Thursday, February 11, 2010

Grizzlies, Heat, & A Chat With Rick Sund

Preamble Ramble

Everything happens for a reason, so as life intersects with our ability to do timely game recaps (with the good being that the job is oh...5oo ft from Philips Arena..can you say FREE parking anyone? and the bad being ....oh, so much for the late night or midday recaps) - we are now going for quality over quantity and today we provide some quick thoughts on the past two games as we head into the All Star break and then, will spend the rest of our time musing about our conversation with GM Rick Sund last night. More than anything, we want to say thanks to GM Sund AND the Hawks PR department. As bloggers look to create a space for a variety of angles and points of view to give more dimension to the nice coverage being done by the AJC, it is nice to be acknowledged by the GM for the 2nd straight year AND a promise to do a bigger and better version of Blogger Night before the season is up. For the effort...kudos!

Game Recap - Hawks 108, Grizzlies 94
Game Recap - Heat 94, Hawks 76

Overall Observations:

Grizzlies thoughts:
  • Jamal has made it clear that he's always going to be a factor..good or bad - he's going to be a factor. For most of the season and in this role, it's mostly good.
  • This was maybe one of the most balanced starting five outputs all year...and they are all upstaged by Jamal's 28...figures!
  • Nice to see Jeff get 13 minutes and while he didn't play particularly well - it's all about the learning esp. when you are winning as well.
  • Joe Smith - nice to see you
  • Thanks Grizz for having an abysmal bench (how's that Thabeet working out for you guys) or else we may have had some problems.
Heat Thoughts:
  • First, it's sad that a game can be spoiled by Jamal's absence, but see CoCo for what may have been many people's thoughts at Jamal's scratch...
  • We really are tiring of saying something isn't an excuse for a loss, though you mention it first. Bottom line, don't mention it and move on - Jamal Crawford is NOT the reason we lost. D Wade didn't even really play the 4th quarter, Beasley actually didn't play the fourth and we were handled. So, no - I'm not excusing you guys. The Lakers just won without Kobe and Bynum and I'm 1000% sure Phil Jackson wouldn't mention that as the reason they lost if they did (they won by the way)...own your losses Hawks!
  • Perspective check - we're 33-18, so I'm not going get mad about the loss at home. It happens - we're playing VERY well at home, so the only thing I'll mention is - if you want to win the division and want to be a #2 or #3 seed, you CANNOT lose to the Knicks twice or the Heat once at home. Those teams just aren't good enough to lose to and be elite. Period.
Str8 Butter Award - No one played well enough to get a Str8 Butter, but we'll give a shout out to Josh Smith because of his snub of the snub today when we heard that DAVID LEE made the All Star Team. That's a David Stern selection if we've EVER heard one. I mean seriously...Josh Smith is not only better than David Lee, having a better year than David Lee, but he's MADE FOR THE FREAKIN' game. Can you guys imagine seeing the alley oops from D Wade and Lebron - I mean seriously...

GM Sund's Interview
  • Let's start with the fact that we really appreciate GM Sund's appreciation for what bloggers do - he seemed to genuinely care about us and gave us some off the record stuff (like last year) and essentially treated us like journalists (I had to remind him that I'm a fan first, second, and third), so pat on the back to me for asking him to make sure to do it again and it looks like it'll happen twice this year, so score one for asking for what you want and the questions.
  • I really like all the bloggers and appreciate that they do this for free, so I'll say this respectfully - uh, the first question asked about Ray Allen and whether we'd be interested in bringing him here (and a FOLLOW up Ray Allen question to boot) was just a total waste of our 30 minute allotment of time. If you watch the Hawks, you'd see that we have 2 very capable shooting guards...SHOOTING GUARD is the last place we need to worry about acquiring talent unless his name is D-Wade. Seriously...Ray Allen, really, seriously - 5 minutes on Ray Allen?!?
  • Moving on, the first surprise quote was GM Sund's belief that we have guard depth when Teague isn't getting PT. This was made with the thought process that Mo Evans and Mario Evans can fill in in the backcourt. I never would have made that leap and am still very nervous about that prospect, but it didn't seem to worry the GM much.
  • Let's go ahead and put trades to bed - other folks have opined that it was unlikely and I got the very same sense - we aren't making any trades at the deadline. On one hand, it makes sense - he essentially uses my fantasy football trade philosophy which is - there's really no reason to trade for bench players. You trade for difference makers and that's in our core and we're not trading anyone in our core. So, let's be clear - no trades at the deadline unless we luck into something and probably not any signing of players who are bought out of contracts either.
  • More surprises - GM Sund said that 1) he believes Jamal is better than even he thought (I told him to take credit for thinking he was going to be that great) and 2) the team is doing better than he anticipated. I got the sense that he didn't think we could be this good and that expectations have probably changed a bit.
  • He also admitted that he thought we lacked some toughness in '08-'09 and that that toughness (mentally) is what he was looking for when getting Flip last year and what he was hoping Jamal would bring as a shot maker this season. That he's looking for toughness made me smile.
  • Now, I also asked a question from the people about our identity as a team and what he thought it was - I think he missed the point a little in that he talked more about our ability to grow due to our youth and he also mentioned that he thought Josh had grown the most this year and that he has more maturity in his game left. Last year, I kinda scoffed at how much better our young guys would get - this year, I have to just say I believe in his assessments (though he did mention Acie Law as one of those players that would grow with us and we know how that turned out).
  • The D League strategy - Well, we have a defined answer on that now. Due to our roster mandate (aka the Spirit ain't paying for more than 13 players, even though we could have 15), there's no way he can send a player to the D League without compromising the team on nights like when a guy gets a bum shoulder out of the blue. So, no more complaints for not using the D League for the GM and coach, but we'll ask for the Spirit to get an owner who will do anything to make us better and it seems like adding two more players and developing talent would be a good idea. That said, that's not a GM Sund issue.
  • Final note, you can't move Josh Childress' rights at the trade deadline. Josh has to opt out of his deal in Greece before he can be moved. GM Sund did mention that he wishes the rule that prevents a team from trading a player's rights would be changed.
  • All in all - a great session had by all (save that Ray Allen question) and we look forward to the next Blogger Night as we come down the stretch (I remember Dallas being mentioned as an option where we hope we can break the 2 game Blogger Night losing streak).

Str8 Talk Love

For the Heat/Hawks game, we'd be remiss if we didn't give a shout out to our blog buddies of Peachtree Hoops, The Vent, SoaringDownSouth, and the Hawks Real GM guy as well as Hoopinion and The Human Highlight Blog (in absentia) and Ebony for putting up with me (though she's never coming back after bringing bad luck to our fair Hawks). The biggest shout out goes to Jon Newberry and the PR department for hosting us and we will make sure that we get the big suite replete with food and drink (per GM Sund's mandate...or courtside seats...or media passes suffice). ;)

Season Prediction

We're at 33-18 and I've been saying 50-32. That would mean we'd go 17-14 down the stretch, but I don't believe that - i see more like 20-11, so let's make it 53-29 which will get us just short of the division, but could lead us to a 3 seed ahead of the Celtics, which really doesn't help us any, so let's hope we can push the Magic to that 4th spot. (Yes, the Cavs have pretty much locked up the East's #1 seed).


Anonymous said...

Great recap of the question and answer session. Thanks for the link up as well.

THHB said...

Great recap---

You are the man, L, for asking those questions--thanks for the Childress question--figured that would be the piece he could deal and get someone decent---now it just keeps me hoping that Chillz will come back to us, but Rick's lament that he couldn't deal rights might indicate that he has little hope for that.