Why the Hawks still haven’t gotten past missing on Chris Paul

The guy in blue is Chris Paul. He is not now, nor has he ever been, a Hawk. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Chris Paul (in blue) is not now, nor has he ever been, a Hawk. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Every Hawks blog post elicits the same two reader comments. The first: “We should have drafted Chris Paul!” The second, following close at hand: “Can we please stop talking about Chris Paul?”

Reader No. 2 has a point. The draft in question came in 2005.  But a misspent pick of 5 2/3 years ago is the gift (to other teams) that goes on taking (from the Hawks).

History lesson: The Hawks entered the 2005 lottery with the NBA’s worst record (13-69) and stood the best chance of landing the first pick. They had had some good young wings but no center and no point guard.

The 2005 draft, as luck had it, included both a center (Andrew Bogut of Utah) and three point guards (Paul of Wake Forest, Deron Williams from Illinois and Raymond Felton of North Carolina) cut from high cloth. There was disappointment among Hawks brass when they finished second to Milwaukee in the lottery — everyone knew the Bucks would take Bogut — but they still felt they’d make out OK. And they should have.

Marvin Williams, a freshman forward who’d been North Carolina’s sixth man, scarcely missed a shot in his Atlanta audition, and general manager Billy Knight was smitten. On Draft Night the Hawks left the three point guards on the board, each of whom was snagged by the next three selecting teams. Thus did the Hawks spend their highest pick in 30 years on yet another forward. The team exited the draft as it had entered. Not getting a center was bad luck. Not finding a point guard was bad business.

Five and a half seasons later, the Hawks approach the trading deadline still on the PG prowl. They’ve since spent two first-round picks on the position (Acie Law IV and Jeff Teague) and made two trades importing point guards of a sort (Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford), but they haven’t yet found the guy capable of running an NBA team in the way NBA team needs to be run.

Their reported/rumored targets this February? Point guards again — Ramon Sessions of Cleveland, Andre Miller of Portland and the recently dealt-t0-Denver Felton. Also included: Washington’s Kirk Hinrich, who has point-guard qualities. The Hawks have decided they can climb no higher with Mike Bibby, which is true now but wasn’t true when he arrived.

In his final act as GM, Knight acquired Bibby from Sacramento in Feburary 2008 at a time when the Hawks were in danger of missing the playoffs for the eighth year running. Bibby helped settle the younger Hawks, who slipped in as the No. 8 seed and carried the champs-to-be Celtics to a Game 7. That was when the Hawks stopped being losers, and it wouldn’t have happened without Bibby.

But Bibby is idiosyncratic: He doesn’t drive to the basket, and he guards nothing that moves. He’s skilled at distributing the ball on the break and he can make a three-point shot, but he couldn’t have been a starting point guard on a good team if that team didn’t have Joe Johnson. Those two like and trust one another, and Bibby doesn’t mind letting Johnson control the ball.

Thing is, Larry Drew’s new share-the-wealth offense features Johnson less, and the upshot has been that nobody is running this team. (Ergo, the offense often is rendered a fusillade of jump shots.) When Crawford enters, his mission is to score, and Teague, of whom much was expected, has delivered nothing.

The East keeps getting better. The Hawks, the No. 3 seed last season, are positioned to be the fifth seed this year. They need to make a personnel move, but it’s unclear if any of those players mentioned will mesh with Johnson. And if Crawford is included in any deal, the Hawks’ second unit becomes substandard. (Bibby as a sub wouldn’t have nearly the effect Crawford does.)

This could have been avoided had Knight made the right pick at the right time. Having Paul or Deron Williams — I preferred the latter, who was just traded to the Nets — would have made the Hawks a playoff team in 2007, perhaps in 2006. No, they wouldn’t have been drafting high enough in 2007 to land Al Horford, but they’d already have been a good team by then.

Without a real point guard, the Hawks wound up getting pretty good anyway. But their way was the harder way, and that way has reached the point of diminishing returns. Five years later, the Hawks still lack their Chris Paul.

