After taking a step back and waiting a few days after the Hawks were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs yet again, I wanted to look at the Atlanta Hawks and evaluate them from the top to the bottom. Taking everything into account, my mind has not changed from where it was at the end of the regular season. The biggest obstacle to the Hawks gaining bigger and better success is none other than the ownership group that is currently running the show.
Why do I say this? It's not because they have tried to run the team on the cheap. If anything, they have clearly not been conservative enough with their money and have foolishly spent some big contracts on players that will never live up to that contract. I've mentioned this in a few other threads, but my biggest gripe about this ownership group is that I do not believe they let the basketball people make the basketball decisions.
I don't have a lot of objective evidence to back that up, but there are several situations that lead me to believe that is the case.
First, back in the 2007-2008 season, Billy Knight wanted to fire Mike Woodson during the season and promote Larry Drew to the head coaching position. That move was nullified by this ownership group, and this ultimately lead to Billy Knight's departure from the Atlanta Hawks basketball organization.
Second, this ownership group set out to hire a general manager in the summer of 2008. After interviewing a few young candidates such as Dennis Lindsey, Chris Grant, and Tommy Sheppard, the Atlanta Hawks settled on hiring Rick Sund, a veteran general manager with many years of experience. My premise on why Rick Sund was hired instead of one of the young pups is my opinion that Rick Sund showed in interviews that he would be a yes man, whereas the younger candidates likely wanted to put their stamp on the team.
Third, after Rick Sund was hired, a decision had to be made on the head coach at that point. I'm not sure what Mike Woodson's contract status was at that time, but I know that there was some doubt as to whether he would be brought back or not. Ultimately, Mike Woodson was brought back. He was the owners guy, and I think the fact that they would not let Billy Knight fire him proves that.
So, those are three instances in a short period of time, and I feel they point strongly to an ownership group, or at least one of the owners in the group, that makes the basketball decisions behind the scenes.
Because of this, I feel the contracts that were given to Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, and Joe Johnson are clearly moves that were spearheaded by one of the owners or the ownership group as a whole. In my opinion, those three contracts are the reason the Hawks were unable to take a legitimate step forward this season. They are also why I stated above that I do not feel they were conservative enough with their money, and I'm one that believes beind conservative with your money means spending it wisely.
Those three contracts put the Hawks in a salary situation where the only moves they could make to help improve the team were signing veteran players such as Josh Powell, Etan Thomas, and Jason Collins to league minimum contracts.
The decision to trade Jordan Crawford and a first round draft pick for Kirk Hinrich helped the team in the short term, but it may have some long term ramifications. First, I think it really shows that this organization from the top down had no idea what they might have had in Jeff Teague. Second, it shows that they don't have any ability to look down the road and see how the young Jordan Crawford and that possible 18th pick would have effected this team. If nothing else, Crawford and the 18th pick could have very well provided good depth for the team down the road. That would have been a far sight better than Etan Thomas, Josh Powell, Jason Collins, or Hilton Armstrong. Collins is useful for about 14 games a season, and the rest are as useful as tits on a boar hog.
Does anyone see this ownership group realizing their mistakes and changing their approach in the future? I don't. That's why I feel that the first thing that MUST happen if the Hawks are to take a step forward to compete for a championship is that the team has to be sold. I say that with some reservation as well, because sometimes you have to be careful about what you wish for. In this instance, I feel change is needed and would be willing to take the risk that the new owner(s) may not be any better.
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