NBA Offseason Grades: ESPN personalities differ on Atlanta Hawks

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Chad Ford and Bill Simmons sometimes can't agree on basketball related items and judging how the Atlanta Hawks did in the offseason is the latest in disagreements.

Off-season moves are judged rather un-scientifically, relying on feelings and expectations to lead versus any kind of numeric method.

Basically, it's a more sophisticated version of the old, AOL chat room, sux/rules discussions that defined the late 90's sports conversations.

So, with that, it should come as little surprise that two of ESPN's more known NBA voices, Bill Simmons and Chad Ford, might differ in their opinions of the Atlanta Hawks offseason.

First, there is Simmons, who included the Hawks in his two-part, Midnight Run quote homage that was intertwined in an analysis of the NBA offseason. His words on the Hawks:

"I suffer from aviophobia."
"What does that mean?"
"It means I can't fly. I also suffer from acrophobia and claustrophobia."
"I'll tell you what, if you don't cooperate, you're gonna suffer from fistophobia."

Another one of my favorite exchanges goes to one of my favorite offseason GM performances: Atlanta's Danny Ferry letting Smith leave, then replacing him with Paul Millsap (two years, $19 million = THEY S-T-O-L-E HIM), keeping Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague (four years, $56 million combined), then drafting German point guard Dennis Schroeder and a Brazilian energy guy named Bebe (I like both of them). Can someone send me the e-mail addresses of all 175 Hawks fans? I'd like to congratulate them.

Don't dwell on the "175 fans" comment -- I believe it will be forever cute to imagine the Hawks fanbase in this manner. Just know that one day, when the Hawks emerge, it will still be cute to refer to Hawks fans as dedicated, if not small. Se la.

Instead, more heaping helpings of glory for the signing of Paul Millsap, the hype around the Hawks international draft picks and the notion that four years and 56 million for Teague and Korver are reasonable. BTW, Bill, my email is jaywalker72@gmail.com if you want to send those grats over today. After the early aughts, where I was buzzed about getting Glenn Robinson and continued to even sniff a playoff run, I'll take them.

He's right to congratulate us because the offseason, while not landing in the Utopian spot of Howard/Paul or even Howard or Paul, was a clinic of good cap usage, savvy maneuvering and asset collecting. Millsap less than market after watching Josh walk and Teague not getting away for nothing was good.

And we don't even see where Budenholzer's hire will come into play. He was sought after by many, expected to take over for Pop but Ferry was able to get him to come to Atlanta, where, theoretically, they will share the same vision to bring the same kind of organizationally sound, repeatable success San Antonion has enjoyed since the mid 90's.


Ok, now, representing the meh crowd and the Ferry hasn't reallllly done anything crowd (a valid argument at this point), comes Chad Ford with his offseason grades for the East (Insider Required).

ATLANTA HAWKS | GRADE: C+

Additions: Paul Millsap (free agent), Jeff Teague (re-sign), Kyle Korver (re-sign), Dennis Schroeder (draft), Elton Brand (FA), DeMarre Carroll (FA),Gustavo Ayon (waiver claim), Lucas Nogueira (draft), Jared Cunningham(trade), Pero Antic (FA), Mike Muscala (draft), Mike Budenholzer (coach)

Subtractions: Josh Smith (Pistons), Larry Drew (Bucks), Zaza Pachulia(Bucks)

The Hawks, with their loads of cap room, were poised to make a big splash this summer. Instead, it was a fairly quiet affair.

They lost their second-best player, Smith, via free agency but made up for the loss in large part with the signing of Millsap, whose two-year, $19 million deal was widely regarded as one of the better values of the summer. While Millsap doesn't provide the athletic sizzle of Smith, he plays a mistake-free game that Hawks fans will appreciate.

The situation at point guard may be the most interesting this season. The team drafted Schroeder, a super quick German who reminds scouts of a young Rajon Rondo. Schroeder isn't ready to take the reins right away though, and the Hawks reluctantly matched the Bucks' offer sheet for Teague. Atlanta tried to work a sign-and-trade with the Bucks for about week, but the Hawks' demands were high. If Schroeder is the player the Hawks believe he is, Teague could be moving on as soon as next summer.

