Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta Hawks’

Hawks are surviving nicely without Joe Johnson (go figure)

Josh Smith, Devin Harris and the Hawks have had a lot of reason to celebrate so far this season. (AP photo)

Josh Smith, Devin Harris and the surprising Hawks have had a lot of reasons to celebrate so far this season. (AP photo)

Notwithstanding that 15 games is a small sampling size, it’s worth noting that the Hawks don’t appear flummoxed or discombobulated this season, even without the former king of clutch and locker-room glue that was Joe Johnson.

(I thought I’d open with a joke. Try the veal.)

The Hawks are 10-5. They have the third best record in the Eastern Conference. They are running. They are moving the ball. They are playing unselfishly. They are having fun. They seem to actually like each other. So this is what it looks like.

Welcome to Fantasy Island.

“I’m surprised. I’m shocked,” Josh Smith said. “When teams have a lot of new faces like we do, it usually takes until about December or January to click and gel. But we’re doing it right away.”

There’s a temptation to suggest the Hawks have been greater than the sum of their parts. But that would suggest …

Continue reading Hawks are surviving nicely without Joe Johnson (go figure) »

Hawks’ Drew says he’s prepared to work without parachute

Larry Drew has a new cast of players, including Anthony Morrow  (left) and Lou Williams.

Larry Drew has a new cast of players, including Anthony Morrow (left) and Lou Williams. (AP photo)

This has been a Hawks’ preseason written in pencil. Five starting lineups in five exhibition games.

While that partly can be attributed to a player injury or the whims of head coach Larry Drew experimenting with new pieces, it’s also a fair gauge of where this team is at right now. Nobody is mourning the departures of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, both of whom forever earned places on the franchise’s Mount Rushmore of failures. But now Drew is trying to find a starting lineup with an entertaining but undersized roster and in less than ideal circumstances.

He is, as he put it, “trying to bring cohesiveness as fast as I can.” Of course. Because while nobody can be certain how long this rebuilding project by general manager Danny Ferry will take, things are less fuzzy concerning Drew. He is in the final year of his contract.

Nothing like the pressure of working without a net …

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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 …

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Dwight Howard had the power (Hawks didn’t have chance)

The chance of these two guys being teammates in Atlanta was always a longshot. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The chance of Dwight Howard, Josh Smith being Atlanta teammates was always a longshot. (Curtis Compton)

(This blog will be updated or replaced by a full column later.)

Dwight Howard is about to become a Los Angeles Laker and — if this deal doesn’t fall apart and the principles don’t change — this will be the Lakers’  lineup next season: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace (see: Ron Artest) and Howard.

Wonder what it’s like to be king?

Even if the Lakers weren’t Howard’s first choice (strangely, Brooklyn was), this expected deal just reaffirms how star players have all the power in the NBA. As much as the owners hate it and NBA commissioner David Stern keeps trying to rewrite the rule book to prevent it, elite players will always have the hammer in the NBA because rosters are so small relative to other team sports and one star can make a significant difference.

There was a time when Howard, an Atlanta native and former star at Southwest Atlanta Christian …

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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 …

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VIDEO: Talking about Hawks, Danny Ferry, Joe and Josh

I chatted with Cinesport’s Noah Coslov on the Hawks’ hiring of Danny Ferry as their new general manager and the contract situations of Joe Johnson and Josh Smith.

Just one question: Does this video make me look bald?

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Hawks make the right move (honest) hiring Danny Ferry

Danny Ferry. (Getty Images)

Sorry, Danny Ferry is no longer in a position to bring LeBron James with him if he takes the Hawks' GM job. (Getty Images)

(This Sunday blog has been updated with the news this morning that Danny Ferry has been hired as the Hawks’ new president and general manager.)

There will be a blur of issues for the Hawks’ new architect to deal with, but all that really matters today is the organization seems to have the right guy in charge.

The Hawks have finalized the hiring of Danny Ferry as their new team president and general manager, replacing Rick Sund. New general managers, like new coaches and first-round draft picks, come with no guarantees. But Ferry has a strong reputation around the league as a sharp personnel guy and he did a solid job for five years as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ general manager.

Ferry spent the last two years as vice president of basketball operations for the San Antonio Spurs, following his resignation from the Cavs in 2010. He and owner Dan Gilbert split …

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Rick Sund shouldn’t be making decisions for Hawks

Rick Sund will decide on his future soon, but Hawks should be hiring another decision-maker. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Rick Sund will decide on his future soon, but Hawks should be hiring another decision-maker. (Jason Getz/AJC)

As early as next week, the Hawks will make an announcement on the status of Rick Sund. Maybe he comes back as general manager. Maybe he comes back as team president. Maybe he comes back as consultant, spiritual adviser, GM Emeritus and VP of Deflecting Blame for the Joe Johnson Contract.

Doesn’t really matter what he decides. It’s a problem.

Sund is considering retirement. Do you know what some say when an athlete is considering retirement? He already has checked out. The same belief should apply to coaches and team executives.

In all likelihood, no matter what Sund chooses to do, he will remain with the Hawks through the draft. He still has the downtown office on Marietta Street. He will attend an NBA draft combine this weekend. He will be the Hawks’ executive talking to other general managers about players who potentially might be available in trade.

Sund goes …

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Does Dwight Howard’s baggage outweigh his talent?

Howard (AP photo)

When it came to survival, Stan Van Gundy should've known he wasn't going to win a battle with Dwight Howard. (AP photo)

Last November, I proposed a trade for the Hawks: Deal any two players on their roster for Dwight Howard.

Joe Johnson and Josh Smith. Josh Smith and Al Horford. Johnson and Al Horford. Marvin Williams, several Mediterranean islands and the undying gratitude of every Atlanta resident.

But given what just occurred, I’m wondering how much better off the Hawks would be in the long run with such a diva on the roster.

The Orlando Magic, in an expected move, fired coach Stan Van Gundy, ostensibly because Howard wanted him out. Even before Van Gundy went public late in the season that Howard was trying to get him fired, it was clear the two were in an unworkable situation.

Ownership knows firing their coach and general manager (Otis Smith) won’t lose them any ticket sales. Losing Howard would. So this was an easy choice. Of course, if Howard leaves any way, they will …

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Hawks plagued with too many issues, from owners to Joe

Whether it's Larry Drew or somebody else as coach, Hawks have problems that can't easily be fixed.

Whether it's Larry Drew or another coach, Hawks have problems that can't easily be fixed.

In many ways, the Hawks are no different than other organizations. They end the season with a loss and for several weeks plot their makeover.

Maybe they need a new coach. Maybe they need a new general manager. Maybe a star player who can be the rose one minute and the thorns the next needs to be traded. Or maybe a dysfunctional ownership group comes to the realization, “This isn’t working. Let’s go back to selling cellphone towers and newsletters. We’re outta here.”

But in at least one way, the Hawks so often are different from other organizations: No matter what decisions we logically think they can make this summer, it’s difficult not to come away with the belief that they’re still going to be in trouble when next season opens.

Most franchises give you hope. The Hawks give you hangovers.

The Braves missed the playoffs and did little this past winter to improve themselves, …

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