Let's get right to the questions as the Hawks employ their fifth general manager since Dominique Wilkins became an Atlanta Hawk.
1. How much changes between the Rick Sund and Danny Ferry era?
Depending on which move you might be talking about, there are myriad rumors around what Sund was able/not able to do.
Selling draft picks for short term gain? Allegedly not Sund's call.
Larry Drew as head coach? Again, may or may not have been Rick's decision or, at worst, his first choice.
Letting Josh Smith and Josh Childress twist in the wind while restricted free agents? A Rick Sund production.
Bottom line is that there has been much speculation, in this space and in other regular Bird Watchers, that Sund did not have full control over critical decisions, ones that in other franchises, allow the constant ebb and flow of building and letting folks go instead of always doubling down on the status quo.
As one birdy told me, hey, if the owners told Rick Sund to build for the future he would do just that -- meaning all the short term, sell the future for the now was just a measure of following orders.
So now with Danny Ferry, what changes, if anything? Does Ferry simply step into the reputedly restricted shoes that Rick Sund now voluntarily departs or does bring Ferry in represent a change in direction for the franchise?
This is the 80 million dollar question.
2. How does this impact the draft?
I doubt it does much as the infrastructure remains in place and Ferry was serving in the San Antonio front office this past season so it's not as if he was adrift in the Atlantic Ocean when the Hawks pulled him in for this gig.
The Hawks needs remain the same, depth in the frontcourt a possible replacements for Marvin Williams and point guard depth.
3. What happens with Josh Smith?
If Ferry is aloud to re-tool the roster instead of replacing Rick Sund as resident caretaker of the Playoff Bound Atlanta Hawks then you might begin to hear more of the noise around moving the soon-to-be free agent Smith before time runs out and the Hawks lose him for nothing.
The first clue might be July 1st, when the Hawks can negotiate an extension of Smith's current deal. If Ferry is able and willing, he would do well to try and re-up Smith before interested parties come into play without restriction next summer. Given the consistently slighted feeling Smith holds about his hometown franchise -- to not do so might be the final blow-off that sends Smith into the arms of another franchise.
If Ferry actively begins to shop Smith, we could extrapolate that ownership is letting Ferry move beyond just the current year, a pattern of behavior that has defined the moves for the past three seasons for the franchise. Stretching outside the status quo and making a move involving a player that has long been considered "core" would be an endorsement for Ferry to do more than just babysit this roster.
4. What does this mean for Larry Drew?
Drew had his option picked up by Sund before he bowed out, but chances were that the team was going to see this current run out one more year, even if folks like me believed a new, proven coach could have provided a new voice and pushed this core ahead.
While on the surface it looks like bad timing, bringing in a GM after the outgoing GM re-ups a head coach, Ferry is actually in a good spot.
He can let Drew coach out the final year and see what happens and if it doesn't work out, he has many good options available next offseason, given the current lack of openings in the league.
Orlando is the only major team left to hire, and they cannot fit Nate McMillan, Brian Shaw, Phil Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and the like into the one coaching opening they have. And if Oklahoma City decides they are going to "upgrade" their coaching situation, that puts now-accomplished head coach Scott Brooks on the list that Ferry may peruse if he is not impressed with Larry Drew.
Danny Ferry is a name that Hawks fans recognize and raises the level of visibility of a position that Rick Sund kept well below the sight lines during his tenure with the team. His hiring provides lots of questions that will get answered as the season runs its course and, while Hawk fans hope for the best, they are no doubt prepared for more of the same from a team that has trained them very well in managing their own expectations.
Still, it's a move sure to generate interest -- and with Sund leaving anyway, a good move for the Hawks.