Tag Archives: Josh Smith

Hawks Come Up Small: Preseason Edition

Coach Bud, after a few too many Buds?

Coach Bud, after a few too many Buds?

With more than a full two months to go before the start of the 2013-2014 NBA season, one would figure the Atlanta Hawks had a good shot at not appearing on this site. After all, they’d pulled off another remodel this summer, headlined by shipping out flashy but challenging power forward Josh Smith and replacing him with the more workman-like and dependable Paul Milsap. Solid move, as judged by most basketball pundits.

They also hired Mike Budenholzer as their new coach. The top assistant and presumptive coach-in-waiting behind the legendary Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, he was hired to imbue the Hawks with some of the special powers of the Spurs. He joined Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, who had previously been VP of basketball operations for the Spurs. True to Pop philosophy, in this year’s draft, the team eschewed American college stars in favor of two youngsters who had been plying their trade in the professional leagues of Europe, Brazilian Lucas Nogueira, who played in Spain, and German Dennis Schröder. Schröder, in particular, was impressive in summer league this year.

Last night, Budenholzer was arrested and charged with driving under the influence after being pulled over by the cops in Midtown Atlanta—in a particularly nightlife-rich bit of Midtown. He refused the breathalyzer, but the cop wrote in his report that, “I noticed that he had bloodshot and watery eyes and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath.”

No word on what the Hawks plan to do about this situation, but Ferry has informed the media that he’s up-to-speed on the situation. But, really, this likely doesn’t bode well for a franchise that’s been in Atlanta for nearly 50 years and hasn’t made it past the second round of the playoffs. We still don’t really know what kind of leader of men Coach Bud is, but he isn’t doing himself any favors in the setting a good example department.

It’ll be interesting to see what he does to right the ship. If he doesn’t, Coach Bud won’t just be a clever way of truncating a long surname.

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Oh My God, the Hawks (Still) Blow!

I suppose the Hawks loss last night could be explained if the players were standing around checking the elastic in their waistbands (rather than playing, you know, basketball).

I should send a couple of my friends a fruit basket for scheduling a rock show last night. A trip to the Mercury Lounge precluded me from watching whatever the Hawks were doing last night when they should have been playing basketball.

There’s something about Atlanta sports teams and the playoffs—be it three straight no-shows by the Falcons upon reaching the promised land, the Braves epic redistribution of their virtually assured trip last year, or the Hawks seemingly perennial first round nail-biter followed by prompt second round exit (if the nail-biting doesn’t get them initially). I’d say it’s like Lebron’s fear of the clutch or the Buffalo’s fear of the Vince Lombardi trophy, but I think you can make a case that Atlanta’s anxiety come playoff-time is unparalleled.

This year, the tenants of The Highlight Factory, a team that’s so obviously flawed but remarkably competent at times, have pushed themselves to the precipice of defeat where just a week ago they sat in what any casual basketball viewer would call The Catbird Seat.

Having attempted to surrender a 19-point lead in Game 1, the Hawks caught a lucky break when a questionable call caused Celtics point guard/best player/dicey piece to build around Rajon Rondo to chest bump an unsuspecting ref. Game to Hawks. Game 2 would be Rondo-less. No matter, let’s exhume Paul Pierce in his prime and let the spectre snatch a Hawks defeat from the jaws of victory. Following a reasonable loss in OT without the services of the mercurial (but recently consistent) Josh Smith, the Hawks seemed poised to have a shot at evening the series at 2s with the return of arguably their best player, Al Horford, after a four-month absence necessitated by a torn pectoral muscle.

Shame on you, Larry Drew, for having poor, out of playing shape Horford contribute to the odious display of Washington Generals-style basketball last night. The Hawks trailed by almost 40 points at certain moments of last night’s “contest”—which I gather, thankfully, from others’ eyewitness accounts of the goings-on. (Lowlights below.)

This team wins, when it does, in spite of itself. It needs to be blown up. Keep Horford. Everyone else is expendable. Well, except for Joe Johnson. We’re stuck with that third tier All Star for the remainder of the contract Lebron should have signed with the Cavs. Do you think JJ texts Rashard Lewis and Eddie Curry weekly to thank them for keeping him from being an NBA punchline? Maybe he just keeps Marvin Williams close, since the former Tar Heel is an even better of example of a “what the hell was your GM thinking?”-type move.

Basketball, I hate you for giving me this sad sack of also-rans to root for. This is a franchise that in the last decade has one claim to fame: Tumbling into the 2008 playoffs as an 8 seed with a .451 winning percentage and then taking the 1 seed and eventual champion Celtics to seven games. Interestingly, every game the Hawks lost in that series was by 19 or more points. The Hawks specialize in laying playoff eggs.

Can Chipper ball?


ATLiens Love ATL, Hate Hawks

Josh Smith (left, who I hope realizes he's repping Anaheim in this photo) and Dwight Howard love the ATL, but not the hometown bball squad.

Remember that video of Charles Barkley talking up his gig as a Weight Watchers spokesperson? The one where he also slammed the Hawks as “a bunch of nice guys”? There was a little more to that conversation:

Barkley: If I were the Hawks, they’re the team to me, I’d try to do anything to get Dwight Howard. Say, “You could have anybody on our team.”

Reggie Miller: Who, them? He doesn’t want to come here.

Barkley: [Shrugs and makes a face like he’s eating something sour.]

There were some rumblings that the Hawks were interested in ponying up some big names for the NBA’s premier big, with the names Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford all thrown around. There were even some rumors that among the enticements to lure Superman were the opportunity to come home and play with his childhood buddy J-Smoove.

Seems like you’d sooner see Jerry Sandusky in a Penn State facility than Howard in a Hawks uni—and to make matters worse, Smith is dying to trade his in for that of another team. Word is, Smith wants to leave the nest. And that’s despite the fact that, at the moment, he’s the Hawks’ best player.

His gripes: When things go badly, he’s the most popular scapegoat. (Though, regardless of what happens, by salary means alone, the scapegoat should always be the lavishly overpaid Joe Johnson.) He’s been the most “consistent” player on the team this year—as much as a Hawks player can be consistent—and should have been an All-Star. (He was definitely more deserving than Joe Yawnson.) But, the Hawks didn’t appear to put any muscle behind promoting his candidacy. I figured the season was up in flames when Horford tore his titty. But, it was Smitty who shouldered most of the load in keeping the Hawks from crashing into the draft lottery.

Writes Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports columnist Jeff Schultz: “Neither Smith nor Howard have a problem with Atlanta itself. It’s more about perceptions of the franchise and the ownership. As players move on in their career, winning titles becomes more important. Smith wants to play for a franchise more committed to winning a championship — or at least one that leaves the impression it knows what it takes to get there.”

The Hawks, thanks to years of hapless ownership (and, as much as I hate to admit it, ‘Nique’s proto-‘Mello ballhoggery), have never advanced past the second round of the playoffs. And with Johnson’s albatross of a contract and a current ownership team that regards getting to the second round of the playoffs as highly as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger regards having to play-in to the Champions League, things aren’t going to change anytime soon.

So, Josh, take flight. Leave home. This is not the place to get your ring.