“Avery Johnson said Wednesday he has agreed to become the coach of the New Jersey Nets.”
Yes, Atlanta my fellow Atlanta fans, there goes another wonderful coaching candidate.
“Johnson was among four candidates the Hawks had considered to replace Mike Woodson. With Johnson agreeing to coach the Nets, general manager Rick Sund and the ownership group now will choose from among Dwane Casey, Larry Drew and Mark Jackson. A person with inside knowledge of the Atlanta Hawks said the team management still was considering all three candidates and will make a decision soon.”
Now my friends, the Atlanta Hawks finished last season 53-29. We beat the Milwaukee Bucks in 7, and got swept 4-0 by the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Mike Woodson had worn out his welcome after six seasons in charge, and was fired at the end of the season - which admittedly came to a premature end.
Now as much as some of his decisions bewildered me, …
Among other things,
1. His crunch-time substitutions / seemingly limited offensive playbook
2. The lack of playing time for Jeff Teague and fully nurturing his development in preparation for next season
3. His inability to get the best out of Marvin Willliams
…he stil managed to keep the Atlanta Hawks very competitive in the East and managed to turn our bottom-feeding team into Eastern contenders. (Yes, I know the East is a weak Conference, but still to finish in the top 3 of any conference is admirable and indeed deserves credit, we have to give credit where credit is due.)
Quote from Rick Sund:
“It was a hard decision. When I analyzed and looked at it, I went round and round. Finally I think it got to the situation where the compelling thought is, maybe change is good for everybody.’
“That happens quite a bit in the NBA. Maybe the players need to hear another voice, and maybe Mike needs to talk to another group.”
Many argue that Woody got us over the hump. He made the Atlanta Hawks relevant again, and now the team needs another individual in charge to lead the team in search to championship glory or at least get us to the Eastern Finals. Put simply, we fired Mike Woodson because we needed to improve our postseason placing, and we wanted to shake things up for the team.
Now here comes the bit which absolutely irks me.
Doc Rivers, Avery Johnson, Tom Thibodeau, Larry Brown, Phil Jackson Byron Scott, Tom Izzo, Mike Brown and Monty Williams were all being mentioned as possible options for the coaching vacancies around the league. Now Im not saying the Hawks could attract all the names on the list, but the least that I expected as a fan was at least Avery.
Just look at Cleveland, admittedly they want to keep LBJ and are doing everything possible to make the Cavs attractive for him to return, but they have a goal in mind, to win an NBA championship , and are aggressively trying to hire a top tier coach in Tom Izzo to seriously improve their chances.
Now with all due respect to the three remaining candidates, we should be hiring an ELITE, TOP TIER, CRÈME OF THE CROP kind of coach if we even want to start to dream about an NBA championship in the next decade!
Between the three remaining candidates, they have no NBA championships, so that means they have not really been on championship-quality management levels, and two of the three have never had previous head coaching experience. Are these the kind of candidates you want to replace Woody and bring our beloved Atlanta Hawks to the “next level”?
Now this is why I felt that Avery was the best candidate for our coaching vacancy at the Hawks. My opinion is based on what the team needs moving ahead…
What are we aiming for:
1. Improve our defense
AVERY JOHNSON WAS A DEFENSIVE SPECIALIST! Dallas was one of the best defensive teams back when he was in charge.
2. Someone to lead us on draft night
3. Jeff Teague’s development
Avery molded the path for Devin Harris to be an All Star quality PG in the NBA, and he could have done wonders for the development on Teague as Johnson himself was a point guard.
4. Maybe to convince top tier players to come here in the future/ JJ to perhaps resign
A good solid head coach with good playoff coaching experience could have tilted the scales in favor of ATL in free agent signing/convincing JJ to stay.
Right now, the mistake has already been made, its only what we do in the future that matters and I really hope the Hawks could quickly pursue and PAY a big name free agent coach to come and lead us to our first title since FOREVER…
The management has compounded mistake upon mistake, be it on draft night or just a plain lack of confidence to invest in this team. We already have a good solid team and right now we need an even better coach to be the man in charge and lead us to at least the Eastern Confernce Finals next year.
If not I would rather still see Woody in charge…
I would like to end though, on this note, I WOULD LOVE TO BE PROVED WRONG! I have enjoyed listening to Mark Jackson and his commentary and I think he thoroughly knows the NBA game inside out, and the job that Dwane Casey did at Minnesota was somewhat remarkable, but right now, I just see their hiring as a gamble that is too much of a risk to take.
Thanks for the read.
What say you all?