Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lose My Mind

Y'all gon' make me lose my mind
up in HERE up in here
Y'all gon' make me go all out
up in here up in here
Y'all gon' make me act a FOOL
up in HERE up in here
Y'all gon' make me lose my cool
up in here up in here

Much like the performer of the above, the Hawks have entered a puzzling/confusing stage in their development---as well as their attempts to improve on a second round ouster at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers last season.

Sekou Smith divulges the inner financial minds of the Hawks decision makers in his latest blog offering and the results are somewhat upsetting, but not all that surprising.

Our favorite passage from the Book of Sekou in regards to the well documented pursuit of free agent frontcourtman Joe Smith:

All that said, major work must be done to secure Smith’s signature on a contract. It’s not secret the Hawks aren’t paying the same rate for backup bigs that some other teams are (for example, Chris Wilcox got cash - $6 million over two years - in Detroit that he never could have from the Hawks. Same goes for Drew Gooden and the reported $4.5 mil he’ll bring in on a one-year deal with the Spurs). So they have to find ways (PLAYING TIME!!!!!!!!!!) to lure the kind of players they need to help bolster their cause. It probably helps that, in a summer marked by taking care of in-house business (home grown free agents), Smith is the first player outside of the family that the Hawks actually courted. Again, there is major work still to be done on this front.
Apparently the work doesn't involve spending even a majority (or plurality if they really want to stretch it to include three players) of the MLE.

Though they ponied up the money to resign Mike Bibby (at less cost of either Andre Miller or Jason Kidd it should be noted) and Zaza Pachulia (less cost than Anderson Varejao or Marcin Gortat), they seem unwilling to go a step further and improve the team by bringing in a player(s) that addresses one of the key shortcomings (rebounding) of last year's team.

Teams like the Utah Jazz have even gone so far as to consider loans to ensure they have enough talent to be a contender in the West. This is a standard practice in the world of sports--seeking lines of credit to fund an up front purchase. The Hawks, or at least some of the ownership, aren't as likely to dip into those financial waters, and what is left is having to try to do a vaudevillian sales pitch to try and get even one free agent to come on in. It's no wonder that the Hawks weren't involved with the Bobcats, Cavs, or Mavericks in trying to acquire Drew Gooden or why even with a lovefest and full court press attention to Joe Smith there isn't a signed contract in hand as yet. The Hawks would rather spend 2 million on slightly above replacement level talent than to pay a premium on a role player of any significance.

In the modest HHB minds, that's not how you improve your roster to address the needs of the team and move into the contender stage of a franchise's development.

This is not to say that the Hawks are cheapskates--well, at least not in roster payroll terms--they are making sure the product is good enough, therein the reason why they re-signed Bibby and Zaza. But good enough isn't the same good enough for a championship and actions such as these indicate the Hawks will always be faced with just enough financial restrictions to prevent them from really making the jump beyond a really nice regular season team.

And, in This Corner

Bret over @Hoopinion lays out a pretty strong case why the Question is Moot (or maybe moot) regarding the addition of a fourth big man to the rotation.

The origin of the insight provided was the surrender of the Hawks' rights to Solomon Jones to the Pacers so that he could sign a 2-year deal at the minimum salary level. Now, we would still question why the Hawks felt it was necessary to qualify Jones in the first place if they were willing to part with the forward even at the minimum--you know, since the Hawks have (15) slots to fill and all. We would also ask if Flubber West is now jealous.

The HHB would still like a frontcourt security blanket to provide coverage in case of catastrophic injury loss, rebounding enhancement, and the occasional need to "instruct" Josh Smith in games.

We passed the hat around the offices here at the HHB headquarters and we can give the Hawks $300 towards one of those premium players mentioned. Just let us know, fellas.

Sky Is Blue, Grass is Green, Dept.

Josh Smith took the opportunity to mix it up with other young talents in Las Vegas and the results were as expected to anyone who has watched Smith play more than (5) games with the Hawks the last two seasons.

Turnovers, poor shooting, and a lack of fundamentals were a theme over the course of his stay there, as were the usual athletic big plays that Smith is capable of.

The issue is clear: Smith can choose to shape up his game to take the next step up in his career, or he can embrace and settle into what he is today: A talented big who can occasionally make the remarkable happen but never able to be consistent or technically sound enough to be among the top players in the league. All of which means to the Hawks that they have a 10 million dollar a year player who will only sometimes play to that level.

The HHB has been caught head nodding to music enough in traffic to elicit hysterical laughter in motorists around us---Lessons and groove tips can be sent directly to the Comments area.


Unknown said...

solid blog - I made many of these same points much earlier in the offseason in a blog about whether we might be headed to 8th seed-ville.

Let's hope that the gap btw us and other teams was large enough to absorb the attempts by other teams to get better.

Jason Walker said...

I was trying to give the team the benefit of the doubt early on, but actions again this offseason are proving louder than words.

Status quo won't be enough to improve. If things stay as they are, without addressing the offense and rebounding, we will either stay still or fall back, as you did indicate early on this offseason.

We'll see how the rest of the summer pans out, but the attitude of the team seems to remain the same.

rbubp said...

Actually, you did not even come close to those same points, ATL. Did I miss you mentioning the loans, or the Jazz at all? You made similar but different points that were mostly about how the Eastern teams teams had all improved so much the Hawks might not make the playoffs or would be an 8th seed at best. And I think you said that before any free agents had been re-signed.

Now here you are again with the 8th seed stuff. I know, it will play itself out over the next 2-3 years, and it's all conjecture, and you will give yourself three or four predictions in the coming year so that you might get close and can say, well, it's all conjecture anyway.

Whatever, ATL. Whatever.

I think we all understand that the status quo won't be enough to improve and certainly will not be enough to win a championship. And it disappoints me too.

I personally think there is a reason for it; it may be money, it may be lack of vision, but I think, with no evidence to back it up, that they may allow a holding pattern this year in order to move Woody out the door sans major improvement and make bigger next-level moves next year that may or may not involve joe Johnson. Youth is on their side to do something like that.

I have no evidence it, it's only a hunch I would like to believe because it explains that there is a real plan behind the inertia that does not include Woody. I guess we'll see "over the 2-3 years" or so.

Jason Walker said...


I certainly hope that there is some intelligence behind this design, but I do believe that the origin of most things lie with money.

But I like the way you think!

rbubp said...

THHB, this may be a case where money and semi-intelligent design find themselves in a rare marriage of convenience.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the Sundian cranium.

thirdfalcon said...

I just don't think that our payroll reflects the theory that we are too cheap to spend. It's pretty much in line with all the other teams. We just can't go over the cap same as 95% of the teams out there.

It just means we have to be smarter than most of the other teams and that is what should scare you.

rbubp said...

I mean if you KNOW your coach can't take you to a championship, and you want to be seen as a good organization for good coaches, you need the current coach out but you can't fire him after years of upward trajectory and improvements and look coach-friendly, can you?

Look, Avery Johnson didn't go to the Pistons reputedly because of their lack of commitment to a long-term (five year) promise with him as coach and their very bad track record of dumping coaches. Look at what they got next. You can't expect good coaches to come to you if you are already understood to have bad ownership AND you treat coaches badly. Look at the Clippers. Who's gonna coach there? No one unless they get to be GM too!

So what do you do if you're Sund and you know you have a team on the cusp but a coach that limits it. You have to set a nice table for the next guy. Doing that may include making the current guy's release as obvious and plausible as possible--perhaps by making it obvious that the COACH is the problem.

And then you still have a very young, attractive, playoff-experienced core of players.

2011 is our year, people.