Thursday, July 22, 2010
Check the link here
Two developments occurred today:
- The Hawks are allegedly going to shock the NBA establishment by signing Josh Powell to a (get this) veteran minimum contract for 2 years. Yes, we're getting Kobe's confidante and 12th man from the defending champions to be our...oh, maybe 10th man (at best). My only question is whether Joe Johnson went out to recruit him to join us.
- Chris Paul put out a manifesto to the Hornets saying pretty much - trade me to one of these teams. I always wonder how that works because if I was a GM - I'd pretty much ensure that he never gets to one of those places UNLESS I get a sweetheart deal to do so. Otherwise, goodbye N.O., hello Minnesota or Sacramento. Why is this on a Hawks blog, you ask? Well, it's because I would like for the rumors about transactions for once bend to the side of something exciting that could potentially point us toward a title. Last time that happened was when Amare Stoudamire was on the rumor mill for us... Anyway, if you're me - you've called the new GM in N.O. and you've offered everyone on our team with the exception of Josh Smith first, then you acquiesce and say - ok, we'll give you Josh, but we gotta keep Al and then, you can go for anyone else - that includes Joe Johnson if they will take him. Draft picks...yep, those too...then, you rely on Chris Paul and one big man stud to actually recruit players to play in Atlanta.
And on another note - how hard is it to recruit to Atlanta? Short of an incompetent front office (now that I think of it - that phrase is going to answer this question for itself), I STILL can't for the life of me understand why the land that almost every black man (esp. one with money) would die to be in (and many live in). A land that rivals NYC, LA, and Miami for sheer black man love...how are we NEVER in the discussion for this? Who are these old men who are having problems getting athletes to come to Hotlanta? I mean seriously...this really bothers me.
Disclaimer: I love all people of every race, so please don't send this blog to Fox News or else you'll be apologizing to me when I show you my life's work and the fact that I could write a blog about why white athletes should come here too, but since only David Lee is worthy of being recruited here and he's in Golden State...this point should be moot, but I needed to say that.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Note: This is also due to the fact that when I'm reading other thoughts - many of them find ways to make Rick Sund's decisions good ones, make Joe Johnson the linchpin of some future Hawks championship run, and able to see coaching genius in Larry Drew, so I'm sworn off reading things for understanding my Hawks. I think my conclusions are good enough (even when wrong).
Which brings me to this week's 'DAMN' segment, check out the Summer League All Tourney Team and tell me who is missing.
T-Mobile Rookie of the Month
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento)
Most Outstanding Player
John Wall (Washington)
Sam Young (Memphis)
JaVale McGee (Washington)
Reggie Williams (Golden State)
DeMar DeRozan (Toronto)
JJ Hickson (Cleveland)
Ty Lawson (Denver)
Dominique Jones (Dallas)
Derrick Caracter (LA Lakers)
Larry Sanders (Milwaukee)
Gani Lawal (Phoenix)
Jermaine Taylor (Houston)
Alonzo Gee (San Antonio)
And before anyone tries to tell me that I need to have patience, I do have patience and I have always believed that Teague is better than Bibby right now, but I'm not sure that Teague has the ability to move the Hawks past the 2nd round and really that's all that matters at this stage. And any thoughts that Jordan Crawford will be a good pro are muted by the fact that he ..uh, um...plays the same position as the guys who shoot the most on our team. So, as excited as I could get - I'll just say...uh, we probably won't see much Jordan Crawford on this team until they let Jamal Crawford walk next season OR we trade Jamal Crawford for a useful piece during the season before he walks away for nothing.
Friday, July 16, 2010
That's pretty clear, but I do want to highlight a few things that the recent sale of the Golden State Warriors tells us and some are bad and some are great.
So, first, the good:
- It's important to note that a team purchased for $119M in 1995 just was sold for $450M in 2010 during a recession. Which means you'd have to lose over $20M a year for 15 years in order to NOT make money over the duration of the this ownership period. That doesn't include the tax savings you get for claiming the loss that happens each year over the 15 years. Golden State has never been one of the best teams in the NBA. This deal did not include a hockey team or an arena. Get where I'm going with this? Yes, this means that as much as we discuss the fact that ASG is cash poor (and they may be) - they are NOT going to lose money at the end of the day. They just are losing money in operating costs NOW.
