Posted: 11:02 am Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Inaction shows Hawks care more about future than collapse 

By Jeff Schultz

The Hawks have faded lately without injured center Al Horford. (David Tullis/Associated Press)

The Hawks have faded lately without injured center Al Horford. (David Tullis/AP)

It was back in late December when Hawks center Al Horford suffered a torn pectoral muscle, almost certainly ending his season. The team’s record then: 16-13.

Most of what has happened since has been predictable. The Hawks pulled together for several weeks in an effort to prevent the bottom from falling out of their schedule. They went 9-8 in the first 17 games without Horford. But now they’re running on fumes. They dropped five straight going into the All-Star break, and have come out of it with consecutive losses to Indiana and Washington.

This is what it looks like when a team is allowed to die on the vine.

The Hawks are 25-28 with a seven-game losing streak and they’ve dropped from third to seventh place overall in the Eastern Conference standings, just 3½ games out of a playoff spot.

Still no help has arrived.

Are you getting the message?

The NBA trade deadline is at 3 p.m. today. If the Hawks do anything — or certainly anything of significance — it will be a surprise. They’re not in the mode of dealing low-cost assets (or certainly a draft pick) for a players carrying a big contract. These are the soundbites you will hear from general manager Danny Ferry later today. He will say the team’s building strategy isn’t about this season, it’s about the future.

UPDATE: The Hawks made a move — a strange move, actually — to acquire 37-year-old forward Antawn Jamison from the Los Angeles Clippers for the rights to Cenk Akyol, a second-round pick in 2005. Whether Jamison will actually play or just be bought out is another matter. Neither party has made that decision, apparently. Here’s a MyAJC link to Chris Vivlamore’s full account of the deal.

From a business perspective, that’s understandable. But how would you feel right now if you’re a player in the locker room. Or a season-ticket holder. Or just someone who was thinking about buying a ticket to a game? Maybe the Hawks should just let everybody in for free for the rest of the season.

The decision to not make a significant move to replace Horford effectively jeopardized the team’s ability to make the playoffs. These are not things ever highlighted in marketing campaigns.

Do you care? I posed the question a month ago: What’s better for the Hawks – to replace Horford or to tank? The response was mixed.

The more the Hawks lose, the higher their draft pick will be. (They have an option to swap first-rounders with Brooklyn, which looked desirable when the Nets were 5-14 but now they’re ahead of the Hawks.)

Do you endorse Ferry’s decision to effectively blow off this season by not making a significant move since Horford’s injury?

You can comment below and vote in the poll.

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38 comments
Phillipdj
Phillipdj

What would the Hawks do in '15 with THIS starting 5: C - Omar Asik PF - Al Horford SF - Paul Milsap SG - Kyle Korver PG - Rajon Rondo

Lou Williams, Mack and A combo of veteran bigs/long slasher rookies off the bench.

Hawks could compete for the East, with the 4 year Heat experiment drawing to a close and Asik/Horford able to match up with Indianas front line. A Rondo/Milsap/Horford combo could be used by Coach Bud sane as the Parker/Ginobli/Duncan system.

Just playing Danny Ferry for a day.

DawgNole
DawgNole

maconexpress: ". . . It ain't  meant to be for the hawks this season . . . ."

________________________

THIS season?!

Has a familiar ring to it, doesn't it?


DawgNole
DawgNole

-sting-: ". . . wait ti next year is all that can and should be said . . . ."

_____________________________

But that's what's been said for 45 championship-less years with this team. Hello?

DawgNole
DawgNole

JS: "These are the soundbites you will hear from general manager Danny Ferry later today. He will say the team’s building strategy isn’t about this season, it’s about the future."

________________________

It's been "about the future" with this franchise ever since it began play in ATL in 1968. How has that worked out? Here's how: NOT ONCE has the team won a second-round playoff series.

When is it going to be "about the present" with the Hawks?

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

I'm an avid basketball fan, and played back in my day (my talent wasn't quite up to par with my bball intelligence - gods funny joke on me). I can say these 3 things and defend them without question:

1. Coach Bud is the best basketball mind the Hawks have had since Lenny. He has been squeezing blood from a turnip - and if they manage to make the playoffs - even in the weak East - it's nothing short of a miracle.

