Today, I was reminded that I have a blog where I can write about the Atlanta Hawks. In being reminded about this fact, I said to myself - 'self, what has occurred since this shamockery of a playoff series vs. the Cavs that is worthy of writing about.'
So, I spent some time thinking about what has been blogged about by the writers of Atlanta regarding the Hawks. The main topics being a post-season analysis of the players and coaches and a look ahead to the 2009 NBA Draft (oh, and what offseason moves we'll make to be successful next season).
Well, one thing stuck out this offseason to me: the lack of a contract extension for Mike Woodson.
Now, anyone who has read this blog for an appreciable amount of time should be well versed in the reasons we believe Coach Woodson is ill suited to coach the Atlanta Hawks to its maximum potential. A search for Coach Woodson fans to school me on the ways that Coach Woodson has benefited the Atlanta Hawks over his 5 year stint have resulted in two answers - he's cheap and the team has increased its win total each season. Neither are really reasons why he has impacted this team's increasing win total, which speaks volumes.
That said, we actually feel like the first egregious error of the Rick Sund era is going to be perpetrated if they do not extend Coach Woodson's contract by at least 2 years. Everyone already knows that I abhor the way Coach Woodson coaches this team, but we wouldn't be Str8Talk if we didn't put ourselves in Coach Woodson's shoes on this.
We have often complained that Coach Woodson coaches as if he must win every battle (i.e. each game) without a plan for winning the war (i.e. a NBA title) and we actually have to side with Coach Woodson in his disdain for developing young players if it causes you to lose games and takes one accomplishment off of your end-of-year argument for another year of a 7 figure salary. What would you do? Would you play Solomon Jones or Acie Law for stretches of the season at the risk of losing games in hopes that a postseason run will save your job? Or do you play the players you trust with no regard to the end game, particularly when you may not be around by the time the talent is ready to take those next steps? Why risk your short term financial largess for a young player's possible development?
You see, we don't believe in Coach Woodson's coaching acumen, but we don't blame him for his approach under his circumstances. Either you fire him b/c you don't think he can take you there or you give him a contract that allows him to breathe long enough to actually do the things necessary to ensure the team's long term success. Under these circumstances, do you honestly expect him to play anyone we select in this season's draft? I certainly don't. There won't be one thing that will change next season and the Hawks will be worse off because of it.
So, we are doing the unthinkable today and that's saying - if you aren't going to fire him, then extend him TODAY. Give him 3 years so he can see that he has time to develop the team. No, I don't think he can do it and I'm certain that the ownership doesn't want to pay two coaches, so we'll have to suck it up during those next 2 seasons, but at least we'll have given him as complete a shot at doing what you hope he can do rather than handcuffing him into certain failure. I hate to see how he's going to be able to handle Acie Law, Josh Smith, or any other player who gets an attitude next season with the knowledge that the coach doesn't have a contract after the season. We're just one pout away from cats tanking a season just to get him fired and there's nothing I've seen that says that anyone outside of Joe Johnson even likes Coach Woodson.
Who wins under that possible scenario? No one!!! To Fire or Extend, ok. To leave him as a coach in limbo is certain disaster! I even would go so far to say that if you don't fire or extend him - you almost certainly have to trade your draft picks and some players to get veteran help at the point or the post in the offseason in order to have them fit the only type of team that Coach Woodson could possibly take on a deep run in the postseason.
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