- So, in a nutshell, as I always say - you don't buy a non-NFL sports team (and even the NFL is getting less and less) in order to make money on an annual basis. You buy it for $200M in order to sell it for $$800M 15 to 20 years later. That should give some context for discussion on why we should be hopeful for getting an owner to buy our team who gets that.
- So, since we know that the money is made on the back end and not annually, this does highlight the biggest issue for our ownership and it's not that we aren't spending money. It's that we aren't spending money WISELY. The main reason teams end up over the luxury tax is that they aren't spending all of their money wisely and yet are willing to spend more money to account for the mistakes being made. So, Rashard Lewis for $111M is a mistake, but going out and getting more pieces to go with him make up for that mistake. And this is done because 1) they want to win a title and 2) they know that they will recoup the money that was ill-conceived in the first place when the owners decide to sell the team.
- This is leads to another bad outcome and that's that - you can't sell a team for $450M and make the player's union believe that the league is hemorrhaging money. The player contracts and the value of the teams are not in sync with - we're too poor to sustain this model. So, if I'm a player, we're going to have to have a work stoppage (Note: this presumes that as a player I've saved my money well and am able to live for a year or two without a paycheck vs. owners who don't even eat off of the money made or lost by their teams. Since we know that too many players are NOT that financially savvy, the owners still have a bargaining chip that is easy to chomp on.) Anyway, if the players are smart, they won't allow owners to simply scream about operating expenses. That's NOT how owners make their money. If they want to scream about expenses, then you can't go over your own salary cap and pass out bad contracts at the same time. Either eat the contracts, spend more, and shut up about poverty or don't eat the contracts and allow your team to get worse before it gets better.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
- Ownership - Donald Sterling has been known as the cheapest owner in the league...only to pay up at the point at which he was actually being lampooned to the point that a stand had to be made...only to overpay the wrong guys and underpay the right ones. Save the slumlord-edness of Mr. Sterling...sounds familiar
- Coaching - Simply put, save Larry Brown - has there ever been a coach of any substance in either franchise's history? And don't say Lenny Wilkens - he was past his prime when he was in Atlanta.
- Players - Lately, our players for the most part have played out the string. Been a lot of lottery picks and a lot of talent, but nothing approaching championship quality. That happens when you know that your ownership and coaching isn't up to snuff, so you just work to get as much money as you can.
- Free Agents of nothingness - Basically, when is the last time a player of substance REALLY came here to be a part of the team? I would say Joe Johnson, but he's had about $200M reasons to be in Atlanta since he wasn't going to make that money in any other city. So, him aside is anyone ever joining one of those teams for market or less than market value. Yeah, that's what we thought..
Yep, get ready for a bunch of veteran minimum players, Hawks fans. Sigh...
Monday, July 12, 2010
a sign-and-trade of Josh Childress for a Phoenix Suns 2012 2nd Round Pick.
I'll let my friends at Peachtree Hoops and Hoopinion tell you why this may or may not be a great thing, but let it be repeated here - that this is missed opportunity no. 1 for management to prove to me that they were trying to add pieces to the roster in an effort to contend for a title. It was pretty much a forgone conclusion that Josh Childress was never going to be brought back here. I'd just like to see which overseas talent we're going to bring back with the 40-50th pick of the 2012 draft only to leave them overseas so we don't have to pay them. Should be interesting...
Let the Al Horford Contract Watch begin...
So, for my blog haters, I don't blame JJ for this (I blame JJ for lying about whether or not he wants to win a title over making an extra $30M or so - he absolutely would sacrifice a title for the money, which is fine - just don't lie and say that something that's not true). I am consistent about this much - ASG is certainly talking out of both sides of its mouth. You don't trade first round picks for cash or trade assets you kept for 2 years with no return only to get back a 2nd round pick. I'm almost CERTAIN that the Bucks would have given the Hawks a better 2nd round pick and even a player last year for Childress, so this is actually getting to the point of laughability with regards to what these guys say and what these guys do. I'm watching what they do and it all points to ... here's why you're broke.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
1. Orlando (SE Division Champ)
3. Boston (Atlantic Division Champ)
4. Chicago (Central Division Champ)
5. Milwaukee (Updated: Michael Redd is not planning to return until Feb. 2011, so this may be adjusted soon.)
8. New York
And the rest of them...
Now, before folks start going wild like they did last year when I suggested that the Hawks could end up fighting for the 7th or 8th seed. These standings are made with the thought that all players on these teams will be healthy during 90% of the season. It all presumes that the teams will do what they normally do to keep their teams viable during the season.
