Archives For Atlanta Hawks

During the NBA Draft, if you knew which writers to follow on Twitter you saw most of the picks leaked minutes before they were announced on the live TV broadcast. Then came the Hawks’ pick at 15:

*crickets*

This has become Danny Ferry’s modus operandi for conducting business. I’ve joked about it in the past, comparing the levels of secrecy in the Hawks’ front office to the CIA. For contrast, think back to the rumor that the Knicks might be willing to trade Carmelo Anthony to the L.A. Clippers for Blake Griffin. This is what’s known as a “trial balloon.” You float a rumor out there to see how people react to it, but maintain deniability that you were the source of the rumor.

Doc Rivers, the coach and GM of the Clippers, who would have final say, called the idea that he would trade Griffin “ridiculous.” Within hours, Anthony was quoted parroting Rivers, likewise labeling the prevailing trade rumors “ridiculous.” Hmm, let’s see. Anthony is a Creative Artists Agency client. Knicks GM Steve Mills is a CAA client. Before Mike Woodson took the Knicks job, he fired his longtime agent so that he could become a CAA client. Where do you think the Carmelo-for-Blake rumor came from? But Carmelo denies such “ridiculous” rumors came from his camp. Riiight. Continue Reading…

As Kenyon Martin sat just behind the free-throw line, the world had no idea what Josh Smith would do next. Smith darts down from center court, leaps in the air, catches the toss from a seated Martin, and swung the ball back around windmill style. Boom. The Pepsi Center exploded, along with the TNT crew calling the All-Star festivities. Kenny Smith immediately proclaimed, “The dunk contest is where you make your name… His name is gonna be starting to become famous around here if he keeps doing dunks like that.”

In the next round, the 19-year old from College Park put on a vintage Dominique Wilkins jersey and dazzled the crowd – again – with a windmill tribute to the Hawks legend.

As he took home the title of 2005 Slam Dunk Champion, Josh Smith also took home another title: fan favorite. While the origin of the nickname “J-Smoove” is less than concrete, the high-flying young forward would soon earn the moniker.

At the time, it’s likely that he had little effect on me, a clueless 8 year-old who had little interest in professional basketball. Now, coming up on 18, I feel I can finally grasp just how big of an impact that one player had on some of the young stages of my life. Continue Reading…

Grantland’s Zach Lowe has declared the Atlanta Hawks among the losers in this year’s off-season, citing the team’s inability to attract a major piece despite plenty of available cap space:

No one will take Atlanta’s money, despite a good core of players, a very good coaching staff, and an innovative style of play Mike Budenholzer has only just begun installing. Some stars won’t even meet with them. I almost wanted to hug Budenholzer when I saw him in Vegas. The most common theory among insiders for Atlanta’s lack of appeal is that players see the Hawks as a dull franchise with a dead crowd and a limited postseason history that almost always involves NBA TV.

Contrarian that I am, I disagree with Lowe and almost everybody else about Atlanta’s off-season. Before I explain, I feel compelled to point out that the Hawks might have a completely different set of problems if Budenholzer had done what I suggested prior to Game 6 of the Indiana series and increased Shelvin Mack’s minutes at the expense of Lou Williams. Before the series, I noted that Williams (minus-15) and Elton Brand (minus-26) had the worst aggregate plus-minus against the Pacers during the regular season. In my playoff postmortem, I noted that Brand again had the worst aggregate plus-minus for the series (minus-32) while Williams was only 4th-worst at minus-21. Continue Reading…

The Hawks played their best defensive game of the summer on Wednesday as they defeated the defending-LVSL champion Golden State Warriors 68-65 in the first round of the tournament. Here’s what I noticed:

  • Dennis Schröder had another solid scoring output. He made two of his four attempts from beyond the arc, a shooting mark that is quite impressive from an inconsistent shooter like Dennis. His stroke in the first half looked so smooth and compact, but, alas, he finished the game going 5-for-15 from the field. Only four turnovers in the game, an improvement from the 12 total giveaways in his previous two Vegas outings.
  • Shoutout to my man Mike Jawz. Mike Muscala dropped a cool 14 points with a few tasty spin moves in the lane. His improved ball-handling ability – something that you don’t often see in a lanky big – has been something that caught my eye from the first Summer League game. His defense remains fundamentally sound, but he still has trouble altering shots. Not sure what the problem is there, as his hands seem to always be in the right spot (or at least close enough) during the shot contest. The bottom line with Muscala is will do whatever he can to improve his game to fit the needs of the team. Next step? Three-point shooting, which he already does decently well.
  • John Jenkins rested the second game of a back-to-back… again. I realize he was cleared to play recently and a back injury takes time to heal, but I’ve been very disappointed with his play in the Summer League. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pulling for him to succeed. It’s just going to be harder to get opportunities like this during the regular season.
  • Continue Reading…

The following paragraph is word-for-word from David Vertsberger’s first Summer League post.

The NBA’s Summer League isn’t the best place to make concrete judgments about players, but it can still be an effective platform in finding new quirks in returning athletes’ games, or specific skills of newcomers that can help in the long run.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Overreacting is prohibited. Let us continue.

The Hawks took on the D-League Select Team on Sunday as they attempted to secure their first victory of the summer. After their rough outing in Saturday’s game against the Washington Wizards, it was nice to see some team improvements. Here are some general notes about the game:

  • SUDDEN DEATH. WE HAD SUDDEN DEATH BASKETBALL. It was a crazy scramble to get just one shot to win. We got robbed when a goaltending call wasn’t made on a Schröder layup attempt. But, alas, it’s just Summer League…
    Missed Goaltend
  • Coach Bud must LOVE the ball movement he’s seeing from his young players. The #HamMovement is remarkable. Players are swinging and kicking, kicking and swinging, making the extra pass; this is actually my favorite part to watch in all of the Summer League. While sometimes they make errant passes, it’s expected out of these young players. Very enjoyable basketball being played by the Hawks.
  • Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks have signed free agent shooting guard Kent Bazemore for two years 4 million according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.

After getting almost no playing time with the Warriors, Bazemore finally broke out last year when being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. On a bad team with nothing to play for other than pride, Bazemore made the most of his situation. He shot 37% from three, scored 13 points a game, and did it all very efficiently with an effective field Goal percentage of 51%.

What Bazemore brings to the Hawks is a guy that can come off the bench and shoot threes. Considering how many the Hawks shot last year, Bazemore should fit right in. There’s concern about his inability to find playing time in Golden State, but a lot of that had to do with playing on a loaded roster of guards. There’s also concerns that Bazemore’s numbers were inflated. He played on a bad team that played no defense. His coach, Mike Dantoni, is known for making guards play better than they actually are, mainly because the Dantoni system is very favorable towards high offensive gunning, causing an inflation in numbers.

All of those concerns noted, this is a no risk signing. He’s on a low money deal for only two years. If it turns out that his numbers with the Lakers were inflated, then the Hawks just leave him on the bench and wait out his contract. He could turn out to be a great three point shooter that thrives in Mike Budenholzer’s system, becoming another weapon in an already dangerous offense.

The Las Vegas version of the NBA’s Summer League will start tomorrow. For the second consecutive year, there is a lot to watch for with the young Atlanta Hawks roster.

While rookies Dennis Schröder and Lucas Nogueira stole the show last season, one of the biggest developments was Mike Scott’s expanded shooting.

Scott shot 46% over five games, displaying a refined shooting touch from mid-range, as well as an extension of his game to the 3-point line. Scott only shot 2-for-8 from 3 while in Vegas, but it was more about seeing where Scott wanted to go with improving his game. The improvement translated to the regular season, where Scott attempted 200 3-pointers during the season. Scott only shot 31% on those shots, but the expansion in his game added greater space on offense for himself and the entire team.

