SI.com’s Hughes calls the Hawks cheap for hiring Drew

Rick Sund to Larry Drew: "Don't be asking for a raise." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Rick Sund to Larry Drew: "I wouldn't go asking for a raise." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This time a week ago, a guy I know — i.e., me — suggested that the Hawks had chosen Larry Drew as their coach for no compelling reason other than that he was the cheapest option. Now comes this, from Frank Hughes of SI.com, with the fairly damning headline: “Drew hiring all about saving money.”

Sometimes when a national writer takes on one of our clubs, I’ll feel the urge to defend the locals. Not so against this harangue from Mr. Hughes, who writes: “What took place in Atlanta … left little doubt that more than a few of David Stern’s exclusive membership group care less about winning and more about their bottom line — and that usually never leads to good thing.”

I asked Rick Sund last Monday if Drew had been his recommendation to ownership as head coach. He said he didn’t want to broach the sanctity of the process, or words to that effect, but insisted that if he weren’t completely comfortable with Drew as coach he wouldn’t still be general manager. Hughes makes a rather different case:

For the Hawks, cost was a paramount concern, particularly since a second straight season of a trip to the second round did not net enough revenue to offset the team’s financial woes.

If money were not the driving force, [Dallas assistant Dwane] Casey would have been hired. He has NBA head coaching experience, is hard-working, diligent and maintains a solid reputation among his peers.

In fact, several high-ranking sources indicated the Hawks opened contract negotiations with Casey, only to change their minds when they realized they could sign Woodson’s second-in-command for only 60 percent of what a bona fide NBA coach would cost.

I asked co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. last Monday about the perception that the Hawks had settled for the cheapest option. “We hired the best guy available for the job,” Gearon said.

If Hughes’ article is any measure — and I would submit that it is — national opinion is a bit less rosy. And national opinion about the state of the Hawks’ ownership figures to matter come July, when the team makes its pitch to keep Joe Johnson.

This same ownership group admitted last Friday that it is seeking additional investors, which wouldn’t appear a reflection of a rock-solid bottom line. And if a big-ticket free agent doesn’t believe the hometown club has the means or the will to win … well, why come back?

155 comments Add your comment

Buck Commander

June 21st, 2010
9:44 am

Buck Commander

June 21st, 2010
9:47 am

Did that instead of FIRST since some people seem to get upset about that kind of stuff, like I really care.

Buck Commander

June 21st, 2010
9:49 am

Another good blog Mark, have a great day.

Mark Bradley

June 21st, 2010
9:50 am

Kudos, Buck. And it doesn’t upset me one bit.

Big Ray

June 21st, 2010
9:56 am

Some suggest that the ASG isn’t as cheap as they are “less than smart” with their money. That makes me feel worse, actually.

I hope Drew can rise above the never ending stigma that is attached to all things ASG related. Remember, Sund was also thought of as a cheap hire…

Mark Bradley

June 21st, 2010
9:58 am

That’s true, Big Ray. There haven’t been many high-priced Spirit hires.

Fast Eddie

June 21st, 2010
10:03 am

I never cease to be amazed that sportswriters and many others who never made a payroll are so free with their recommendations on how other investors spend their money. If you don’t like the hire, be a big investor in ASG and your recommendation will take on an altogether new meaning and importance.

NikkiFree

June 21st, 2010
10:04 am

Mark,
Yawn! Tell the Atlanta fan base something we DON’T already know. Tell dude to write an article where he found somebody with deep enough pockets to wrestle the team away from ASG. I think even david stern is tired of the goings on with ASG.

GoldJacket

June 21st, 2010
10:06 am

Get ready for a step back this year. I think this team has reached their peak with the group of players they have now, and I don’t see them being able to keep JJ

Reggie

June 21st, 2010
10:07 am

Looks like Joe Johnson wont be coming back to the Hawks

Chubby Bunny

June 21st, 2010
10:09 am

Hawks are boring, we need a superstar.

Mike "The Czar" Fratello

June 21st, 2010
10:10 am

Big Ray

June 21st, 2010
10:13 am

Fast Eddie ,

Do you have an opinion about anything that you’re not directly involved in? Thought so. This is no different…

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ajc sports editor, Kevin Paul. Kevin Paul said: RT @ajcsportseditor: Our Mark Bradley says SI.com's Frank Hughes calls Hawks "cheap" for hiring Drew http://bit.ly/9xXve6 [...]

F-105 Thunderchief

June 21st, 2010
10:19 am

“We hired the best guy available for the job,” Gearon said.

Mark, you’ve talked to this guy and we, your readers, haven’t. Is he the type who regularly spouts BS with a straight face? Or, should his nickname be Pollyanna?

