We will be going live at 1PM to discuss the last series against the Pacers, the current search for a head coach, and of course, free agency!
Archives For Dwight Howard
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Hawks beat writer Chris Vivlamore has a funny way of debunking the reports of other writers. After Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Hawks are “aggressively” pursuing former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, Vivlamore published a pair of reports questioning Wojnarowski’s accuracy. Wrote Vivlamore:
A report that the Hawks are “aggressively” pursing Stan Van Gundy for the yet-to-be vacant head coach position is inaccurate.
But in the same breath, Vivlamore confirms that Van Gundy is a candidate and that Hawks GM Danny Ferry has already contacted him. I would have to say that communicating with another candidate when Ferry has yet to terminate his current head coach is pretty aggressive. But however you characterize it, Ferry’s actions are sending a clear and calculated message to Dwight Howard. That message is, “if you want to influence who our next coach is going to be, we’re all ears.”
Over the summer, I speculated that Van Gundy lacked perspective regarding Orlando’s organizational dysfunction when he lashed out at Howard, but gained it once the damage was done. The fact that Van Gundy has since exonerated Howard and the two have remained in touch bears this out. If Ferry wanted to solicit an outside opinion on Howard’s thinking as he approaches free agency, Van Gundy seems like an obvious place to start. Continue Reading…
According to a report from Yahoo Sports, the Atlanta Hawks have an interest in former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy replacing Larry Drew as head coach of the Hawks. The report states that Van Gundy is one of the Hawks top targets.
“General manager Danny Ferry has made Van Gundy his top target to replace Larry Drew, sources said. There has been contact between Ferry and Van Gundy, but the two sides have yet to meet in person.”
As many people know, current Lakers center Dwight Howard will be a free agent this offseason and Atlanta is the big man’s hometown. Howard’s coach back when he used to play for Orlando was Van Gundy. It is possible that bringing in SVG could help increase Howard’s interest in returning to play for his hometown. Despite Dwight’s scuffles with Van Gundy last season, sources around Howard say that this season helped Dwight realize the brilliance of the coach he had in Orlando.
I think that Van Gundy is a great option and definitely should be the top target for the Hawks this offseason. When Van Gundy was the coach in Orlando, he was one of the best coaches in the NBA and his time in Miami before that saw him reach the eastern conference finals. Van Gundy has shown he knows how to coach defense, turning the Magic into a top three defensive team in 2009, and an offense with the barrage of three-pointers the Magic would shoot when he was coach.
The great thing about Van Gundy is his great basketball mind. The three-point shooting offense he ran in Orlando was designed around the fact that they had the gigantic Dwight Howard in the middle. He knew that the best thing to surround him with would be a bunch of 3 point shooters so he designed the offense around it. I would love to see Van Gundy work with an offense being ran by the speedy Jeff Teague. Van Gundy has also shown the ability to develop players, turning JJ Redick from purely a three-point shooter into an all-around player.
The Hawks could have anywhere from $30-40 million in cap space this summer. While this class doesn’t exactly have the strength of the 2014 class (ahem, the LeBron class), there are some good pickups the Hawks could make to become a contender.
Here’s the top ten potential free agents in order of priority I would have if I was general manager Danny Ferry.
1. Chris Paul
In my opinion, the best free agent of the class by far. Paul finished third this season in win shares (per Basketball-Reference) and Player Efficiency Rating (PER), behind only LeBron and Kevin Durant in both. CP3′s season is already over after the Clippers lost to Memphis in the first round, which slightly piqued my interest in how available he may be to leave Los Angeles. However, I still believe that the Clippers are going to give him too much power in pure roster decisions and too much money for the Hawks to be able to match. Atlanta will be able to offer around four years, $80 million, which is almost $30 million less than what the Clippers can give. In the end, it will likely come down to which team Paul feels has a better chance at winning a title.
2. Dwight Howard
I don’t think there is a chance that Dwight comes to Atlanta, but Ferry might as well try, right? Despite playing all season with a myriad of injuries, Dwight still managed to average 17.1 points and a league-leading 12.4 rebounds per game. For the entire season, he wasn’t the defender that we all remember him being, but he did start to look like his former self towards the end of the year. The number one issue most Hawks fans would have with this would be Dwight’s enigmatic personality, but for me, it is more of an issue of cap space; the Hawks would likely have to re-sign Josh Smith to have Howard sign here, which would likely use all of the team’s cap. As strong as a Smith-Horford-Howard frontcourt would be, they would still need some money to fill out the roster with capable players in order to challenge Miami.
