Archive for May, 2010

ESPN: Derrick Favors’ draft stock is growing … and growing

Mr. Favors looks all of 6-foot-10 here. (AP photo)

Derrick Favors looks all of 6-foot-10 here. (AP photo)

Last week the consensus had Derrick Favors going No. 3 in the NBA draft, behind John Wall of Kentucky and Ohio State’s Evan Turner. Now, courtesy of Chad Ford of ESPN.com’s Insiders at the Chicago draft combine, comes word the Georgia Tech one-and-done could go higher.

Why? Because, per Ford, it turns out Favors is even bigger than he appears. Writes Ford (link requires registration): “He’s a legit 6-foot-10, has a 7-2 wingspan and a 9-2 standing reach. Those numbers are actually very close to Dwight Howard and better than the Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford. If Favors projects as a center in the NBA, he too could get some strong consideration with the No. 2 pick.”

As has been noted before, the early line on Favors had him being a cross between Horford and Josh Smith. But it’s much harder to find a center than a power forward, and if NBA teams regard Favors as a center … well, that’s a major development.

Ford also provides this …

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Here’s all you need to know about the Hawks’ coach search

It didn't end well, but there's still a good team at work here. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It didn't end so well, but there's still a good team here. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Hawks are seeking a coach. This much you know. Here are seven things you might not:

1. There’s no real front-runner. Although Dallas assistant Dwane Casey will be granted a second interview this week, it’s too early to consider him — or anyone — the favorite. Avery Johnson, formerly of the Mavericks, met with the Hawks twice last week and figures to be on the short list along with Casey and perhaps Larry Drew, who was Mike Woodson’s aide-de-camp. And there could be names, some of them big, still to surface.

2. The Hawks are in no hurry. Deliberate by nature, GM Rick Sund is moving slowly on what is obviously a major decision. It might well be two weeks before the Hawks have a coach, and there’s no guarantee they’ll have one by the NBA draft, which is June 24, or even July 1, when free agency begins. The Hawks are less concerned with hiring in haste than in fitting the proper coach to a …

Continue reading Here’s all you need to know about the Hawks’ coach search »

The Hawks will hold a second interview with Dwane Casey

The Hawks will hold a second interview with Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey regarding the team’s coaching vacancy, according to two people familiar with the situation. Casey met with general manager Rick Sund over the weekend.

Casey was an assistant coach under Nate McMillan at Seattle when Sund was the SuperSonics’ GM. Casey has been identified by several outlets as the leading candidate for this job, though one of the persons familiar with the situation insisted there is no front-runner yet.

The team has had two interviews last week with former Dallas coach Avery Johnson. And there’s some support within the organization for Larry Drew, who was Mike Woodson’s chief assistant.

Casey was the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005-2006 and was fired 40 games into the 2006-2007 season. His record with the T-Wolves was 53-65.

Coming next: 5 things to know about the Hawks’ coaching search.

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BP on Jason Heyward: ‘Will pitchers ever get him out?’

How many times have we seen this already? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

How many times have we seen this scene already? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

John Perrotto of the scholarly Baseball Prospectus offers a nice  take on Jason Heyward, who’s having kind of a nice rookie season. (Our word of the day: Understatement.) And it’s not just the by-now-standard “oh-what-a-great-talent/mature-young-man” gushing. It’s a nuanced look at just why Jason Heyward is Jason Heyward.

I quote at length for two reasons: Because Perrotto’s article is informative, and because BP is a pay site. (Though I must note that four of the five included paragraphs have been made available for free.) And now, without further ado:

Anytime a player comes to the major leagues and has immediate success, he is always met with this response: How is he going to do once the league adjusts to him? Braves rookie right fielder Jason Heyward has answered that question in an emphatic and positive way. The 20-year-old made one of more memorable major-league debuts in recent years when he …

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The Hawks’ search: Is Avery Johnson pushing too hard?

There’s a growing belief in NBA circles that Avery Johnson is scaring some folks. It’s thought his chance of landing the New Orleans job, for which he seemed the leading candidate seeing as how he’s from the city, went bad when he apparently pushed to be named not just coach but director of basketball operations. Maybe Phil Jackson could get away with such a stance; Avery Johnson cannot.

The Hornets have apparently moved on to other candidates, and Johnson has since been interviewed twice by the Hawks. This makes some sense — he’s a high-profile guy who has taken a team to the NBA finals — but it shouldn’t be read to mean Johnson is the Hawks’ No. 1 choice.

The belief here — and it’s only a gut feeling from the outside; Rick Sund isn’t talking — is that Johnson is not the leader in the Hawks’ figurative clubhouse. The belief here, as it has been all along, is that Sund is favorably disposed toward Dallas assistant Dwane Casey, with whom the Hawks met over the weekend.

Again, I …

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ESPN report: The Hawks aren’t on Chris Bosh’s wish list

Chad Ford of ESPN.com reports that Chris Bosh, whom some have seen a possible target for the Hawks, has told the Toronto, his current team, he’ll consider signing with four other NBA clubs besides the Raptors. And the Hawks didn’t make the cut.

