We'll be providing a complete Year In Review once the NBA Finals are over, but for now - here's some truths to tide you over - mostly dedicated to the news that Rick Sund will continue to be our GM...
Disclaimer: As always, all criticisms come after blaming the Atlanta Spirit Group first, management second, and then coaches and players last. Those criticisms come through the prism of winning championships (or the things that result in championship team building).
Truth 1. Jeff Teague needs to keep his nose clean.
There will be a report tomorrow on the Today Show discussing his role in an alleged sexual assault. Now, I will let the legal system determine how much truth there is to this, but I will say this to Mr. Jeff Teague. There were already rumors about your lack of dedication to your craft early this season and let's just say - if you know who your coach is (and will likely be next year), then we'd advise you to stay on the narrow path of goodness. Primarily because as a human, that's just what you should do, but also because of the fact that you know it takes very little to get Larry Drew to put you back on the bench (and if you were actually involved in a sexual assault, then you are dead to me.)
(Let me find out this girl is affiliated with Larry Drew or his circle in any way and the season long quest for what really is happening is solved.)
Truth 2. Consistent Inconsistency = Player Movement.
I'm going to spend more time during the offseason proposing the right changes for the Atlanta Hawks, but I'll just reiterate what I've been saying for the past 2 offseasons and that's that -
short of new owners, a new GM, and a new coach - the players have to change. We'll talk about who at a later date, but I think it's pretty clear when watching the remaining teams in NBA playoffs and you can see a marked difference between the Hawks and those teams. The Hawks do not look like a team, but instead a group of individuals playing for the same organization. There are pockets of fire and energy, but outside of that - Joe, Al, and Josh do not look like they are on the same page and it's 4 years in on this journey. If you can't put it together in 4 years (while the Heat were able to get on a page in half a season), then you probably are never going to get on the same page.
We have watched the Hawks be consistently inconsistent for over 2 years and now, it's time to make moves. We know that the fan base is leery of moves due to our track record with trading our assets, but this isn't a time for timid, passive management. If we want to win, bold and aggressive moves must be made. The time is now
(or whenever the CBA says so).
Truth 3. Year In Review Preview (The Pluses).
So, let's make a list of the things that were positive this year.
1. Damian Wilkins - Anytime you can sign someone off the street and they can contribute in any way. That's a win.
2. Jeff Teague’s Playoff Performance – We have no idea if it’s transferrable to the regular season and is sustainable over the rest of his career, but for the offseason – the Hawks and its fans can finally settle on the idea that they have a point guard who can contribute on offense and DEFENSE.
3. Al Horford – Playoffs excepted, Al had his best year yet. He’s deadly with the pick and pop. We won’t discuss whether this is enough to move the Hawks forward, but for the season – it’s hard to say All Star and 3rd team All NBA are negatives.
4. Zaza Pachulia – Simply put, when he played consistent minutes, he played fairly well. Every team needs a Zaza.
Truth 4. Year In Review Preview (The Negatives).
So, let's make a list of the things that were negative this year.
1. Player Development – For Jeff Teague and Zaza Pachulia
(and Damian Wilkins upon the revelation that Marvin Williams has regressed tremendously) to not receive consistent minutes for this team, just continues the poor use of the meager assets at our coach’s hands.
2. Joe Johnson – Yes, he made the All Star game. No, he didn’t get one vote for All NBA. To be one of the top paid players in the league and to only have about 3-4 special games in an entire season and to decline in almost every category says – epic fail.
3. Marvin Williams – He just regressed to the point that he was usable in the biggest games in recent Atlanta Hawk history. You can blame Billy Knight for drafting him, but isn’t it worst if you re-sign him and he provides you less than during his formative years.
4. The Bench – When Damian Wilkins is your coup signing, you’ve failed to bring much needed help to a bench that consisted of little used Teague, sometimes used Zaza, and over used Jamal.