By Mark Bradley

214 comments Add your comment

B.O.B

February 23rd, 2011
12:10 pm

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 23rd, 2011
12:12 pm

Tech Stinger

February 23rd, 2011
12:13 pm

Mark

Do you think the hawks should trade for a lottery pick a get Kyrie Irving, and do you think the hawks should go after Al Jefferson now that Utah has Derrick Favors.

beone

February 23rd, 2011
12:15 pm

Now that was worth writing about. Anyone who reads this could have written the same. How much are you paid?

bulldawg

February 23rd, 2011
12:17 pm

Unfortunately in this case hindsight is 20-20. It’s fun to talk about what was; but, the Hawks need an upgrade at PG now. Use their draft picks and possibly Jamal’s expiring contract to obtain a PG. It’s easy to label M. Williams as a bust, it’s hard to trade him with his contract. The Hawks will not advance beyond the first round without substantially improving the team.

allan in texas

February 23rd, 2011
12:20 pm

Well said Mr.Bradley,Well said.This team as currently constructed has gone as far as it can go. If I were the Hawks I would offer everyone on this team besides Al Horford for Chris Paul. Any thoughts Mr.Bradley?

B

February 23rd, 2011
12:20 pm

The Hawks should have drafted Chris Paul.

Jamaaliver

February 23rd, 2011
12:21 pm

At this point, I’d settle on getting Ray Felton.

I don’t know which is worse: 1)The fact that Billy Knight at one point drafted 5 straight SFs (Diaw, Dunta, Chilldress, Smoove, Marvin) or 2)the fact that BK passed on CPaul AND Deron Williams because he thought that 6-8 wing scorer Joe Johnson was better suited to play PG for the next decade.

Duke

February 23rd, 2011
12:21 pm

Either Stephen Curry or Monta Ellis is out there to be had. They are not going to keep both of them. Let’s get it done, because if we stand pat, we will be one and out and then things look really gloom. Gerald Wallace would also be a nice addition, he would certainly add some toughness to this lineup. He could be had for Jamaal and a first round pick. What do you think Mr. Bradley?

Lowcountry Bulldawg

February 23rd, 2011
12:21 pm

So funny watching the game last night. Twice within the first five minutes JJ hung Josh out to dry on the 3pt line w/under 4-5 seconds on the shot clock. Hawks offense is trerrible to watch in half court.

day old fries

February 23rd, 2011
12:21 pm

….resigning Marvin was almost a bigger mistake than drafting him.

Jesse

February 23rd, 2011
12:25 pm

How can two PGs in college (Law and Teague) be so good, but come to the Hawks and just stink it up?

Tech Stinger

February 23rd, 2011
12:27 pm

Kyrie Irving is the next big superstar point guard, the hawks better get in the top 10 to get him

Jamaaliver

February 23rd, 2011
12:28 pm

I don’t know which is worse, the fact B Knight spent 5 straight draft picks on the SF position (Diaw, Dunta, Chill, Smoove, Marvin) or the fact that he honestly belived Joe Johnson would be best utilized as a PG ala Magic Johnson.

At this point, I’d have even been okay with drafting Bogut.

Russ

February 23rd, 2011
12:32 pm

Whiffing on Deron Williams AND Devin Harris with all our movable parts is inexcusable. Sund needs to get a backup plan quick.

Priest Lauderdale

February 23rd, 2011
12:33 pm

You can also post about 2006:
S Williams over Roy, Gay, Redick, Rondo

or maybe 2004:
Childress over Deng, Iguodala, Al Jefferson, J Nelson

You can go on and on with the Hawks missing in the draft.

Jamaaliver

February 23rd, 2011
12:35 pm

I don’t know which is worse, the fact B Knight spent 5 straight draft picks on the SF position (Diaw, Dunta, Chill, Smoove, Marvin) or the fact that he honestly belived Joe Johnson would be best utilized as a PG.

At this point, I’d have even been okay with drafting Bogut.

Tremaine

February 23rd, 2011
12:36 pm

I can I expect a pizzia if I don’t order it.

“GIVE TEAGUE A CHANCE!”

Then say he hasn’t delivered.

Tremaine

February 23rd, 2011
12:39 pm

My bad with the spelling but in a hurry. Hopefully you get the point.

Triforce20

February 23rd, 2011
12:39 pm

The Hawks blew it. Worst decision in the past decade. This is why Billy Knightmare is unemployed.

San Diego Dawg

February 23rd, 2011
12:39 pm

Break up this team….im tired of watching middle of the pack basket ball from a underwhelming team….

BobDawg

February 23rd, 2011
12:40 pm

Can we find Billy Knight and tar and feather him???? Geez, to think he had those guys waltz in here and worked them out and still passed on them for a Chapel Hill 6th man…

Najeh Davenpoop

February 23rd, 2011
12:42 pm

It’s one thing to miss out on a franchise player in the draft. That is a debilitating mistake, but not one that should haunt a well-run franchise six years later. It’s another thing entirely to make mistake after mistake trying to make up for that original mistake. Speedy Claxton, Acie Law, Jeff Teague, and Mike Bibby’s contract extension were all bad moves (the jury is still out on Teague I guess) made to compensate for missing out on Paul and Deron Williams (my preference at the time) in that draft.

