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NBA / Jun 16, 2010 / 3:51 pm

3 Things the Atlanta Hawks Have To Do This Summer

Josh Smith, Dime #55

By hiring former Mike Woodson assistant Larry Drew as its next head coach, the Hawks sent a message: Things need to change around here … but not that much.

The Hawks have improved each year for the last five, including a 53-win campaign this season where they earned the No. 3 seed in the East. And even if All-Star Joe Johnson leaves in free agency, Atlanta still has a solid young core in Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams and Jeff Teague, plus a couple of solid vets in leadership positions, Jamal Crawford and Mike Bibby.

Coach Drew doesn’t need to make a complete overhaul, but following a lackluster showing in the conference semifinals, some personnel tweaks and attitude adjustments are definitely in order. Here’s how the Hawks can gear up this summer for a deep playoff run in 2011:

1. Target John Salmons and Rudy Gay
Of course, that’s if Joe Johnson isn’t willing to take a pay cut from the $15 million he made this season or just wants to play somewhere else. You’re unlikely to find an immediate starter with the 24th pick in the Draft, and Crawford is perfect where he is coming off the bench. So if it’s not Johnson, the Hawks need a big-time scorer on the wing who can start at the two. Salmons is the natural fit, but Gay could also be a gigantic 6-9 guard. Most importantly? Bring in somebody who can get to the free-throw line when the offense is struggling. The Hawks offense was plagued by long stretches where they didn’t move the ball and relied too much on isolations. Worse than that, those possessions too often ended with J.J. or J.C. jacking a jumper rather than attacking the basket; Crawford averaged 4.0 FTA’s per game this year, while Johnson had just 3.5 a night. Meanwhile, Salmons went to the line 5.3 times per game in his stint with Milwaukee, and Gay made 5.0 trips for Memphis.

2. Put Michael Jordan in your Fave Five
Typically teams don’t like to trade within their conference (let alone their division), but the Hawks and Bobcats seem like natural business partners. The Hawks need a legit 7-footer who can start at center and allow Horford to move to power forward, and the Bobcats have Tyson Chandler (reportedly considering opting out of his $12 million deal). The Bobcats could use a veteran point guard and clutch shooter, and the Hawks have Bibby, who’s also a Jordan Brand guy. And if the Hawks feel Teague isn’t ready and want a better option at PG, the Bobcats have Ray Felton ready for a sign-and-trade. Don’t be surprised if Atlanta and Charlotte spend a lot of time on the phone this summer.

3. Hire a shooting coach for Josh Smith
The Hawks have been able to get away with playing Smith at the four, but they wouldn’t have to if he could shoot. Dennis Scott lives in Atlanta. So does Steve Smith, and Brent Barry, I believe. Hell, track down Henry James and see what he’s up to. There’s got to be some sniper in the A who can work with Smith on his shot.

What do you think the Hawks need to do this offseason?

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  • Rizwan

    Nice article.

    I think with the changes you suggest, the Hawks will remain in contention but only as fourth best. I think that is the ceiling for this team, unless they strike a Pau Gasol like trade.

  • Reggie

    The Hawks need to sign Joe Johnson back. I want to see what he can do under a new offense. Mike Woodson is not a good Xs & Os coach.

    The Hawks also need to make a run at a guy like Andris Biedrins from the warriors. Tyson Chandler would be a good get also, but I doubt you will see the Bobcats & hawks talk trade. As far a Point guard The Hawks should look at Shaun Livingston. He played very well for the Wizards & I think he still think he has a lot of upside

  • sweetv0mit

    Oh wow. Haven’t heard Henry James name in awhile. That dude has legit shooting range and accuracy. What ever happened to him? Last time I heard he played a bit in the Philippines.

  • haslem

    I agree, heck I do hope they make this happen. Takes away some of there originality but worth it

  • haslem

    everything except for Gay, who is going to Minnesota as he should be.

  • dmitry of jersey

    they should blow up that team. trade josh smith for whatever they can get, let JJ walk, and build around horford

  • J from the A

    If Joe doesn’t stay, Salmons may be as good as a fit as the Hawks MIGHT be able afford. (It’s not clear if they will even be able to afford Salmons, but it should be close.)

    However, I have to disagree about your J-Smoove assessment – not the part about the shooting coach. Josh would be even better if he developed a SOLID 17/18 foot jumper. But even if his outside shot improved, moving him to the 3 would be a mistake. Defensively and on the boards, he is an inside presence. His perimeter defense is not nearly as outstanding as his inside defense. If one wanted to seriously consider moving him to the 3, he needs to improve his outside shot, his perimeter defense, and his ball handling. Josh is solid at the 4. Develop his shot and let him stay at the 4.

    However, I do understand the want to move Hortford to the 4. Even Hortford wants more playing time at the 4.

    Solution: Get a solid, true defensive center to play behind Hortford. This would give the Hawks the true center they need to match up w/some of the beasts in the East. It would also give some flexibility in the rotation to allow Hortford to play SOME at the Power forward position. And, depending on match ups, Josh could play a little bit at the 3. I don’t mind Josh playing some at the 3 for a few minutes here and there, especially if he can improve his shot/perimeter defense/ball handling. I just don’t think he is anywhere close to ready to play at the 3 full time. And why would we want him to play at the 3 full time when he is so solid at the 4? (I know to move Hortford to the 4, but other than that …)

  • IZ

    Trade the 24th pick to LAC for DeAndre Jordan. That will allow Horford to play the 4 and Smith to slide into his natural 3 spot. Marvin Williams? Team him up with Crawford off the bench. They play well together.

  • http://www.myspace.com/carlifrancis5 quest???

    @ J from the A lmao are you sure you are not Josh Smith hahaha..i always thought josh smith was a small foward.

  • SlimeBucket

    I’m not backing Chandler anymore. I didn’t realize he had continued to drop off so much since playing with CP3. Dalembert was producing a lot more and he makes the same amount and doesn’t have the injury history.

    Ray Felton on the other hand has decent numbers. I don’t watch Charlotte but if he is a good defensive point guard then his salary and performance looks reasonable and he is still young enough to play with the rest of the Hawks.

    Take Salmons. Don’t take Rudy or JJ. They aren’t worth the money. Really you should try to contend for a Championship. Otherwise what’s the point. I think they should try to mold themselves into a defensive team ala the Celtics. Getting the third seed only to get rolled over is stupid while overpaying for talent. Try to land a superstar by having a reasonable team and salary situation. Phillp’s area is pretty empty all over these years anyway so don’t spend the money stupidly on Johnson, Gay, and Chandler.

    I hope the Bobcats are stupid enough to take Bibby. He’s done. I mean I hope MJ is dumb enough to take Bibby for Felton. :)

    Bring back Childress. He really is one of the best players that the Hawks had. They overpaid for Marvin because they picked him second so letting him go with be admitting that made a mistake. It was bad enough that they didn’t pick Paul or Deron. With that being said they need to dump Joe Johnson so the other players(Horford and Smith) get more shots including Marvin so he can try to find some more confidence in his game. You see flashes with him but he hasn’t shown anything consistent. Of course if we bring back Childress stick Marvin on the bench.

  • http://montanahawkfan jay taylor

    bottom line is the Hawks sucked before Joe Johnson came to town, and they will suck again if he leaves…..