Ferry on his remade Hawks: ‘Status quo wasn’t good enough’

Danny Ferry has made this a brand new ballgame. (AP photo by David Goldman)

New GM Danny Ferry has made this a whole new ballgame. (AP photo by David Goldman)

The Hawks had two choices: They could have kept what they had and continued to get the same results, or they could have done as Danny Ferry did. So long as the Core Four was intact, this organization had both a floor and a ceiling. The Hawks would be too talented to stink, too mismatched to win a championship.

Said Ferry, speaking Wednesday night: “The status quo wasn’t going to be good enough to reach our goals, and we weren’t even going to be able to sustain that.”

That’s a brutally accurate description of the Hawks before this general manager took hold of them. And where are they now, 2 1/2 weeks and two major trades later? Ferry again: “We’re in a situation where we made some changes, and hopefully going forward we can be more opportunistic — hopefully better and more sustainable.”

Thing is, “going forward” isn’t synonymous with “here and now,” and we live in an age where gratification is seldom deferred until tomorrow, let alone next year. Ferry’s way involves risk. As newly constituted, the Hawks seem at best a .500 team. And even as I applaud this GM’s vision and verve, I also recall a conversation with a former GM.

It was Year 2 or Year 3 – or maybe Year 4; they tended to run together – after the Billy Knight deconstruction, and I wanted to know how much longer it would be until the Hawks got good. Originally I’d voiced enthusiasm for Knight’s brass in dumping players and salary, but so many losses over so much time had silenced the hosannas.

“You’re getting impatient,” Knight said, and I guess I was.

The risk of taking a step back is that there’s no assurance you’ll step forward anytime soon. No, Ferry hasn’t sold off every asset — he still has Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague — but what if the 2012-2013 Hawks are indeed mediocre? What if there’s no postseason for the first time since 2007? What if all those folks praising Ferry for dumping Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams won’t care to watch the remnants of the Core struggle to break even?

If the new Hawks don’t deliver, the old Core could be pared further next summer. Smith is scheduled to be a free agent, and he has spent the past two seasons angling to get himself traded. How many difference-making free agents could be persuaded to take the Hawks’ suddenly available money if all they see is a losing team and an outbound star?

Clearing Johnson’s massive contract was a necessity. That said, losing him as a consistent scorer is a minus. It will take two or three guys to do what Joe did by himself.

Toward that end, the Hawks find themselves with a slew of off-guards and no real small forward. Ferry isn’t nearly done rebuilding this roster, but what he has mirrors a latter-day Duke team – lots of shooters (imports Louis Williams and Anthony Morrow, plus draftee John Jenkins) and not much heft. As we know, Ferry played at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski.

When the Duke paradigm was mentioned, Ferry laughed. Then he said: “Shooting’s a good thing to have. People who can attack off the dribble are good things to have. So are people who make plays for others. Shooting helps with good spacing. And good big men are nice to have, too.”

Ferry’s time as Cleveland’s GM indicated that he believes in a team of balanced parts, or at least as balanced as a team that employs LeBron James can be. He had shooters (Mo Williams, Larry Hughes) and slashers (Delonte West) and big men (Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao) and a real power forward (Antawn Jamison). No, it didn’t bring Cleveland a championship, but it was good enough to win 127 games over two seasons.

Asked about the potential of his remade roster, Ferry said only: “I think we can be competitive.”

The risk isn’t so much that fans will desert the Hawks — fans haven’t really embraced this team since 1988 — as that the anticipated follow-through won’t arrive. Ferry used the word “opportunistic” a half-dozen times in a 10-minute conversation, and having money to spend is an absolute must. The Hawks do now. But some big name has to agree to take it.

There’s a chance this way won’t work, either. That’s preferable to the old way, which was never going to work well enough. By taking a risk, Ferry has positioned the Hawks to reap a reward. No, not today. But someday soon.

By Mark Bradley

113 comments Add your comment

FittenTrim

July 11th, 2012
8:08 pm

He can’t depend on free agents. He’s got to lock up Josh or else… gulp.

There could be dark days ahead.

Benjamin

July 11th, 2012
8:10 pm

Good read, sir.

