Archives For Bo Churney

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…

Kyrie Irving was ruled out just before the start of Game 2 due to knee tendonitis. Not long afterwards, DeMarre Carroll was ruled a go to start Game 2 against the Cavs.

It didn’t matter.

Without Irving, LeBron James steamrolled through the Hawks’ defense, making the Hawks look helpless as the four-time MVP carved through Atlanta with his passing and scoring to lead Cleveland to a 94-82 victory. Without Irving and Kevin Love — who is absent from the series with a shoulder injury — James put the team on his healthy shoulders and delivered with 30 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists.

“I’ve got a good vocabulary, but I’m sort of running out of superlatives for that guy,” said Coach David Blatt on LeBron. “He’s just a great basketball player.”

James was particularly masterful at adjusting throughout the game, as his scoring early was soon replaced with precision passing as the Hawks’ defense collapsed around him. Eight of James’ first nine assists were on 3-pointers, as James expertly delivered the ball to the likes of Iman Shumpert, James Jones, and Matthew Dellavedova around the perimeter.

“I’m able to make adjustments through the game, just knowing how the defense read and react,” said James on the fluctuations in the way he attacked throughout the game. “Obviously, when you’ve got guys like [Shumpert], who shot the ball extremely well tonight, the defense start to go further and further way from the paint and I’m about to see creases. When they react to me, I’m going to find my guys.”

For the Hawks, the offense became an atrocity in the second half. Jeff Teague led the Hawks in Game 1 with 27 points, but he laid an egg in Game 2 when matched up against Dellavedova. Coach Blatt and the Cavs schemed well, as they went under screens to force the Atlanta guards into shooting jump shots that they are not comfortable with. Teague was 1-for-7 from the field in the second half and did not show the same effort in trying to get to the rim that he did in the first half of the game, nor in Game 1.

“At the end of the day, we went out there, and we didn’t have a lot of energy,” said Carroll. “I think that was the biggest thing.”

Despite his injury, Carroll led the team in minutes in Friday night with 34. Carroll was clearly hampered, however, as he had little to no lift when he attempted to jump. The most athleticism Carroll showed all night was on a run out in transition, where Teague was pushing the ball and Carroll was sprinting at his side, waiting for the drop off pass for an easy bucket. Continue Reading…

Game 1 of the Hawks and Cavaliers series looked like a disaster for Atlanta when DeMarre Carroll went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.

The arena was deadly silent. Carroll was rolling in pain on the court as players and coaches from both teams looked on with grave concern. As Carroll was helped off the court, everyone in Atlanta had one thought: it’s over. Without DeMarre Carroll, the team’s best perimeter defender and the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs, the Hawks had no chance against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But alas, a beam of hope has struck the ATL.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the MRI on Carroll’s knee showed no structural damage beyond confirming a knee sprain. Carroll’s status was updated on Wednesday by the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore:

With Kyrie Irving also being questionable for Game 2, the Hawks have ample opportunity to recover from the near disaster that was Game 1. With or without Carroll, here are the keys that the Hawks need to follow to improve in Game 2.

Go under on LeBron James initiated pick-and-rolls

LeBron James had success against the Hawks in Game 1 by getting into the paint, whether it be via post up or drive into the lane with the help of a screen. James often collapsed the Hawks’ defense and would kick out to an open Continue Reading…

For the fans, it seemed like this was going to end the most Atlanta-way possible.

Late in the fourth quarter with a four-point lead, all the Hawks had to do was get the ball inbounded and take the foul to go to the free throw line. The inbound pass found its way to Al Horford, the steady rock for the Hawks, the franchise cornerstone… but Horford panicked, causing a turnover.

The turnover led to two free throws for the Wizards and with with seven seconds left, the Hawks found themselves in the same spot: they just needed to get to the free throw line.

This time Horford held on to the ball and took the foul, and he headed to the free throw line. There, Horford missed the first, the ball bouncing off the rim four times before finally caroming out. Horford connected on the second free throw, putting the Hawks up three with seven seconds remaining.

And then Paul Pierce happened… or at least, so we thought. The Hawks’ defense on the Wizards was stifling for those seven seconds, forcing Pierce to take a heavily contested, fadeaway corner 3. Pierce, who has been a thorn for the Hawks ever since the 2008 first round series between the Hawks and Celtics, continued to torture the fans of Atlanta, sinking the improbable shot as the buzzer was sounding. Continue Reading…