Posts Tagged ‘Hawks’

All-Trade Friday: Should the Hawks deal Josh Smith?

First, a disclaimer: The Hawks aren’t apt to trade anybody this summer unless it’s Marvin Williams (or Josh Childress) as part of a restricted-free-agent sign-and-trade. But the matter of dealing either Joe Johnson or Josh Smith keeps arising, and Ian Thomsen of SI.com addressed it in his Mailbag last week.

Thomsen argues that, of the two, Smith should be the one to go. First, because Johnson will be a free agent next summer and therefore wouldn’t elicit full value. Then this: “Smith is an upside talent who may yet mature to become an All-Star. He isn’t there yet, while Johnson is the bird in the hand. It wouldn’t make sense to trade a 27-year-old All-Star at his peak because such reliable talent is extremely hard to find.”

A word about Mr. Thomsen: He’s a really good guy and a really fine writer, and he’s among the very few in our industry who are taller than I am. (I believe Ian is 6-foot-6.) But I’ll disagree with him on this one. I wouldn’t trade either, but I’d trade …

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Hawks GM Rick Sund: Picking L.A., pulling for Orlando

Rick Sund picked the Lakers and the Magic to reach the NBA finals before the season began, and the Hawks’ GM is proud of himself. He’s so proud he reminded me, not altogether ungraciously, “You liked Cleveland over Orlando.” And I did. (I love everything about the city of Cleveland, as we know. But I digress.)

I called Sund, who was in Minneapolis at an NBA draft showcase doing his due diligence, because I wanted to know which team he likes now. (I’ve already made my pick.) And he said the Lakers, so I’m hoping he’s wrong.

And so is he. “I’d love to see Orlando win,” Sund said. “I’m rooting for the Eastern Conference. And you always like to have games against the NBA champion [to publicize and market].”

And there’s something else: Sund’s theory, often delineated in this space, is that a team can win the NBA title with two superstars (as was the case with Shaq and Kobe in L.A., or Shaq and D-Wade in Miami) or by having at least three players in the top 10 at their respective …

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Why the Atlanta Hawks are still wishing upon a star

The annual chorus is in fine voice. “The Hawks,” goes the full-throated refrain, “won’t get any better until they find a superstar [meaning LeBron James or Kobe Bryant] or a true center [like Dwight Howard].”

And there’s no rebuttal. Sure, the Hawks would be better with LeBron/Kobe/Dwight. Any team would. But the cold truth is that the Hawks won’t find such a transcendent talent unless Dame Fortune smiles an outrageous smile. That’s the way of the NBA.

“You don’t trade for superstars,” says Rick Sund, the Hawks’ general manager. “You draft them.”

The lottery is, by design and definition, pure luck. The Hawks were participants in 2003 (LeBron’s year, when their No. 8 pick was made by Milwaukee as part of the Glenn Robinson trade) and 2004 (Dwight’s year, when they settled for Josh Childress with the sixth pick), and both times went unblessed by the ping-pong balls. There’s no strategy involved. It’s the bounce of ball in a hopper.

A little …

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Bradley’s Buzz: A rosy consensus emerges on the Falcons

A team grows in Flowery Branch

In ESPN.com’s first power ratings of the 2009 season — technically, the 2009 season doesn’t begin for three months, but haven’t we learned that pro football is a year-round sport? — its panel of analysts pegs the Falcons as the NFL’s 11th-best team. (Thanks to reader Anthony Burnette for the tip.) But the Worldwide Leader didn’t become the Worldwide Leader by letting it go at that.

Each voter — there are 12, meaning ESPN has more NFL analysts than the number of players any NFL team can field at any given time — has his ballot broken down, and here’s where it gets interesting. Eleven put the Falcons between No. 7 and No. 13 in the 32-team league. The exception is esteemed former colleague Len Pasquarelli, who has the Falcons 20th.

The same Pasquarelli ranks Carolina No. 3, and the Panthers, who finished one spot above the Falcons overall, generated the widest spread of any team. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. had them 24th. Five of the 12 …

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How the Atlanta Hawks just might stay together after all

Given that Rick Sund only went one-for-two on keeping last summer’s key free agents, the inclination is to think he might pull a Jeff Francoeur and bat .250 (or worse) this time around. But I’m thinking Sund will do better. I’m thinking the Hawks have a real chance to keep this team together, provided two things happen:

1. The economy stays bad.
2. Nobody gets mad.

“I like the core of this club,” Sund said this week. “I’d like to keep as much of it together as I can.” His endorsement is a major factor: It means he likes what he has and wants to add, not subtract.

Sund inherited last summer’s free agents, and it’s no secret he valued Josh Childress less than ownership did. The fractious Atlanta Spirit actually gave the new general manager permission to exceed the salary cap on Childress – you can do that to keep your own free agents – and Sund declined.