So, without any further ado, yes - we expect the Magic to continue to rule the roost. We can't say we are sure that they will win a title, but they will be motivated to get back to the NBA Finals and have the purse strings to add whatever components necessary to stay ahead of the Miami (Super) Heat. In filling out the rest of the standings, we do believe that the role players of the NBA are going to line up to play with the Heat (why wouldn't they?), so while they have no team now - we're not really concerned about it in a way that says they won't be a title contender by season's end the way that the Celtics were in '08. Boston has secured another veteran led campaign and while we don't believe they can win a NBA title again - they certainly can win their division once again.
Which leaves us with the push for the 4th seed - 6th seeds and personally, I am not optimistic about our ability to hold off the Bucks and Bulls as we are presently constituted. The Bulls added Boozer and subtract Hinrich...but still have Noah, Deng, Rose, and a defensive-minded coach. A Bucks team that was pushing hard down the stretch now has a tested Brandon Jennings and adds Bogut as well as Michael Redd back to the roster will be battling for supremacy in the Central Division.
Which leaves us with the Hawks fighting to keep pace in an Eastern Conference that just shifted the balance of power significantly. Now, as was the case last year, many things can change (Arenas and guns, Redd/Bogut injuries, Bulls giving away Salmons, etc) and so, I am not sentencing the Hawks to 6th or wishing it, but the Hawks have made no improvements unless (again) you determine that the core will get better by virtue of playing together another year and that Jeff Teague is the answer that Mike Bibby was not last year. I have rejected the core getting better answer for the 2nd straight offseason (and to be clear, winning 1-2 more games is NOT our answer to whether or not a team is better - as we always say there are a lot of bad basketball teams out there) contrasted against adding an asset like Boozer or getting Redd/Bogut back or adding two top 10 talents to the Heat.
While this will be more useful in about 2 months, we are ready to hear your thoughts. After another Hawks playoff implosion, what specific players do you think the Hawks should sign or trade to address their weaknesses? Do you believe the Hawks will lose ground, maintain status quo, or improve their record and playoff prospects next year?
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Reasons to hate this interview are:
- The lie that goes - coaching and ownership have done everything possible to win (except not fill out a 15 man roster, spend money on free agents, make midseason trades, pay for a real coach, OR get scouts and use the D League to our advantage)
- I always wanted to be in Atlanta (which never was said until the $124M was put on the table)
- This wasn't in the interview, but having Joe Johnson making the 2nd most in the entire NBA is really making me sick right now.
- And this one takes the cake
Q. Your agent said you planned to recruit other players. Any ideas on the guys you’d like to come play with you?
A. “(Laughs). We have to go out and see what is out there. Honestly, I think we have the team now we can win with. That’s no question. The last two years we have averaged 50 wins. We all know it’s time to step up and take it to the next level. I think with the team we’ve got right now we can do that.”
And I thought being a Knicks fan was gonna be the most depressing position to be in. At least they have a clue and a hope (Carmelo in 2011) and cap space...
BTW, LeBron did what any 25 year old would do in that position. Get paid big money and go to South Beach and win titles. Forget what they are saying today - win titles, LBJ and this all goes away. Lose and this will be just what you've been getting in Cleveland. It's really a no brainer.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
It's this mis-management that isn't being punished harshly enough via the media, fan base, and even the players that keeps us in the position we're in right now, which is slightly above average, but not really good or great. With this in mind, I'm reminded of the last time I determined that I didn't want to follow a team any longer. I grew up cheering for the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins. Obviously, one team for the hometown flavor, the other because they won. But it didn't take me long to determine that ownership was the reason the Atlanta Falcons would never win anything (with Deion Sanders being let go for nothing as a restricted free agent being the final confirmation) and a true, hardcore Miami Dolphin fan from that point forward was born.
I never thought that as a grown man - I'd ever be presented with this question again of who is your team? And certainly not from my only true hometown love - the Atlanta Hawks, but we've reached that stage...a stage where I keep watching the Oklahoma City Thunder (I just can't pick a conventional winner and jump on board...doesn't seem right to do that) and saying - I wish that was my team. Cap room, young players, competent ownership and GM, Coach of the Year.
