A great move by Sund, another step upward for the Hawks

Are we believing this? The Atlanta Hawks, acting boldly? Acting smartly?

We should be believing. Because this long-tormented franchise just took another step up in class.

They won 47 games and a playoff series last season. They should break 50 next time. Trading for Jamal Crawford — assuming the deal goes through, and there seems no reason it shouldn’t — gives them more flexibility than the Hawks have had … well, since Bob Pettit and Cliff Hagan were hoisting hook shots back in St. Louis.

Crawford doesn’t mean Mike Bibby is necessarily a gone goose — obviously the Hawks can’t keep both him and Flip Murray now — but it means the Hawks enter the 2009 draft and the even-more-important summer free agency bazaar knowing they have cover. Crawford isn’t a true point, but he can play the point. And he can score.

He has averaged 15.7 points over the nine seasons since he left Michigan, and he averaged 19.7 for Golden State last season. Think of him as an upgrade on Flip, and think of Crawford as the guy who keeps Joe Johnson from having to scored 25 every night and, even more important, having to work 45 minutes every night. Think of Crawford as the next piece in a team that was already pretty darned good.

To move onward and upward, the Hawks had to get away from having Johnson do everything and their iso-Joe offense. Because, to be frank, Joe can’t do everything. He’s good, but he’s not LeBron, not Kobe, not D-Wade. Crawford will help balance the backcourt scales, and if the Hawks can keep Bibby then Crawford would make an ideal third guard — capable of running the team for six minutes at a time, capable of scoring 10 points while Joe sits.

Best of all, the Hawks got him for nothing. Acie Law was never going to co-exist with Mike Woodson — that ship had not only sailed but sunk — and Speedy Claxton had become the white elephant on the payroll. In one swoop Rick Sund dumped two players who wouldn’t have helped for one who’ll help immensely.

Jamal Crawford would be:

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This isn’t to say the work is done, or even halfway completed. There’s still the issue of a backup center — Zaza Pachulia is a free agent — and still the greater issue of what to do with Marvin Williams. (A sign-and-trade seems possible, but a one-year qualifying offer, which would enable him to stay a Hawk for the upcoming season but leave as an unrestricted free agent next summer, is more probable.)

And the great Bibby riddle is no longer so great. If he wants to take more money to play for a worse team, the Hawks can manage without him. The belief — always strong — that the Hawks will take a point guard in Round 1 is now stronger. If Bibby’s here, the rookie can back him up. If Bibby’s not, the rookie can apprentice under Crawford.

Soon the Hawks will need a new guard. Bibby is 32, Crawford 29 and under contract for two seasons more. Eric Maynor or Ty Lawson and maybe even Jeff Teague would fit nicely into this new rotation, but the greater point (pun intended) is this: The team that looked forever for a lead guard now has options galore at one of basketball’s two most important positions.

There was a time — not so long ago, as a matter of fact — we expected the Hawks to go splat come the draft. (OK, so Billy Knight did take Al Horford in 2007.) This first Sund move of a hugely important offseason isn’t a splat or anything of the kind. It’s a bull’s eye.

191 comments Add your comment

dsouth

June 24th, 2009
6:01 pm

jj

June 24th, 2009
6:04 pm

I like this trade and I hope we keep Flip.Oh teah,i’ve heard the Hawks might be talking to the Grizzlies.I hope that is more than a rumor.Make things happen R.Sund…..

Mike In Valdosta

June 24th, 2009
6:05 pm

Very good move. And many so moves left to be made, it is nice to have the trend in the right direction.

Mike In Valdosta

June 24th, 2009
6:06 pm

and many more moves… where’s my editor

dsouth

June 24th, 2009
6:06 pm

I think this is a good move for the hawks. This allows them to control things in free agency more. If we can put together a good ten man rotation (not 8), we will be in business. Especially if we can get some spot up shooters.

