Duncan when they had very long odds to win. They couldn’t win it with David Robinson (one of my favorite players ever) and Dennis Rodman. It was the miracle bouncing of balls that landed then a once-in-a-lifetime player like Duncan that did it. I will give them kudos for shrewed draft moves after that pick.

GT Alum

August 10th, 2012
7:15 pm

wpl -

Of course, they’re able to do that because their previous superstar went down and they were bad enough to get in the lottery to draft their next superstar. Otherwise, that method probably doesn’t work so well.

Brian

August 10th, 2012
7:21 pm

” The tail is wagging the dog in the NBA with spoiled, rich players dictating where the parity lies. What a joke. I am glad that the Hawks didn’t get Howard because they couldn’t afford powder to put on his bottom.”

And now they’re stuck with 3rd raters like Lou Williams, Al Horford and Josh Smith.

In other words, garbage players.

one for all

August 10th, 2012
8:10 pm

GM Danny, Done great. Never stop. Prepare a plan and follow it. Step 1. Dominant Center, Step 2. Dominant Power Forward, Step 3. Special Small Forward. Step 4. Guards who can shoot the 3 very well. This way Hawks Offense will key on getting ball inside and easy kickout passes for good shots from guards and bigs positioned for rebounds. Hawks Defense clogs lane and charges expensive rent. Defensive Boards are ours. Just win Baby. Draft Mason Plumlee this year or dang well better make sure who you draft is better.

wpl

August 10th, 2012
8:21 pm

OKC they did not go out trying get superstar players to come to OKC, because they would have had zero luck with that, instead they drafted good players and developed them very well. My point is, there are more than one way put together a championship team.

To answer a question that the piston did not play anybody that yr 2004 title, well they played the best team in basketball at that time the 3 time world champ LAKERS. The piston had depth 12-14 good b-ball players all on the same sheet of music, NO SUPERSTARS, OR ” BIG THREES”

wpl

August 10th, 2012
8:29 pm

Al Hortford is 2 time all star center, Josh Smith is all star caliber player and the hawks best player, and really a freak of nature, rebounds, blocks, slam dunks, good passer, plays hard, and wants to win.

Paul in NH

August 10th, 2012
8:34 pm

“How about wanting to go to a small market and making it relevant? Or a team like the Hawks and making them relevant? We see it all the time in College Basketball now!”

In the last 15 years the NCAA champions were Florida (2x), Kansas, Carolina (2x), Duke(2x), UConn (2x), Kentucky (2x), Syracuse, Maryland and Michigan State. Not exactly a bunch of no-name little schools.

random

August 10th, 2012
8:40 pm

@brian
Good grief go do something with your life, all you ever say has to be something negative about the hawks. No one is asking you to come here to read and blog jeeees.

[...] best bit of Orlando’s inexplicable judgment yet: according to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks may have been ruled out as a potential trade partner due to their position within the [...]

[...] best bit of Orlando’s inexplicable judgment yet: according to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks may have been ruled out as a potential trade partner due to their position within the [...]

Dwight Howard

August 10th, 2012
10:03 pm

Love me now Atlanta?

Ted Striker

August 10th, 2012
10:08 pm

I’m okay not picking up Howard. And I’m okay with Ferry wanting to open talks to the possibilities. Sometimes all that glitters is not gold.

p.s. Send me a drink, I’m running low tonight.

Cowboy

August 10th, 2012
10:13 pm

Could the Lakers and Heat play right now — so we could call off the rest of the NBA season?? Good riddance…

tyger

August 10th, 2012
10:24 pm

Plan B..???????