3. Andre Iguodala, ETO
Iggy has an opt-out with the Nuggets, which is something that most believe he will exercise; Continue Reading…
K. Bryant (LAL): 34 pts, 6 reb, 4 ast
A. Horford (ATL): 24 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast, 3 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]
The comeback Hawks tried to be magical again, erasing a double-digit deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Of course, Kobe Bryant wasn’t going to have any of that. Bryant scored the Lakers last six points, including a thunderous dunk, and a driving layup past Josh Smith to seal the game in the final seconds. The Hawks did have another chance to take the lead, but in true Hawks fashion, it was blown by player miscommunication.
Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]
Josh Smith: This might have been the most Josh Smith game ever. (I think I’ve said that many times before, but whatever) He was actually efficient from the field (9-16) and had seven assists, but he missed all six of his free throw attempts and turned the ball over six times. Of course, he also let Kobe punk him down the stretch (Josh probably shouldn’t have been guarding him), and then failed to control the ball on the final play. Very Smoove-like, indeed. 5/10
Al Horford: Al extended his streak of 20+ point games to 10, which is good, but it still felt like Al didn’t take full advantage of the situation he was in. The points are good, but he seemed overpowered on the boards at times when he shouldn’t have been. And, of course, since I usually kill Josh on this, I have to point out that Al missed some buckets in the fourth quarter that probably should have dropped. Not a bad night at all from Al, just a bit disappointing from what could’ve been. 8/10
Kyle Korver: The three-point streak climbs to 51, and that wasn’t all; Kyle was a huge reason the Hawks were able to get back into this game. The team was able to get him a lot of open looks, and he knocked down quite a few of them. It’s of my opinion that he could have had more, but you can’t fault him for a 6-13 shooting night that much. 6/10
Jeff Teague: Speaking of leaving something to be desired, Jeff wasn’t exactly a killer out there for the Hawks. He didn’t turn the ball over a ton like he usually does when he has a bad night, but his erratic shooting in the first half is what helped the Lakers build the double-digit lead that they had. Dwight Howard is regaining his form on defense, so you can’t exactly fault Jeff for not being able to get good looks in the paint, but he has to make up for it by making jumpers if that is what he is going to do. 3/10
Devin Harris: Hey Jeff, take note of what Devin did this game before he starts cutting heavily into your minutes again. Devin made most of his shots, got to the line more than Teague, and had six assists against zero turnovers. Considering they both excel at the same style of play (attacking), you really can’t chalk this up to Devin being a “change of pace” from what Jeff should be doing. And while I usually don’t like using single-game +/-, Devin was a plus-24 and Jeff was a minus-25. That’s something that should not be happening. 8/10 Continue Reading…
Hawks fans are accustomed to seeing a boost in production from Josh Smith each year right after the annual All-Star snub. What’s less routine is Al Horford’s absence from the squad. Who knew how Horford would react to being passed over for an All-Star selection while healthy for the first time since 2009? Well, now we know. Boss Al is back with a vengeance.
Since the All-Star break, Horford has averaged over 25 PPG. He has a streak of eight consecutive games with at least 20 points and has scored at least 20 in of 11 of his last 16 games.
You remember Boss Al, don’t you? He’s the player who helped the Hawks end a 9-year playoff drought in his rookie season. That year the Hawks gave the Celtics arguably their toughest playoff series en route to the franchise’s 17th championship. Atlanta pushed Boston to Game 7, and for the series Horford was the game-high rebounder in four games and game-high scorer in one.
But somewhere along the way, the Boss got demoted. There are many theories about why Horford appeared to lose some of the aggression of his early career. There was the incident on Dec. 11, 2007 when Horford made an overly-aggressive challenge on a T.J. Ford layup. Horford sent Ford, who suffered from a congenital spinal condition, sprawling to the floor where his head slammed into the hardwood. After the game, Horford waited at the hospital until he was allowed to visit Ford. Perhaps this affected Horford’s approach afterward.
Hawks blogger cum laude Bret LaGree, formerly of Hoopinionblog.com, would later develop his theory of “The Horford Treatment.” This consisted in Larry Drew’s curious propensity to bench Horford, owner of one of the league’s lowest per-minute foul rates for his position, even when no foul trouble existed. The most famous manifestation was Game 2 of the Hawks’ 2011 series against the Magic, when Drew sat Horford almost the entire first half after picking up two fouls. “This was the most indefensible coaching decision I’ve seen this season,” opined former ESPN.com writer and current Memphis Grizzlies executive John Hollinger after the Atlanta loss.
So, perhaps Drew beat the aggression out of Horford by propagating his irrational fear of phantom foul trouble. Perhaps. But I have another theory. This theory has to do with Dwight Howard, he of the famously-, frequently-flying elbows.
