"Its time to turn the corner."
I heard this phrase uttered more than once at Monday's media session from the likes of Larry Drew, Joe Johnson and others. Clearly it is one of the major points that the coaching staff is trying to hammer home as they frantically prepare for a regular season that promises to be grueling.
There is no mistaking that this is a team that understands the challenges that are laid out before them. While other teams around the Eastern Conference are adding pieces, Atlanta is trying to round out its roster with veteran minimum players in an effort to stay below the luxury tax. Hawks players may talk about wanting more pieces, more help but they understand that the help they get must come from within.
That is the correct approach for Larry Drew and his staff as he begins his second season as the head coach of the Hawks. The team can't afford to get caught up in who isn't here and must instead focus on getting the most out of what they do have. From the looks of things, everyone passes the eye test and is in good shape with the exception of Kirk Hinrich who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Whether it is enough in an Eastern Conference that is reloading remains to be seen.
Joe Johnson talked at length about the upcoming season and the challenges. When asked about the absence of Jamal Crawford from this year's team he replied that it was a big loss but comes with the terrritory.
"Yes its a big loss but at the same time its part of the business and it comes with what we do. All it means is that somebody else has to step up to fill the void"
When the questions turned to how the Hawks might fill the void, Jeff Teague became the popular answer. That is the same little used point guard that burst onto the scene during Atlanta's second round playoff loss to the Chicago Bulls. Everyone essentially had something to say about Teague who looked much more confident and sure of his surroundings. At one point Nick Van Exel came over to Teague and made a remark about how he was actually getting interviewed at this media day after not getting much attention the year before.
Joe Johnson offered the money quote in my opinion when it came to Jeff Teague putting it bluntly. "When he turns the corner, the Atlanta Hawks are going to turn that corner as well." That is a lot of pressure to put on a guy that has never been an everyday starter in the regular season but Teague in his own quiet way looked ready for the challenge.
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