Michael Cunningham Talks Hawks Basketball With GM Rick Sund

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 12: Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks dunks and a draws a foul from Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Hawks beat writer Michael Cunningham recently sat down with Hawks general manager Rick Sund for a very detailed interview. MC asks Sund about nearly every question facing the team this offseason. Everything from their regression in the regular season to whether or not they will pursue a contract with Jamal Crawford. I am sure we will be referring back to this interview throughout the offseason but below is some highlights with some commentary from me. 

Q. Do you think this core group has peaked?

No.

Q. How can it be better?

I think we have learned along the way. We will look at the possibility of making our team better. We do every year. We've made two major trades the last two years and we will continue to look and see if there is something that makes us better.

Ok we know that Sund has heavily invested in this core group and anyone that thinks he is going to come out and tip his hand about possible offseason moves has not been following this team and how Sund operates. In the article, he talks about Dallas and how they kept their core together despite some early playoff disappointments the last several seasons. That comparison might be a stretch considering that they have a future Hall of Fame player in Dirk Nowitzki and Atlanta doesn't have such a player currently on its roster. 

Q. So you are not inclined to break it up?

I didn't say that. I said we will continue to look. Your question was, ‘Can this core be competitive again?' I think we were pretty competitive in the playoffs. I think we can continue to do it but I think we will look, like we do every year, to see if we can do something to make our club better.

Sund always likes to talk about looking for something that can make the club better. 

Q. When there was trade speculation last fall about Josh, you talked to him and reassured him. Now that there is more speculation, and he seemed frustrated with a lot of the criticism he got during the playoffs, do you talk to him again?

No, I've talked to him a number of times-collectively, our team-and the age of the Internet, bloggers make trades and then media feel compelled to write, and don't worry about that. If an opportunity presents itself to improve our club, they know we would do it. Bibby got traded, Mo got traded, we traded for Jamal, we traded our draft pick-they know we will pull the trigger. But one thing I'm not into is addition by subtraction or shopping one guy or two guys. We are looking to see what makes us better as we go forward.

Again he is not going to tip his hand. 

Q. Are you talking to Jamal about a contract extension?

I'm not going to discuss contract stuff. Jamal knows that we want to do everything in our power to bring him back but we don't know what the [CBA] rules are yet.

I recommend that everyone go read the full interview as Sund talks about many things but essentially says that their hand's are tied with moving forward until the new CBA is worked out. Which brings me to Jamal Crawford. There is not a doubt in my mind that Crawford will get an offer from the Hawks. Atlanta may even look to move a player like Marvin Williams to help bring Jamal back. Whether or not they can accomplish that is another question entirely. If things stay as they do right now with current personnel and the CBA, Atlanta won't have enough money to bring back Jamal Crawford and stay out of the luxury tax. Ownership has said that they would go into the tax for the right player. Is Jamal that player?

The answer to that question has to be an emphatic no and here is why. First and foremost Jeff Teague and Kirk Hinrich are the anti Crawford. Defense is their strength but the fall off in offense isn't going to substantial enough to warrant bringing back Jamal. We have seen many times throughout the regular season and the playoffs where Larry Drew was just comfortable with a three guard rotation. The Hawks are already heavily invested at the shooting guard position with Joe Johnson and Jamal proved throughout much of this season that his productivity slips considerably as a point guard. 

I expect the Hawks to make Jamal an offer but I don't think it will be a very big offer or one that he will be willing to accept. 

More on this interview to come

 

 

 

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