Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Unthinkable

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.

Yep, these are our Atlanta Hawks...


Bret LaGree said...

This one genuinely surprised me. I struggle every day to write about where the organization is today without focusing on mistakes past but I think what you've got at here is that ownership is the real problem (Hey, let's not trade for Amare Stoudemire.) and we're often discussing financial decisions as if they were basketball decisions.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Agreed (though I'm not sure if you're surprised at what I'm advocating or the fact that they didn't extend him)..either way, I'm surprised at both things myself. I know I'm hard on Coach Woodson, but I needed to take a break and think about why he would do what he does.

This was my best defense for Coach Woodson - that the ownership is hamstringing him and the franchise by handling this situation this way. So, it probably won't make me hate the way he coaches every situation with little regard to the long term, but it does keep me from thinking that some of it is based on human nature. I can't blame him for being human...can I?

Jonathan said...

Something I never thought about, but what about the increase in wins we would have had if Acie had played when Bibby was out matched or if he played some energy players when we start off slow.

I don't think his contract has anything to do with his player rotation. Even when he first got here he played Royal sparingly even when he played well and Salim's rookie stats would have you think he would have found a niche in this league, but unfortunately some of salim's best games were met with a seat on a bench in the next. And salim unlike Acie I believe spent the summer doing exactly what Woody wanted then he improved and showed he improved, but still got no playing time. Point guards need PT simple as that sitting on the bench is not going to help. sorry this is so long.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Jonathan, no worries on the definitely aren't saying anything that I haven't said in multiple blogs, but the point was to say - why would I not develop my players? I'm watching Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmer and Josh Powell getting PT in crunch time b/c Phil Jackson realizes that putting his best 8 players on the court every game all regular season isn't in the best interest of the team in the event of injury, slump, or suspension.

So, I think the psychology of saying - hey, I better win more games is a definite factor for why he wouldn't play a player that in his mind might 'lose' the game. I don't disagree that some of these players may win you some games, but I have to account for the fact that they may lose some too. I don't think Mike believes they can do anything, but lose those games. That's why I say - either fire him (my #1 preference) or extend him (so he can make decisions in the long term interest of the team).

rbubp said...

While we're on the side topic of the LA-Denver series, I would note how nice it would be to have a coach who recognizes the need to balance veteran PT (Fisher) with hungry young guy PT (Brown/Farmar) when thevet is having a bad game or series or there is a matchup to be exploited on either side. Check out the numbers in the Houston-LA series: Fisher couldn't guard Aaron Brooks, so Fisher's time was much less in the Houston series than it was against Utah.

Or, it would be nice to have a team so well-constructed top to bottom. Hawks fans, can you imagine having Linas Kleiza coming off the bench??
Playing 15 minutes a game? Having Renaldo Balkman, a starter for the Knicks, as your ninth guy, the very last line in the regular rotation? Plus, Denver's players all complement each other so unbelievably well through different skills and minimal overlap. Despite their craziness, I am jealous of that team and how they can emphasize different aspects of the game based on 7 or 8 different lineups.

rbubp said... more: Kenyon Martin, who increasingly looks like a waste of space, screwed up three good shots in a row very badly last night; he went to the bench. Birdman Andersen failed to get good position against Gasol several times in a row down the stretch; he went to the bench.

I long for a coach who responds to the game and pulls players who are not playing smart or well.

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

If I'm gonna be fair, I'm going to have to say that the biggest thing for Denver is Chauncey Billups. Period. So, while I appreciate what you're saying - it's not the coach for Denver. It's Chauncey. I don't think Karl's schemes or coaching would take the Hawks to a playoff run, but Chauncey Billups could.

Now, we might have him run into the ground playing 45 minutes a game b/c Woody wouldn't play Acie or any other backup point guard, but the on-court organization would be much better.


CoCo said...

I agree Larry. I haven't taken the time to write a post about it, but I've stated it on other sites. I share all of your concerns. Extend him or fire him. As a matter of fact, here's what I wrote on peachtreehoops

I’m not saying Mike hasn’t done a commendable job, but the team has gone as far as it can with him. They need a new coach or he needs a new system. Also, having a dead man walking coach on a team full of players whose respect for him lies somewhere between nonexistent and minimal is not a good situation. They either need to extend him (by need I mean they need to if they plan on getting a modicum of effort out of the players) or they need to fire him (by need I mean they NEED to fire him). They cannot go into next season with Woody’s deal expiring. If you thought Smith undermined him before, just wait to see what happens when there’s no guarantee he’ll be the coach going forward

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

if the great two-time blog award winning CoCo agrees, then let it be so. Extend or Fire - there's no other way. Done and Done.

Jonathan said...

Hawk Luv

I doubt Chauncey would sit back and allow Woody to abuse him in that way.