MightyQuinn

June 21st, 2010
10:20 am

“We hired the best guy available for the job.” Gearon said. Thats a half truth. Full truth would have been, “For the money we were willing to pay, we hired the best guy available for the job.”

Mark Bradley

June 21st, 2010
10:20 am

Rarely, I should concede, has someone said, “We hired the third-best man available.”

MightyQuinn

June 21st, 2010
10:21 am

Me and the Cheif thinking the same thing this am.

Matt

June 21st, 2010
10:23 am

ASG is cheap??? Really???

I’ve said it before, these clowns are making Donald Sterling look like a genius in comparison.

ASG will be the death knell for the NBA and NHL in Atlanta.

LEA

June 21st, 2010
10:26 am

again, ur just upset your buddy Casey wasn’t hired. GET OVER IT. it’s a done deal..

D B Cooper

June 21st, 2010
10:28 am

why do you put out stuff thats already available in SI or SI.com. come up with something origional please

Paddy

June 21st, 2010
10:32 am

NikkiFree….don’t think anyone should ask anything of David Stern. He is the one that got the NBA into this terrible mess they are in at the moment. Stern dosn’t know if he should poop or turn left!

Paddy

June 21st, 2010
10:34 am

D B Cooper…..being original is what cost you all that money and your life, was it not?

extremus

June 21st, 2010
10:34 am

American pro sports has been a supernova of exploding commercialization, player salaries, and general excess ever since the term “free agency” and constanct coverage from ESPN and more recently the internet came along. Sports has seemed to have its own economy and been largely separate from whatever was going on in the world around it. As the economy has collapsed and ten percent of people are out of work, they’ve tried desperately to hold on to that fantasy world, stubbornly refusing to change what they feel is a “good thing”. But it is now becoming evident that pro sports is in fact NOT recession-proof as some have claimed.

When probably three out of thirty teams have a legitimate shot year in, year out of winning an NBA title, priorities shift toward money for the less fortunate. There are only five or six real “spenders” anymore in MLB during each off-season, as current free agent salaries now ensure eight-digit contracts even for mid-range players. And the NFL, while having more parity, also gives players like Albert Haynesworth the ability to refuse to report to work if they feel their $100 million contract doesn’t justify it. Now the rumblings across at least two of the major sports is that there could be work stoppages over the sate of things. Like I said, a fantasy world. And it can’t last forever. I think if things continue the way they are now, we will begin seeing the end of American professional sports as we know it; smaller market teams will start going under in every league, and eventually it could mean the disbanding of entire leagues.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

June 21st, 2010
10:36 am

good points extremus- it’s all about the $$ than loyalty, fans, etc. ASG is short for Always Selling Gimmicks- just a pathetic group of morons. Retarded monkeys could do a better job than these guys.

Dr. Warren

June 21st, 2010
10:36 am

Mike Smith wasn’t the most expensive candidate available, either. Sure, ASG doesn’t have the deep pockets of Arthur Blank, and cost was more of an issue in the hiring, but let’s give this guy a chance now that he’s got the job.

Ted M

June 21st, 2010
10:36 am

42 wins next season.

Mark Bradley

June 21st, 2010
10:39 am

I just think it seems a bit suspicious when you fire a coach, claim you need a new voice, conduct a month-long search … and then you promote the fired guy’s assistant.

Hawk Str8Talk

June 21st, 2010
10:40 am

ironically what Mark and SI said is basically what I said in my blog, but what I’ve been saying for a few years about management begatting what we see on the floor. So, I think we all have to stop being so critical of the players and even the coach to an extent – they reflect exactly what happens in the front office. Day by day, I think every critic of the Billy Knight (and soon to be Rick Sund who has NOT been a great GM to the naked eye, but is probably doing yeoman work with the one hand tied behind his back) ought to apologize to him. http://www.hawkstr8talk.com

JB10

June 21st, 2010
10:42 am

Mark, am not making you party to this, but I would like your opinion, and that of my fellow Atlanta residents in the following scenario:
1. If Hawks fans’ simply boycotted the team this year, how much does this affect the bottom line of ASG considering a possible 2012 lock out too?

P.S Also Joe Johnson is probably out as well and not by his own making, the ASG is going to consider replacing him with 2 or 3 cheaper options via trade or sign and trade- Mark, mark my words,I hate to admit it, but why sign JJ to a max contract, and not necessarily improve when you can stay the same for cheap……

beone

June 21st, 2010
10:46 am

Ok, Mark, you’re great since you wrote the same thing a national writer says a week later. Now how about something new; the NBA draft is taking place later this week, free agents, anything?

