Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reaction to the Atlanta Hawks Trade For Kirk Hinirch

My thoughts on the trade are here.

Larry Drew:
"As everybody knows we’ve been searching for a point guard for a while, somebody who can come in and run this club. Not saying that Mike didn’t go a good job, but there just comes a point where a change has to take place. We as an organization felt like it was that time.

Kirk brings such a wealth of toughness at that position. He’s a heady guy, he’s a smart guy. All the intangibles you are looking for he brings to the table."
Joe Johnson:
"We let three good guys go who I had become really good friends with. But at the same time we understand the business aspect and this is the profession we chose knowing that trades happen. You have to deal with it. Getting Kirk and Armstrong is definitely going to contribute to what we are trying to do. Kirk is very defensive-minded and a guy who can really knock down the open shot and penetrate and make plays for others as well. I think he is going to be beneficial for us."
Jamal Crawford:
"It’s tough to tell now [how the trade will work]. Mike was the leader at point guard for a while. Jordan has a bright future. Mo is just solid, gives you defense and 3-point shooting. But I played with Kirk Hinrich and I know what he’s about."
Michael Cunningham:
Moving Jordan and the first-round pick is the latest indication the Hawks, when push comes to shove, are more focused on making moves they think will help now vs. player and asset development in the future.
Which is true except when it isn't: like when the Hawks take Jeff Teague instead of DeJuan Blair or Darren Collison, or when they sell the 31st pick, then buyout Pape Sy's contract.

Mark Bradley deems the trade OK:
Best-case scenario: Hinrich does his hybrid-guard act — he used to be quite good at it, but his numbers haven’t been anything special the past four seasons — and puts the other Hawks in the right position and this team manages to win a first-round series.

Worst-case scenario: Hinrich fails to mesh with Joe Johnson — say what you want about Bibby, but he and Johnson made a nice tandem — and the Hawks, who have bombed out in Round 2 the past two seasons, bomb out in Round 1 this spring.

Either way, the addition of Hinrich and Armstrong is no cause for re-calibration of this team’s ceiling. The Hawks aren’t much different today than they’ve been for the past three years. They’re a pretty good team in an Eastern Conference that keeps getting more competitive at the top.
It comes as no surprise that this trade is met with scorn at HawkStr8Talk:
The trade sucks - Kirk Hinrich, age 30, is not an NBA difference maker at a position that is full of difference makers. The defense gets better, but only incrementally. The Hawks needed a difference maker at PG and so, they got another guy to join Collins and Thomas and Powell on the bench twiddling their thumbs. And so what did they give up - the guy you drafted and raved about who could replace a one dimensional Jamal Crawford (furthering my fears that we could actually RESIGN a guy who isn't going to help your team win a title) and a first round draft pick who could help you build depth on the cheap. Doesn't matter to me that Bibby and Evans needed to leave town, but a lateral at BEST move just sucks.

What else do we lose? Future flexibility come 2012 to actually sign someone who matters. Or in other words, fail, fail, fail!!! If the player you trade for doesn't change your seed and doesn't change your lot come playoff time (I mean does ANYONE think Hinrich is the difference in the Hawks winning and losing vs. the Orlando Magic). So, I say again - this organization is completely and utterly clueless. Period. I'm on record as saying this trade will blow up in the Hawks' face. At least we got a 4 time all star for giving up extra stuff that wasn't necessary in the Joe Johnson, but going overboard for Kirk Hinrich...REALLY!?!?!
I think it's the extra stuff the Hawks gave up to get Joe Johnson that's the root cause of the team's current second-round ceiling and the lodestar of the organization's limitations. The Joe Johnson sign-and-trade worked as well as could be expected but didn't bring the team significantly closer to winning a championship (at least not nearly as much as drafting Josh Smith and Al Horford did). That's why you don't see typically see teams build around the fourth-best player on a conference finalist.

