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NBA Saturday: The Hawks’ New Direction
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On July 14, 2012 @ 4:44 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
When the Atlanta Hawks first put an end to their eight-season long playoff drought in 2008 just being in the postseason was enough for them. Five consecutive playoff appearances later they’re no longer content with just being good enough to maybe make it out of the first round. That’s why newly-hired general manager Danny Ferry came in and drastically shook things up by trading their leading-scorer Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets and former second overall pick Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz.
“That’s the business,” Hawks head coach Larry Drew said to HOOPSWORLD in an exclusive interview. “If you’ve been around this game as long as I’ve been around, trades happen, it’s all apart of it. Some trades are made for financial reasons, some are made for personal reasons that may help the team but it’s the nature of this business. I’m really excited about the direction that we’re going and I look forward to working with Danny.”
Ferry’s motives behind the deals were clear. He has positioned the franchise to have future flexibility that they never would have had with Johnson’s monster contract that still has four years and $89 million left on it. While doing so he also managed to ease the frustration of starting power forward Josh Smith, who was reportedly wanting out before Ferry got to work.
“I spoke to Josh and he’s very excited about coming back to Atlanta,” Drew said.
Currently Ferry’s plan is still in the early stages where the immediate benefits aren’t great. They’ve truly taken a couple steps back to potentially take several forward. But, they did manage to still add veteran guard Louis Williams, whose arrival really has Drew excited.
“Lou’s certainly a guy who we’ve always admired,” Drew said. “He’s a guy who can really score the basketball and his ability to score on both inside and out gives you really an added weapon offensively. He’s a guy who’s been on a great system, been under a great coach in Doug Collins and he was always a guy on our radar and we know he can really put it in the basket with the best of them and I’m glad he’s apart of our organization right now and I’m very excited about working with him.”
Williams isn’t the only newcomer in the Hawks’ backcourt. They drafted shooting guard John Jenkins late in the first round of this year’s draft and will be evaluating him heavily during the Las Vegas Summer League to determine whether or not he is someone they can depend on next season.
“John can really shoot the basketball and there’s never been a question about his ability,” Drew said. “I’m interested to see how he does defensively. Moving to this level you’ve got to be able to defend, particularly at that position and we’ll get a chance to see him and hopefully he’ll play well, more importantly he’ll do a good job defensively.
“We really missed Summer League last year. This is a great vehicle as far as observing and evaluating these players who you draft and guys who are free agents that you want to get a look at and get a chance to see them measure up against their peers and I definitely missed it last year. I’m glad it’s back and it’s good to be in Vegas.”
From a talent standpoint, the Hawks may not currently match up to the teams of the past five years. The goals remain the same, though, until they make their next big set of moves that could help them get past the second round hump that they couldn’t previously.
“Whoever’s on our team, we have a defined system on what we do and me and my coaching staff it’s our job to prepare the team to the best of our capabilities and we’ll continue to do that,” Drew said.
Jack Ready To Make Playoff Push In G.S.: The Golden State Warriors recently acquired point guard Jarrett Jack in a trade and while at the Las Vegas Summer League he made it clear how happy he is to be joining a team many consider to be on the rise.
“It feels good man, it’s a team that is definitely heading in a winning direction and I’m just happy to be a part of them.
“There’s definitely a lot of firepower on the offensive end. I’m looking forward to playing with all of these guys, David Lee, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, the list goes on and on but I think we’ve really got to dig in and try to find our identity as a defensive ball club and I think that would be the thing to put us in post season play.”
Jack will certainly help them on the defensive end, where he is quite underrated. Their team defense could end up being the difference in them making the playoffs, which is what Jack has his mind set on.
“I don’t think anyone’s in the business of picking in the lottery every year,” Jack said. “The playoffs are definitely what we have in mind for us in the future and I can’t wait to hit the ground running.”
One of the main reasons why Jack is in Las Vegas is to continue forming a bond with his new head coach Mark Jackson,
“You always want to play with someone that you respect first and foremost and with the individual accolades that he’s accomplished over his basketball career, you can’t do anything but respect that,” Jack said. “He’s also a very tough, hard nosed person as well such as myself and I can’t wait to play for him.”
For now Jack will have to settle for spectating at summer league. But, come November look for him to be one of the catalysts behind a potential Warriors’ playoff push.
Up Close With JaJuan Johnson: Boston Celtics power forward JaJuan Johnson is under pressure to prove his worth as the front office loaded up on big men this offseason. Luckily, he had his college teammate E’Twaun Moore at the Orlando Summer League with him to help him through this time. We got a chance to catch up with JaJuan to talk about what is being asked of him, his thoughts on rookie big men Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo and how happy he was to see his former teammate Robbie Hummel get drafted.
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