2. Danny Ferry has made other GMs look like chumps for getting the Hawks out of the 2nd round and out J Smoove/joe/Marvin era as lightning fast as he did. He has set up the franchise to be a top 10 team.

3. Atlanta is a desirable city to live in for young, wealthy black men. Most of the players who would've wanted to sign with/play for/live in Atl haven't done so because of a terribly run organization - until now. With Ferry and Bud at the helm, free agents will start coming. One really remarkable draft is all that stands in the way now. I'm hopeful...

Kynik
Kynik

The plan all along was to hit the free agent market, and I think that works. The team has shown that they're well coached, so that aspect is in place, but the roster is thin while they clear space. Even if they're not winning *this year*, for the first time since the 'Nique/Theus/Malone/Willis group that underachieved, this appears to be a franchise with a plan beyond merely treading water. It makes me much more interested when they were spending money on an apparent ceiling of a second-round playoff exit.

FoSho
FoSho

atl has little talent to compete in this league---they'll suck again next year--book it.  they need new owners.

Logical One
Logical One

I enjoy NBA basketball played well and even when losing, the Hawks seem to be a much better coached team than in many years. I went to my first game in some time after being a season ticket holder back in the Fratillo days. they may not win but i think about it like the Falcons this past year. I would rather they look good and tough in losing this lost year and potentially getting a difference maker in a very deep upcoming NBA draft than playing a little better to be a first round playoffs loser with another project draft pick. We need a game changer as we simply do not have enough talent to compete with the best teams. But we look tough and well coached so i have hope and feel pretty good about them. As for season ticket holders and Hawks tickets in general, I have thought for years that the tickets are just too expensive. Cut the cost significantly and i mean by a lot, at least for unsold tickets, so you can fill the place with fans who will enjoy them more and more. it is what Arthur Blank did with the Falcons when they were horrible. Make it cheap to attend, fill the place up and the energy expands big time!

Pat_Pending
Pat_Pending

Jeff ... the Hawks INACTION is greeted (as with everything involving this moribund franchise) with INDIFFERENCE. Sadly, few people care.

BSNBC
BSNBC

No one cares about those sorry Hawks! Pease leave town!

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

Just a bunch of millionaire thugs. Who cares.

Falcons63
Falcons63

Never in favor of tanking.... but... You have to be realistic here.  When Horford went down, the season pretty much went with him.  I'm not in favor of taking on salary that will affect next season.  I think Ferry probably explored options involving moves that would help immediately(Asik?) but was not willing to overspend to finish one spot higher in the playoffs.  Even without Horford when healthy this is a team that is decent and plays hard every night.  Antic will return and that will help.   I don't see this as tanking. 

maconexpress
maconexpress

If the hawks were an established team like the heat and pacers I would be in favor of making a deal but they lost Al(best player on the team), Antic is injured, Carrol is injured and Ayon is injured. 

It ain't  meant to be for the hawks this season. 

The_Shade
The_Shade

I'm not a die-hard basketball fan, but I have recently asked on a couple of AJC sites about last year's number one draft pick.  Seems he is an undersized and injury-prone young man who scores and rebounds under 10 per game, and who wants to keep playing in Spain.  Is there another side to this story?  If that's the best Mr. Ferry can do with a high draft pick, should we be all that confident about his ability to put together a team?  Shouldn't a first round pick be NBA ready and playing now?  What is the rationale behind using a first round pick on a two or three year development project?   Has anyone asked him about that?  Again, not a big-time basketball fan, so if someone can explain it to me I'd appreciate it.  I want to believe in Danny but I do not understand his strategy on players.  Thanks.

-sting-
-sting-

absolutely mb. no one player can rescue this slumping team.

wait ti next year is all that can and should be said.

happened in portland two years ago. they stood pat after a swoon from a surprising start and one lillard later look where they are.

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

Teams need high draft picks. Except for the Pistons a few years ago, every championship team has had a lottery pick. Heck, the Hawks couldn't even put together a winning season in the 7 years before they drafted Horford 3rd overall.

iamlistening
iamlistening

In sports, you don't expect nor should you want teams to tank - especially in professional sports. Everyone acts as if the high draft choice is going to be the answer… How do you know? If you want to learn how to do it, look at the Pacers. Did you know that the highest drafted player was Paul George at 10th (meaningful player). The other incredible players they have were drafted after the 17th pick (Hill, Hibbert, Granger, West - oh and Stephenson in the 2nd round). What the Hawks need is someone that can evaluate young talent. Ferry does a good job with established role players but he has always had problems with evaluating college players. Recent example: Passing on Tim Hardaway, Jr. 

