Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dear God, NO

Today's also includes the feeblest meeting of the minds one could conjure: Terence Moore and Michael Gearon, Jr. on the subject of the wonderful job Mike Woodson has done coaching the Hawks.

Moore, quoting Gearon:
"We’ve got a lot of momentum as a franchise right now, and what’s important to us is that we do not disrupt that.”

Makes sense to me. The same goes for Gearon saying, “I cannot see a situation where Woodson is not here.”
You know what I can't see? A situation where Woodson wins 40 (regular season) games as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. Those even worse teams in the Eastern Conference that the Hawks barely outlasted for the eighth seed in the playoffs? They're hiring Larry Brown or Scott Skiles to coach their teams. They're barring Isiah Thomas from having any contact with their players. They have draft picks. They are actively trying to get better, or, at least, they recognize that they are not good.

Moore takes this idiocy one step further:
All this Woodson bashing, stretching from the past to the present, is ridiculous. He didn’t put together a bunch of dysfunctional rosters. He just had to coach them, and he did so well, despite having one of those eight owners suing the others, a player’s death before the start of a season, the NBA’s youngest team for most of those years and no decent point guard until Bibby arrived in February.
Moore lays all the blame at Billy Knight's door:
Billy Knight was the problem, but he isn’t anymore. Thankfully, he announced Wednesday that he’ll resign when his contract as general manager expires at the end of June. He’s the one who was obsessed with giving Woodson a bunch of “long and athletic” players to the detriment of common sense.
I have consistently absolved Woodson of responsibility for not having a lot of options. What's so damning about Woodson's performance as the head coach is that he can't adequately sort through the few options he has had and deploy them sensibly or successfully.
Woodson had zero say in personnel decisions, by the way. He just kept his mouth shut and did the best he could with a starter out of high school (Josh Smith), another just a year out of college (Marvin Williams), a power forward playing center (Al Horford), no point guard worth mentioning before Bibby, no depth on the bench beyond Josh Childress and a dearth of shooters.
Smith and (to a far lesser extent) Williams are still raw talents despite playing four and three years respectively under Woodson. He has failed to make good use of their existing talents or aid them in developing new talents. Mike Woodson has allowed Josh Smith to shoot 361 three-pointers over the last three seasons, making 26.8% of those. (379 attempts, making 26.4% if you include his 3-18 shooting in the wildly successful playoff series the Hawks just lost) Mike Woodson calls plays for Marvin Williams to post people up. Smith and Williams aren't (collectively) a bad hand Woodson was dealt; they're examples of why he can't be brought back.*

*Does anyone else wonder that Chris Paul is just as ecstatic he wasn't drafted by the Hawks and forced to play under Mike Woodson as Hawks fans are upset that Billy Knight didn't draft Paul?

There is a center on the roster. He's evidence of one of Billy Knight's few shrewd moves. It's not Woodson's fault that Pachulia was hurt this year. It is partly Woodson's fault that Pachulia has no respect for his head coach. (Furthermore, outside of Dwight Howard, how often was Al Horford physically overmatched playing center. It's not ideal that he play there all the time but it's far from the biggest problem this team dealt with on a nightly basis.)

There may have been a point guard worth mentioning before (the decidedly average) Mike Bibby arrived but Woodson did everything possible not to play Acie Law IV. And, going back a couple of years, not having a good point guard on the roster is not a sufficient excuse for inflicting Royal Ivey on the people of this town.

Finally, a dearth of shooters? Salim Stoudamire and I aren't even going to dignify that with a response.

The last three weeks have taught me that the degree to which someone thinks Mike Woodson is unqualified to coach the Atlanta Hawks is directly proportional to the number of Hawks games he or she watches. So, Terence Moore: how many Hawks games did you watch this year? And how many are going to watch next year to see Joe Johnson pass out of the post when double-teamed with less than five seconds left on the shot clock to a wide-open Josh Smith 20' from the basket while Al Horford is sitting on the bench for an entire quarter because he's four fouls away from fouling out?

Furthermore, should I be surprised that ownership would be willing to alienate their few serious fans to create the illusion for those recently caught up in the excitement of losing a first-round playoff series and who don't know any better that the Hawks as currently constructed are building toward something?

