While watching the Houston Rockets Luis Scola play with his hair on fire, in a big Game 6 win, I realized just how meekly the Atlanta Hawks played against the Cavaliers. Part of it was injuries, but the Hawks need a Scola, Brooks, Carl Landry, Chuck Jones, or Battier type.
The Hawks' lack of roster depth is scary.
Atlanta Hawks new General Manager Rick Sund had it very easy last offseason. He faced a few tough decisions, but nothing like this summer. The Hawks are at a crossroads in a strange NBA world and Sund is the guy riding in the back seat that ultimately is going to decide which road the Hawks take.
Forget about the terrible ownership situation and the yearning for Chris Paul, the Hawks could choose correctly and take the road toward being a consistent winner, or they could take the road back to a 15 win team—nobody wants that.
The importance of this offseason for the Hawks franchise cannot be overstated. Both draft picks have to make this team. The Hawks need like three "glue" guys. The talent level at the end of the bench is awful. Here is a list of 10 things Rick Sund should do to improve the roster this summer:
1. Decide Coach Mike Woodson’s fate by June 1.
If you let Woodson go, the new coach needs draft day input. By almost all measurements, Woodson deserves a contract extension.
However, if Sund wanted to shake this team up he could look for a new head coach who would bring in his own entourage of assistants, strength guys, and program.
The problem is the money. The same old names have been mentioned like Jeff Van Gundy and Avery Johnson, even a coach like Billy Donovan or Tubby Smith is going to demand north of $3 million per year.
If you fire Woodson, here are two more economical options Sam Mitchell or Kelvin Sampson.
2. Take a point guard or perimeter player with the 19th pick.
There is only one upper tier player in this draft and that is Blake Griffin. However, there are going to be solid players when the Hawks pick. I think you go point guard here, but definitely go perimeter.
I like Johnny Flynn from Syracuse. The question probably is does he know anything about playing man to man defense. Every college player will be shocked by NBA attention to defensive detail, so do not worry about this.
3. Find a hidden gem of a player with the 49th pick.
If I am not mistaken, Sund took Robert Swift. I am worried that he takes a big in the first round that bombs (BJ Mullens, anyone). Take the big man in this spot. There will be guys with size left.
You can find a big in the 2nd round that can be an impact player—Anderson Varejao, Carlos Boozer, and Big Baby Davis to name a few. Both draft picks have to make the roster.
4. Give Joe Johnson an extension.
Unless you think that D-Wade, Bosh, or another tier 1 player will sign here in Summer 2010, you have to give Super Joe an extension. This guy is a warrior.
He led the NBA in minutes played. He has an all around game and he can carry you in a playoff series—last year—and he is still young. I offer him 3 years and $45 million dollars.
5. Trade Josh Smith.
The time has come to choose between Smith and Joe Johnson. I choose Johnson.
Smith is a potential all star, but he is also a potential team and coach killer. The funny part is that in the NBA universe Smith’s contract makes him a bargain. You can get value for him.
You might have to throw in the rights to Josh Childress (try to throw in Acie Law and Speedy Claxton’s expiring contract).
I think Detroit would make a deal to get some cap space for 2010. You might be able to get Tayshaun Prince and Will Bynum for Smith, Childress, and Law.
6. Hold off on making Mike Bibby an offer.
I have so much respect for Bibby and the way he played this year. He might have been the Hawks’ MVP for the regular season, but he is so limited defensively that the Hawks should move in another direction.
My plan for the point guard position is in three parts: draft a point guard, sign Jason Kidd to a two year deal, and trade Acie Law. Yes, Kidd is old, but he is not going to retire. He is big, runs a team, and guards better than Bibby.
The financial commitment to Kidd would be less than to say Andre Miller or Raymond Felton.
7. Let Zaza Pachulia go.
Zaza brings effort and intensity, but is he worth what you are going to have to pay him. No. I think Sund should use Zaza’s money on a more productive and versatile player. I like some of the free agents that are performing in the playoffs.
For the same money or even less, you could go after Chris Anderson, Big Baby, Marcin Gortat, or Antonio McDyess. I think McDyess would look great beside Horford in a lineup. Plus, can you image Philips Arena going nuts for the Birdman Anderson? I mean this is the Hawks!
8. Re-sign Flip Murray in late July.
I want to wait and see if there is a market for Murray. He played great this season off the bench and was vital to the Hawks’ 10 win improvement this year.
But, do not forget he was probably out of the NBA if not for Sund. Wait and you might be able to get him for another one year deal, but double or even triple his money.
9. Re-sign Marvin Williams.
Make Williams a solid qualifying offer. Marvin is never going to live up to his draft status or the fact that he is not Chris Paul, but he is solid NBA scorer.
I thought he played harder than ever before this season on the defensive end. Of course, it is kind of a contract year. Sund already has a blue print for what to do with Marvin after the Childress affair last summer.
10. Convince Childress to come back.
I actually think you can argue that Childress’ basketball skills probably eroded by playing in Greece. He has to be home sick and miss playing games in front of 15,000 people a night.
He still is not a starter in the league and does not get starter money. The Hawks have the leverage and should offer something like 3 years, $21 million.
What shape do those moves leave the Hawks in for next year? Well, let’s just say we have to trade the rights to Josh Childress to make a Smith deal happen.
Also, I have wanted Ron Artest for the Hawks, but I am going to take Chris Anderson instead. That leaves the Hawks with a deeper perimeter team and very thin on big men. The 49th pick has to be a big man.
Then, sign a guy like Chuck Hayes. Then, keep Solomon Jones for a few million and here is your roster:
Jason Kidd, Joe Johnson, Tayshaun Prince, Al Horford, Chris Anderson, Johnny Flynn, Flip Murray, Maurice Evans, Marvin Williams, Chuck Hayes, Solomon Jones, Tyler Hansborough (49th pick), Mario West