Monday, May 17, 2010

2009-10 Season Review: Rick Sund

Previously: Predictions

It's folly to judge a general manager on one season's work. The desire to win in the current season must be balanced with longer-term goals for an organization to succeed. There won't be many absolute judgments levied below nor will what look like problems currently necessarily remain problems.

For example, trading Acie Law IV and Speedy Claxton for Jamal Crawford was a great move in terms of the 2009-10 season. However, the $10 million Crawford's owed for the 2010-11 season appears to limit Sund's options this summer. Then again, Sund could turn Crawford's career year, combined with an expiring contract, into assets useful in 2010-11 and beyond should he explore the trade market. Which he surely must given Crawford's age and limitations.

So it is with Marvin Williams, who was paid far too much in 2009-10 for what the team asked of him. I think it's a fair belief that Williams is capable of more. If such is asked of him and he's able to fulfill the promise that made him a consensus top-two prospect in the 2005 NBA Draft, then his contract (4 years and $30 million remain) would look reasonable if not a bargain.

Mike Bibby's contract is unlikely to be a bargain at any point in time, though, in concert with other moves, the $650,000 pay cut he takes this season may make the acquisition of an additional (and one hopes useful) player possible. If Sund can find a taker for the final two years of Bibby's contract, a parade would not be out of the question.

The end of the bench in 2009-10 doesn't inspire confidence for the end of the bench in 2010-11 which will almost surely consist of whatever cheap, available options can be scraped together. As expected, neither Joe Smith nor Jason Collins was able to contribute. The second, guaranteed year of Randolph Morris's contract wasted a roster spot on a team already limiting itself to 13 players for the entire season. More disappointing was that the Hawks continued to lack ambition and imagination with non-NBA free agents and to completely ignore the existence of the D-League. The Hawks used the final roster spot to recycle two non-prospects of their own: Othello Hunter and Mario West. Hunter was the better use of a roster spot* both because he's a marginally more plausible contributor and because Woodson wouldn't play him.

*Using that roster spot on him and assigning him to the D-League might have been more useful for the team, not to mention his own development.

Woodson's predilections make it impossible to give Sund's first-round draft choice anything other than an incomplete grade. Given the volume of quality point guard prospects (also, Jonny Flynn) available in the 2009 NBA Draft, it won't look good if Teague fails to develop. It remains to be seen if selecting Sergiy Gladyr in the second-round was a productive long-term decision or just another wasted draft pick for the franchise.

Another season without Josh Childress neither on the roster nor gone for good in a sign-and-trade leaves a mess Sund inherited unresovled and awaiting a final judgment.

Letting Mike Woodson's contract expire was a sound and necessary decision* but one that pales in importance next to the decision of whom to hire as the team's next head coach.

*One that will be discussed at much greater length in the next season review piece.

Similarly, I expect the 4 year, $60 million contract offered Joe Johnson in the summer of 2009 to compare quite favorably to the contract Johnson signs in the summer of 2010. Whether or not the contract Johnson signs is one offered by the Hawks will also go a long way toward coloring Sund's job performance. Bidding against yourself is not a recipe for success. Refusing to overpay may involve taking a short-term hit in the service of a brighter future.

Up Next: Mike Woodson


Jerry Hinnen said...

This was a nice enough overview of Sund's situation, Bret, but what I'd really like to know is what Buzz Bissinger (or, more specifically, Buzz Bissinger's toenail clippings) thinks of the situation.

Bret LaGree said...

I don't expect Mr. Bissinger to read this entry. I've been judged and found wanting. End of story.

LL Cool Scott said...

I have no problem with most of Sund's moves, with the exception of giving Marvina a long term deal. No coaching staff is going to help him magically develop agility and toughness.

I will simply give up on this team if we max out Joe Johnson.

jrauch said...

I think Sund is saavy enough to see that bidding against ourselves for Joe is a fruitless endeavor, but I wonder what role ownership's going to take to ensure "their guy" is back.