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Found 12 results

  1. Not looking too good! Mavs fans have to be like, "Who knew the tanking talk was the good topic around here?" The silver lining... no players and coaches were implicated, one staffer noting that it was a safer atmosphere in the locker room than with the pervy pencil-pushers in the administrative offices. Mavs' pre-emptive news release, a couple hours before the SI story dropped: ~lw3
  2. “Never fear… BazeClaus is here!” ((On holiday travel, so this prematurely-scribbled version will have to do! Cheers! ~lw3)) Are our Atlanta Hawks in a gifting mood? If so, then this evening, they’ll be happy to spread good tidings and cheer to their visitors, the Dallas Mavericks (7:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL). The Hawks (7-25) wrapped up a home win just last week for Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies, a gift that keeps on giving for both teams on Atlanta’s floor tonight. Thanks largely to the Hawks, this is the second-straight weekend where the worst NBA teams from each conference tip off against one another. Having dropped their season opener to the visiting Hawks, 117-111 back in October, Dallas (9-24) will do all it can to even up the season series, and give the legendary Dirk Nowitzki a win in (maybe? at long last?) his final visit to Philips Arena. Victory for the Mavs, who flew in from last night’s game in Miami, will require Dennis Smith, Jr. to be the superior Dennis on the hardwood. Much like Atlanta’s John Collins, Smith (14.4 PPG and 4.1 APG, 5th and 3rd among rookies, respectively) has been a surefire source for crowd-energizing highlight plays. But as one might expect, other aspects of his game, like shooting (39.8 FG%, 30.7 3FG%, 67.3 FT%), ball security, and defense have yet to round out. Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle is in no hurry with his rookie point guard, especially when he can rely on sound offensive play by J.J. Barea (48.5 2FG%, team-high 5.5 APG off-bench), Devin Harris (83.1 FT%, 12.6 TO%), and even scoring-minded Yogi Ferrell in relief. Smith’s playing time would have eroded even further were shooter Seth Curry (tibia stress fracture, out all season, until at least January) available to sop up backcourt minutes. For Carlisle, the mandate from the Shark Tank is straightforward. Circulate and showcase as many veterans not named Dirk in his lineups, in hopes of enticing draft-pick offers suitable to accelerate the post-Nowitzki rebuild. That includes vets like Wesley Matthews (39.1 3FG%), who’s guaranteed for $18 million next season, and more palatable expiring contract holders like Harris and the hot-dogging Nerlens Noel (inactive since Nov. 22). Improved maneuverability ought to help Dallas (no second-round trips since winning the NBA Finals in 2011) in the long run, and maybe help them catch up with Phoenix (six picks in the upcoming 2018 draft rounds, to Dallas’ two) and Atlanta in the Tankathon Power Rankings. Leading-scorer Harrison Barnes (44.1 FG%, lowest since 2013-14; up to $49 million over the next two seasons), whose iso-play seems to suck the life out of their offense, seems to be the only real immovable object on the roster. The Hawks ought to find, in the Mavs (NBA-low 17.3 team O-Reb%), a reprieve from getting gashed on the defensive glass. Among current starters, only Barnes (1.2 O-Rebs per game) and Dirk’s fellow Wurzburger, German rookie Maxi “Priest” Kleber (1.1) even want to get close to the offensive rim. Despite being granted 19 minutes (16 points, 11 boards) in the season-opener, Noel now seems to have a jump on his teammates in getting to the cookies and milk at the media table. Now halfway toward the Tragic Number in the Eastern Conference’s playoff chase, it won’t be easy for Atlanta to give this game away. Coach Bud will have to invoke the spirit of the Georgia Lottery’s Scrooge toward his colleague at the other end of the floor. “Coach Rick, this L, I want you to have it… NO! I’ve failed myself!” Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, and Happy Holidays to you and yours. And, Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  3. When you’re genuinely aiming for the gold, nothing bronze can stay. Ah, the C&S Bank Tower. My first glimpse at this majestic structure, on the cover of a late-1980’s engineering magazine, grabbed my attention and made me ponder, “hmmm… Atlanta, huh?” for the first time. Glistening, circular, 20 stories designed in a style reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s classics. Accompanied by a twisty parking structure that looked more like a drill bit. This baby looked like some place where Buck Rogers might kickstart his second career. Built-out in 1968, this monumental testament to the Space Age stood boldly in the open sky, not even in the more muddled downtown district, but in the slowly emerging Midtown community to the north. Atlanta was a town, this Yank surmised solely from that late-80’s mag picture, with its eyes set upon the future! A quick fast-forward, to 1994. Upon taking my first steps on Atlanta soil, I exited North Avenue Station and immediately set out in search of this illuminating, postcard-worthy sight. It was nowhere to be found. Neither, for that matter, was Google, yet, or any locals willing to help alleviate my bewilderment. So, it would take some time for me to grasp where the heck this skyscraper went. “Where did it go? It was just here!” See, what had happened was… from the time I took my eye off that magazine, C&S merged twice, the second go-round with North Carolina National Bank, and re-fashioned themselves NationsBank. Even before the second merger, bank leaders decided this not-even-25-year-old tower wasn’t big enough. Down it would go. And by 1992, up went NationsBank Tower right beside it. No matter if it's the C&S Bank Tower, or 2Chainz's fanatical Pink Trap House, the stuff that would be iconic in most cities, becomes mythical in the ATL. A successive 90’s bank merger gives the new joint its current moniker: Bank of America Plaza. 55 stories tall, it’s more than just Georgia’s tallest office building. For the next 25 years, until Los Angeles’ Wilshire Plaza came online this year, Atlanta’s Art Deco-inspired Bank of America tower was the tallest American building never constructed in New York City or Chicago. Outside of NYC and LA, no American buildings have been built any taller since. Topped by a pyramid spire of golden girders, BoA Plaza aided in promoting the extension of Atlanta’s signature skyline way beyond its downtown boundaries. When Big Cass of WWE got his first major ring intro, the Queens wrestler displayed not a single New York skyscraper to convey his imposing stature, he used this one. For carpetbaggers like myself, among the first things you learn when you come to make the Peach City your home is that the term, “y’all”, is in the local lexicon, but the word “preservation”, is not. Plan out a day in search of remnants of the many places whose events helped make Atlanta “Atlanta!” – Gone with the Wind, Hank’s #715, the Centennial Olympic Games – or, the quirkier stuff that drew future Atlantans here to stay – the International Pop Festival, infamous go-go, dance, and gentlemen’s clubs, roller skating rinks, Freaknik (go ask your crazy uncles) – and you’ll probably be left wanting. There is but one god in the ATL, and it is symbolized by the Wrecking Ball. Scoffing at do-gooders trying to save every “hunk of junk” (his words) in town for the sake of preserving some sense of local character, 80’s Mayor Andrew Young derisively quipped, “This city has no character… we’re building the city’s character now.” In the shadow of BoA Plaza alone, there are blocks of evidence of Atlanta’s perpetual battle wounds over preserving structures, versus demolishing them for something shiny and of-the-moment. Southern Bell’s voracious appetite for a parking deck on Peachtree, next to its planned 47-story skyscraper, nearly leveled a Moorish 1920’s auditorium in the 1970’s. The Fox Theater, today Atlanta’s go-to spot for Broadway shows, proms and concerts, survived, but only after tremendous outcry. Two blocks north, the expanding BellSouth did buy and clear out the picturesque First Baptist Church in the 1990’s, to make its corporate world HQ state-of-the-art. But by the time they could finish pouring concrete, the Baby Bell got swallowed up by AT&T, whose bigwigs decided to stay in Texas. Mighty, mammoth IBM wants a 50-story Tower in Midtown, too? Buh-bye, old dusty hippie hangouts and apartments. Big Blue got its gold-tipped IBM Tower in 1987. Three decades later, the tower stands, but the company that demanded it is as fading