UPDATE: Chad Ford's chatting this afternoon:
Tim (Toledo): Lindsey to Atlanta? Woodson out? Avery in?

SportsNation Chad Ford: (1:21 PM ET ) I think Billy King has the inside track on the Hawks job from what I'm told. If he's the guy, I think he'll keep Woodson. All three are Larry Brown disciples. If it's Dennis Lindsey ... I'd say Avery is a possibility.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Terrence Moore puts it all on BK...but how can he (or anyone) look at that series against the Celtics and see good coaching? The home/away disparity is so dramatic that I can't see it as anything but a flaming arrow in the sky pointing toward bad coaching. Can Terrence Moore honestly be saying "Hey look, he coached up a crappy roster to three home wins against the Celtics, even though he couldn't begin to replicate those results away from Phillip's."

It's more like "Hey, despite some disparity in polish and experience, our starters are as talented as Boston's. We were able to steal three home wins." That's the only conclusion I can draw from that series. The Hawks overcame bad coaching because they willing to play defense when 20,000 fans were chanting "Defense!"

I have a feeling that I'll go to my grave wondering what Josh Childress could have done under D'Antoni.

Bret LaGree said...

I'd tried repeating "It's only Terence Moore. It's only Terence Moore..." but it still took several hundred words to begin to purge the bile that column brought up inside me.

I don't think I'm being too extreme in assuming that any pro-Woodson commentary should be prefaced by the caveat, "I haven't been paying attention and don't know what I'm talking about but..."

Unfortunately that describes most of the city and much of the local sports media.

chris whiffen said...

i have a sinking feeling that the new hawks GM will be A) dominique B) steve smith C) dennis scott. no self respecting GM would dare take this job with the stipulation the woodson will be here indefinitly at the pleasure of the ownership group.

ladies & gentlemenn your 2008 atlanta hawks!

Anonymous said...

I'm very close to crying right now, which hangs on the edge of blind anger. I want to punch something in the throat. This is the worst news since the Falcons drafted Matt Ryan.


Anonymous said...

Here is a link to some possible candidates. The guy from NO wouldn't be too bad I suppose considering how well that team has been put together. I do think however that anyone coming into the situation demands to be able to get rid of Woodson.;_ylt=Av3XahbhsSSobblMha6P4Ve8vLYF?slug=aw-hawksgmsearch050808&prov=yhoo&type=lgns


Anonymous said...

I've been a pretty big fan of JJ, even when he was playing poorly much of the first half of this season. But I feel as though the decision to keep Woodson is largely because of JJ's input. That's a lot of responsibility that he's going to bear for however many seasons Woodson remains here.

I think I won't be able to help looking at Joe a bit different next year as the team remains poorly coached.

CoCo said...

I honestly feel like they are on the verge of giving Woody an extension because Joe said he wants him back, plus all of these analysts who havent paid one damn bit of attention to the Hawks all season long think since they watched them play seven games that Woody is an excellent coach. If you ask me his flaws were highlighted in the Boston series. He never had them ready to play on the road and that comes down to coaching. The fans got them through at Philips Arena, but its the coaches job to get players ready to play on the road and he never did. And as far as Joe wanting him back, of course he wants Woody back because that means the offense runs through him and he gets to go 1 on 5 because that's always the play! If Joe doesn't understand that a better coach can find ways to get him better shots then I really don't know what to tell him. If he's content with barely getting open looks.........

Anonymous said...

D'Antoni is gone. This makes me upset, but here's something that helps.,bull051008.article

At the end of that Sun Times article there's some idle speculation, and perhaps it's just pure speculation, that Avery Johnson might be holding out to see if the Atlanta job opens up. Certainly, I wanted D'Antoni, but Avery Johnson has no trouble in helping young point guards develop.

I'm finding that every sniff of good news early in this offseason is making me disproportionately optimistic. Like when I read the article about David Andersen and thought "Hey, we have exclusive rights to the next Mehmet Okur!"

I must not read your blog enough.

Anonymous said...

Boston is now 0-5 in playoff road games. This further supports the notion that what happened in the Hawks' first round series was more about the Celtics than about the Hawks and should not be the basis for re-signing Woodson.