NCBravesFan

July 11th, 2012
8:12 pm

Clearly the Hawks had to do SOMETHING to change things up, but risk and reward are linked together. Here’s hoping that DF can bring championship level basketball to the ATL.

richy

July 11th, 2012
8:13 pm

We already know what the old hawks could do (second round ceiling) Now lets see what Ferrys hawks can do.

Danny Boy

July 11th, 2012
8:16 pm

Ferry has concrete gonads. The Hawks seem to believe that each season there will be different results with the same cast of characters. Let’s go with a youth movement and you will ignite the fan base. Ferry is not done….he’s a damn gunslinger.

Rick

July 11th, 2012
8:17 pm

Correct me if I am wrong Mark but I think Danny has not played his best card yet. I get the feeling that he has something BIG under his sleave. And by the way you can throw me a kudos if you like?!

NewnanDawg

July 11th, 2012
8:20 pm

The Hawks need a Kobe/Lebron/Durant caliber center piece to build from. I think Horford and Smith are keepers, but we need that anchor.

ezekile

July 11th, 2012
8:23 pm

Very likely that Josh will be gone before next season. His value will never be higher than it is right now. We don’t need to pay him big bucks and have another Joe Johnson type huge salary/millstone around our necks.

Mark Bradley

July 11th, 2012
8:25 pm

Kudos, Rick.

I don’t know how much bigger you can get than dumping Joe Johnson, though.

Rob

July 11th, 2012
8:29 pm

Mark, DF has definitely made big moves, and they were indeed necessary. If the Hawks take a step back I will be fine with it. I feel like this team will be exciting and still competitive, but that is not the endgame anymore. i also think if DF was hired earlier, he would have hired his own coach in here.

richy

July 11th, 2012
8:33 pm

Smith probably more inclined to stay now more than ever. And if Dwight Howard is the plan, you need josh smith for that.

richy

July 11th, 2012
8:34 pm

Correct me if im wrong but wont the Hawks be able to offer Howard and CP3 the highest amount in 2013 FA. I thought that was the plan

tmc

July 11th, 2012
8:38 pm

i stopped watching & attending Hawks games because of 2 MAJOR problems with the Hawks teams over the last several years.
1. They were so predictable. Both in their play and ceiling.
2. the inability of predecessors to change the team when CHANGE was clearly needed.

If this team needs some time to become competitive, they will get it from me. I stand and applaud Danny Ferry what he has done in a short time.
I can not stand the owners, but i can get over that with the right people running the organization and potential in the talent.

For the first time in many years, i’m interested in seeing what DF and this team will do.

cedric

July 11th, 2012
8:40 pm

We have been here before, the question is will Ferry do something different. If he brings somebody in then great. The next thing we got to do is win. If not all of this was for naught and we enter the lottery for the next four or five years.

cedric

July 11th, 2012
8:41 pm

Win now, I am not promised tomorrow. I could care less what happens in two years, win this year.

cedric

July 11th, 2012
8:43 pm

Rick, I believe the card you are referring to is all aboud D. Howard. I have no reason to believe he will come here, but there is always hope.

Thomas

July 11th, 2012
8:45 pm

Johnson took the Ferry outta town. We’re movin’ now.

cedric

July 11th, 2012
8:45 pm

Win now. You play to win, I don’t remember anybody else but the winner.

cedric

July 11th, 2012
8:47 pm

I have been a fan of the Hawks for a long time and I stopped being interested in anything but a winner the year we won like 13 games or something. That was painful and I am not interested in seeing that again. Ferry had better put a winner on the court or he can go just like Johnson, Williams, Horford or Smith.

BigDawg

July 11th, 2012
8:49 pm

Oh how we miss the Pistol Pete and Dominique marvels in past eras! Dominique and crew were electrifying, but we traded him and a first round pick for Danny Manning who played 37 games for the Hawks! Of course, some may even remember the historical moment when we could have had David Thompson and Marvin Webster “The Eraser.” Glad Danny Ferry is on board to shake things up! Goodbye Joe Johnson and his sour attitude and poor postseason performance and Marvin Williams who never started in college!

