Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So You Say Want To Improve This Team

Dear Hawks fan --

It's a fair desire, but I have to ask how you propose that be done? Who on this roster (other than the productive and reasonably priced Al Horford and Josh Smith) would any other NBA team want for themselves?
  • The one-dimensional starting point guard owed another $6.4 million next season?
  • The injured and aging starting shooting guard in possession of a brand-new $123 million contract?
  • The injured and disappointing starting small forward owed almost $25 million over the next three seasons?
If you don't move one of those three to improve the team at the point or on the wing, the team is unlikely to get better.

So that leaves you with trying to improve the team by bartering Jamal Crawford* or Jeff Teague** or Mo Evans. Given the Hawks' record with second-round picks, I don't see moving any of those leading to significant improvement.

*There's still time to deal him. Some team might suffer an injury and the backcourt and be interested in bringing him on for the stretch run.

**Sacramento might have interest in him but the Hawks have constructed their roster in such a way that trading Teague (who's two coaches deep in disillusionment) for frontcourt depth could actually make the team worse at the point.

Who's to blame? Rick Sund gets his share of blame and he deserves* some of that. But it's a fair question how much power he has. He didn't choose the head coach. It's unclear how much of the effort to re-sign Joe Johnson was instigated by Sund and how much was Sund carrying out the wishes of his bosses. He's shown no (useful) imagination in filling out the bench but, again, how much of that is his work and how much is it due to the ownership's fondness for familiar names. If Sund is prone to having his decisions overruled and if he knows, as he must, that ASG won't fire him and pay two general managers for even part of a season what's his motivation to do more than cash the checks until his contract runs out and let ownership's next fourth- or fifth-choice general manager candidate attempt to clean up their mess. It's not admirable behavior, but it's understandable.

*Losing Josh Childress for nothing should be a horrible embarrassment.

The key problems for this team are organizational and they begin with ownership. There is no reason to believe that this is not, from Joe Johnson to Jason Collins, exactly the roster that ownership wants. Until ownership changes*, this team will have fundamental limitations. Limitations that Rick Sund can't transcend, that Larry Drew can't transcend, that Al Horford can't transcend. This a 45-win team with no cap flexibility until the Summer of 2014. They don't have a stockpile of draft picks or a history of scouting success to mitigate that lack of flexibility. Ownership has quite willingly saddled themselves to stagnation on the court, cut corners off the court, and the financial result for them will be, at best, stagnation.

*Either the makeup of ownership or their behavior.


Unknown said...

I will be blogging about this later, but you hit the nail on the head regarding our REAL prospects. The question I continue to ask is - why are the serious questions not being raised and answered? To me, it's simple - these players have no heart or leadership. I've been saying it for 3 years now and I'm trying to figure out why a layman like me can see that and no one in the organization with power can't.

It's like Bud Adams and Vince Young...this is killing me.

Aaron said...

I hate to make things worse, but the Hawks can't afford to trade their expiring contracts for better players (who would have to have longer contracts) because that would put them into the luxury tax next season.

Moving Marvin along with sweeteners (draft picks?) is the only real option.

jrauch said...

The Hawks are now caught in the position the Knicks were for so many years under Isiah. The only way to improve is to trade expiring contracts for long, bad ones for players not playing up to their paycheck.
Unfortunately, I think this is it for the next 5 years, unless Sergey Gladyr turns into the next Peja.

Actually, thats one of the first things I would go back and fix. We would draft DeJuan Blair in that spot. To me, that shows everything you need to know about teams like the Spurs vs. teams like the Hawks.

Bret LaGree said...

Aaron --

The cap situation should encourage the Hawks to keep draft picks as it's the only possible way they can fill out the roster with cost-controlled players of any potential whatsoever.

If they deal draft picks to get out from under a contract, the bench will look like it currently does but with the Etan Thomas backcourt equivalents replacing Teague and Jordan Crawford.

Unknown said...

I go back to the early 70s with the Hawks. I read recently where a certain sports media pundit was singing the praises of THIS Hawks team. I nearly fell out of my chair. What team has he been watching? This ORGANIZATION'S weaknesses are obvious. And sadly, I also see no improvement on the horizon. This whole thing is painful to watch.