Archives For Bo Churney

In sports, it’s always about the next man up. Eventually the status quo is going to chang, and you are going to need guys that are ready to step up and move the team into the future.

In 2011, that next man up happened to be Hawks point guard Jeff Teague. Around the trade deadline that season, the Hawks traded their starting point guard, sending Mike Bibby to Washington in favor of Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich was recovering from some injuries at the time, so a young Teague got a chance to start for a few games before Hinrich was ready to take over the reins.

Those starts between then and the end of the season showed one thing for Teague: he definitely had some promise, but he had a lot of work to do before solidifying himself as a starting caliber guard in the NBA.

Then came the playoffs that year and everything changed. Once again, Hinrich found himself out of action, straining a hamstring in the deciding Game 6 against the Orlando Magic in the first round. The veteran point guard was listed as doubtful for the entire second round, putting the Hawks in dire straits as they went up against the East’s No. 1 seed: the Chicago Bulls and league MVP Derrick Rose. Continue Reading…

The Hawks suffered a heart-breaker on Super Bowl Sunday, losing 96-94 to the Magic on a buzzer-beater by Nikola Vucevic. Just a day later, the Hawks would get another shot at Orlando, but this time at home in a game that you would figure would favor the Hawks.

Well, it didn’t.

The Hawks opened the game looking like they were ready to run the Magic out of the building, starting up with a 26-8 run. 3-pointers were falling, the defense was swarming, and Atlanta simply looked like the team that won 60 games in the 2014-15 season. What happened after was a gradual and slow-burn collapse that saw the Magic finally take the lead in the final minutes of regulation, and eventually the victory in overtime.

“I think we’ve got to be better late in games,” said an exasperated Mike Budenholzer. “Myself, the players, everybody; we’ve got to be better.”

The collapse started on the defensive end in the second half, as the Hawks gave up 60 total points in the third and fourth quarters. The Magic particularly killed the Hawks on the inside, with a 12-for-18 shooting performance in the paint for the half. The inside game was compliment with outside shooting, as Vucevic knocked down the mid-range shots, and the rest of the team complemented with timely 3-pointers. Continue Reading…

A lot of alarm has been caused by the Hawks’ slow start to the season. After 60 wins and an Eastern Conference Finals berth in the 2014-15 season, the Atlanta team is out to a mediocre 14-12 start to the 2015-16 campaign.

What is the difference? Could it be the departure of DeMarre Carroll, who was often seen as the “glue guy” for last year’s Hawks team? Could it simply be a regression from last year’s team that appeared to see every player peak in the same season? Is it rebounding? Coaching? What happened?

Jeff Teague happened. Or I guess he has failed to happen so far this year.

On the surface, it looks like Teague has had a normal year compared to his past starting seasons with Atlanta. He’s averaging over 15 points per game, he has six assists per game, and he’s averaging just under three turnovers per game. Over the past five seasons — which is when he became Atlanta’s starter — these are almost his exact numbers. While you would generally hope for improvement from a 27 year old, All-Star caliber player, there is really nothing completely wrong with those numbers. So what’s wrong? Continue Reading…

According to RealGM and other outlets, Paul Millsap has re-signed with the Atlanta Hawks.

Outlets are also reporting that the third year on the deal is a player option, which would allow Millsap to opt out and seek even more money in free agency under the larger salary caps with the new NBA television deal. The AJC’s Chris Vivlamore tweeted out what Millsap’s salary figures are likely to look like:

This move was a must for the Hawks after DeMarre Carroll opted to sign with the Toronto Raptors with a four-year, $60 million contract. Carroll’s absences will likely force Thabo Sefolosha, Kyle Korver, and Kent Bazemore to step up in the small forward spot. but the Millsap re-signing — combined with the trade for Tiago Splitter — gives the Hawks one of the best three-man big combos in the NBA.

As reported by Eurohoops.net, Pero Antic will be leaving the Hawks to return to Europe. The deal is expected to be finalized within the next week.

Despite not starting, Antic was an important part of the shift in the Hawks’ offensive philosophy under head coach Mike Budenholzer. Antic’s 3-point threat spread out opposing defense and often allowed for the Hawks offense to be more efficient. If Antic is gone, the Hawks will likely look to Mike Muscala to fill the role that Antic had been filling over the last two seasons.

The Hawks were originally supposed to have the 15th pick in the 2015 NBA draft. When they were on the clock at 15, they traded the pick to the Washington Wizards, who selected Kelly Oubre. In return, the Hawks received the 19th pick and two future second-rounders.

But the Hawks were not done making moves. When 19 came up on the clock, the Hawks again made a trade, sending the 19th pick to the New York Knicks for Tim Hardaway Jr.

The move is a weird one for the Hawks, but there is some sense to be made from it. With the move, the Hawks will save at least $500,000 in cap space from not having to pay the required rookie salary for the 15th pick. Hardaway also has some value in that he’s an above-average shooter.

However, the weaknesses with Hardaway are clear. Despite his 6′-6 size, Hardaway has not been a good defender at the NBA level. Hardaway also has few established skills other than shooting, and he has a tendency to chuck the ball at an inefficient rate.

Considering the Hawks made two moves to get to this point, they may not be done. And just in my opinion, I hope they are not done, because this is not a good move, especially if the front office did it to save money; they could have just completely traded out of the first round, which would have saved them nearly $2 million in cap space instead of only a quarter of that.

The NBA Board of Governors has officially approves the sale of the Atlanta Hawks to the group led by Tony Ressler.

From the NBA’s press release:

“We are pleased that the NBA’s Board of Governors has approved the purchase of the Atlanta Hawks by principal owner Tony Ressler,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “Tony and his diverse and experienced ownership group will bring tremendous energy and passion to the Hawks and the team and its fans will greatly benefit from their commitment to the Atlanta community.”