BigDawg

July 11th, 2012
8:51 pm

Win now and continue to only get to the second round? It didn’t work for Lenny Wilkens, Mike Fratello, Woodson or others. I would rather take a chance to be among the elite rather than always one or two and out!

cedric

July 11th, 2012
8:56 pm

I want a championship. I want everybody gone, but don’t give me this I will wait for five years until we get a winner crap. Win now, I want Ferry to bring somebody in here to win. If not he can leave just like everybody else. I want Horford, Smith and anybody else gone as long as we are moving towards a championship.

cedric

July 11th, 2012
8:58 pm

See how many 13 win seasons you will watch until you want something different.

donte080

July 11th, 2012
9:02 pm

Joe Johnson had a sour attitude? You know this how?

BTW: Hawks were never a great team with Pistol Pete…he was entertaining for sure, but we were a better team during this recent run than we were when Maravich was in Atlanta…

WeBurn

July 11th, 2012
9:08 pm

Hope springs eternal. Let’s not screw up the rebuild this time, no Marvin or Shellhead or A.C. Law. No Speedy Claxton.

DHD

July 11th, 2012
9:13 pm

Actually, Lou was only 4 pts less than JJ and he came off the bench. Their assists and rebounds are equal.

JSS

July 11th, 2012
9:17 pm

When do The Smashing Pumpkins go on tour?

Ol' Billy Knight

July 11th, 2012
9:21 pm

Did someone say my name ? Don’t hate on me I brought marquee players here to Atlanta like Speedy Claxton….I built a dynasty !!!

Jimmy Crack

July 11th, 2012
9:22 pm

This team is still good enough to get in as a 7 or an 8 if not better. We have a new influx of accurate shooters and I expect we will be making up Joe’s points by banging alot of 3’s with Morrow, Jenkins and others. We already have two of the best defensive interior men in the league, a rising PG, and solid backups now including Lou Williams. If Harris can stay healthy he could produce. Competitive is an understatement.

GStateBen

July 11th, 2012
9:23 pm

As constructed, the Hawks would be the 4th youngest team in the NBA. Last season, the Hawks were the 2nd oldest team trailing only the Dallas Mavericks.

DubC

July 11th, 2012
9:24 pm

I think the Hawks will be competitive. I also believe that GM Ferry is no where near finished revamping the roster. We are weak at the SF; everyone realizes that, but he’s not finished yet.

Rick

July 11th, 2012
9:25 pm

It is complete! First on another blog and the big KUDOS from Bradley!

chuck

July 11th, 2012
9:25 pm

We need to trade Josh Smith. He and Al play the same position. So the roster tweaking will continue until Josh is traded.

garcia

July 11th, 2012
9:28 pm

So, this can one of two ways:

1. Ferry trades for Dwight Howard by giving Orlando a promising PG, a top five Center (who prefers to play PF), a good back up Center, and two first rounders next draft. Ferry also takes Richarson’s contract, which may keep us from acquiring a significant FA next season.
In doing so, Ferry takes a major gamble that both Smith and Howard like it in ATL. Both players are FA’s next season and can pretty much do what ever they want. Smith will have many suitors and Howard has major bucks waiting for him in NYC.

2. Ferry finishes the job he has already started. He trades Smith before the deadline. In doing so, the team will tank and definitely get a lottery pick. This next draft features a few decent Centers, but none that will rock the arena. There also are no great PG’s. So, we would likely go after one of the big guys and hope that he can compliment Horford.
Regardless of who we can draft, the team will not ascend much higher than what we have seen with Marvin and Joe.

So, what say you?

I say: Roll the Dice. Trade for Howard and convince local corporations to offer Howard a lot of money to help them market their products. What Howard really wants is money. He has a lot of it waiting for him in NYC. Atlanta has to pony up and compete dollar for dollar.

Moorman

July 11th, 2012
9:29 pm

If not howard……….what about bynum???

