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NBA AM: Ferry Preps For Hawks To Join Elite
Posted By Lang Greene On April 17, 2013 @ 9:28 am In NBA | No Comments
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Ferry Preps For Hawks To Join Elite: The Atlanta Hawks have reached the playoffs for six consecutive seasons and despite the track record of proven success the franchise has yet to receive much in regards to mainstream respect. The organization has been on a mission to change its perception and has made it clear joining the ranks of the league’s elite is the team’s ultimate goal.
The hiring of president of basketball operations and general manager Danny Ferry last June was the start of the process. One of Ferry’s first moves at the helm was trading longtime starters Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams in separate deals which cleared roughly $90 million in future cap space off the books.
This summer the Hawks will be armed with over $30 million in salary cap room which will give the team plenty of flexibility to be active on the free agency and trade market fronts. Multiple veteran unrestricted free agents to be have told HOOPSWORLD they would consider the Hawks as a landing spot if they received a phone call.
Ferry says the team will protect its salary cap room and will only look to bring in guys who fit in the culture the organization is attempting to build – a championship culture.
“More than anything else, we are building the type of culture here that I believe players are going to want to be a part of and our ownership is committed to building a Championship caliber franchise,” Ferry told HOOPSWORLD. “We are committed to building this the right way and investing in areas critical to development. Our players are going to play hard and play together. Everything we do will be about achieving at a high level. I think being able to do all of that, in a great city like Atlanta, is going to be very attractive to players.”
The Hawks will enter the offseason with only Al Horford, Lou Williams and John Jenkins having guaranteed deals for the 2013-14 campaign.
Forward Josh Smith will enter free agency as one of the league’s most coveted targets and his future with the team remains unclear. However, the Hawks must also make a decision on starting point guard Jeff Teague. The fourth year guard is having a career year in points (14.6), assists (7.2), free throw percentage (.881) and three-pointers made (89).
The team is all but certain to issue a qualifying offer to Teague once the season ends, which would make the guard a restricted free agent and allow the franchise to match any offers received for his services.
Ferry has been impressed by Teague’s growth and the overall professionalism exhibited from a team full of free agents to be.
“Jeff certainly has shown some encouraging signs of growth this season,” Ferry said. “We have a unique mix right now in organization in terms of contract situations and everyone throughout the season has committed to just focusing on this season, finishing the year strong and having success in the playoffs.
“At this point, though, all of us as a group are just focused on finishing this season strong and entering the postseason healthy and playing well.”
With roster turnover expected this summer, one of the consistent presences for the team going forward will be Horford. The two-time All-Star has become more assertive since the All-Star break averaging 19.7 points and 11.1 rebounds on 55 percent shooting from the floor.
On the surface it appears the team has thrust the former University of Florida standout into a larger role to evaluate if he could become the true go to option in the event Smith walks in free agency. However, Ferry dismisses this notion stating Horford’s ability to stay healthy this season is a large part of his recent productivity surge.
“Al works extremely hard and is continuing to evolve and grow as a player,” Ferry said. “His work ethic and his good health this year have paid dividends on the court. I think too much gets made out of being a number one option versus number two. Al is such a talented player that as long as he’s on your roster, you’re going to find a way to make sure he gets a high number of touches.”
To the surprise of many, the Hawks are flirting with securing a top five playoff seed in their first season without Johnson, a six-time All-Star performer with the franchise. With the playoffs set to begin the Hawks will also be without the services of Williams and veteran center Zaza Pachulia due to injury.
Ferry believes the team won’t be an easy out come playoff time and is proud of the character his roster has showed despite the adversity.
“I felt at the beginning of the season with the number of veterans and professionals on the team that if we competed at a high level, played unselfishly and defended for as close to 48 minutes as possible, that we could compete with anyone,” Ferry said. “This group has been very resilient through the ups and downs of the season with some of the guys that we lost and I think that sets a good tone heading into the playoffs. I still feel that way as we enter the postseason.”
The Hawks conclude their regular season slate on Wednesday versus the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The team will either face the Indiana Pacers (third seed) or the Brooklyn Nets (fourth seed) in the first round of the playoffs.
No Quit In Pistons’ Lawrence Frank
The Detroit Pistons haven’t reached the postseason since the 2009 campaign after a run of eight straight playoff appearances which netted a title (2004). So it doesn’t come as a complete shock the team’s ownership may be looking to make some changes in its front office and at head coach.
Pistons owner Tom Gores recently went public with his dissatisfaction of the team’s on court product this season. The tone of those comments seemingly has put head coach Lawrence Frank on the proverbial hot seat.
Frank has compiled a 54-93 (.367) mark since taking over the team last season despite possessing a roster full of former lottery picks.
Even with the rumors circulating, Frank makes it clear he wants to return next season in an effort to see the process through.
“Obviously, you want to be a part of it, because that’s why you went through the bleeding,” Frank told David Mayo of MLive.com. “I know, without a doubt, we all want to be back. But at the same time, that’s not our decision.
“But do I want to be back? Of course, because this is what you signed up for. You want to be part of reshaping the franchise and getting it back to where it was. Previously, really, there wasn’t a lot of flexibility. Now there is. But at the end of the day, that’s ownership’s call, and we’re respectful of the fact that we understand the employer-employee agreement. But we all want to be back.”
The Pistons have lost a wide variety of tight games throughout the season which is indicative of a younger team learning on the fly and trying to find their way. Frank believes more experienced clubs are able to get those type of wins and swing the won-loss column into a favorable position.
“Sometimes, the difference between winning 29 games, or 37 wins, is some of those games going the other way,” Frank said. “Every year’s a little bit different. There may be years when you win virtually every close game and you’ve maxed out. And other years, other way, and now it’s minus five or six wins.”
The Pistons are currently 29-52 on the season and will finish the campaign Wednesday at Brooklyn.
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