Rick Sund instigated (through a little nudging from HawksStr8talk) a Q&A with a few Hawks bloggers. First and foremost a thank you to Sund. I am a guy that does not pursue media credentials because I can't go to a game and not cheer. I am a fan that writes. And sure, sometimes I quell personal passion for objectivity, but for the most part, I am one of 16,000 in the stands who happens to write. So to have a GM of an NBA team actively pursue meeting with me is a real testament to Sund. At the very least, it shows he believes in his vision and is not scared of telling it to whomever.
Sund answered every single one of our questions, and I felt satisfied with each answer, and yet learned very little. Clearly the man makes more money than me. Some things I knew, some things I didn't, but here is the interview. Only quotes are from Sund himself. All other things are reading between the lines, and lets be serious, you have some pretty serious spacing with an NBA GM.
On the trade deadline:
"You never say never." When Rick Sund traded for Ray Allen in Seattle it was because he made it clear a year before who he wanted for Gary Payton, and the Bucks called him back a year later. Still, "if you are only willing to trade your eight through thirteen guys, you are probably only going to get back an eight through thirteen guy."
On his luck with sixth men:
Hats off to Sund. He said Flip and Jamal's performances have been in part luck. But from an outside perspective in the summer of 2008, he thought "the Hawks lacked toughness." And Flip brought toughness. During that season in one of the losses to Boston, he saw Ray Allen after the game and Ray told Sund, "You guys are one scorer off the bench from being really good." And for Sund, Jamal brings "a different kind of toughness." The kind of toughness that does not care what anyone thinks, and a more skilled, emotionally tough Flip.
Goals for the season:
Last year, Sund told me he had two goals for the team. I retold him those goals in my question and was complelty off. Good thing that was not embarrassing....
Well, last year they were make the playoffs and have a winning record in that order. Those were the two goals.This year it was "keep the other eleven teams behind us and gain ground on the top three." I agree, but I want more specifics. I label this part of the interview, "my total wuss out."
Sund did say both seasons he has been here, the team has gone beyond his expectations. Sounds like if the season continues, Mr. Woodson should expect a contract extension.
I asked about the upcoming CBA agreement and how it relates to 2010 free agency. Sund could not talk on the record about negotiations or possible negotiations so basically, he said nothing. Damn you Stern!
Sund pointed out that with only 13 men on the roster, he cannot afford the investment in a D-league. Yes, only twelve guys can dress for a game so someone like Teague could go down, but Sund said, with nights like when Jamal was hurt, they need Teague around. That security blanket along with "practicing every day, learning the system, and five to ten minutes of playing time" means Jeff is more valuable on the team than in the D-League.
I could go either way on this one. It makes sense, and the Hawks did need Teague against Miami, but when he was basically just practicing, he came out lost on defense and lacking confidence on offense.
Joe Johnson 2010:
Not much new on this front. Sund thinks he knows who Joe is as a player. He is not going to make a trade that jeopardize the financial flexibility to sign Joe.
The only thing moderately interesting is the known fact that Joe came to the Hawks last summer about an extension, and part of the reason he did not sign the contract was he came to understand the difference between extensions and free agent contracts. As a free agent, you can have more years and (I think) more money. Made sense for Joe not to sign.
A few things arise from this depending on your point of view 1) Joe might not be so money hungry as some think, just rational 2) the Hawks might be more willing to go a fifth year and more money they just couldn't with an extension 3) Joe needs a new agent.
In the end though, it was pretty clear to me that the Hawks intend to sign Joe Johnson. In no way did I get the feeling that they were going to make a courtesy offer and allow Joe to walk. Again, that is just a feeling, but I think it is safe to say if Joe leaves, it is because he didn't want to play for the Hawks. Not because the Hawks let him leave.
Again, thanks to the Hawks organization for making this available to us. A good night all around. It almost made me forget about the suckfest that was the Hawks that night. Almost.