DubC

July 11th, 2012
9:34 pm

@Moorman,

I thought the same thing about Bynum, but I get the feeling the Lakers won’t consider trading him for anyone else other than Dwight. But I like your thinking…

Gilk

July 11th, 2012
9:50 pm

Like someone else said, tomorrow is not promised! Trade for D12, pair him with homegrown Smith, Morrow and Sweet Lou and market this team as Atlanta’s Finest … championship or bust! If Howard and Smith walk next year, go after a franchise level superstar and keep it movin’!

falCANS

July 11th, 2012
9:52 pm

Thte shooters will only be valuable if we play inside out. Finally LD has to pit Smoove in the post with Horford playing the Bosh role. We will make the playoffs!! In ferry we trust AND #5 FOR.PRESIDENT!!!

like to point out ive been saying this ON THIS BLOG fa the past two years

Brett

July 11th, 2012
9:52 pm

Does it really matter who DF brings to the team? The Hawks are still owned by the worst ownership group in sports!!!

ROCKMEN

July 11th, 2012
9:52 pm

Attn DF and ASG, I sure as hell am not paying what I paid last yr for my season tix. Inferior team inferior prices.

sb

July 11th, 2012
10:00 pm

Remember when we had RASHEED WALLACE . He played ONE game…that’s right…ONE game

Rick

July 11th, 2012
10:18 pm

Cedric I am not sure that it is not possible. I think if not Howard he has a back up plan.

Rollo

July 11th, 2012
10:19 pm

Billy Knight is the biggest dolt in professional sports management history. No wonder he’s never been heard from since getting canned by the Hawks.

Jesse

July 11th, 2012
10:24 pm

Teague needs to step up, and Josh needs to be the first option, followed by Al. The other “shooters” need to clear space for Teague to drive and Josh to work the post.

KBP

July 11th, 2012
10:32 pm

As this team is presently constituted: Miami, Boston, Indiana, New York, Brooklyn,Philly,and Chicago are all better. We will fight to be an 8th seed. Wow, I did not want to see 38 wins and possibly missing playoffs anytime soon. With very few creators on this roster, let’s hope LD’s ball movement offense really takes hold because scoring will be a problem for this team.

Never a Fan

July 11th, 2012
10:35 pm

Ferry needs to dump Smith, Teague and Drew. Get rid of the human fouling machine, Zha Zha, while he’s at it. Only then will the purge be complete.

Nothing funnier than watching Johnson, Smith and Teague absolutely befuddled as Drew scribbled up a last minute play in the huddle. They had absolutely no clue, and showed no interest or heart. I’d rather watch 4 rookies and Horford who actually take pride in their performance.

Keep cleaning house, Mr. Ferry – don’t stop now.

KBP

July 11th, 2012
10:36 pm

Jesse, Josh probably does need to be the first option but he is too limited offensively to command double teams. Jenkins and Morrow probably will not get a lot of open looks. Very concerned about our ability to score consistently.

Wink

July 11th, 2012
10:37 pm

1. Give Ferry credit for getting rid of the contracts of JJ & Marvin.

2. They now have decent off guards in Lou, Morrow, Jenkins and Teague & Harris for point guard.

3. If we can sign Howard, provided he wants to play here, then we will have a better Core than the previous, with Howard, Josh, Lou, Harris, assuming we lose Teague & Horford in the trade for Howard.

4. Should we not get Howard, then I suggest we target Elton Brand, since Philly amnestied his contract, and not lose him to Miami. His contract would be very reasonable & give us inside presence & rebounds, for second chance opportunities.

5. We have no small forward, we could offer a good contract to Iggy from Philly or Rudy Gay from Memphis and roll with this lineup, as a starting point for next season roster.

Roster:

Devin Harris
Lou Williams
Josh
Horford
Rudy Gay or Iggy

Stevenson
Morrow
Mike (Draft Pick)
Pachulia
Jenkin (Draft Pick)
Ivan
Pargo
Sy
Benson / FA / Petro

6. Add & Subtract a player or two next season to improve team just as Miami is doing, we will still have money available depending how funds are allocated for above.

7. This team could get us into the playoffs at 6 thru 8 seed, depending on coaching!

moboman

July 11th, 2012
10:41 pm

No way we have enough puzzle pieces YET. Lets see how the next days play out. DF can’t be done.

Moorman

July 11th, 2012
10:42 pm

I like the iggy move….

Teague
Williams
Iggy
Smirh
Horford

Harris
Morrow /jenkins
Anybody
Anybody
Johnson
Pachulia