Archive for the ‘Thrashers/NHL’ Category

Another special Bradley’s Buzz: All-free agency edition!

The NBA: Hawks on the clock!

In his breakdown of the top 30 free agents (link requires registration), Chad Ford of ESPN.com lists Mike Bibby as No. 7 among unrestricted free agents — Zaza Pachulia and Flip Murray are included among “other notables” — and two more Hawk properties among the top restricted free agents. And now you’re asking: Two?

Yep. Marvin Williams is No. 3, and Josh Childress, who hasn’t played for the Hawks since May 2008, is No. 5. Here’s what Mr. Ford has to say about those two, and also about Bibby:

Williams: “Has as as much raw talent as anyone else in the class of 2005, but he’s been frustratingly inconsistent in his first four years with the Hawks. While he’ll probably stay in Atlanta, he’s not playing well enough to earn anything close to the $60-64 million over five years that [Danny] Granger got last fall, to contrast Williams with one small forward from his draft class.”

Childress: “Shocked many in the NBA by deciding to bolt for Greece last summer. …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Draft grades for the Hawks (and Thrashers)

Hey, straight “B’s” put you in the Beta Club

A sentence seldom written: People really liked what the Hawks did in the draft! Chad Ford of ESPN.com gave them a B-plus, questioning whether Jeff Teague is truly a point guard but also saying this:

“On the other hand, he was ranked in our top five for much of the year, and had his team not crashed in the tournament or had he gone back to school for another year, he would have been a top-10 pick. So the Hawks got great value here.”

Writing for SI.com, Scott Howard-Cooper awarded a straight B and claimed taking big men B.J. Mullens or Taj Gibson “would have been a risk or a reach.” Adi Joseph of NBAdraft.net bestowed another B-plus, calling Teague “a great fit.”

And Joey Whelan of Slam Online handed down a B, saying “Teague has all the physical attributes you love to see in a floor general—athleticism, speed and quickness—but is he going to be a good distributor?” But Whelan also noted: “Eric Maynor, a more NBA-ready point guard, was …

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All-Trade Friday: Should the Thrashers deal Ilya Kovalchuk?

This has Marian Hossa written all over it, only in larger letters. The Thrashers dumped their second-best player at the 2008 trading deadline because they knew they couldn’t re-sign him. Their best player is about to enter the final season of his contract, and Don Waddell shouldn’t let Ilya Kovalchuk enter it as a Thrasher.

Kovalchuk was the NHL’s 11th-highest-paid player in 2008-2009, and some club will make him one of the top five come 2010-2011. It would be an upset if that team is the Thrashers. And if they can’t keep him, they should trade him.

Last month Waddell, the Thrashers’ GM, told esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore he wouldn’t trade Kovalchuk this summer or at the deadline or ever. “[Both parties] will both know where we are way before the season starts, if it is going to happen,” Waddell said. “That doesn’t mean it can’t happen once the season starts. My mission is to keep Ilya Kovalchuk here.”

That, alas, seems a mission impossible. If you knew you’d have better …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Is it time to bid adieu to Frenchy?

Francoeur on the way out?

Last week Mark Bowman, who covers the Braves for MLB.com, speculated openly about the need for the Braves to upgrade their outfield and that Jeff Francouer could soon be on an outbound plane. Included was Bowman’s sobering appraisal: “The Braves aren’t going to get much in return for Francoeur. But they need to at least explore the possibility of moving him before they reach a point during the offseason when they might non-tender him and get absolutely nothing in return for a former top prospect.”

Note the “ouch” phrases: “Aren’t going to get much” and “non-tender him” and, worst of all, “former top prospect.”

About Mr. Bowman: He’s a good guy and a good reporter. He’s not given to flights of fancy. (Unlike, say, me.) If he’s broaching the topic on MLB.com, it stands to reason there’s chatter ongoing within the Braves’ organization. And that might not be a bad thing. As much as I like Francoeur, I think we’re approaching the point where it makes sense …

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If the Thrashers left Atlanta, would anyone care? Oh, yes.

The Hamilton Spectator reported last week that a Vancouver-based group wanted to buy the Thrashers and move them to Ontario. Don Waddell, the team’s general manager, insists that cannot and will not happen, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t believe him.

Still, that got me to thinking: If the Thrashers left, would anybody miss them? (They ranked next-to-last among NHL teams in attendance, averaging 14,626 per home date.) So, via Twitter, I asked. And of 50 respondents, only four said they wouldn’t care if the Thrash went the way of the migratory Flames. A selected sampling:

John Bragg: “Aside from family, friends, and the basic necessities in life, there’s not much I wouldn’t trade to see Ilya [Kovalchuk] hoist the Cup in Philips.”

Chad Bryant: “This is like asking, ‘Would you miss your dog if it ran away?’ – except in this case, the dog is being stolen from you from rich and crazy Canadians.”

Catherine Olson: “I was born at Georgia Baptist Hospital in 1964. The myth that …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Is UGA’s recruiting hold getting slippery?

Fasten those seat belts; we’re going recruitin’!

I’m not Max Emfinger or Tom Lemming. I’m not Michael Carvell or Darryl Maxie. I am not the world’s greatest source on football recruiting. But I can, contrary to popular belief, read. And here’s what my reading of Brian McLaughlin’s exhaustively annotated list in Sporting News Today of the top 100 prospects for 2010 tells me:

Other schools are coming at Georgia hard — in Georgia!

From Page 1 of McLaughlin’s report, we learn the white-limo crowd at Auburn is in on three of the nation’s top 15 prospects.

On Page 2 it gets more intriguing, as we find that running back Mack Brown (ranked No. 32 overall) of Lithonia’s MLK has declared the hated Gators as his leader in the ol’ clubhouse, and also that receiver Markeith Ambles (No. 39) of Henry County is assessing West Coast schools as well as Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia.

From Page 3: Georgia is tracking running back Brannan Clay (No. 40) of San Diego and defensive linemen …

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Another Game 7, and this one’s at home. They’d better win.

They’d better win because they’ve worked 12 months for these 48 minutes. They’ve said it daily since May 4, 2008, same as Mike Woodson said it Saturday: “We wanted to have a chance to host Game 7.” Now they do.

They’d better win because to do otherwise would leave them where they were 364 days ago. They’d be just another team that made a bit of noise before taking its leave, just another Round 1 loser. They’d get to sit and watch while the big boys sort out the NBA championship, and again they’d have to ask, “When are we going to grow up?”

They’d better win because these Hawks are almost grown, or they should be. Joe Johnson and Mo Evans entered the NBA in 2001, Flip Murray in 2002, Zaza Pachulia in 2003. Mike Bibby was drafted in 1998. Even Josh Smith, widely viewed as the epitome of young and reckless, has been a pro since 2004.

They’d better win because they saw in Boston what it takes to win a Game 7. They saw the Celtics in all their focused fury. They saw the Celtics’ …

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