5. Regular Season – When you lose 9 more games than the year before with the same cast and winning a 1st round series that you have won the last 2 years sounds like success, then you really had a bad regular season. Simply put, the fact that you played hard in the 2nd round is looked at as progress sends the signal that you really didn’t put forth a regular season’s worth of professional efforts.
Truth 5. Billy Knight runs laps around Rick Sund as a GM.
Let me preface this with another truth – I don’t want Billy Knight back as the GM for the Atlanta Hawks, but I’ve written this before and after seeing that Rick Sund was given an extension – I figure it’s time to try to understand once again why people think Rick Sund has provided this team with assets to make us viable contenders. The Sund era is much closer to rivaling the Babcock era than coming close to the star-crossed Knight era.
Let’s recount what happened during the 2003-2008 tenure of Billy Knight. He did the following:
o Dismantled a team that was last in attendance, at the salary cap limit, and devoid of draft picks due to Pete Babcock (the players he had to get rid of were – Abdur-Rahim, Terrell Brandon, Alan Henderson, Theo Ratliff, Jason Terry (who we could have kept, but he signed a $8M/yr contract that we matched and wasn’t worth that), Al Harrington, Antoine Walker.
o Acquired 4 additional first round picks and 1 second round draft over his tenure
o Drafted the following NBA players (Josh Smith, Al Horford, Boris Diaw, Josh Childress)
o Signed or traded for Joe Johnson, Zaza Pachulia, Mike Bibby
o Attendance increased from last to 20th (not huge, but it’s positive)
o Rumored to have had a deal for Amare Stoudamire (ASG intervened)
Attempted to fire Mike Woodson
Had the finest wife of any GM I’ve ever met
o Drafted Shelden Williams, Acie Law, and Marvin Williams
(though my sources have continually said that he wanted to draft Deron Williams, ASG wanted Marvin Williams)
o Signed Speedy Claxton
o Got little value out of our 2nd round picks
o Too much love for Mario West
o Had the worst haircut in the NBA
The Rick Sund tenure includes the following:
o Traded for Jamal Crawford
(though this is a small positive since there was no signing that brought defensive talent to compliment Jamal’s offense)
o Signed Damian Wilkins and Flip Murray for cheap
(I’m reaching here)
o Re-signed Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Zaza Pachulia to market friendly contracts
o Drafted Jeff Teague (conditional to whether he gets to play)
o Drafted Jordan Crawford o Sold 1st round draft pick & getting no value out of 2nd round draft picks o Resigned Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, and Maurice Evans to cap killing contracts o Traded away 1st round draft pick and Jordan Crawford for Kirk Hinrich (further muddying our cap situation) o Poor cap management o Hired the backup of the guy he fired o No use of the D League for players who need seasoning. o Started falling back in attendance to 22nd o Signed Joe Smith, Jason Collins, Josh Powell, Randolph Morris, & Etan Thomas to all be back up big men (did I mention that we sold a 1st round draft pick while signing these guys?)
So, explain to me why I should want Rick Sund to continue to lead the franchise. The only thing that Sund didn’t do is make the big mistake (Shelden) and the perceived mistake (or what I call – taking the bullet for his bosses on Chris Paul or Deron Williams), but he did take this franchise and make a relatively large jump in viability that we haven’t seen from Sund’s tenure. In fact, we’re regressing and we have few assets to even make any changes. Think about this – we have $3M remaining to sign 6 players for next season. He basically bet the farm on the core and I don’t know one fan who believes in the entire core any longer, so why again are we spending any time on Knight? Shoot, as far as I’m concerned, Knight has proven qualifications of cleaning up the messes that guys like Sund make. Again, NO – I don’t want Knight back because he presided over two franchise changing picks and he has to be accountable for that, but on the Josh Smith pick ALONE – he’s done more for the Atlanta Hawks than Rick Sund could dream about. Knight in a KO!!!
And with that note, that's this week's 5 Truths....agree or disagree if you must, but if it's the Honesty Corner, then it can't be lies. See you in the comments...