Mitun

June 24th, 2009
6:08 pm

excellent job MB. I think that the Hawks should get either Ty Lawson or Teague but I wish they could trade Smith to either Oklahoma City or Memphis to get Thabeet.

Art Vandelay

June 24th, 2009
6:08 pm

Mark, do you think this could signify that Joe’s days here are numbered? I know the acquisition could simply be to lighten JJ’s load, but part of me thinks it’s a way for Sund to put him on the market and not lose too much in replacing him with a scorer like Crawford. I’m not in favor of trading Joe, but if we could package him in a deal for a guy like Yao Ming, whose name has been tossed around in trade talks, I’d have a hard time arguing with that.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
6:11 pm

Joe becomes a free agent after next season, Mr. AV. (Everybody becomes a free agent next summer, or so it seems.) It never hurts to have Plan B.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
6:12 pm

I’m telling you, Hasheem Thabeet and Al Horford wouldn’t coexist very nicely at 5 and 4. They’d slow the team down, and Thabeet wouldn’t be the low-post offensive presence Horfy is.

Crazy Diamond

June 24th, 2009
6:15 pm

We may not be so screwed after all. This is the kind of action the Hawks need. Can Woody caoch this team to greater hights? There is HOPE!

SlimG

June 24th, 2009
6:18 pm

Now let’s get a center. A real center piece.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
6:18 pm

All I know is that the Hawks are putting together a bunch of good ballplayers, and good ballplayers tend to make coaches look smart.

Ariose(JazzHop)

June 24th, 2009
6:27 pm

Mark, I think it’s a great move too, but it leaves us with even more questions going forward….

BrittishAnger

June 24th, 2009
6:28 pm

I like this a lot…If for the big reason alone being we get rid of the Albatross necktie that is Speedy Claxton and we open up the door to reacquiring Bibby and drafting a good PG at #19 while keeping #49 open for a legitimate project big man. I’m also glad we’ll have a combo guard who can take the load off Joe’s hands when necessary. Definitely a step in the right direction, let’s see what happens tomorrow night….

no id

June 24th, 2009
6:31 pm

Im hearing that the deal is being slowed up due to the fact that Woodson is not completely sold on Crawford..Any truth to that?

[...] about to trade Speedy Claxton and Acie Law to Golden State for Jamal Crawford, which I believe is a tremendous move. But I’m back to baseball now, and I’ll be here throughout the [...]

Hawks need Jack

June 24th, 2009
6:35 pm

If they don’t resign Bibby. Maybe the Hawks need to look a point guard that wants to come here. I know first hand that Jarrett Jack wants to come to the ATL and play again. I believe he would be a good fit.

GA Bulldawg

June 24th, 2009
6:37 pm

Yay I think the Hawks get the better end of the deal anyway cause now there’s no more running Joe into the ground for 40 minutes a night. The Hawks got the better end of the deal because there is absolutely no way that Crawford starts as a Hawk. Unless they do something extremely stupid like moving Joe Johnson to the 3-spot. Crawford’s talent and abilities are best used off the bench in a supporting role. Much like other combo guards.

Can you see players like Iverson, Ellis, Crawford, and Arenas as starters (or 1st or 2nd scoring options) on championship teams? I don’t think so…

ILL-logical

June 24th, 2009
6:38 pm

Ladies and Gentleman. Starting at point guard for your Atlanta Hawks from the University of Michican at 6′5” ,4” taller than the previous incumbant, 2 years younger and at $9+million -$6 million cheaper: Jamal Crawford.
Seriously, the BASG is not paying anyone 9 large to sit on the bench.

warriors

June 24th, 2009
6:41 pm

the guy is a defensive liability.

warriors

June 24th, 2009
6:43 pm

and his contract is a joke. the knicks screwed the league on this one. the warriors were just dumb enough to take him. that was until the hawks came along.

