Little did I think that so much could happen in 4 days since the last post, but yes - the Southeast Division has changed mightily. Let us recount the ways.
- Joe Johnson Returns and I'm Mighty Skeptical. Let's level set. Joe Johnson is a good player who when added to the Atlanta Hawks rotation makes them better. That is not an altogether true statement when he is injured. So, it's not a comforting thought when I'm listening to the NBA.com's HangTime Podcast (kudos to Sekou Smith, Micah Hart, and Lang Whitaker - all Hawks affliates to some degree) for this week where Hawks beat writer Michael Cunningham reveals that a) Joe Johnson didn't tell anyone (by anyone we mean the organization, not just the press) about his injury until it needed surgery and b) Joe Johnson didn't ask for any opinion on when he would return. He simply said I feel good, so let's go. If his stroke was demonstrably better upon his return, we wouldn't quibble, but since the player didn't let on that he was injured before and didn't let on that he was game ready, WHY would I believe that he's 100%. This is important because the Hawks are winning and losing at the same clip with and without Joe Johnson. So, why not wait until we're all certain that he's 100% instead of under the cloud that he's less than that and is working back into shape at the expense of the development of the team. As I always say, quit worrying about seeding and worry about getting ready for the playoffs...like
- The Orlando Magic Method. First, simply throw out last night's game and throw out any sentiment (yes, I saw some bloggers who are in violation) that we're somehow better than the Magic. Listen, they didn't trade 25% of their team because they were afraid of being caught by the Atlanta Hawks. They did so because they saw flaws that were not going to be addressed in time to win in the playoffs. They didn't wait until after a tough stretch of games to pick a time to make the deals. They said - our team won't win a title and here's what we are going to do about it. There are legitimate questions over whether these are the right moves, but doing the same thing and expecting different results is called insanity (or what I like to call the Atlanta Hawks philosophy). That said, I can't endorse whether this was the right move in practical terms, but in theory - a big ol' AMEN to the Orlando Magic GM for making a move to improve their lot in the East. Nothing like sending a message to the team and coach that nothing will be spared in the pursuit of the championship. It may blow up, but there's something admirable about a BOOM or BUST mentality.
- Jeff Teague. So, instead of working Joe Johnson back into the lineup, we decided to follow up Teague's good performance vs. the Celtics with 15, 8, & 7 minutes off the bench.
- D League Anyone? Update I asked for some D League action and it looks like those prayers have been answered. In 2011, Pape Sy will be heading to Utah. The only remaining question is - how long must we wait before Jordan Crawford joins him?