The Hawks were right about Johnson having more potential than his production in Phoenix indicated. They were (and are) wrong about how good he could be (and is) in absolute terms.

Sekou Smith (who wanted the Hawks to draft Mike Conley, Jr. rather than Al Horford):
Jeff Teague, the Hawks’ second-year point guard, is clearly not ready for a starring role and might not be anytime soon. He was as given every opportunity to supplant Bibby and couldn’t do it. He’s the latest in a long line of supposed point guard solutions that ended up being a problem (Speedy Claxton, Acie Law) for the Hawks.

They’ve tried everything at the point from Royal Ivey to Anthony Johnson to Tyronn Lue to even playing Joe Johnson at point guard during his first season with the team. That’s nine different point guard options spanning two different regimes (former general manager Billy Knight is the man who drafted Marvin Williams, paid Claxton, drafted Law and also traded for Bibby while current general manager Rick Sund is the man who shipped Claxton and Law out of town for Jamal Crawford, drafted Teague and made the deal for Hinrich).

While Hinrich is clearly an upgrade over Bibby, particularly at the defensive end, he still doesn’t solve the Hawks’ seemingly eternal point guard problem.
Zach Lowe thinks the trade helps both the Hawks and the Wizards:

Nabbing Hinrich doesn’t make the Hawks a title contender, but it feels like the kind of move that could have a bigger impact on the court than many anticipate. Start with this: Hinrich can defend point guards. Very well. And that addresses the main problem with Atlanta’s defense, which ranks about average despite the Hawks’ having faced the easiest schedule in the league. It isn’t just that Bibby can’t defend point guards; it’s the degree to which the Hawks have had to compensate for the 32-year-old’s defensive issues. They’ve had to tire out Johnson by assigning him point guard duty. They’ve gone to zone defenses that haven’t really worked. They’ve switched too often, though less so this season under rookie coach Larry Drew.

They can toss out those gimmicks now and go to work with lineups like Hinrich, Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Al Horford. That works.

The Hawks will miss Bibby’s shooting, but it’s not as if they are losing a pick-and-roll stud who initiates most of their sets. Bibby handles the ball some, but he’s usually a spot-up shooter and screen-setter in Drew’s offense, which mixes in motion plays, post-ups and lots of off-the-dribble work for Johnson and Jamal Crawford. Hinrich, 30, can step into Bibby’s role immediately, and he happens to be shooting a solid 38 percent from three-point range (and a career-best 45 percent overall) this season.

One small bonus that Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel picked up on immediately: Hinrich is 6-3, tall and strong for a point guard, and he has defended a ton of shooting guards through a career of shifting between the two backcourt positions. That gives Atlanta a nice answer for when Miami goes to lineups that don’t include traditional point guards, and if the Heat earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference, there’s at least a small chance the two teams will meet in the second round.

John Hollinger gave the Hawks a B:
As far as need goes, it's tough to do better than this. Atlanta Hawks fans who have spent half a decade watching their point guards get torched night after night will now have to cope with the shocking sight of Hinrich competently defending opponents at either guard spot.


Hinrich isn't as good a spot-up shooter as the departed Mike Bibby but he's better at everything else, and his ability to play off the ball should make him a solid backcourt cohort with Jamal Crawford or even Jeff Teague. Look for Joe Johnson to also benefit, as he'll no longer be spending his nights chasing all the point guards that Bibby couldn't contain.


Oh, Hilton Armstrong is in the trade too. He'll make Jason Collins and Josh Powell feel better about themselves in practice.
Kevin Pelton summarizes what the trade might mean for the Hawks on the court the rest of this season and beyond:
How much is that upgrade worth? I’d say maybe a game or two over a full season. Ordinarily, that’s an enormous difference. But the gap between the Hawks and the East’s best teams is so large that I’m not sure this move makes much of a dent. Atlanta still looks to me like first-round fodder for the Magic. That’s when you have to start wondering about the Hawks’ future. This deal means giving up two years’ worth of young contributors on cost-effective rookie deals. Backup point guard Jeff Teague is the only growing player of note on the Atlanta roster, and this deal along with rumors involving Teague seem to indicate the Hawks don’t view him as a starter any time soon. So Atlanta isn’t good enough right now, and can’t count on adding young talent. That’s a pretty bad recipe for long-term relevance.
At Bullets Forever, Mike Prada is just lukewarm on the trade.


