The Atlanta Hawks will have a number of new faces in uniform when they tip off the NBA season in Dallas on October 30. However, the change that general manager Danny Ferry made on the bench is still the most important move that was made this season.
Mike Budenholzer had many opportunities to leave the Spurs' bench over the years but decided that leaving for the Atlanta Hawks was the correct move. He recently told NBA.com's Sekou Smith that the opportunity to work with Ferry along with building the team that he wants was too good an opportunity to pass up.
"Having someone I can trust and work with, who sees the game the way I do and who wants to work collaboratively was a huge part of why I wanted to be here," Budenholzer said. "Someone to hear all of my crazy ideas, someone who to argue with and who will argue back at me, and we can agree or disagree and it's not the end of the world, all of that is critical for me. Ownership here is really strong and with Danny's influence, all of those are the things a coach should want in an opportunity."
To hear Budenholzer praise ownership has to be sort of a jolt to Atlanta fans who have spent most of the last 10 years blaming the Atlanta Spirit Group for mistakes and rightfully so. Since bringing in Ferry as GM, ownership has appeared to retreat to the backlines and have given the front office room to work.
The moves made by Ferry this off season have been celebrated in some circles and called into question in others. Some are predicting no drop off for the Hawks in 2013-14 while others see an inevitable step backwards in what looks like a more competitive Eastern Conference.
"We wanted to put together a group that is really, first and foremost, great competitors," Budenholzer said. "You have to have guys that will compete every night, every possession. Bringing in a guy like Paul, a guy with a really high basketball IQ, and how hard he plays, was big. In Paul, and Elton and Gustavo Ayon, we feel like we're adding guys who check all of those boxes and will play together as a group. They're better as a group than they are individually."
The most overlooked thing in the Budenholzer hire is that this will be the first complete upheaval of the coaching staff since the end of the 2003-04 season. When Larry Drew replaced Mike Woodson in 2010 he kept the majority of his staff although many of the philosophies changed. Drew and Woodson were both successful in Atlanta but reached their ceiling pretty quickly. The hope this time around is that Budenholzer can attain heights that have never been reached by the franchise.
Editors Note: This is the first in a series of posts where I will reexamine the moves made by the Atlanta Hawks and Danny Ferry this offseason.