And it also doesn’t help that the guy they picked instead (Marvin) got way overpaid in the summer of 2009 despite having underachieved his entire career and continuing to underachieve after signing the extension.

twitter.com/fakericksund

Mark Bradley

February 23rd, 2011
12:42 pm

Kudos, B.O.B.

Tremaine

February 23rd, 2011
12:43 pm

I think because we missed out on Chris Paul we expect every guard we draft to come in and be Chris Paul. This is Teague second year with the team. How do you expect the guy to learn how to play NBA basketball with no playing time? He looked a whole lot better than Bibby last night and actually ran plays and made good passes rather dribble the ball up and pass it to Joe (like Bibby does). “GIVE TEAGUE A CHANCE!”

Najeh Davenpoop

February 23rd, 2011
12:43 pm

“Whiffing on Deron Williams AND Devin Harris with all our movable parts is inexcusable. Sund needs to get a backup plan quick.”

Unfortunately the Hawks don’t have that many movable parts, because Sund has overpaid everyone on this team other than Smoove and Horford.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley and LaShandra, Bleu Cheese. Bleu Cheese said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: #Hawks didn't draft Chris Paul or Deron Williams in 05. 5 years later, they haven't gotten past it. http://bit.ly/eFtGR6 [...]

HWJ

February 23rd, 2011
12:44 pm

Mark,

There are several players on the block that are up for grabs. There are several and we can get one. The following players in order are who the Hawks should go after Monta Ellis (I think G State wants to build around S Curry) Ray Felton, Aaron Brooks, Devin Harris, Ramon Sessions, Andre Miller (Miller is getting older so I don’t like this deal for long term), Kirk Hinrich (If this happens Rick Sund will personally get a call from me and I will ask why?)

The Hawks need to get rid of Marvin Williams like I’ve said for years.. there are several bench players who play his position that are much better CJ Miles for one.. Only problem is no one wants him.. Last night he was just horrid…. Marvin would be at best the ninth player coming off LA’s bench, which is pathetic being a second pick in 05 draft

Monta Ellis for Josh Smith straight up is a good deal… its basically a swap of two 11 million dollar contracts.. It gives Golden State a small forward that they are lacking.. We can grab someone in free agents for center or small forward next summer because J craw comes off the bench.. I’d trade J craw here but G state is looking for something in return.

Jeff Teague/mo williams for Ramon Sessions and Manny Harris… I’ve heard this come up and don’t know why cleveland would do it but tell me where to sign…

I’ve heard rumors that Devin Harris would be an option… but we don’t want to give up Marvin.. that makes no sense to me…

Look this team needs to be broken up one way or another… I say start building around Joe and Al… I’d like to just build around AL, but Joe with his contract will never leave here…

Positives for Hawks… Next year Bibby will be easier to move because of his expiring contract.. J Smith value is high and he is our most valuable trade piece… J craw’s 10 million dollar contract is expiring and we could get value with him also… hard for me to say this but Teague is young and someone could take a chance on him.. I’ve heard from numerous sources however Teague can’t win the Job over Bibby… (which is pathetic also)

Negatives for Hawks… Joe’s High contract, which time after time I read on these boards to go after CP3 or Derron next year… thats not possible with the way the salary cap works unless something happens with the collecting barganing agreement.. another negative is ZAZA contract (this may be the worse move by Sund) ZaZa hogging up 5.5 to 6.5 mil a year is a joke… He can’t guard any starter in NBA… (Josh Powell should be playing over him night after night)

Sorry for long post, but WE HAVE TO MAKE A MOVE… WE HAVE TO

NCHawksFan

February 23rd, 2011
12:45 pm

Yes, we would have been a 50+ win team and no ring to show for it if we had drafted Paul or Deron Williams and we would be losing them to FA this upcoming year! Wow, looks like we are in the same place we would have been….shopping for a Point guard to run an above average team!

Tremaine

February 23rd, 2011
12:45 pm

When I saw Rick Sund yawning before the game even started I knew it was going to be along night.

tony

February 23rd, 2011
12:50 pm

BK fell in love with MV shooting during workout and Rick Sund fell in love with Pape Sy defense during workout.

