In those debates, there have been varying degrees of glee and consternation about the Hawks offseason. Our position has always been about championship moves (ones that pay off this year and in the future). I've included a link regarding the offseason moves made this year. I'll focus less on the ranking and more on what I look at and say - why not us? I've been very vocal about the fact that I think we've mishandled a few situations this offseason that I feel are critical to our progression toward title contenders.
In order to make sure we're all together on that thought process, our position was that the following things needed to be addressed this offseason IF our goal was to progress further than last season:
- Perimeter Defense - Whether that's with a defensive stopper at point guard off the bench OR by replacing Bibby with a better defender
- Rebounding - The Hawks were one of the worst rebounding teams in the league last year. Enough said.
- Leadership - Whether that's with a true point guard who directs the offense and distributes the basketball (penetration would be nice as well) OR with a veteran who has won at least a conference title who is willing to help guide our young players on the ways of winning critical basketball games.
- Toughness - If anyone watched us in the playoffs, it wasn't just a lack of talent, but it was a lack of fortitude and toughness that caused the blowouts. You cannot have your will taken if you want to be successful in the NBA.
- Interior Depth - It should be obvious that we can't expect that no injuries will occur all season when our frontcourt is undersized already (with lean and under 7 foot centers and power forwards). You need serviceable help in general and ESPECIALLY when someone gets hurt.
- Coaching - If you aren't going to fire the coach (our preference), then you certainly can't leave him with no contract extension. The ability to discipline and be patient with our young players is significantly diminished when a coach is not guaranteed that he's coming back next year.
So, check out this list of offseason moves - http://talkhoops.net/2009/08/its-a-list-ranking-the-off-season-moves.html
With that in mind, here's the head scratching that we're doing this offseason:
- No contract extension for Mike Woodson. We've blogged about this before. While we detest Mike Woodson's coaching style in almost every measurable way, we don't want our coach to be neutered either. We'll see how the team and staff perform under the circumstances, but we won't be surprised if it's a disaster.
- Joe Smith - What are we waiting for? The last thing we need is for him to be on another team as their 4th big man. A one year deal keeps him from tying up your cap, so let's get it done.
- Lack of inquiry on Leon Powe, Fabricio Oberto, Drew Gooden, Chris Wilcox, Chris Andersen, Hakim Warrick, Brandon Bass at any point this offseason (not saying that all of these guys are the answer - I am saying that at the pricesthat some of these guys signed - we should be involved in some way.
- Trading David Anderson when we STILL have no 4th big man
- Lack of attempt to sign a younger point guard like Ramon Sessions, Jarrett Jack, etc at a cheaper price (or a trade for Sergio Rodriguez and Channing Frye for Law, Claxton). Just anything to keep us from being held hostage by a no defense playing Bibby.
Now, the theme in all of these five areas in my mind is money. There's no way that some of these guys could be available at those prices and we not make a strong push to improve our interior. So, I'm just gonna say it - I don't think the Spirit have the money. I don't see us spending up to the cap limit this year and maybe not even next. I think they were happy to simply say - let's sign last year's team (save Flip Murray - who I think we still might want to sign) and hope the team's collective improvement will be enough to keep us in the top half of the Eastern Conference. While it's certainly possible, it won't be without 5 or more teams fighting us with the very players we should have been in the mix for.
Of course, Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague could present some measure of improvement, but when we consider Mike Woodson's aversion to playing more than 8 players AND grooming point guards (and lack of contract) and the fact that these guys are backups - it doesn't give a lot of confidence that the organization is interested in actually improving the depth and talent base of this team. We applaud them for bringing back Zaza and Marvin, but to sustain our ascent - we think more was necessary. Too bad, we probably don't have the money to do so.