So, Mike Woodson was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. There's no reason to throw any more dirt on his grave because we've always been clear about separating the person from the job. The job wasn't being done to at a championship level, so we needed someone who can. Thanks for saving my fan-dom any further heartburn. Yes, there's time to talk about the draft and free agency, but that's not today's thrust.
There was some consternation from a few prior to Round 2 about the value of Coach Woodson and even the weaknesses of the personnel on this team. The worry was that we might not win 53 games again or get seeding higher than we ever had. Well, my friends, we submit to you that now that you've got that taste of 50 wins and seeding that could have gotten you homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals that we now elevate our goals to solely be focused on the title. Not the trappings of win totals and seeding and awards. Not TV appearances and glory. Simple title aspirations. Admittedly, I was wrong about the 3rd and 4th seed mattering since I didn't see the Celtic resurgence coming, but upon reflection, that should make the Hawks lack of urgency, heart, and competitive fire even MORE sickening to live with this offseason, so the overall point remains - the #1 thing that the organization had to do by firing Mike Woodson is to communicate that we are making steps to raise the ceiling on our team's aspirations.
It struck me as odd that when we had a meeting with GM Sund a few months ago - he said he was surprised at how well the Hawks had done this season. It said me at that time that there was a subtle admission of the fact that he was happy with direction and tenor of the season. Now, anyone who reads this blog knows of our discontent with the team's makeup and coaching, so it would be disconcerting if big moves weren't made this season to shift the makeup of this team. This was a way of saying we're willing to possibly drop some wins and seeding to build this house on a more solid, stable foundation. Mike Woodson is the first step, but we hope it's not the only step. We are certain that a new coach could address the maximization of our talents on the offensive and defensive ends as well as deal with the psychology and in-game adjustments that are necessary during long stretches of basketball.
What we're uncertain of now (and the next step in GM Sund's summer of reckoning) is whether the coach will be right and if the pieces that start next season can execute what the right coach puts in front of us. Lots of questions - not a lot of answers...I've surmised that GM Sund has been overrated in his run as GM, but that's all about to be put to the test this summer.
People have asked me who we should consider as coach..I don't know just yet. I have always thought that two types of coaches would work best for a team that isn't going to pay top dollar. It would be a former point guard/player who has a title OR one of the assistants from a top notch team. So, the idea of a Jeff Van Gundy would be nice, but does Mark Jackson sound good? Well, my #1 thought right now is Tom Thibodeau - a coach who really does have a defensive background, has a ring, and has worked with some of the elite in the game. So, before you tell me why these coaches aren't the best ones for the Hawks or whether they'd even want the job, let me be clear about what the coach needs, GM Sund...
1. Offensive & Defensive Strategies that work in the postseason
2. Backup plans when those strategies don't work
3. Tough, Honest discourse with the players and media about what happens in games and our ultimate expectation (not homecourt advantage, but actually saying we want to win the title)
4. Player Development
That's what I want out of my coach...I hope we can make that a reality and that players will buy in, but I'd rather expose the players than placate them to the point that they win you battles without a way to win the war. We've seen how that has worked for 3 years now and it's time to figure out how another path works. GM Sund, it's up to you to pick the coach and then give him the groceries to make a fantastic meal together. Tick Tock....
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