I see the cash strapped, salary cap constrained Atlanta Hawks sign 29 yr old Joe Johnson to a 6 yr, $120M and then, I see the Oklahoma City Thunder sign a not yet 22 yr old Kevin Durant to a 5 year, $86M contract and I say...why again am I cheering for the Hawks? A team that will make that signing and then reportedly make a claim that they will put pieces around Joe to make a title push...the cash strapped, cheap at every turn save when it comes to Joe Johnson is going to do what again? The team that has NEVER spent money on anything that helps get those pieces (D League, scouting, coaching, game operations) to come to Atlanta is now suddenly going to change stripes. Really???
Of course, there's more here, but I haven't figured out why people aren't raging in the streets over what has transpired lately. It's not really the Atlanta way to get their panties in a wad over anything that isn't college football. So, I accept that it's really only going to be me that's going to say loudly that Jamal Crawford was a great pickup (despite my admission that he was better than I could have conceived) or the Bibby signing or the Williams signing or letting Childress feel unloved or re-signing Mario West or signing Jason Collins. While I didn't mind Joe Smith and I liked Zaza Pachulia, people are still missing the point about all of those deals - THERE IS YOUR D WADE, LEBRON JAMES, CHRIS BOSH $$$$. It's all sitting right there. Competent management would have long ago said - hey, we can re-sign Joe Johnson and go over the cap if we want to, but we need to have enough to get another guy in here to win a title. If we have to make tough decisions like - Mike Bibby (NO!), Marvin Williams (NO!), Zaza (NO! followed by a sniff, sniff) - you can't get this money because we're doing to do whatever we can do to win a title, then that works for me. It hurts short term, but it works overall and if you say and do that with consistency, the people understand. Did you see anyone go to any lengths to say stay Joe? Anyone? Right, you didn't..not because we don't think he can be valuable to us - I'd be a fool to say otherwise, but I'd also be a fool if I said - he's worth the max, he's worth more than a great point guard or a big man or anything that may help us win a title. We've done the 'hitch our wagon' to Joe thing, so doing something else that allows for a change to the matrix gives me hope.
So, yes, it distresses me when anyone with a platform tries to come up with a perspective that makes re-signing Joe Johnson for $120M right or even tolerable or a lose-lose proposition (I'm speaking to you, Lang Whitaker and Mark Bradley) Seriously!!! No, it was bad management that goes us into that position and it was terrible that we BID AGAINST OURSELVES to sign Joe now. I could be swayed to believe that did what was best for our long term prospects by keeping Joe (read: I don't buy the argument that Joe can't be traded when he becomes worse), but I still haven't been able to shake the fact that I am not convinced he was going to get a 5yr max deal from anyone and even if he did - you mean to tell me you couldn't offer him 6, $110 then or even the max to the point that you know how many teams actually want him to establish a market for who you may actually end up trading him to in the future. I'm also unable to shake the fact that I don't have faith that we'll make a smart trade when faced with the opportunity to do so.
I actually think we have enough pieces to make lemonade out of this entire situation, but NOT under this ownership. I don't believe in ASG, Rick Sund, or Larry Drew. Period. Not a lick...you can spin this however you want, but ASG has made a mess of this franchise since they purchased it. They didn't let Billy Knight be his own man (and yes, he made mistakes, but he also tore down and re-built this team to playoff status). They aren't letting Rick Sund be his own man (and even if they were - I'm still not too impressed with anything he's done to date including getting Jamal Crawford when we had more pressing needs).
So, it's my belief that we are just doing things to do things. Signing Shaq - that's the first piece of rumored buzz since Amare Stoudamire that I've heard around this franchise and it's a bad one. You never hear this franchise's name connected to GOOD rumors....like hey, we want to get Chris Paul after we messed it up the first time. Like, hey - we are going to shed salary too to get in on this LeBron sweepstakes. Like hey, there are some young point guards and centers that we would love to get in exchange for Joe Johnson on the sign and trade if he doesn't want our money. Basically, making hard, prudent decisions...
No, it's not easy to say - Marvin Williams we have to let you go...or Mike Bibby, we can't do another contract no matter whether Joe Johnson likes you or not. OR Joe, we love you, but all we got for you is about 6 yrs, $75M (and we know that you aren't going for that), so unless you want that and an opp for us to get OTHER non-Shaq like players here to help you, so you can show your loyalty to the organization, then sorry - we'll do a sign and trade wherever you like. You then tell the public - this is what we had to do. Just like the Knicks...after all of their extremely horrendous management, Donnie Walsh came in and just started shredding that team and said - we're going to start with superstars and then, we'll fill in the blanks. Why is it that my team decides that it will try to do it another way? All the other teams did it the other way and have models to follow that prove it a plausible path to a title...LA, Boston, Miami, San Antonio can all attest to this.
