I've been thinking about this all offseason and here's what I came up with since we have reached a time in my Hawk Fandom where I need to 'won' back. I said it last year and I'll stick with it - only almost 30 years of Hawks love is between me and wanting to be an Oklahoma City Thunder fan. Yep, my heart of all hearts is dangerously close to moving my allegiance to a team that was STOLEN from Seattle. That's how bad this has become...so I had to come up with some things that would make me feel the warm fuzzy that was always my feeling for my Hawks through good times and bad.
1. Hire a promising, up and coming coach OR hire a coach who has been successful with other franchises (i.e. Van Gundy or A. Johnson). (This test was failed!)
2. Set a value for Joe Johnson that is based on allowing yourself the wiggle room to bring in the pieces necessary to take the next step in your ascent to a NBA title and do NOT exceed it. (This means essentially that you will LOSE Joe Johnson because the value for Joe Johnson is about $10M to the Atlanta Hawks and their budget). Many people want to talk about whether or not we want to keep Joe Johnson, but that question is not nuanced enough. The key is to explain to the fan base that the question should be - would you rather pay the price to sustain your position in the Eastern Conference in the short term OR would you rather focus on raising your ceiling with the understanding that you may have a short term dip to do so. I strongly side on the latter instead of the former.
3. Make a significant push to be a defensive minded team with results. The Mike Woodson era was not as much of a failure for the fact that our offense was limited, but more of a failure that it was masked as a defensive first team without any results to back it up. Simply put, I'd accept a similar offense if we ever had a lockdown defense...that means players have to play better and we actually have to get BETTER defenders.
4. Move to a point guard led offense. Meaning having a point guard who is respected as the leader of the offense and dictates the pace and purpose for the offense. This includes a lashing when the forward and center tries to lead the break or any lack of starting the play from the point guard position.
5. Ownership being honest with the fan base by saying that there is a specific budget for the team and that all parties - ownership, management, and coaching must do a better job within that budget. Which really means - we can't miss. That means you actually have to spend more on scouting and hire the best scouts you possibly can to ensure that you don't miss. Signing Mike Bibby is a miss, signing Marvin Williams for more than $5M is a miss. Letting Childress leave is a miss. Paying Crawford $9M is a semi-miss. The point here is that you have to get Wesley Matthews production from your undrafted free agent, not Mario West production. You have to get DeJuan Blair production from your 2nd round pick, not Pape Sy production. You have to make those pieces count, so that your 12 man roster is full of players that you actually can use. Your D-League usage should be full of players you actually can use to replace players within 1-2 years since you will have to let people go at the point that they will make too much money.
6. Larry Drew gets 45 wins out of a Joe Johnson-less team.
7. Rick Sund is able to get rid of Marvin, Mike, or Jamal's contracts this year in exchange for a useful piece for the Hawks.
This is what would make me come back. Let's go...
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