The sale was approved unanimously by the Board of Governors. The new ownership group includes former NBA star Grant Hill, Spanx founder Sara Blakely and her husband, Jesse Itzler. The Hawks will officially introduce the group — with Ressler and Hill representing — during a media session on Thursday at 11AM.

The Hawks’ season just ended yesterday, meaning that the team has officially entered the offseason. That begs one question: what do the Hawks need to do to rebound for the 2015-16 season? What are the team’s weaknesses? Who is available for the Hawks to sign?

The way to answer those first two questions is with a status report of where the Hawks are right now. The following Hawks will be free agents this offseason:

Paul Millsap
DeMarre Carroll
Pero Antic (restricted)
John Jenkins
Elton Brand

Jenkins is likely gone and it appears as if Brand is preparing for retirement. Judging by his status in the Hawks’ rotation in games 3 and 4 of the series against the Cavs, Antic could be on his way out as well. Other factors to consider here are the recovery times for Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha, the play of Mike Scott in the playoffs, and Millsap’s own potential surgery in the offseason.

With all of that in mind, the Hawks will have money that needs to be spent addressing the wing and big positions. One thing that became abundantly clear in the playoffs is that there is no such thing as having too many shooters on the roster. Korver’s cold streak and subsequent absence was a major blow for the Hawks, and while Kent Bazemore made an admirable effort to step in, it was soon clear that the Hawks could use more shooting from the bench. Dennis Schröder is not a shooter (more shots than points in the playoffs) and Mike Scott became too streaky — in addition to his bad defense — to be a reliable option.

The other obvious weakness for the Hawks in the postseason was rebounding. Horford and a less-than-100% Millsap usually held their own, but the bench options of Antic and Scott were not the kind of guys that could remedy rebounding issues whenever the Hawks were in a rut. This issue was amplified upon Sefolosha’s injury, as he provided a rebounding boost from the small forward position when he was on the court. (8.2 rebounds per 36 minutes)

Of course, an important concept to remember here is how the Hawks play. Coach Mike Budenholzer preaches pace and space on offense, and activity, quick hands, and awareness on defense. The best fits for the Hawks are going to be players that exhibit most or all of these attributes.

Finally, something that sticks out heavily, is the salary cap. I will not go into all of the Hawks’ salary cap specifics here, but suffice to say, the Hawks will have money to spend in the offseason. Also important is the NBA’s new TV deal that will start with the 2016-17 season, which will likely send the salary cap soaring to at least $85 million. Because of these, teams may be willing to overpay for free agents this year, as they know those contracts will not be as large of a hit to their cap in the future. Combating that will be whether or not players desire long-term contracts, as they may opt for shorter contracts to take advantage of the future cap spike.

Taking all of that into consideration, I present my free agent targets for the Atlanta Hawks.

YOU PROBABLY WANT THESE GUYS BACK

Paul Millsap, F, Atlanta Hawks
Millsap averaged 16.7 points on 56.5% true-shooting, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on the season. He was named an All-Star for the second consecutive season and was one of the most important defenders on a team that finished sixth in defensive efficiency. Continue Reading…

The Hawks’ season is over. 60 wins and an Eastern Conference Finals berth are talk of the past now.

And that’s okay. For the first time in Atlanta Hawks history, they made it past the second round of the playoffs. The team had four All-Stars, the Coach of the Year, 60 wins, and an extremely fun, riveting season.

I remember the December 26th game against Milwaukee at Philips Arena, where the Hawks’ had a 5-game winning streak ended with a 30-point drubbing by the upstart Bucks. Jared Dudley went 10-for-10 from the field and the Hawks looked terrible on both ends of the floor.

But that’s not what struck me most from that game. What got me the most was the over 19,000 in attendance for that game.

Even if you are new to the Hawks, you probably know that they have not done well with attendance recently. Before this season, few games sold out. The games that did sell out were usually against high profile teams like the Lakers or Knicks that had several thousand of their own fans to cheer against the home team.

The uniqueness of the Hawks selling out against a usually low-profile team like the Bucks was not lost on me at the time. But with the Hawks getting shellacked by 30 points in front of such a large crowd, I had my doubts. “The Hawks blew it in front of the best crowd of the season,” were my sentiments at the time.

But a weird thing happened after that night. The Hawks kept winning. And the fans, who have been waiting 20 years for enjoyable basketball, kept coming back. The Hawks would got on to sell out nearly every remaining home game for the rest of the season, and climb out of the bottom 10 in attendance for the first time in years.

So with the 118-88 loss in Cleveland, the Hawks will head home for the summer. The fans will have to wait until autumn to get another taste of “Atlanta Hawks basketball”.

But for once, there’s a brighter looking future for Atlanta. The Hawks have a solid foundation of players, a solid staff, potentially new owners, and a fan base that is actually investing their time in the team.

The future looks fun.

The Hawks’ season likely came to an end with about a minute remaining in the second quarter.

Yes, the game remained close throughout and even needed overtime to be decided. Yes, there is still at least one more game that needs to be played in this series. And yes, these Hawks have shown that — more often than not — they will fight when presented with adversity.

But when Al Horford was ejected for what the officials deemed as an elbow to the head of Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova, Game 3 was essentially over for Atlanta. The Hawks had their chances late, but nearly every mistake that the Hawks made can be linked to the absence of Horford. Jeff Teague was the only Hawk willing to shoot, Mike Scott was on the floor too much, and the Hawks being short the best body they had to box out Tristan Thompson all led to their 114-111 downfall against the Cavaliers.

“I did think he went at me but I should have handled it better,” Horford said on the season-changing play. “Shouldn’t have gotten caught up in that and it’s something I’ll definitely learn from.” Continue Reading…