My friend is about to graduate from law school, and he was at an interview a few weeks ago at a law firm. The partner asked want his goals were in the field of law, and John told him, "well sir, I would love to be on the back of a phone book some day."
I laughed when he told me the story. Apparently, that was a much better reaction than the one he got from the partner.
But if you cannot make fun of personal injury lawyers, what can you make fun of? Joel and Associates is one of Atlanta's
finest most advertised. I drive by three bill board on the way to work, and one of the slogans says "all the help the law allows." Which I think is basically saying if there was no law, we would have no moral boundary we would not cross to get you more money.
In business of course, you would be dumb to have a similar slogan. We will "spend all the money we can possibly spend" does not grace many desks in top 100 companies (ed. note I actually have never seen a desk in a top 100 company).
The Hawks of course are a business. So to look at the cap numbers, figure out a number, and go hell or high water to spend that number would be dumb. That is how you get Brian Grant on your team.
But in terms of the arc of rebuilding, the time is now for this team. Smell the air Hawks fans, the rubber is meeting the road. Four of the Hawks seven best players are up for free agency. Only one of them is restricted. An original piece of the rebuilding project sits unused and possibly trade worthy in Europe. A blunder this summer and the Hawks might not fall of the playoff shelf, but they will build their own wall around the second round of the playoffs. We will have seen the pinnacle moment of a painful rebuild. And I, at least, did not do a 13 win season to experience the joys of second round sweeps.
What worries me as a Hawks fan is not so much that the wrong people are in place to evaluate talent and make decisions or that we will over spend on players that are past their prime. What makes me sweat through t shirts at night and wonder where that bottle of wine went to so fast is that I don't think the Hawks are willing to do all that the law allows.
If the opportunity comes to sign Marvin, bring back Flip, trade for a point guard, hire a new coach, or whatever you deem to be the right move, I am afraid that the law and logistics of the salary cap will not be the final deciding factor. I am afraid the Hawks will bank on bargain basement free agents like Mo and Flip and just hope to get lucky. To ride the wave until the team and the economy is on better financial footing.
I understand that the Atlanta Spirit are hurting for money. They have bled a lot of cash over the last few years, but the team saw the most fans come to Phillips ever this year. Slowly, borderline lazily, the city is warming to the Hawks. But one thing I can assure management of is no matter how much you have done to build a relationship between fans and the team, this city will not support a loser. We are city that demands hope.
This is not a time to take economic risks. Small time free agents might actually be all the law allows as long as the Belkin case is sits in purgatory. But if the only thing holding back the Hawks is past failure and losses, this team needs to make a statement. They need to get on billboards and on the back of phone books. The message needs to get out. I can see it now on a Marta bus. A picture of Joe Johnson with the words "We have slowly built this team into a playoff contender. Now it is time to do all that the law allows."