Will we see that kind of improvement from a player on this year’s Summer League roster?

Of the players in Vegas for the Hawks, three of them — Mike Muscala, John Jenkins, and Schröder — saw time during the regular season with the team. 2014 draft picks Adreian Payne, Edy Taveres, and Lamar Patterson will also see their first NBA related playing time. Eric Dawson, who played for last year’s Summer League team and was a training camp invite, is on the roster as well. Continue Reading…

After Atlanta Journal-Constitution Hawks beat writer Chris Vivlamore posted his story announcing the signing of guard Thabo Sefolosha, formerly with Oklahoma City, to a 3-year, 12 million contract, he was so surprised by the number of negative comments that he posted this in the comments section:

Wow, have to admit I’m a little shocked by the reaction to the signing. I like it, for what it is. A player to come off bench, step in if Korver or Carroll go down, who can move the ball, shoot the occasional 3 (I like his stroke) and play defense. Plus, comes from winning organization. That will help. Not the over-the-top piece everybody is looking for but a start.

The AJC.com Hawks blog community, which I’ve been part of since around 2005, is known for its negative comments. For C-Viv to express shock at the reaction to Sefolosha’s signing indicates that this went beyond normal forum trolling. Why so much negativity directed toward a free agent signing that addresses the obvious need for improved wing defense?

To answer that, I need to first give an overview of the Hawks’ cap situation. Below are the 13 players the Hawks have under contract and their respective salaries. Also included is $1 million that must be paid to John Salmons, assuming the Hawks cut him by the negotiated deadline of July 10th. If cut by the Hawks, the $1 million will be deducted from the team’s cap space for this season. Continue Reading…

NOTE: The following piece was written prior to the announcement of the Hawks’ signing of Thabo Sefolosha for three years and $12 million, reducing the Atlanta’s available cap space to around $13 million. I will have a piece up later today on why I feel the Sefolosha signing fails to move the needle. 

With two of the big-name free agents, Marcin Gortat and Kyle Lowry, opting to remain with their current teams, options are drying up. This is even the case for the Miami Heat, which obtained flexibility after the Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opted out of their contracts. The Heat, like all other NBA teams with available cap space, are watching the free agent options dwindle rapidly.

Last summer I wrote about 10 free agents I considered realistic options for the Hawks. Of those players, seven signed multi-year contracts with other teams, one is a league pariah whom I still like (Ivan Johnson) and two played on 1-year deals and are free agents again (Anthony Tolliver and Al-Farouq Aminu). The latter two are mentioned as possible veteran-minimum signees for the Heat in an analysis by Tom Haberstroh for ESPN Insider.

Anthony Tolliver

After shooting 34% from 3-point range in his single season with the Hawks, Tolliver went into video game mode in the playoffs, shooting 64%. Haberstroh notes that Tolliver shot 41.3% from 3-point range for the Bobcats this season and feels he would be perfect for Eric Spoelstra’s system. Tolliver played only 21 minutes in the playoffs against the Heat and made one of two attempts, so there was no opportunity for another post-season breakout. Continue Reading…

I’m still in a daze. What just happened?

*shakes out cob-webs*

Ah, I can see clearly now!

This is one of those trades that we can’t really grade until each moving piece evolves over time. This is a trade could impact the Hawks in a few different ways.

Scenario #1:

Hawks dive into free agency head-first ready to make a huge splash. However, they come out of it looking like the Boys Chess Team captain asking out the Homecoming Queen. (Heck, even if you’re on the girls chess team you probably say no, am I right?)

Hawks watch as Lucas Nogueira turns Toronto into his playground, sending back opposing shots as if he were Rob Ford. With Bebe, considering how high his ceiling is as an imposing defensive specialist, this part of Scenario #1 is quite possible if his knees stay functioning. Continue Reading…