a memory as its mainframes and blinking green cursors. Down on the outskirts of downtown, whole neighborhoods were leveled so Atlanta could showcase itself to America as a no-seriously-we’re-Big-League sports city. Suiting the arriving Falcons and Bravos, Atlanta Stadium construction in the 1960’s turned Summerhill into an afterthought, even more so when the Olympics announced its pending mid-1990’s arrival and the baseball club wanted a new home just like the Prime-Timers got. With Atlanta Stadium in its wake, the happening thing would be built right next door. Turner Field would soon become the place to root, root, root for the home team for generations of fans to come. Or not. My first tourist visit was of the field and locker rooms at the still-minty-fresh Georgia Dome, which was promised to revitalize downtrodden Vine City, or at least the parts of that neighborhood the colossal Scrabble-colored arena hadn’t already wiped out. This, it was touted, would be the rooting venue for generations of football fans to come. We got, maybe, one full generation out of that thing. Today, as the Dome nears its implosion, the happening thing is right next door. Mercedes-Benz Stadium, with its sphincteral-spheroid roof, will support legions of football, and futbol, faithful for generations (wink, nod, wink) to come, and will also revitalize Vine City, or at least the parts that, well, you know the drill. Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler has arrived in Atlanta with a divergent mindset. The private equity exec is big into real estate investments and opportunities, especially downtown. But he’s not into tearing down just for the sake of tearing down and building anew. When it comes to Philips Arena, the basketball and concert venue now pushing toward a mature 20 years of age, Ressler figures a revitalizing transformation can happen from within. Come for the pro hoops, stay for the shave-and-fade, the courtside mimosas, the live country music and gourmet Southern feasts. Ressler and the Hawks brass insist what’s going on with the arena is more than “just a renovation.” They are hell-bent on taking something fairly decent, satisfyingly above-average, and making it over into something otherworldly. That thought process extends to the Basketball Club, too. The Hawks embark on Season Number 50 as Atlanta’s NBA outfit tonight, in Dallas against the Mavericks (never thought I’d get to it, did ya? 8:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports South in ATL, Fox Sports Southwest in DFW). And Ressler prefers not to look at his team’s sudden evolution as a mere “rebuilding”, or the more canTankerous T-word. No, Ressler sees this as a reset, a makeover, in the interest of “getting younger.” That means no more ties to the Hawks’ recent past, with Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, and later, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard holding the fort for one oft-thrilling, oft-nauseating playoff voyage after another. For the time being, the Hawks’ headliner is a punchy, zippy, 6-foot-1, just-barely 24-year-old, who fancies himself a lover of hookah bars, hood fashion, and skateboards. Dennis Schröder is not an NBA great point guard, at least, not yet. But like his ballhandling predecessor Teague, he has demonstrated a willingness to go toe-to-toe with many of them. In a six-game playoff series against the hyped John Wall’s Wizards, the first playoff starts of his budding career, Schröder averaged 24.7 PPG and 7.7 APG (just 1.7 TOs/game), shot over 45 percent from the field and nearly 43 percent from three-point land. Not shabby at all. Dennis would have had half a chance to stage a coup of Wall’s Wizards, if only his elder vets showed up consistently to fight alongside him. Wall had to virtually etch his name in Springfield brass just to fend his Menacing opponent off and end the series early. It’s that type of fearless scrappiness that the Hawks hope will carry into this season, and beyond. Schröder has to face-off on many nights against world-class point guard competition, especially in his own Southeast Division. There’s Wall, who sees an avenue to finally establish himself and his team as a worthy Finals contender. There’s Kemba Walker, finally an All-Star, with a six-year head start on Schröder when it comes to serving as a franchise-face. There’s Goran