Mike Woodson is a solid NBA coach.
The New Orleans Hornets, Chicago Bulls, or the Philadelphia 76ers would all be better teams next year under Woodson's direction. However, the Atlanta Hawks probably will not improve if they give Woodson a new contract. Besides Joe Johnson, the Hawks main core of players are all under contract for next year.
It is going to be hard for GM Rick Sund to remake this team. A new coach can bring a different coaching staff, a new voice for the veteran players, maybe a new offensive and defensive system.
The change will be a rocky process at first, but by the end of the 2010-2011 the Hawks could be a better playoff team. Woodson deserves a new contract, but his time in Atlanta is probably over. Here are five coaches that can make an impact in the ATL.
I heard Corbin's name mentioned this morning by NBA.com blogger and former Hawks beat writer Sekou Smith. The choice would make sense.
Yes, you can see by the picture that Corbin played with the Hawks. Corbin played in Atlanta for parts of four seasons. He was a 2nd round draft pick in the 1985 draft, but he lasted 15 seasons in the NBA.
Corbin's NBA experience will allow him to relate the Hawks players, while his current coaching experience under Jerry Sloan should give him a solid coaching foundation. Corbin can bring some of the Jazz playbook with him and some of that team's toughness on the defensive end of the court.
You know that Brian Shaw is just itching for an opportunity to prove he is a better NBA head coach than Kurt Rambis. The Atlanta Hawks job is a great opportunity especially if the Hawks are able to bring back Joe Johnson.
Shaw would basically have a 50-win team in the Eastern Conference to get his start in the NBA. That is rare chance. Most of the time guys have to take terrible teams (like Woodson did six years ago) and lose big as a first time head coach.
Shaw is an NBA champion as a player and a coach. He played several years for Orlando, so he is familiar with the Eastern Conference. The Hawks could use Shaw's ideas on defense, but hopefully he would scrap the triangle offense. Maybe, he could get the Hawks to share the ball on offense.
Coach Fratello would be coming home to the Hawks. This is another great choice, because the Hawks have a veteran team.
Fratello is known for getting the most out of his players. His Memphis Grizzies teams earlier this decade were known for scrappy play and overachieving. The current Hawks are getting killed for uninspired play and for underachieving.
The big questions for Fratello might be money. He probably is too expensive for the Hawks, but there is a sense that he is desperate to coach again before he is too old. He has coached over 1,100 NBA games, so he might know how to push the button to make Josh Smith into an All-Star and a big game/playoff performer.
Izzo is probably the dream choice for most Hawks fans. Izzo brings all of the intangibles that the Hawks are missing like toughness, heart, and emotion. Like Fratello, he probably sells tickets as well.
Izzo's record in college is well documented and he might be ready for a new challenge. He almost took the Atlanta head coaching job the last time it was open.
The prospect of losing 60 games probably soured him more than anything else. Thanks to Mike Woodson that obstacle has been removed. If the Hawks do lose Joe Johnson, they can sign a couple of other pieces (maybe a shooter and a big) that will keep them very competitive in 2010.
Kelvin Sampson would be the perfect choice for the Atlanta Hawks. He has been an NBA assistant for two seasons. He has nearly 500 wins as a college coach, so he has head coaching experience.
He is not an NBA player, but his work ethic and childhood experiences as a Native American growing up in the South give him the background to fit in well with the players and with the city.
Forget about the NCAA rules infractions. Experience shows that nearly everyone in the NCAA breaks the rules. It was a bad hire by Indiana, but Sampson had a great record in his two seasons there.
Sampson is a proven winner that would bring energy to the Hawks franchise. He is a defensive-minded coach that knows how to get his players to play hard. The Hawks were great at home this season, but on the road, the lack of chemistry, focus, and commitment to defense was more evident. In the playoffs, those flaws were exposed for NBA fans across the nation to see.
Sampson deserves a chance to be an NBA head coach and maybe, just maybe, he is a guy the Hawks can afford.