Steve

June 24th, 2009
6:50 pm

So what? Woodson does not develop younger players. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Law have a breakout year, if not this season, then next once he gets away from Woodson. Why draft players if you’re not going to develop them? Another wasted draft pick, for someone who might fit the system:(

GA Bulldawg

June 24th, 2009
6:50 pm

Of course he’s a liabilty on D but the Hawks are a good defensive team already…not a GREAT defensive team but we ranked in the top 10 in NBA team defense

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 24th, 2009
6:52 pm

Trade has been made!

I want some of the Golden State dope.

J:M

June 24th, 2009
6:53 pm

As a Warriors fan, Jamal Crawford is a great basketball player. He was great to the fans. HE was the only long term veteran who showed up to the last home game (Fan Appreciation Night), and he was only on the team for half a season. Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette, and Monte Ellis didn’t even bother showing up. Jamal is a straight up dude, and hope he does well with the Hawks. IMO, good pickup for both teams.

Warriors post above is correct about his defense, He’s on the all-time no defense team, but his handles are SICK! Warriors weren’t dumb, they needed to dump Al Harrington. So that doesn’t make sense.

Either way, from a GOLDEN STATE WARRIOR SEASON TICKET HOLDER, I liked watching Jamal play, but hated him throwing up 3s and bricking enough to build a house.

If you want highlights, here it is

http://www.nba.com/warriors/video/2009/04/14/WarriorsWeekly_Top10Plays_041309_NBA.nba/index.html

lawton

June 24th, 2009
6:54 pm

GOOD MOVE. more scoring is what the team needed. question though: what TYPE of offense is woodson gonna run? i mean, they have tried the perimeter thing to no success in the playoffs, when are they gonna address the inside game with josh smith and al horford? does crawford penetrate and kick out?

Jay Black

June 24th, 2009
6:58 pm

Who outside of Josh ISN’T a defensive liability? We need the french dude from Orlando!

The Grinch

June 24th, 2009
6:58 pm

Woodson isn’t going to develop a young player, so it doesn’t matter who we draft other than their value as future trade bait. But this is a great move; it’ll make JJ better too.

Barrington

June 24th, 2009
6:59 pm

Mark Bradley,

What’s the percentage figure for this deal going through? 60%, 70%, 80%?

Banshee 29

June 24th, 2009
7:01 pm

Our first concern should have been a big man and resigning Zaza. JJ is a pansie. What kind of team leader tells the national media in the middle of a PLAYOFF series that “I am tired?” I don’t care if he had to rum from Buckhead to Phillips twice a day, you must show leadeship if your the franchise player. Trade JJ now while we can!

GA Bulldawg

June 24th, 2009
7:01 pm

LOL at Jay Black. And Josh Smith isn’t a defensive liablity??? you CLEARLY don’t watch enough Hawks games. Our only solid defenders are JJ and Horford…that’s it. Josh is NOTHING more than a weakside shot blocker…he’s a below average one-on-one defender

Banshee 29

June 24th, 2009
7:02 pm

Maybe that is his excuse, “rumming,” not running.

not my kinda guy

June 24th, 2009
7:02 pm

I like the point about improving the team but I disagree that Crawford is the right piece. He’s expensive and his contract goes long enough to effect the Hawks more than it seems. He’s a shoot first player, just like Flip, and doesn’t bring defensive intensity like a bench guard should. Mike Bibby is good for this team because he commands tempo and gets other people involved. The best the Hawks played last year was when we ran and had 5 guys in double figures. I say improve, but do it sustainably.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:02 pm

I have no reason to believe it’s not going to happen, Barrington.

TonyHawkFan

June 24th, 2009
7:03 pm

That is an excellent move because Bibby and Flip are the only guys that knock down shots from the perimeter adding Crawford does not hurt at all. He is a pure shooter that will do wonders, now if we can get him to buy into defense that would be an even bigger plus. Smith is not our problem he’s a young player that I think its going to really break out this year with good decision-making and hustling to get to the basket.
Get a good 10-15 footer banker and we are in business. In the draft get Ty or Jeff and a center from somewhere a serviceable guy that will bang hard and run hard. I think we will be fine. We don’t need to perform a complete break up of this team the way some people are suggesting. Chemistry is hard to come by and when you get it you need to hold on.