Sund has a clear idea as to what he feels guys are worth. He took a media hit, in this space and …

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Bradley’s Buzz: “With the 19th pick, the Hawks take …”

To go big or go small?

The first real wave of NBA mock drafts hit this week, and there’s no consensus regarding the Hawks’ Round 1 selection. Chad Ford of ESPN.com has them taking point guard Jeff Teague of Wake Forest at No. 19. Sean Deveney of Sporting News Today opts for Jonny Flynn, a point guard from Syracuse. Ian Thomsen of SI.com goes with yet another point guard — Eric Maynor of VCU. And NBAdraft.net, which last week had the Hawks taking Teague, has changed its mind and now has them choosing center B.J. Mullens of Ohio State.

For those keeping score, that’s three point guards against one center. In yesterday’s lengthy Q&A with GM Rick Sund, he said: “I pretty much lean, when you’re picking 19th, to take the best player with the most potential.” Of the four, Mullens might well have the most potential. He’s a skinny big man — he’s 7-foot, 275 pounds — with good hands, and he was considered one of the top five prospects for 2009 five months ago. But he had a tepid …

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Hawks GM Rick Sund answers questions, including yours!

OK, I messed up. I said I would ask Rick Sund about David Andersen, the Australian center who plays for FC Barcelona in Spain and whose NBA rights the Atlanta Hawks continue to hold, and I flat-out forgot. What can I say? We got to gabbing.

The Hawks’ general manager and I talked Wednesday for an hour and 45 minutes, and here, as promised, is a (slightly) truncated version of that extended audience. And you’ll be disappointed because Sund doesn’t volunteer any names of free agents he’d like to sign or details of any trade he’d like to make, but you’re going to have to deal with it. No GM ever talks about such things, at least not on the record, and Sund is more cautious than most.

But he is a winning conversationalist, and I think you’ll find some edification herein. And for all those who submitted questions I wound up using, you have my sincere thanks. For all those whose questions I didn’t pose, you have the same sincere thanks and my heartiest apologies. But I hope this …

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Audience-participation time! Submit questions for Rick Sund!

Dear readers:

I plan to speak with Hawks general manager Rick Sund tomorrow morning. (He’s a fine fellow, by the way, and a great conversationalist. Not that you asked. But I thought I’d throw that in.) And I kind of know what I want to ask: What’s he going to do this offseason? Keep Bibby? Keep Marvin? Trade for Kobe?

But I’m only one person, and a flawed one at that, and I might miss something. So I’m asking for your help. If you have a question for Mr. Sund, please submit it below. I’m not promising I’ll get around to all of them, but I’ll try to work in a few. So have at it, and please keep them clean.

Thanks in advance.

M. Bradley, interactive hack

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This just in! The 2008-2009 Hawks did OK for themselves!

We’ve kicked around the Hawks, sometimes pretty hard, these past few days, but amid all the discussions regarding who’s to blame — Woody? Joe? Red Auerbach? — a greater truth has been obscured if not missed entirely. So here goes:

The Hawks won more games than they should’ve and lost exactly when they should’ve.

They were 37-45 in 2007-2008. They improved 10 games without adding a starter. (And despite losing the Grecian earner Josh Childress.) They moved from the No. 8 seed in the East to the No. 4 seed. They won a first-round series over the No. 5 seed. They lost in Round 2 to the top seed. I’ve been a harsh critic of this franchise over the past quarter-century, but I’d say these Hawks gave good value for what they had.

And what exactly did they have? Well, according to the All-NBA team released Wednesday, not all that much. Joe Johnson finished 19th in the voting, which placed him among the honorable mentions, and no other Hawk received even a single vote. (Heck, Jermaine …

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Johnson needs to step back for the Hawks to step forward

Much has to happen. The Hawks need to re-sign Mike Bibby, to work a sign-and-trade with Marvin Williams and to draft a guard, preferably Eric Maynor of VCU, in Round 1. But for this team to climb from pretty good to really good, something more must be done.

The Hawks must wean themselves from their reliance on Joe Johnson.

Almost every bit of the Hawks’ offense since 2005 has run through Johnson, and it’s past time for an adjustment. It’s not that he isn’t a fine player; it’s that this team has two younger players who require room to grow.

Come 2011, Josh Smith and Al Horford should be the Hawks’ best players. (And this assumes Johnson re-ups next summer.) Together, Smith and Horford took 1,443 shots this regular season. By himself, Johnson took 1,420. Save the occasional lob, the team doesn’t run many plays for Smith. It runs almost none for Horford.

Johnson isn’t a ball hog – he led the team in assists, ahead of Bibby – but he’s the focal point. You can …

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