JamesRobinson
JamesRobinson

Think how much better we would be with Josh Smith jacking up threes instead of Milsaps having an all-star season. How can the Hawks depend on Horford ever being a full-season player?Teague's contract may seem bloated to Ferry, but I can't see him giving away one of his two best  and most dependable players to take a gamble on a better point guard or power forward being available in the draft.  The man ain't dumb.  He needs to find better 2,3, and 5's.

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

As for Ferry saving space for the future, what if the future never materializes?   What big-time free agents will come here?   And even if the Hawks lose 75% of their remaining games, they still probably won't get a top 5 pick in the lottery.  The Hawks remain in NBA purgatory.   

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

they’ve dropped from third to seventh place overall in the Eastern Conference standings, just 3½ games out of a playoff spot."


That line needs editing.  Eight  teams make the playoffs.   

Samurai-Squirrel
Samurai-Squirrel

Who do you think the Hawks should have traded for, Mr. Shultz? It isn't like we were going to go out and trade Lou Williams for Kevin Durant. 

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

I would have preferred that they went all out blowing off the season by tanking before the season started (by not signing Millsap and letting Teague go), rather than this half assed midseason tanking which isn't going to get them the high draft pick that will really turn around the franchise.

mdet
mdet

yes, I do. but i don't buy tickets under any circumstance.

seminoleking
seminoleking

when the nba front office decides they wanna market the atlanta market to the whole country like they do los angeles, miami, chicago, new york, etc. THEN........you will see a change in who they let come to the hawks. until this, its like wwe wrestling, its all fake, stop drinking the kool aid...................

332-206
332-206

Seems the public is putting it's trust in Ferry. Given the GMs that have come before, he's the best card we've been dealt.

AnthonyHurley
AnthonyHurley

It's too late for them to get a top pick... More than likely they will get something between 15-20th pick and that's a failure. All the team has is Schroder (who looks terrible right now), Mike Scott and some unknown overseas. I mean, there is Teague, but they're trying to ship him off because they realize that is pretty mediocre. Horford might be injury prone at this stage. Two season ending surgeries in 3 years? eh

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

I'm not sure there have been significant moves to be made. Not sure they have the assets to fill a hole without creating one of equal or greater size.

Dawggie
Dawggie

I think it's a smart move, and the team will be better off for it.  Besides, it would take 2 superstars to make a legit playoff run w/o Horford, and I hope Dannyboy is waiting for the summer to make any BIG moves.

maconexpress
maconexpress

@Princess_Leia

Sir or Madam, if you think there are thugs on this basketball team then you better brace yourself because we're nearing a  time period when thugs will control this country(and worldwide) until 75% of human life is lost.

Cougarfoot
Cougarfoot

@The_Shade The NBA is unlike the NFL where first round picks have to be contributors.  The NBA draft is typically a crap-shoot outside of the top 10.  Last years draft was really sub-par talent-wise and lacked depth.  So Ferry drafted some projects with non-lottery picks.  He's following the Spurs model of drafting international talent and allowing development to occur organically.  This may work, it may not.  But last year's draft wasn't loaded with options.

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

@iamlistening  The Heat have won 3 championships with 5th round draft pick Dwyane Wade. The Spurs couldn't even make the playoffs until they drafted Tim Duncan first overall and they've won 4 rings with him. 


You list Paul George, but that's still a lottery pick. Kobe Bryant's another lottery pick and the Lakers have won championships with him. Dirk was top 10 and he's got a championship. Most, if not all, recent championship teams have had a lottery draft pick to help them.

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

Looks like they could have gotten a half-year rental of Spencer Hawes, who plays Horford's position and is related to long-ago Hawks center Steve Hawes. Not sure that would've helped much though.

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

There is no 5th round in the NBA draft doofus.

AstroJoe
AstroJoe

@jeffreyd @iamlistening  Dude, Spurs were winning 50 games/season BEFORE Duncan was drafted (other than the season leading to Duncan's draft when Robinson missed 75 games).  

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@AstroJoe

Every single Spurs champonship team had Tim Duncan in the line up.