According to Ford, Bosh’s wish list includes the Bulls, the Lakers, the Heat and the Knicks. (By identifying his choices, Bosh is trying to give the Raptors a head start should a sign-and-trade be warranted.)

To me, the Bosh-to-the-Hawks thinking never made a lick of sense. Yeah, he played at Georgia Tech, but not for very long. He was here from 2002-2003 and somehow didn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament because — stop me if you’ve heard this — Paul Hewitt couldn’t figure out how to get him the ball.

As for the the Hawks: They keep getting ripped because they start what some consider a power forward at center. (I disagree. I regard Al Horford as a center, and a fine one. And I’d say his All-Star selection bolsters my case.) But landing …

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Former Dome GM: There’s zero need for a new stadium

Khalil Johnson was the Georgia Dome’s general manager when it opened, so he’s a bit partial to the place. No longer affiliated with the Dome — he retired as the Georgia World Congress Center’s chief operating officer last summer — he remains one of the most respected men in his industry. And here’s what he thinks of the Falcons’ desire to build an open-air stadium where (or near) the Dome sits: Not much.

“I love football and I love the Falcons,” Johnson said. “If they need and desire a new stadium, let the owner build it himself. In this current situation, to use tax dollars isn’t viable.”

Also this: “They’re having discussions of whether [an open-air stadium would cost] less than half a billion or more than half a billion. At the same time we’re closing schools, we’ve got transportation issues and we need to figure out Grady [Hospital] … It’s not a sports question. It’s an economic issue. There are a lot more pressing needs.”

Arthur Blank bought the Falcons in 2002, a decade …

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This just in: ESPN’s Mel Kiper likes the Falcons after all!

The man in the red sweater vest isn't used to getting C-minuses. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The man in the red sweater vest doesn't appreciate C-minuses. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

When last the famous Mel Kiper assessed the Falcons, he handed them a C-minus for their work, or the lack thereof, in the 2010 NFL draft. Be advised that his gentleman’s C-minus was the second-worst grade the ESPN.com analyst gave any NFL team. Be also advised that some of those who work at 4400 Falcon Parkway in Flowery Branch were not amused.

Today’s lesson: Just as the Mel Man can taketh away, he can also giveth. On Wednesday he credited the Falcons as a team that has had one of the best offseasons. (Link requires registration.) He mentioned five other clubs: Detroit, Miami, Baltimore, Seattle and the Jets, none of which had previously been slapped with a C-minus for their draft.

Regarding the Falcons, here’s Mel’s rationale:

This is sort of off the usual path, but if you factor in simply getting better by getting healthy, Atlanta did really well. Matt Ryan and Michael Turner should …

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NBA mock drafts: Favors to Jersey, Lawal to Round 2?

Derrick Favors: From the high-falutin' ACC to the low-rent Nets? (AP photo)

Derrick Favors: From the high-falutin' ACC to the low-rent New Jersey Nets? (AP photo)

New Jersey is lovely in the winter. Or so Derrick Favors had better hope. Three mock drafts assembled in the wake of Tuesday’s NBA lottery all have the Georgia Tech one-and-done ticketed for the Garden State and the Nets, who just finished a 12-70 season and who have no coach, no general manager and a new Russian owner.

But wait. It could be worse. Favors could be Tech teammate Gani Lawal, who seems no lock to go in Round 1.

The three mocks in question — from NBAdraft.net, from Chad Ford of ESPN.com’s Insiders (link requires registration) and from Ian Thomsen of SI.com — are in concert on the first three picks. John Wall of Kentucky will go No. 1 to the Wizards, Evan Turner of Ohio State No. 2 to the Sixers, Favors No. 3 to the Nets. Then the three begin to differ.

Al-Farouq Aminu, of Wake Forest by way of Norcross High, will go fifth to the Kings (according to Thomsen) or sixth to the …

Continue reading NBA mock drafts: Favors to Jersey, Lawal to Round 2? »

A coup for Mark Fox: Mr. Basketball Marcus picks Georgia

Marcus Thornton sets his cap. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Marcus Thornton sets his cap. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Marcus Thornton was the No. 1 player in Georgia, but he’s not in the top 100 nationally. (Rivals has him No. 121.) He is, however, a major acquisition for Mark Fox and a Bulldog program that still has to prove it can recruit as well as it coaches.

Background: Thornton, of Westlake High, signed with Clemson last fall when most among us figured Fox’s Hounds would do well to go 10-20. He became the recruiting equivalent of a free agent when Oliver Purnell inexplicably bolted for DePaul, which is among the worst jobs in the country.

On his second go-round, Thornton considered Georgia Tech, Texas and Alabama before committing to Georgia on Wednesday. (Because he’d already signed one letter-of-intent, he technically cannot sign another. The rule: One signed letter per player, even if the recruit has been released from it.) And this is big news for Fox.

Georgia finished an honorable 14-17 in the season just completed, …

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