Nowhere does the plausible path include - pay a 2nd tier star 1st tier money, have no cap room for re-signing your 3rd best player without letting your 6th man walk for nothing, and then have no role players, no defensive help, none of the things that championship teams need outside of talent, and still hope you can win a title. It's just not how it's done and I blame the city, fans, media outlets, and players for all standing around and watching it happen. We can put pressure on this situation, but not without a unified voice - not with people who think there's a way this works out in the direction of winning titles. You can't convince me that every other team that was BETTER than us is trying to get pieces to get better and for the 3rd straight offseason our answer is - re-sign the same guys and hope they get better OR worst yet, sign a coach on the cheap and tell me the coach who has never coached before and was on the bench when all this mess was happening is the elixir that we didn't see before.
The more I write - the more I feel like I'd be a fool to not cut my losses and take the huge amount of criticism for doing what I've dished out to those who've switched their allegiance. But right now, the Hawks are doing NOTHING I can consider setting themselves up for success. It's truly a heartbreaking moment for me. One I never thought I'd have to contemplate, but this offseason is it - I won't put hard earned dollar, emotion, and energy into an inept operation. That's not an option..I put a lot of people on the clock (ASG, Rick Sund, etc) and now, I'm putting it on me - how much more can I take? Not sure, but I'm pretty sure the answer will be reached by the training camp when I unveil where my allegiance lies. No need for a hour long special about it.
That said, HawkStr8Talk will live on...either as the fan blog it was intended to be or as the ex-fan who is still giving you straight talk about what he sees. It's really come to that...best wishes, my sweet Hawks! Comment away and possibly talk me off the ledge...
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Well, let's say that we're at strike 2 on my list of Win Me Backs, so in free agent like fashion - I am interviewing teams for my fan-dom. No sense cheering for a team that clearly thinks I'm a fool. How could I come to that conclusion you ask?
Let's see...you offer Joe Johnson a 6 year, $120M contract and then give us lip service (a la Mike Woodson) to us in saying that you will be putting pieces around him to help him win a title. Seriously! It's already bad enough that this contract is Jon Koncak bad, but it's doubly bad to then act as if you are doing this to win a title.
Where was this title winning money at when we were signing Mario West as our only acquisition last year or when we signed Joe Smith or when we signed Jason Collins. We've needed leadership and rebounding and perimeter defense for as long as I can recall. So, now, with one of the most important decisions of the next 5 years of the Hawks organization - you decide to tell us that you are going to kill our cap space for the foreseeable future because you plan to spend your way to success.
Let me get this straight..the team who has been cheap in the front office (yes, I know about the cutbacks in supplies and personnel, ASG), in the coaching ranks, in the scouting ranks, in payment on players not named Joe Johnson, and now you want me to believe that you're going to become Mark Cuban to make a push for a title. That you're going to lock up Al Horford now, that you're going to go out and get some real bench players. That's what I'm to believe. Seriously, ASG...you are trying to play me for a fool. And you've done a good job on some fans. They actually believe this is something we must do. They are fearful of being first round exits (or not making the playoffs) vs. perpetual 2nd round exits. Let's be clear - Joe Johnson is a good basketball player - I would be foolish to say otherwise. You see, what people are missing is that $20M/yr players are leaders, they win games single handedly, and they actually can make others want to play with them.
Joe Johnson does none of those things. And so I say again - who are you fooling, ASG? Not me...and that's why I've got the Thunder on the line because they know what they are doing and how to do it. That's what I want to cheer for - not guys who are actually financially strapped, but then spend money foolishly to ensure that they stay that way. Yep, it's time to start shopping for a new team...it's painful, but if LeBron can do it to the Cavs....I can do it to the Hawks...
Did I mention how bad it is that you didn't even let another team say they were going to pay Joe Johnson before you did anything. If so, let a team at least establish a market value for Joe. Seriously, I mean he's going to balk at $110M or $100 M. There's no doubt he was going to allow you to make your proposal of $120M at any point. I mean...oh, this is useless.