Monday, July 27, 2009

Hawks Rescinded Qualifying Offer To Jones And Thoughts On Joe Smith

Deep in Sekou Smith's latest blog post:
Solo is moving on at a time when the Hawks could use a big or two like him, which makes his departure for Indiana all the more perplexing. After all, he was a restricted free agent, due close to a $1 million if he had signed his qualifying offer (the QO was rescinded so he would be allowed to sign with the Pacers without any interruption). I needed an explanation and Solo provided one last week. “The Hawks kept it real with me,” he said. “They told me that my role was going to be pretty much the same as it was last year, and that I wouldn’t have a chance to move up and get more time unless somebody got hurt like last year. And I realize that’s just the way it’s going to be with Josh and Al [Horford] and Zaza already in place. It’s cool. I get a chance to go somewhere else and try and start over and see if there’s a chance to have a bigger role. The Pacers want me up there right away to get to work and that’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to the opportunity. But I appreciate the Hawks keeping it straight with me and not trying to sell me something that they couldn’t deliver in terms of playing time and opportunity.”
Emphasis mine.

Thumbs up to Jones for his perceptive analysis* of the Hawks' post rotation which offers as good as segue as I've yet managed to broach the subject of Joe Smith in this space. Smith would be a fine addition but he (or any other serviceable veteran or intriguing young big man) will probably not have a measurable positive impact on next year's team on the court.

*Better than Sekou's ("...the Hawks could use a big or two like [Jones]...") with which one might argue were one not willing to give Mr. Smith a pass on work filed while on vacation.

Last year, with Al Horford missing 15 games, Josh Smith missing 13 games, Zaza Pachulia missing 5 games, and Marvin Williams absent for 21 games and thus unable on those nights to slide down to the four, Solomon Jones played just 675 minutes. One big guy who will almost certainly still be on the roster next season, Randolph Morris, played just 89 minutes. Another post player who might be back, Othello Hunter, played just 92 minutes.

The fourth big man in the rotation is extremely unlikely to play 1000 minutes next season. He's fairly unlikely to play 800 minutes. If either occurs, something bad has almost certainly occurred be it injury or a recurrence of the head coach's aversion to the threat of foul trouble.

Joe Smith would be a nice insurance policy, possibly provide some value as a teammate and locker room presence, and likely provide a psychologically healthier experience for Hawks fans during his brief appearances on court than Solomon Jones ever did. I'm not positive, for example, that Smith can get out to the three-point line, much less run into shooters after they've released their shot nor have I ever witnessed Smith fall down as a result of trying to catch a pass. It wouldn't be a bad signing, but it's unlikely to make much of a positive difference either.


Unknown said...

Here's my question - are you presuming that Joe Smith wouldn't be able to provide 10 minutes a game because of Mike Woodson's rotation challenges OR because that's just the way in the best case scenario he would be deployed/

I would agree if it's the former, but disagree if it's the latter. Plus, I think the leadership/locker room presence is probably the biggest upside he brings to the team. This team NEEDS leadership and to have that at Josh's position could counteract what I think is undercoaching by our staff for our best young players. I don't want to overpay for leadership, but if I'm going to overpay for something this offseason - I'd like for it to be something that fits a glaring Hawks need area like leadership and interior depth. So far, Bibby and Crawford haven't fit that bill in my eyes.

Anyway, I just wanted to understand that thought process on Joe Smith. Oh, and tell us how you really feel about Solo. Personally, I don't think he's a world beater, but I do think he's another victim of the lack of consistent minutes when you know he's your 4th best big man (admittely, not saying much, but it's still true) to truly prepare him for postseason play.

Bret LaGree said...

Joe Smith's pretty much a center at this point in his career so whatever interior depth he would provide on a game-to-game basis would have to result in Mike Woodson demonstrating an increased willingness to play Al Horford at the 4. I think that would be a tangible positive in addition to whatever intangible benefits he might provide his teammates.

If Joe Smith's playing 10 minutes a night at the expense of better players (Josh Smith or Horford) or a better rebounder (Pachulia) just because he's a veteran with a sort-of famous name I expect that to be a slight negative--probably more annoying than damaging.

I think the fourth big man should (ideally) play as needed rather than regularly which makes Smith far better suited to the role than Jones who needed playing time at some level to improve himself.

Though I think taking him at the top of the second round was a terrible allocation of resources, it's not his fault nor is it his fault that the team made no effort to develop what talent he possessed after his somewhat promising rookie season. I suspect a Solomon Jones who spent 2007-08 playing regularly in the D-League rather than sitting at the end of the Hawks' bench would be a better player today.

thirdfalcon said...

I don't really think Solo is good enough to ever be a rotation player, while Joe Smith is good enough right now. He doesn't need to be developed. And it's basically inevitable that someone in the frontcourt is going to miss some time.

But have we ever seen what Woodson would do when we have an established player as deep in the rotation as a forth big man? Y'all keep saying that Woodson would never expand his rotation, but we have only seen him coach with 2nd round signings and undrafted free agents beyond his top 8 players. So we are kind of in uncharted waters here unless there is an example I'm not remembering.

thirdfalcon said...

Looking over the Hawks' roster over the past few years, the closest example I could find was Lorenzen Wright in the 2006-07 season, and he played 15 minutes a game, and 1,035 in 65 games over the course of the season. Although if anyone remembers if he got injured at some point or if he was getting DNP-CDs that would be helpful.

Given, it's not as hard to get minutes over Zaza, Sheldon, and the Josh Smith and Marvin connection (they were seeing minutes at both SM and PF ircc) then it is Horford, Smith and Zaza. But it is the only time that we had more than three competent big men at the same time, and they all played.

I don't really expect this to convince anyone, but the Hawks have been paper thin since Woodson has been here and there are very few examples to go on. This is the closest comparison that there is in Woodson's tenure.