Unknown said...

you could be very right about the extra stuff for Joe Johnson, but then you don't have Al Horford and so on (maybe you don't need him), but I think you and I agree that our lack of forward thinking is the problem. As far as I'm concerned, we should positioning the team for the offseason of 2012 and getting draft position. This team is done if it's trying for a championship. There are 6 teams ahead of us with pieces more suited to win a ECF title than ours over the next 2-3 years.

Adam Malka said...

Is PER a legitimate stat? Because it suggests that Kirk Hinrich, Marvin Williams, and Jeff Teague have all been about equal in terms of offensive efficiency.

Is it possible that Teague, while he hasn't been all that good, also hasn't been all that bad either? I actually find Teague's inability to get on the court the most mystifying thing about this season so far.

Anyway. At least now I don't have to watch Mike Bibby and Mo Evans. On the other hand, we now have four completely useless big men all making the league minimum. Hawks fans better get used to this over the next few years!

Bret LaGree said...

Larry --

If the organization believed in the importance of acquiring a superstar they would have held on to all those draft picks and gotten as many chances as possible to draft one. And even when they do draft well--I think a well-run organization could build a championship contender around Smith and Horford--they neither provide the tough love necessary to maximize the talents of the former nor recognize how good the latter is.

Yes, they missed on Paul and Deron Williams and Brandon Roy, but they got Al Horford, that's had a significant positive impact impact on the franchise but they interpret what Horford and Smith have done as reasons to re-sign Joe Johnson and Bibby and Marvin Williams and Zaza to bad* contracts rather than building around a near-franchise player.

*The latter two being bad mostly because the Hawks clearly have no intention of using either Marvin or Zaza to the degree they're getting paid. Both are probably examples of the organizational dysfunction and lack of a real plan. I mean, it took three-plus seasons of watching Bibby play up close to admit he was a defensive liability. They still seem to believe Joe Johnson is some combination of Carmelo Anthony and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

It's probably a fool's errand to try and determine the primary cause (talent evaluation, talent development, financial mismanagement, poor coaching) for the team's current above average but still relatively hapless state.

Bret LaGree said...

Adam --

It's as legit as a stat combining box score stats can be. Teague might be getting a bit of a boost because of his high steal and block rates might overrate him defensively in such a calculation.

On the other hand, the on/off numbers this season suggest that the Hawks haven't been hurt when Teague plays the point as part of a legit NBA lineup. The Hawks have gotten killed when played alongside Jordan Crawford or Mike Bibby or when Damien Wilkins or Marvin Williams slid up to the 2.

There's no good reason to believe Teague's a future star but there was also no good reason, given how Bibby played over his last six-to-eight weeks with the Hawks, that Teague fell out of the rotation.

Kind of like signing Zaza to a multi-year deal, cutting his minutes until his trade value is at an all-time low, and then trying to deal him.

See also: turning the restricted free agency of an above average 24-year-old who could score without a play ever being run for him and defend credibly on the wing into (two years later) a second-round pick and a trade exception the team can't afford to use.

Shah Labs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

i would have loved to see the hawks trade m.williams for battier...even though battier is older, we have plenty of offensive weapons and we could have used a defensive stopper to slow down lebron, pierce, etc

(sorry had to delete the previous post, i hadn't logged of the last person's screen name)

Unknown said...

Because we traded away 3 players to get 2, is it possible the hawks are looking to fill a roster spot with a player who bought out?