Ted Striker

June 24th, 2009
7:05 pm

Mark — You said the addition of Crawford means that the Hawks can’t keep both Bibby and Murray. Forgive me. I’m ignorant on that point. What’s the prevailing rationale from the smart folks?

On the trade: If Claxton and Law — an anvil and a paperweight in the existing Atlanta scheme — were never gonna play, the trade definitely makes sense. If Crawford, a tweener guard in my view, will see court time, it’s an upgrade over non-court time players.

Not knocking Sund or the Hawks, but I’m not going to go overboard either. I was excited about Malone and Theus — but Willis going down put lipstick on the pooch.

Ken Strickland

June 24th, 2009
7:07 pm

It appears Woodson might be holding up the trade, and for a good reason. JCrawford has an opt out claus in his contract, and I don’t blame Woodson for wanting him for the duration of his contract. If Crawford is willing to negotiate that claus out of his contract, the trade will happen.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:08 pm

Al Horford is a good defender. Mo Evans is a good defender. Even Marvin plays D.

GA Bulldawg

June 24th, 2009
7:11 pm

MB, I read on ESPN that the only thing holding the deal is you-know-who…Woodson.

The Grinch

June 24th, 2009
7:14 pm

If Woodson blocks this trade, I’ll personally construct the pillory to lock him into at Centennial Olympic Park.

LEA

June 24th, 2009
7:14 pm

Woodson is not Phil Jackson, he needs to get over it and let it go.. Plus he wont’ be here much longer anywayz… IF the Hawks are giving one of the worst coaches in the league input.. Then expect us to draft 2 european players NO ONE has ever heard of tomorrow…

kirkinga

June 24th, 2009
7:15 pm

This is a sound deal. However, given what Atlanta sports fans went through this Winter with the Braves, I would just as well wait until this is a done deal…signed and delivered…before I get excited.

Collin

June 24th, 2009
7:15 pm

We need a long athletic center to go with this team not thabeet. We need BJ Mullens, he may not be much this year but who cares just bring him along and let the game come to him.

The Grinch

June 24th, 2009
7:15 pm

It’s at least partly his fault we NEED another point guard…he ought to be happy he hasn’t had his house burned down yet and just keep his mouth shut.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:20 pm

Yeah, Woody would hate to see Acie gone. (Note raised eyebrow.)

Dashizz47

June 24th, 2009
7:21 pm

Wow! Last week Acie Law wasn’t given a chance by Woodson and his staff, just wait were some of the remarks. Acie going to be a star, he has to develop,now it’s a good deal to ship him & Speedy for Crawford…..Wow…How quick we forget! LOL

LEA

June 24th, 2009
7:21 pm

We don’t need Bj Mullens he will be a bust.. Just because a guy is 7 ft tall. Doesn’t mean anything.. IF Ty Lawson or Brandon Jennings is there we BETTER take one of em..

DaveDawg

June 24th, 2009
7:24 pm

Really? I can’t believe we pulled that off. Well done!

the hawks r tied at 3rd favorite overall sports team now, officially

June 24th, 2009
7:25 pm

i’m just wondering where we might could get a little help in the rebound category and low post defense. espeically, and don’t laugh, if zaza gets gone. that guy was a great offensive rebounder. he created so many second chances and his competine spirit is contagious. he may not be starter caliber, but what he lacks in offense he makes up for with his fight. a great asset coming off the bench. great move though. what are the chances we get a maynor or ellington as well as a big guy out of free agency?

the hawks r tied at 3rd favorite overall sports team now, officially

June 24th, 2009
7:27 pm

excuse me, i meant competitive… & what big guys would be on the market?