If all the moving, shaking for Superboy…Now what?
Doubtful, Superboy sheds Hollywood for Crooklyn…
Just subterfuge to discard salary w/o waving white flag???
Sounds like ole’ ATL Spirit chicanery, than new Ferryland ride…

Superboy or not, Smoove or not, ATL had to dump JJ…
Ferry has one hand on GM of the Year Trophy already..
Spirit group et al couldnt fix their mouths to do it…
Not after all that ballyhoo with Belkin…

You cant make this up…
They cheated the car dealer….
Signed JJ for $120M….
Sued each other, their lawyers, two or three times…
Sold to the pizza man….who didnt have enough cheese…
Dumped JJ for Morrow, Petro…
And now declare its a new day in ATL???…

Sounds alot like the same ole same ole to me…

eSTawk

August 11th, 2012
12:25 am

Hey yo—Dwight and his crew ready for the LA scene baby—24/7 parties, tons of wild hot hollywood chicks at the top clubs, millions more in endorsement deals, movie/music superstars at courtside every night, invite only parties at rappers’ mansions after every game…. party down– it’s showtime!

RLJ

August 11th, 2012
1:11 am

I hate to disturb this basketball thread but when will we see the “Les Miles Loses Control of Team Discipline” column? Probably, never.

Ferry is a fine GM, but...

August 11th, 2012
1:20 am

It’s the NBA, who cares?

Brian

August 11th, 2012
2:45 am

It’s the NBA, who cares?”

Thank you. We’re very aware that many of the hicks down here only care about NASCAR and those never accomplishing anything Bulldogs.

Brian

August 11th, 2012
2:46 am

Most bulldog fans are southern white trash.

Brian

August 11th, 2012
4:22 am

“To answer a question that the piston did not play anybody that yr 2004 title, well they played the best team in basketball at that time the 3 time world champ LAKERS. The piston had depth 12-14 good b-ball players all on the same sheet of music, NO SUPERSTARS, OR ” BIG THREES”

That Detroit team was lucky enough to play a team with huge chemistry issues. Again, right team at the right time. Anyway, that team was BY FAR the minority in terms of teams winning the title without a superstar. The league is better now than it was in 2004 anyway. The league was a mess in 2004.

wpl

August 11th, 2012
6:02 am

Piston won championship 2004, beat world champs SUPERSTAR TEAM LAKERS. Piston won with 12-14 good b-ball players THEY BEAT THE BEST ON THE PLANET IN 2004!!!!!!!!

Brian

August 11th, 2012
6:20 am

Piston won championship 2004, beat world champs SUPERSTAR TEAM LAKERS. Piston won with 12-14 good b-ball players THEY BEAT THE BEST ON THE PLANET IN 2004!!!!!!!!”

What do you not understand? The 2004 Pistons and their one time deal is not the model for winning a championship. They struggled to get through a mediocre east and got the correct matchup that’s all. They were lucky. The NBA is rarely about luck.

Brian

August 11th, 2012
6:31 am

That was not a super team either. Payton and malone were past their primes.

KBP

August 11th, 2012
8:51 am

History and tradition, what? The Lakers and Celtics have history and tradition because of the players they have had, not because of the name of the franchise. The league is about the players. If LeBron, Wade and Bosh and the rest of the Heat became Hawks this past off season, then we would have won the championship even with no history and tradition. The same is true if those guys had gone to Minnesota. If Ferry gets enough upper echelon players, then we’ll become an upper echelon team. Enough of this history and tradition as if the name of the franchise is primarily why teams win. What about the many, many years the Lakers and Celtics were out of the playoffs? The game is about the PLAYERS!

Thrashniac

August 11th, 2012
8:58 am

“We’re in the process of working to build a better image, a better program,” Ferry said. “I’m confident players will want to come to Atlanta. ”

I’ll take Mr. Ferry at his word on this, although many cliches come to mind (like, I’
m from Missouri)- however I would point him to his ownership groups recent attempts to unload even their beloved basketball team, which they profess total devotion to, and unless he wants to have nightmares, don’t even think about looking at what they did to the franchise they hated.

Mr. Ferry’s heart may be willing, but unless he can change the poisoned atmosphere his ownership groups exudes…………………………..

PMC

August 11th, 2012
9:46 am

The teams without history and tradition should just fold up shop. It’s not worth the money they charge to go see non superstars fumble their way through the season.

PMC

August 11th, 2012
9:48 am

If you don’t have a superstar in this city, and or multiple stars that are “interesting” and “exciting”

YOU ARE A SMALL MARKET TEAM.