Atlanta’s management felt the Hawks got pushed around by the Orlando Magic when they were swept out of the playoffs last year. Because they were.
So what did they do about it?
Nothing, really. I like Josh Powell, he is a better player than he gets credit for (he’s solid as a role player off the bench) and he has maybe the best iPod playlist in the league. Powell now has a couple of rings. But that experience and playlist are not bringing rings to Atlanta.
The Hawks did go after Shaquille O’Neal, but the ownership — a consortium of investors GM Rick Sund has to get on the same page for major decisions — would not make the serious commitment, according to Jeff Schultz at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Boston had the more title ready team — they have just been to the finals — so Atlanta needed to make a bigger financial commitment.
The Hawks can be an entertaining team. But they’re also a flawed one. Signing Josh Powell and Jason Collins doesn’t cure their size problem in the post. Al Horford is playing out of position. This decision more likely ensures that they again will be the No. 4 playoff seed in the East and exit in the second round.
How much of this is the result of money? A lot. Ownership and general manager Rick Sund did not want to go into a tax situation with the salary cap. That meant not doing anything of significance to improve the team in free agency this offseason (other than overpaying to keep Joe Johnson).
The Hawks have $67 million in committed salary for 12 players right now (via Sham Sports). Throw in the cap holds and they are at the tax line of $70 million. By the time the Hawks sign a couple more minimum salary guys to round out the roster, they will be flirting with the tax line.
Shaq could have put them over that line. And what he has left as a player may not have taken the Hawks any farther in the playoffs.
But the fact is the East got better. Orlando, Miami and Boston are contenders. Chicago is nipping at their heels. Milwaukee is going to be right there, maybe just a step back. Atlanta may well be the four or five seed going into the playoffs again, but then what?
Then they get what they paid for.
Ready for another Singler in the NBA?
Thunder forward Kyle Singler‘s brother, E.J. Singler, is headed to the Raptors.
Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic:
Toronto as 14 players – one shy of the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries. Singler will join Fred VanVleet, Jarrod Uthoff, Yanick Moreira and Drew Crawford in a crowded race for the 15th spot.
VanVleet has a leg up, because third-string point guard Delon Wright will miss the start of the season. I also like Uthoff more as a long-term prospect in a vacuum than the other players.
Singler’s advantage? His experience. He’s older than his four competitors, including VanVleet and and Uthoff, who went undrafted out of Wichita State and Iowa this year.
Singler went undrafted out of Oregon in 2013. He has since played overseas and in the D-League, including with the Raptors’ affiliate last season. The 6-foot-6 forward has a nice shooting stroke, but his subpar athleticism limits him all around.
I expect Singler to get a partial guarantee designed to entice to stay in the D-League, where the Raptors 905 still hold his rights, rather than go overseas if he doesn’t make Toronto’s regular-season roster. But first, he’ll have a chance to earn an NBA roster spot in what appears to be a fairly open race.
It’s been a while since we featured a Brandon Armstrong video, but they’re always fun – this ode to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson no exception.
Michael Jordan helped propel Jamal Crawford‘s NBA career – one that has already lasted 16 seasons and resulted in more than $120 million in earnings and three Sixth Man of the Year awards.
Jordan also fostered an environment where Crawford could’ve derailed it.
Crawford was drafted for the Bulls in 2000, when Jordan was contemplating a comeback he’d eventually make with the Wizards. In preparation, Jordan frequently invited Crawford to play pickup basketball with him.
Mike Wise of The Undefeated:
In between Crawford’s first and second year in the league, after the pickup games at Hoops the Gym, many of Jordan’s friends and associates would go next door to his contemporary American restaurant, One Sixtyblue. After hours, games of chance were set up – Vegas-style card tables, a separate corner for shooting dice.
Two participants, on condition of anonymity, recounted one particular night when Jordan and Antoine Walker were among the card players and Crawford and Ray Allen were among the players shooting dice.
Over what is believed to be a two-day span, he said, he lost in the neighborhood of $100,000. A person with intimate knowledge of the game claims Crawford lost several hundred thousand and Allen lost even more. And that, days after the dice game, a call was placed to Goodwin, Crawford’s agent, to inform him that Crawford had not yet squared his debt with one professional gambler.
“OK,” Goodwin said, according to the person with intimate knowledge of the game. “What does he owe? Jamal is good for it.”
“No, you don’t understand,” the go-between said. “If he doesn’t pay now, these guys will kill Jamal.”
“Kill Jamal?!! He’s an NBA player. He gets paid as soon as the season starts. Give me the dude’s number.”
The person with knowledge of the game said Goodwin called the man Crawford owed money, set up a payment plan and resolved the issue without incident.
Crawford swore he didn’t lose that kind of money, and said he never heard the story about his life being threatened. But he doesn’t deny he got in way over his head, which led to a particularly humiliating moment.
The life of an NBA player remains more wild than we’ll ever know.
Will the Cavaliers trade Kevin Love?
Cleveland’s championship quieted, but didn’t stop, the speculation.
The Cavs’ stance might.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:
While there are no shortage of suitors who would take on Love’s contract, sources close to the Cavs say moving him is not even remotely a consideration.
Some parts of the equation haven’t changed since the last trade deadline:
- Love is a good, and probably now underrated, player who can’t reach his full potential while playing with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. That’s OK. Most players must sacrifice to fit their team’s needs.
- Love helps the Cavaliers against most teams. As I said above, he’s really good.
- The Warriors – the overwhelming championship favorites – present a particularly difficult matchup for Love. The Cavs didn’t quite win the Finals in spite of Love, but his contributions were limited.
But a few things have changed:
- Cleveland proved it could win a title with Love. There is no longer any doubt.
- The championship also affects perception. Teams are reluctant to break up their cores coming off a title. It’d be surprising to see Cleveland make a major move until after the 2017 postseason.
- Specifically, LeBron’s relationship with Love might have improved. Winning cures all ills. After previous reservations, LeBron might feel a stronger connection with Love due to their experiencing a title run together.
So, I buy that the Cavs are firmly against trading Love. The question: Will that stance change once they lose in the playoffs, whether that’s in 2017 or beyond?