After a pathetic game three performance by the Atlanta Hawks — one that followed two other ugly losses to the Orlando Magic, which followed them getting pushed seven games by the Milwaukee Bucks — there are calls to break up the Hawks.
There are calls to fire Mike Woodson (that one we’re down with). There are calls to let Joe Johnson go. There is a desire to shake up the under-achieving roster and rebuild.
But it’s not that simple. The Hawks are not the Lakers or the Celtics or even the Bulls — this is not a rich franchise. Their arena revenues do not print money. They cannot go sky high over the luxury tax.
All of which makes rebuilding a challenge.
According to Forbes, the Atlanta Hawks lost $2 million last season. This season their attendance was down (by just 203 people a game, but that is down). They did not have any more home playoff games. They still have the reputation of papering the house — giving away or deeply discounting — a lot of tickets.
This may be the best Hawks team in a while, but it didn’t make more money.
That leaves the Hawks in a bind compared to their competitors, with some hard decisions ahead. Woodson gets that, as he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The Hawks’ $66 million payroll ranked last among Eastern Conference teams in the playoffs. It’s $15 million shy of Orlando and $8 million behind the lowest payroll among the other seven teams still playing.
“They’ve all gone out and they’ve spent money,” Woodson said. “Not that our owners haven’t. They’ve done it gradually and we’ve grown gradually as a basketball team for that. Do we go to the next step? I don’t know where we go.”
The Hawks are stuck — they are no longer a young team getting better, but they don’t have a clear path to improvement. New coach next year, Johnson will be gone and maybe Josh Childress returns from Greece.
But then what? There are no easy answers.
Chris Bosh missed the second half of the 2015-16 season with a reoccurrence of the blood clots that kept him out much of last season, and the situation was clouded by a lack of clarity. Reports emerged closer to the playoffs that Bosh and the Miami Heat disagreed about the handling of Bosh’s condition, that he wanted to play and doctors wouldn’t allow it. The Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson has some new details of their disagreement, which centered around Bosh wanting to play while on blood thinners.
According to a team source, the Bosh camp spent considerable time exploring the idea of Bosh continuing to take those blood thinners, but at a time of day (such as early morning) that the medication would be out of his bloodstream by game time.
Someone with knowledge of the situation said blood tests indicated the medication was out of Bosh’s system after 8 to 12 hours, which would significantly lessen the risk for Bosh playing. But the Heat and team doctors rejected that idea.
None of the doctors involved in Bosh’s case is commenting, but Robert Myerburg — an expert on treatment of athletes and a cardiologist at U-Health – said even though some of the newer blood thinners can be out of a patient’s system within 12 hours, “I would not use that strategy [that the Bosh camp explored]. There’s too much at risk.
“The drug being out of the system is not what worries me as much as the unprotected time” during games and other times when the blood thinner is out of his system, even more so if he’s subjected to trauma in an area where there was past clotting (in his leg and calf). He said patients with atrial fibrillation can sometimes be taken off thinners when they go on a skiing trip, but this is different.
As much as Bosh believed the blood thinners would be out of his system, the Heat were right to handle it the way they did. Even if timing the medication differently lessened the risk of playing, the Heat were still the ones responsible for what happened when he played. If something were to happen to him, the Heat would have to be the ones to explain how they let their medical staff be overruled by Bosh and allowed him to be placed in a life-threatening situation. Both Bosh and the Heat are apparently optimistic that he’ll be able to return next season, but blood clots are nothing to play around with, and taking an overly cautious approach this season was better than the alternative.
Now that former Heat assistant David Fizdale has accepted the Grizzlies’ head coaching job, he’s starting to put together his staff. One name to keep an eye on, according to John Martin of ESPN 92.9 in Memphis: J.B. Bickerstaff, who served as the Rockets’ interim coach this season after the team fired Kevin McHale in November.
The Rockets were a chemistry disaster this season, but Bickerstaff is highly regarded around the NBA in coaching circles. He was a candidate to keep the coaching job in Houston when the Rockets’ front office began their search, but he withdrew his name from consideration when he started receiving interest around the league as a lead assistant. It sounds like Memphis is one of the teams going after him, and he’d be a good hire for Fizdale’s staff.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr called Thompson “ridiculous.” That may be an understatement.
Thompson had 41 points, hit an NBA record 11 three-pointers in a playoff game, and the Golden State Warriors don’t force a Game 7 without him.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob may have had the best response, he drops to his knees and does the “we’re not worthy” bow before Thompson in the hallway postgame. (As there are reports a return trip to the Finals again could be worth $40 million to the franchise, Lacob should be bowing to Thompson for making that even possible.)
Hat tip Eye on Basketball.
The Bucks have a promising young core — led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, John Henson, and Kris Middleton — but one that took a step back this past season. Setbacks can mean changes in the power structure of an organization, and there are changes coming to Milwaukee.
However, not in the coaching ranks — Jason Kidd isn’t going anywhere, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The Bucks are moving toward a contract extension with Kidd as coach, league sources said.
There will be changes further up the ladder.
John Hammond, the GM who was the architect of the current roster, has just one year left on his current contract, and the Bucks are bringing in Utah’s Justin Zanik as a GM in waiting, according to Wojnarowski.
Zanik, an assistant general manager with Utah, will join the Bucks with a similar job title – and an agreement that he will eventually become the successor to Milwaukee GM John Hammond, sources said.
Zanik has constructed a strong reputation within the league as a front-office executive and previously a player agent. Milwaukee was aggressive in pursuing him to eventually lead the franchise’s basketball operations.
The key is can Zanik and Kidd work together — Kidd has consistently pushed for more power in personnel decisions.
Bucks owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry have been aggressive since buying the team, and you can expect Zanik will be under orders to get this team back to the playoffs and back on an upward trajectory. That may just take time as all their young talent comes together. Well, that and they have to figure out how to make Greg Monroe fit with everyone else.