Mark Bradley

June 21st, 2010
10:53 am

A boycott — not that I’m advocating one — would hurt any franchise in any sport, JB10. And I’m not sure Joe is gone. It’s essentially his call.

Rich

June 21st, 2010
10:56 am

Those who hit the panic button when he was “promoted” jumped the gun unfairly, as only time will tell if Drew is a good fit here as coach or not. He was hired and thus deserves a chance to prove himself.

However, not once should this “hire” been seen as anything less than the most inexpensive possible move Spirit could make, which just further shows us proof that they have no business being owners of professional sports franchises.

Granted, Drew may be good for the team, but on paper it makes little sense. Then again, much like the Thrashers have issues bringing in decent long term free agents, and they are also unable to retain high level players brought up through their own system, we see proof that very few are willing to come to eaither Spirit-owned organization under this ownership.

Until these guys find someone else to take these teams from them, we must resign ourselves to the fact neither team will ever compete on a long term basis.

Astro Joe

June 21st, 2010
10:57 am

You and your lady are together for 6 bumpy years. Ultimately, the relationship ends and the break-up is ugly. You say that you no longer want to have anything to do with your former lady. So who do you start dating? Her best friend. Mostly because she is satisfied with a romantic meal from the dollar menu.

I’m less concerned about Joe (he is surely gone) and more worried about Horford. If the new CBA doesn’t bail out the ASG, Hawks could lose Joe, Crawford and Al in a Clippers-like exodus from a once 3rd seeded playoff team.

Pi$$onaDawg

June 21st, 2010
10:58 am

Mark I need your help! Chip Towers & Doug Robertson don’t like my Blog name and wants me to change it. They have blocked me so how can I go from Pi$$… to POAD. If they want let be back on the blog how can I change it. Do you have their email addresses or could you send them a note to let me on to change my name?

Mark Bradley

June 21st, 2010
11:01 am

Just post something to their blog indicating you’ve changed your screen name. Even if it doesn’t show up on the blog, they’ll see it in spam. What they do from there is up to them.

Not Don Waddell

June 21st, 2010
11:01 am

Jeez…PLEASE ASG, DO WHAT IS BEST FOR EVERYONE AND SELL THE ORGANIZATIONS.

Hmmmm, let me get this straight. The only two reasons people buy professional teams are to be able to control a really cool entity or to make money. The ASG is doing neither, because they are too poor to individually own the franchises and they are not good enough businessmen to turn a profit.

It should would be nice to have some professional businessmen running the thing, not a bunch of 2nd generation trust-funders who could not have made a dime if it weren’t for daddy’s connections.

Astro Joe

June 21st, 2010
11:01 am

Mark, here’s another good one to ponder. The ASG divorce started with the signing in the summer of 2005. Five years later, Joe is likely about to sign a new contract with another team and the ASG issues are still prevalent and affecting the on-court product (e.g. Drew’s hiring, the likely trade of the 1st round pick, etc). Raise your hand if you thought Joe’s Hawks career would be shorter than the feud between the owners.

Mark Bradley

June 21st, 2010
11:02 am

I should point out that Michael Gearon Jr. made his money in an industry (cell-phone towers) totally different from his father’s business (construction).

Pi$$onaDawg

June 21st, 2010
11:02 am

Thanks Mark B.

Ted M

June 21st, 2010
11:02 am

Approximately how many NBA teams are in financial hot water? Anyone?

Mark Bradley

June 21st, 2010
11:03 am

That’s a good one, Astro Joe. But Belkin really is a silent partner at this point. Nobody really understands why he just doesn’t sell his interest in the teams and go away.

Ricky Sobers

June 21st, 2010
11:03 am

Seriously, poad? I’m gonna change my name right now. Watch.

Jo Jo White

June 21st, 2010
11:03 am

See how easy that was poad? Just type a different name into the box. Geez, genius.

Mark Bradley

June 21st, 2010
11:04 am

Ricky Sobers versus Jo Jo White: Reminds me of the 1976 NBA finals.

Smitty

June 21st, 2010
11:05 am

Mark, I’ve said it. You’ve said it. What have Gearon Sr. or Jr. ever done to deserve merit or praise as “sports executives”?

POAD

June 21st, 2010
11:08 am

Ricky Sobers YES, the Dawg fans and others have said it is dirty and offensive. Well, there are other bad names too but they can post. Whatever i will try to change it.

Not Don Waddell

June 21st, 2010
11:09 am

Yes, Mark you are correct. And Jr. also started his business with $3000.00. Hilarious!

Paul Westphal

June 21st, 2010
11:11 am

See, you can not only change names, but teams, too.

KimZ'sPackage

June 21st, 2010
11:13 am

Ain’t always that easy JO JO.