A few days ago, new Hawks GM Danny Ferry announced that he had come to terms on a deal that would send one of Atlanta’s ‘star’ players, Joe Johnson, to the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets. In exchange, Atlanta received five guards with expiring contracts and a first round pick next season. Not long after this blockbuster was announced, it was followed with another as we managed to trade Marvin Williams (you know, the guy we inexplicably drafted over Chris Paul…) to Utah.
Needless to say, the landscape of the team–new management and at least six new players–will change dramatically in the upcoming season. But how? Honestly, I have no fucking clue.
I wake up and read the sports news every morning, but, full disclosure, basketball is without a doubt my weakest subject. So, who should I turn to for analysis? ESPN? The morons who write sports news for Yahoo!? Thanks but no thanks.
Instead, I’ve decided to turn to Purge ATL’s own basketball guru–Johnny Carroll.
Here, he and I discuss the league’s tumultuous off-season, the likely future of our Atlanta Hawks, and probably tell some shitty, shitty jokes.
WW: Johnny, why are you even a Hawks fan in the first place? Aren’t you from Kentucky? Shouldn’t you be a fan of…the Pacers, I guess?
JC: I actually was a Pacers fan in high school because they were the closest NBA team to northern Kentucky, not to mention Reggie Miller was ridiculous for those few years that Jordan was playing baseball. Unfortunately, the only part of his game that I could emulate while playing on my varsity team was the trash talk. Too bad you get technicals for miming choke signs to the opposing team’s bench.
To answer your question though, before I moved to Georgia, I had always promised myself that if I ever lived in a city that had an NBA team I would cheer for that team… forever.
Unfortunately, I moved to Atlanta.
WW: Ouch. Okay, when was this?
JC: I moved to Atlanta when I was in high school in 1997. I had missed “The Human Highlight Film” by a few years and the face of the Hawks upon my arrival was Steve Smith. You’re probably saying, “Oh shit, I forgot about that guy,” right about now or you have no idea who I’m talking about, which proves my point even further.
WW: I vaguely remember him.
JC: Smith would’ve been the third best player on any good team, but anyway I stayed true to my word and went to as many games as possible. I even made it out to the Omni for a game before they tore it down. We lost to the Dallas Mavericks in a blowout, but at least Jason Kidd wasn’t in jail for domestic violence so I got to watch him abuse us instead.
WW: So we sucked.
JC: We didn’t start really sucking until the 2000 season. We drafted Jason Terry as the 10th pick in the 99 draft, but we traded Steve Smith to the Trail Blazers for expiring contracts so we could pay another role player all-star dollars. I actually liked watching Jason “The Jet” Terry (outside of “The Human Highlight Film” Atlanta sucks at giving basketball nicknames). He was a great shooter and loved the fans, but like Steve Smith, he couldn’t get the job done.
After 5 seasons with Jason Terry we started the process all over again with Joe Johnson. We all know the story there. He gave us five solid seasons, getting us back to the playoffs in 2008 where we almost “shocked the world” by beating the Celtics in the first round.
When his contract was up he threatened to go to the Knicks, so we did what any prospering (read: desparate) franchise would do. We gave another glorified role player more money than Lebron James.
WW: Well, it’s sort of pathetic that making it out of the first round of the playoffs would be such a shocking accomplishment, right? It seems to me, that every time Atlanta has attempted to rebuild the team around a new franchise player, we always end up disappointed by the results. I mean, Smith, Terry, Johnson…
Should I actually be excited about the opportunities that trading Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson bring to the table? Or I am just setting myself up for disappointment?
JC: You should be excited because it’s hard to set yourself up for my disappointment when you’re at rock bottom already. Marvin Williams needed to be traded because every time you saw the guy you’d think, “Goddamn it, why didn’t we draft Chris Paul.” I always felt bad for the guy.
After Joe got his big pay day two seasons ago he stopped giving a shit. His stats dropped drastically and he became the third best player on the team behind Al Horford and Josh Smith. The guy was like the fucking undead. He barely showed signs of life and was sucking our payroll dry.
WW: Atlanta loves the undead. Okay, so what are the most likely scenarios for assembling a new team? Are we going to attempt to go the route of the “super team” like Miami, New Jersey and LA?
JC: Well, with the Celtics and Miami winning championships, it’s been proven that you can win with a super team. Everyone is starting to go that route now. The Knicks and Clippers have been trying it. Steve Nash just signed with the Lakers, The Celtics have new (old) blood with Jason Terry. The Nets are doing their thing with Deron Williams and (Thank God We Got Rid Of) Joe Johnson.
I’m not sure that the super team is necessarily the best model for the Hawks. We already have two good players in Horford and Smith. They’re not super stars by any means, but all-stars. I think Danny Ferry (our new GM) is going to go after a superstar caliber player, but you’re not going to see three of them on our roster.
WW: I’ve heard talk about potentially courting players like Dwight Howard, who wants out of Orlando in a bad way, and Chris Paul, who really should have been a Hawk to begin with. What do you think about that?
JC: I think Dwight Howard would do well in Atlanta because he would have Horford backing him up. You can’t really rely on Howard for creating offense though. He gets most of his points on rebounds, not to mention he’s a pussy. He’s a crybaby to his organization and all fucking smiles to the fans. Plus, a player with his size and ability he should be dominating the league like Shaq did for almost two decades, and he’s not. We all know who the real Superman is.
WW: No sense in replacing one disappointment with another, right?
JC: Exactly. Now Chris Paul is disturbingly good. Steve Nash is the only other player in the league with that kind of talent, and he’s old. Watching Chris Paul play basketball is like watching your drunk buddy go home with the hottest girl in the bar. You just don’t know how they do it.
WW: Yeah dude. How the fuck do you do that?
JC: If I knew I probably wouldn’t be sitting here answering these questions. I would be Hugh Hefner or playing point guard in the NBA. We all have dreams.
I do have a problem with Chris Paul though. For as much talent as he has, he’s selfish. He was the heart and soul of that New Orleans team and just cut and run for LA. I really don’t feel like having my heart broken by a black man in basketball shorts… again.
WW: Don’t worry, Johnny. Jamal will call you someday.
JC: Seriously. Why the fuck did we lose Jamal Crawford to the Trail Blazers? We could’ve averted all of this Joe Johnson bullshit if we had let Joe go to NYC the first time and given Jamal the starting position. I miss you, Jamal.
WW: I was talking about Jamal from over on Boulevard, but yeah, Crawford too.
JC: Oh shit. Wrong Jamal. He had kind eyes.
Anyway, I think Danny Ferry is a badass (He punched Michael Jordan in the face once). He took over a lopsided organization and is not just cleaning house, but doing some demolition. Now it’s time to see how he puts it all back together. It may be another season before you see any big contracts signed in Atlanta, but it’s kind of like dating. After a nasty break up you don’t want to commit for a while, and after dealing with the Joe Johnson fiasco, I think we’re all OK with that.
WW: So, there you have it. Our resident basketball expert summed up the goings-on of our Hawks in a way that even a dunce like myself can understand–and things seem to be looking up. And whether or not you think that the moves made by Danny Ferry are really in the best interest of the association, one thing is certain: the new-look Hawks will be hungry to finally take home those rings. Hungrier, we hope, than the previous incarnations.