There was a time, pre-Dwightmare, when Howard averaged about eight fouls per game, only around four of which were called. TIN FOIL HAT ALERT: Was this a dark conspiracy by the NBA to keep one of its biggest stars off the pine and in the game? Does anyone care to dispute my 2-to-1 ratio of fouls committed vs. fouls called against Howard while Orlando was a contending team?
I recall one instance where Howard let fly and the ref had the impudence to call our former Boss for the infraction of disturbing Dwight’s elbow with his face. I wonder if Horford realized in that moment that star treatment was something the NBA was not yet willing to impart to him. Perhaps he thought protecting himself from injury against the day when his talent would ultimately be recognized might be the wiser course.
Perhaps that day has come. And how unfortunate for our erstwhile superstar Howard, who should have consulted with the Boss regarding rule #1 of climbing the corporate ladder: Be careful whose fingers you tread upon on the way up, as you never know who you might see on the way back down. Howard’s back injury of a season ago has inflicted him with a reduction in capacity similar to what Larry Johnson experienced in an earlier geological age.
Meanwhile, the Boss is back, and finally healthy. Wrote Aaron McGuire in his indispensable series of player capsules for TrueHoop site Gothic Ginobili:
I don’t think there are many people who understand how good Horford is, when he’s on the court. Seriously. For the past two or three years, I’ve been waiting for him to have a fully healthy year where people actually watch the Hawks and start to understand how lights out he’s been for that team.
Your wait, Mr. McGuire, is over. Sunday night we’ll get to see Horford, all grown up, face the former schoolyard bully. If ever Horford and Smith wanted to make a statement about All-Star selections, a match-up with two Western Conference All-Star starters might be the proper occasion. Will the Lakers regain .500 and continue their late playoff push? Or will we perhaps see an appearance from CEO Al?
Over the past few days, sources have said that the Hawks are currently in talks with the Nets about sending Smoove to Brooklyn. The rumored trade could be Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and a first round pick for J-Smoove.
My first thought was that there was no way this rumor could be true, but reports continue to insist on its existence. I see why Brooklyn would want to do the deal, but this would make absolutely no sense for Atlanta.
Kris Humphries hasn’t been good this season. His defense isn’t really good and he’s been inefficient, although his rebounding is extremely solid. (as it’s been for his entire career) He’s also scheduled to make $12 million next year, which would be a strange way to spend all that cap space that Danny Ferry has been coveting. Continue Reading…
“Never Trust the Hawks”
That phrase has been, more or less, my programmed response to every unexplainable Hawks collapse or ascension over the past decade. I use it to describe the indescribable, to substantiate the unsubstantial. The Hawks are, after all, the epitome of a paradox. There is no sense to them, and if history has taught us anything, there never will be. The personification of untrustworthiness, the Hawks always seem like they are somewhere lost in the wind, somewhere helplessly floating between terrible and mediocre, somewhere drifting into the abyss known as NBA limbo—where mediocrity dwellers sit, middled-out in conference play, just waiting to bottom-out, only to middle-out once again.
This has been my life as a Hawks fan, blogger, and analyst. This is why I’ve fully endorsed the “Never Trust the Hawks” DDL movement. It’s why I’m never satisfied with this team, why I can’t be satisfied with this team, until there is something to trust— and I don’t have the exact qualifications for what is to be deemed trustworthy.
I’m aware that I’ll probably never get around to a significant point while writing this, but I need to write it anyway. I need to rant, to ramble, to just explain where I’m coming from with whatever I’m trying to say. I need to write this, and I don’t even know what it’s about. But still, it needs to be done.
Welp, there goes my dream hire for the Hawks after the season.
D’Antoni was selected over Phil Jackson and will sign a four-year deal with the Lakers. Unlike most people, I like this hire, as I think Phil was asking for too much, and that the triangle would essentially turn Steve Nash into Derek Fisher. D’Antoni’s system that is highly reliant on the pick-and-roll should work with Nash, Gasol, and Dwight with almost no problems. As long as Kobe still gets his shots, no one in Lakerland should be upset with this decision at all.
The biggest criticism facing D’Antoni is that he won’t fix the Lakers’ defensive struggles. I actually disagree with this notion; while his Suns teams weren’t the best at defense, his Knicks’ defense with Tyson Chandler was one of the best in the league last year. People will try to attribute that to Mike Woodson, despite the fact that Woodson’s Hawks never finished in the top ten in DRtg in his tenure in Atlanta.
D’Antoni’s teams in Phoenix were always average defensively, even though his starting bigs were Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw. I think he’ll be fine with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol clogging the paint. Continue Reading…