The hiring of Budenholzer was regarded as a steal. While Drew did an admirable job in Atlanta the past few years, Budenholzer is a Spur and GM Danny Ferry is trying to re-create the San Antonio culture in Atlanta.

Overall the Hawks didn't do a lot to move the needle in either direction. I doubt they crack the top five in the East next season, but they should still be in the playoff hunt. Atlanta should have cap room again next year to make a substantial offer to another free agent, and if Schroeder progresses, they'll have a trade chip in Teague. So while the future is not incredibly bright, there are still opportunities to get better.

I've read it a few times now, along with the other team grades, and all I can determine is that Ford is looking at this season's impact only, even if his explanation above the grades claims to factor in more than that.

Looks like he is good with Millsap and Schröder, but not about not being able to sign and trade Teague. He is good with Budenholzer being considered a steal, but didn't feel the Hawks did enough to move into the Tank or Title group.

I don't know if I agree that the extremes are the only valid path in the offseason. While, of course, a title is the ultimate goal, the Hawks went for Howard but he chose Houston, who had followed a similar tack of accumulating assets until a situation arose that they could take advantage. Such a strategy Ford wrote about in his 2012 Offseason Grades article about the Rockets:

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Key additions: Jeremy Lin (FA), Omer Asik (FA), Jeremy Lamb (draft),Royce White (draft), Terrence Jones (draft), Shaun Livingston (trade), Jon Brockman (trade), Toney Douglas (trade), Gary Forbes (trade), JaJuan Johnson (trade), E'Twaun Moore (trade), Sean Williams (trade)

Key subtractions: Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Marcus Camby, Chase Budinger, Samuel Dalembert

Every summer, GM Daryl Morey goes all out in an attempt to lasso a star. And every summer, he falls just short.

Two years ago, he made a strong pitch to Chris Bosh. In December, Morey almost landed Pau Gasol, only to see commissioner David Stern crush his hopes. He then went to Plan B, Marc Gasol, only to have his efforts thwarted by the Grizzlies. This year, Morey is chasing Dwight Howard like a dog chases a squirrel. He might catch him eventually, but his huge collection of middling assets hasn't been enough to persuade the Magic to pull the trigger on a trade ... yet.

Like I said last year, someday Morey is going to get one of these deals. Unfortunately, that day still hasn't come for Rockets fans.

In the meantime, Houston has gutted its roster to have the cap space to do a Howard deal. Key players such as Lowry, Dragic, Camby, Dalembert and Budinger are all gone. The idea for the Rockets is to send the Magic a number of their young assets and draft picks while taking back some of Orlando's junk -- Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Glen Davis and/or Chris Duhon. That may be a hard offer for Orlando GM Rob Hennigan to reject.

If that doesn't work, the team did have some success this summer. Just about everyone was shocked when the Knicks decided not to match their offer for Lin. I think the Rockets overpaid and Dragic (the guy they let walk) may end up being better. But he's a young, starting-caliber point guard who will get the fan base excited again.

It looks like the Rockets will land Asik too. ESPN is reporting that with the Bulls-Nazr Mohammeddeal in place, and the Bulls won't match. If the Rockets keep Asik, they've added a young big who gets after it defensively. Again, they paid too much, but that's what teams have to do to land restricted free agents.

As for their young players, scouts raved about the play of Lamb, White and Jones, in the Las Vegas summer league. The summer league isn't the best indicator of future success, but the value of Lamb, White and Jones all went up the past week.

Overall, the Rockets' roster is still a major work in progress. I'm not sure how it will turn out, but I would be shocked if the Rockets go into opening day with Lin, Asik and a bunch of rookies and second-year players. Until we get a little more clarity, an incomplete will have to do.

GRADE: Incomplete

GROUP QUESTION: Who is right here? Or are they both right? Or both wrong? And where the heck was I?

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