Don’t they(BK/RS) realize that these players will give it their all during workouts and then regress when they go up against real competition?

MW couldn’t start in college and Pape Sy didn’t do much against France players.

DHD

February 23rd, 2011
12:53 pm

Good grief. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. They didn’t so MOVE on. The trade deadline is tomorrow so I come here to see if there are any rumors and you write about a draft for YEARS ago? How about a REAL story???

St. Bernard

February 23rd, 2011
12:53 pm

We didn’t get Rondo either….

day old fries

February 23rd, 2011
12:53 pm

“but not one that should haunt a well-run franchise”

@najeh…what franchise are you talking about?

Smiling Jack

February 23rd, 2011
12:53 pm

Just maybe, the failed drafted point guards, (Law and Teague) is more a commentary on the Hawks coaching than on the ability of the players in question. Apparently neither Knight nor Drew have a clue about developing a talented point guard…hence, they draft forwards. However, I suspect they don’t know much about evaluating and developing talent. I’m tired of smiling and being positive!

Sam

February 23rd, 2011
12:54 pm

Totally agree DHD. Focus on what we can do, not what we didn’t do under old general management.

St. Bernard

February 23rd, 2011
12:55 pm

Paul said he wanted to be a Hawk at the time of the draft.

Hankie Aron

February 23rd, 2011
12:55 pm

Mark- Billy Knight always favored “long athletic” players. At the time, Chris Paul was viewed as some as too short. Who knows why. I can only imagine what CP3 would like like with our current linup.

DawginLex

February 23rd, 2011
12:55 pm

The Hawks are just not good. Chris Paul would have been great here or anywhere. Irving is very good but he is out for the season now. Will he recover or does he have one of those injuries that never really heals?

jon

February 23rd, 2011
12:55 pm

this organization is happy with medicrioty and it shows…. ONE BIG JOKE!

DawginLex

February 23rd, 2011
12:57 pm

Hey Mark,

How ’bout them Vols?

Pearl is a dead man walking.

He won’t survive this.

Gwinnett Fred

February 23rd, 2011
12:57 pm

This same article has been written (updated) every year since we passed on Paul.

It is showing a pretty narrow minded thought process to STILL be beating this dead horse.

BTW – Has it ever occurred to you that even if we drafted Paul, he would have been an eligible free agent by now? What makes you think we would have been able to resign him?

Quit harping on this and try something new – like an even worse pick in 2006 by taking Shelden Williams instead of:

Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay or Rajon Rondo.

Tim from EP

February 23rd, 2011
12:59 pm

It wasn’t just the fact the drafted Marvin Williams over Chris Paul, but they gave him an extension.

Gordon

February 23rd, 2011
1:02 pm

When I saw the headline, I thought you were talking about Dave Braine.

MOOKIE

February 23rd, 2011
1:05 pm

Mark,

There comes a time and point in a GM’s career that a specific move is needed. It comes now for Sund and he has to make a move a the deadline.. Hawks play the Warriors on Friday.. Why don’t we make a trade for Monta Ellis for Josh Smith… Monta would bring some excitement to the team and he’s also a prolific scorer who can play the point… Maybe even go for Stephen Curry, but Monta Ellis looks like the most movable part in that deal… Monta would be top on my list but here are some others who are just asking to be moved

Ray Felton, Devin Harris, Aaron Brooks, and Ramon Sessions. If Sund does not go out and get one of these guys should he keep his job? Realistically the only two point guards that Hawks have had in past 20 years are Doc Rivers and Mookie Blaylock.. Yes Jason Terry was good, but hes more of 2 guard….

Positives for Hawks: Mike Bibby Contract comes off books next summer, so next year we can move him if needed…. Josh Smith is a valuable trade piece and has lots of upside ( we can get something for him maybe even Monta), Jamal Contract is expiring and we can get something in return

Negatives for Hawks: Joe’s contract… You people who are asking for Deron or CP3 just don’t know Basketball or how the NBA works… We simply can’t afford these guys… That is why the Hawks are stuck with one of the names I listed above.. Secondly, ZAZA contract… no one wants this guy and to this day Sund’s worst move. He cant guard any starter in NBA and people like an aging Kurt Thomas would take him any day of week.. With that being said hes being paid 5.5 million a year jumping up to 6.5 next year…. Another negative is Mike Bibby contract he has one more year next year so it will have to be next summer to move him….

