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NBA AM: These Are Not Your Same Old Hawks
Posted By Lang Greene On May 29, 2013 @ 9:00 am In NBA | No Comments
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Fair or not, in the world we inhabit today the line between perception and reality becomes more and more blurred by the minute. Even though the Atlanta Hawks have been one of league’s most successful franchises, dating back to 2008, the team often finds itself on the outside looking when it comes to mainstream respect.
The perception in recent years has been the argument the team doesn’t invest enough resources into its on court product. The reality is, the team has hovered near the luxury tax line in recent years and has issued lucrative above market value contracts to players such as Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby.
The team named Danny Ferry its president of basketball operations and general manager last June and the veteran league executive has spent a lot of his time working to change the perception currently engulfing the franchise. Ferry’s goal is build a winning culture, a championship mentality to the team.
Last summer Ferry traded Johnson and Williams which cleared more than $90 million in future salary off the books and the team will enter this summer with more than $25 million in cap space to explore free agency and the trade market.
The team’s fan base, which had become accustomed to a plethora of veteran minimum signings over the years because of limited cap room, now engages in regular banter on whether the franchise should target high profile stars such as Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in free agency.
But the fan base isn’t the only entity buzzing about the future of the Hawks. Numerous free agents from this summer’s class told HOOPSWORLD throughout the season Atlanta would get a strong look if they received a call.
Despite the fine job Larry Drew (128-102, .557) did during his three seasons running the show in Atlanta, each resulting in a trip to the playoffs, there was a lingering perception that the franchise opted to hire the former assistant because he was the most qualified and least expensive option back in 2010.
This particular line of thinking was never fair to Drew because people get promoted from within their respective organizations all the time, in all walks of life.
However, once again fair or not, Ferry has addressed this perception by the hire of Mike Budenholzer as the team’s new head coach.
Budenholzer has a championship pedigree and spent the past 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs organization, with 17 of those campaigns serving as an assistant coach on Gregg Popovich’s staff.
During Budenholzer’s time as an assistant with the Spurs, the team compiled a league best 908-438 (.675) record and won four championships.
On paper, this was a solid hire by the Hawks. The Spurs’ system is widely respected throughout the league and Budenholzer is held in high regard as well.
The Hawks are currently gearing up for the draft and their front office has been traveling throughout the country evaluating prospects over the past month. The team holds the No. 17 and 18 picks in the first round.
The team has just three players under (guaranteed) contract heading into next season in former All-Star Al Horford, shooting guard Lou Williams and 2012 draft pick John Jenkins. The club has just under $19 million in guaranteed salaries on the book for next season but must also make decisions on unrestricted free agent Josh Smith and (likely) restricted free agent Jeff Teague.
Chris Mullin In The Mix For Kings GM Position
The Sacramento Kings are officially under new ownership and with this news there are reports veteran league executive Geoff Petrie’s tenure with the club may be coming to an end.
According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, San Antonio Spurs president R.C. Buford is at the top of the wish list along with former Indiana Pacers general manager David Morway and Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace.
The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones threw another name into the mix this week; Hall of Fame player and league executive Chris Mullin.
Mullin’s former teammate, Mitch Richmond, is a now a minority owner in the team.
Mullin served as the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Golden State Warriors from 2004-2009. One of Mullin’s best basketball moves was acquiring guard Baron Davis from the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis. Mullin also drafted high scoring guard Monta Ellis in the second round of the 2005 draft.
While those are some of the successful moves, Mullin also signed maligned center Andris Biedrins to a six-year $63 million deal in 2008. Mullin also hired head coach Mike Montgomery who underwhelmed at the pro level.
The Kings have not reached the playoffs since 2006 and have had five different head coaches during that time period.
One of the biggest decisions a new front office chief will need to make this summer is about the future of guard Tyreke Evans with the franchise. While the talented guard will likely be headed to restricted free agency, which will give the team an option to match all offers for his services, he has heard his name in trade rumors in the past.
The club has $42 million in guaranteed salaries already on the books for next season, which doesn’t include Evans or the potential impact of the team’s lottery pick in the upcoming draft (No. 7 overall).
Seldom used center Cole Aldrich is the team’s lone unrestricted free agent as it stands today.
NBA Draft Combine 2013 Coverage
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Catch all of the video interviews from yesterday’s collegiate stars and this year’s NBA rookie class.
You can find HOOPSWORLD’s 2013 draft combine coverage HERE
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