With the dearth of news on the coaching front, the draft and free agency being over a month away, and the anti-climactic thud representing the end of the Hawks season, Peachtree Hoops has done radio and little else since the bitter end.
I'd like to say we're back, but---hey, how about a links post?!
Read how the AJC has gone nutty about the Joe Johnson possibilities and coaching search, a long time Hawk fan sends Coach Woodson out the right way, and an interesting interview with Al Horford, where the big fella talks about playing for the DR this summer and what the Hawks need to add in the offseason. (Spoiler Alert: He wants to move to power forward.)
Catch 'em after the jump:
We thought we were obsessed with Joe Johnson and the will he/won't he, will they/won't they soap opera that his pending free agency created, but holy cow, Michael Cunningham has been downright CNN about covering every conceivable angle of Joe Johnson.
First, there was the story about JJ and the Heat, which seemed to light the fuse for Cunningham on the Joe issue.
That led to a monstrous post that threatened to send Cunningham to terminal blog-dom, exceeding the print newspaper beat writer record for cap analysis and length. The goal was to tell us that it may be worth our while to keep JJ--at least more than we think, but I came away convinced I'd rather fall back for a year, build around Horford and Smith and not tie ourselves down to Joe.
Finally, as if there was something lacking from his (excellent, I should add) epic post, he had to go to extreme granularity in discussing a potential trade exception that could be gained. That's right, as if 1,888 words were not comprehensive enough, Michael drilled down for another 564 to discuss the potential value of a trade exception for Joe. The end of which, Michael let's us know that a coach may still be quite a bit away.
– The latest on the Hawks coaching search: Dwane Casey is set for another interview, Avery Johnson’s desire for personnel power has been overstated, Larry Drew is being considered and Mark Jackson appears to be a long shot. Rick Sund apparently hasn’t even narrowed down his initial list of candidates to a leading group.
Maybe the Hawks are waiting for more playoff teams to get into the mix for these quality coaching candidates. Or maybe coaches are waiting to see or asking what the Hawks are going to do with Johnson before deciding whether to take the reins.
Speaking of the coaching search:
Mark Bradley continues to lead the pack in his coverage of the Hawks Coaching Search (TM). He was first to suggest Mavericks assistant and former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey, and has since discussed the rumors of Avery Johnson's quest for power and then laid out many truths regarding the Hawks coaching search before reporting that Casey is lined up for a second interview.
A couple of things:
1. Kudos to Bradley for leading the way on the coaching search--not that Michael hasn't provided coverage as well but it's nice to have two guys providing news on that front.
2. I have endorsed Casey for the Hawks job due to his solid record with a transitional roster playing with a superstar in Minnesota, his teams' good mark on both ends of the floor there, and his good rep in Seattle as an assistant under George Karl and Nate McMillan.
Bradley mentions that the Gearons aren't the type that like the screaming coaches (interesting that both daddy and son lived and breathed in the Omni with Hubie Brown and Mike Fratello) which would also favor Casey. I mentioned on the Peachtree Hoops on the Radio that the same reason was why Doug Collins would not have been a good fit here as well. Teams will often try and hire the opposite in their next head coach, no matter the sport, but while a screamer would sure be the opposite of the calm Mike Woodson, I don't think that would go well with Horford, Smith, or anyone on this roster.
Bradley also mentions that the Hawks don't appear on Chris Bosh's sign and trade wish list, which doesn't surprise me for the same reasons Bradley discusses in the piece. And really, it echoes what Bret LaGree has spoken nationally about adding another big man with big minutes to the Hawks frontcourt. Unless it means either Josh or Al moves out, it doesn't work. Josh Smith can not be efficient on either end at the small forward position. Heck, Horford would be better out there than Smith.
So what would benefit the Hawks the most if, say, Joe Johnson were to be dealt? Well, I'm biased here in that I have written extensively about the problems at a particular position over the last decade or so in the ATL, but a young, pure point guard would be the most help. Not saying there is anyone out there that fits that bill, unless New Orleans is willing to be so down on Chris Paul that they deal him, but that would be the #1 place to start for me. Apart from that, a scorer that can defend and get to the line would be a welcome replacement for Joe.
Speaking of Hoopinion, Bret is plowing through his annual performance evaluations (does not guarantee raises) and has produced gems on Rick Sund, the late Mike Woodson, the potentially former Hawk Joe Johnson, and the dynamic duo of Josh Smith and Al Horford.
My analysis of Bret's work there: Fantasticus. That is all. Seriously, it's a highlight of the off-season--go and enjoy.
One of the Bird Watchers from afar, Lang Whitaker, sends Mike Woodson off in the most complimentary and honest summary/farewell to the former head coach. Anyone who didn't read the piece Lang did in-season when he was embedded with the Hawks need to click the link within the story about it. An all-timer.
Finally, Al Horford gave an interview to the Associated Press regarding playing in the Dominican Republic this offseason. He also indicates he's ready to sign a long term deal to stay in the NBA and offers this (translated, emphasis mine) gem:
Horford considered that the young Hawks need a point guard and a genuine center, enabling him to play as power forward.
If Al truly believes this, then he disagrees with Mark Bradley and Rick Sund, who both believe he is perfectly suited for his role as center. I believe that Al still struggles mentally with having to take on the biggest the NBA has to offer every night, and it shows with hurried moves and shots against larger opponents. But with Josh Smith on the roster, as noted earlier regarding Josh's inability to play efficiently from the 3, it leaves Al having to man the pivot.
Exit question: If the Hawks stick with Josh and Al gets increasingly antsy about having to play his prime years in what he feels is out-of-position, will he be less willing to sign that long-term NBA contract with Hawks?