Super Negative: Marvin Williams… this guy has to be moved , but the problem is no one wants him… Nets have actually expressed interest for Devin Harris, but we don’t want to move Marvin (which makes no sense) Marvin would of been the ninth to tenth player coming of Lakers bench last night… pretty bad for a second pick… BUT we should still try to move him because I’m sure one GM sees upside…,.

WE HAVE TO MAKE A DEAL FOR A POINT GUARD… we aren’t doing anything in playoffs so we need to start now… Now is the time… you can’t win in NBA without a point guard unless you have a KOBE, MJ, WADE or LEBRON type player…. Joe is def not in that class….

MOOKIE

February 23rd, 2011
1:06 pm

MOOKIE

February 23rd, 2011
1:06 pm

Mark,

There comes a time and point in a GM’s career that a specific move is needed. It comes now for Sund and he has to make a move a the deadline.. Hawks play the Warriors on Friday.. Why don’t we make a trade for Monta Ellis for Josh Smith… Monta would bring some excitement to the team and he’s also a prolific scorer who can play the point… Maybe even go for Stephen Curry, but Monta Ellis looks like the most movable part in that deal… Monta would be top on my list but here are some others who are just asking to be moved

Ray Felton, Devin Harris, Aaron Brooks, and Ramon Sessions. If Sund does not go out and get one of these guys should he keep his job? Realistically the only two point guards that Hawks have had in past 20 years are Doc Rivers and Mookie Blaylock.. Yes Jason Terry was good, but hes more of 2 guard….

Positives for Hawks: Mike Bibby Contract comes off books next summer, so next year we can move him if needed…. Josh Smith is a valuable trade piece and has lots of upside ( we can get something for him maybe even Monta), Jamal Contract is expiring and we can get something in return

Negatives for Hawks: Joe’s contract… You people who are asking for Deron or CP3 just don’t know Basketball or how the NBA works… We simply can’t afford these guys… That is why the Hawks are stuck with one of the names I listed above.. Secondly, ZAZA contract… no one wants this guy and to this day Sund’s worst move. He cant guard any starter in NBA and people like an aging Kurt Thomas would take him any day of week.. With that being said hes being paid 5.5 million a year jumping up to 6.5 next year…. Another negative is Mike Bibby contract he has one more year next year so it will have to be next summer to move him….

Charles

February 23rd, 2011
1:08 pm

Lets not forget the fact that we got EXTREMELY lucky to get the 3rd pick in order to take Horford. Billy Knight’s genius arse only had the 1st round pick given to the Suns as top 3 protected that year and we finished with the 5th worst record in the league.

Imagine how bad this team would be without that bounce of the lottery balls.

As Davenpoop mentioned, the numerous idiotic pg missteps made after the Marvin pick exacerbated the problem even more. Then ASG hired another moron in Sund who overpaid Zaza, Bibby, Marvin and Johnson putting us in even worse shape.

I hope Gearon Jr. gets hit by a bus.

Oh and this Sund quote from Hoopsworld is flat out comical and shows just how delusional the front office is as he compares us to the spurs:

“Chemistry is so important, and if you look at San Antonio, in some ways they’re analogous to us,” Sund explains. “They got through the first round last year and got swept in four. We got through the first round last year and got swept in four. They didn’t really make any major changes and we didn’t make any major changes. They’re a more veteran team than us, we started the season with three starters who are 24 or younger in Horford, Josh and Marvin. Joe, Bibbby and Jamal are all in their primes, so that combination is good. But we think continuity and chemistry are important for us, just as they have been for San Antonio.”

KCG

February 23rd, 2011
1:08 pm

The funny thing about that draft is that usually when a player leaves early its because he had a stellar year and there is not much bright side to going back to College. Marving could not even start at forward at UNC over players I bet most of you guys could not even name. Billy Knight still drafted this guy number 2!! Does not game film take precedence over a work out?

MOOKIE Blaylock

February 23rd, 2011
1:10 pm

Super Negative: Marvin Williams… this guy has to be moved , but the problem is no one wants him… Nets have actually expressed interest for Devin Harris, but we don’t want to move Marvin (which makes no sense) Marvin would of been the ninth to tenth player coming of Lakers bench last night… pretty bad for a second pick… BUT we should still try to move him because I’m sure one GM sees upside…,.

WE HAVE TO MAKE A DEAL FOR A POINT GUARD… we aren’t doing anything in playoffs so we need to start now… Now is the time… you can’t win in NBA without a point guard unless you have a KOBE, MJ, WADE or LEBRON type player…. Joe is def not in that class….