Don't read this if you are an Atlanta Hawks fan and have eaten recently. Also, heart conditions, the easily angered and anybody who hasn't hardened their collective hearts to the bad news this franchise receives.
Zach Lowe of Grantland, he of the growing national media appreciation for the Hawks and the work Danny Ferry and Mike Budenholzer are doing, brings some painful words about this free agent season, words that will fuel the undying naysayers and star-struck NBA2K type armchair GMs.
Let's just bring it to straight, from Lowe's Winners and Losers piece in Grantland:
Loser: Atlanta Hawks
No one will take Atlanta's money, despite a good core of players, a very good coaching staff, and an innovative style of play Mike Budenholzer has only just begun installing. Some stars won't even meet with them. I almost wanted to hug Budenholzer when I saw him in Vegas. The most common theory among insiders for Atlanta's lack of appeal is that players see the Hawks as a dull franchise with a dead crowd and a limited postseason history that almost always involves NBA TV.
That will turn around at some point, but just about everyone Atlanta has approached so far rebuffed the Hawks' invitation to get in on the ground floor.
Amy Grant sang "It Takes a Little Time, sometimes, to turn the Titanic around". Someone once said "Rome wasn't built in a day". And yet another platitude says "Patience is a virtue." Yeah, yeah, yeah, but these are hard truths to stomach and even harder when trying to maintain positive attitude about the momentum of the Hawks as a franchise.
Dull franchise. Bad crowds. Limited postseason history. Hard to argue these things. Those words about this season's free agent crop make the fact that Paul Millsap chose the Hawks last season as close to a miracle. That Ferry continues to get players who make the team better on the court despite this perception is impressive and must be extremely hard work.
The truth is the Hawks are moving forward, as Lowe says. It is a good core of players, a sensational coaching staff and the franchise is in real good hands with Danny Ferry and Mike Budenholzer. Like a snake has to rub off the old skin to unveil the new one, so one can hope that the Hawks are doing just that, and the process takes time to complete.
It was so close in Game 6 of the playoff series. The city was hype -- a buzz that hadn't been felt in almost two decades in the city. The Pac was Back and the Hawks were minutes away from completing the upset over the top-seeded Indiana Pacers, without Al Horford. Instead, it was "Never Trust the Hawks" again and the franchise's limited postseason success has to wait another year before trying to scribe a new chapter and the outsiders could ignore the Hawks once more.
It's hard to wait. It's hard to feel the pain of being irrelevant. There are those who would react to that by screaming and wanting to dump everyone running the Hawks right now out of frustration and impatience. They'll talk about superstars and putting butts in seats. But the last thing that needs to be done is to oust competence and remove the very things that are beginning to turn the heads of the people that watch the league closer than anyone. To act foolishly, which I'm thankful this ownership group isn't doing, would be kin to cratering the franchise. Tell me again how doing this would attract any superstars or accomplish anything other than going back to square one.
Consistency is key and if the Hawks stay the course and continue their success with a style of play respected by the league, more players will take notice, more players will feel like something's different with the franchise. But until then, we have to wait, and wait and wait for the winning to draw people to the arena and the players who have a choice of where they play to come there, too.