Dragic, a former All-NBA Third Teamer his tenth-season, out to build on the momentum gained by winning the Eurobasket title and MVP award last month. There is even Elfrid Payton, a former lottery pick, unlike Schröder, with his own questionable hairstyle, who flashed vast improvement in the latter half of last season. That doesn’t even scratch the surface, not with the Westbrooks and Kyries, Currys, Conleys, Isaiahs, Lowrys, Lillards and CP3s (oh my!) waiting in the wings to be countered. These days, suiting up at the point might even mean defending, and getting around, a behemoth like Giannis or Ben Simmons. Even tonight, Schröder must take on a rookie who is aiming to make himself the premier point guard named Dennis in The Association. Fans and critics alike are already raving about the speed, hops, and abundant potential of Dennis Smith, Jr., the reigning ACC Rookie of the Year from N.C. State. Coming off strong Summer League and preseason, many predict Dallas’ Smith will convert his ACC hardware into the NBA version. Still, it appears as if Dennis Schröder is in the perfect spot to tilt at NBA windmills. After all, he has the steady hand of head coach Mike Budenholzer to help him lead the more youthful charge. The middling men who Coach Bud and staff molded into coach’s-pet All-Stars and highly-coveted Cash Money Millionaires are gone from Atlanta. The last of them, Millsap, took his versatile game to the Rocky Mountains this summer. But if Budenholzer can do enough to place Schröder’s name deservedly on the lips of All-Star voters, it might be his greatest accomplishment yet. There’s a chance that Dennis could also become Coach Bud’s downfall as well, and perhaps that’s the thrilling aspect of the season that’s soon to unfold. Dennis has been unwavering in his support for Budenholzer and his pace-heavy schemes, Bud having ramped up trust and duties for him over the years. Compiling modest but mostly winning records one season after the next has helped to underscore the reasons for such bonding, reinforced when the head coach joined his German wunderkind overseas shortly after the season’s end. Everything feels good and seems promising when the records are 0-0. There is no foretelling how losing stretches over the course of this season will affect this relationship. Dennis, like most 24-year-olds with a little spending cash, has already had his share of trouble keeping eyes on the proverbial prize off the court. His brash demeanor can get him in trouble on-court, too, whenever crafty veterans figure out how to goad him. There will be no Dwight, with his crap-eating grin, no glib Kyle, no stone-faced Sap, no cool-minded Thabo, around to redirect the mics and spotlights and cameras this year when things aren’t going well, as was often the case during last season’s sluggish 43-39 campaign. Those vets were masters at, if nothing else, avoiding the urge to finger-point in public. The forthcoming seasons will test the tenuousness of the Schrodenholzer bond by how well the coach steels his lead guard into becoming a true day-long, year-round NBA professional. More importantly, the Hawks are doing what they can to help Dennis chart a successful course on the court as well. Last year, Atlanta finished last in Pick-and-Roll plays for the Roll Man, averaging 0.91 points per possession, while shooting just 47.3 eFG%, to say nothing of when those schemes led Howard painfully to the charity stripe. Dwight was more of a park-in-the-low-post guy, and his demands for the rock around the rim not only strayed from Coach Bud’s offensive expectations, it often clogged the lane for the drive-heavy Schröder (NBA-high 3.4 FGs/game and 6.8 attempts/game on drives in 2016-17) and his would-be-cutting teammates. In lieu of Howard, the Hawks brought in Spurs U. graduate Dewayne Dedmon to fill the gap in the pivot. Dewayne was low-usage but high-impact in his sole season in San Antonio, averaging 7.6 RPG in 37 starts while shooting 64.0 percent from the field. When utilized as a Roll Man, he averaged 1.15 points per possession (7th among 19 NBA bigs w/ min. 25% play frequency and 50 games played), connecting on 62.9% of his FGAs (4th among that subset). Dwight had similar efficiencies, but was utilized as a Roll Man on just 10.1% of his plays, as opposed to Dewayne’s 26.7% as a Spur. By the way, the league’s most frequent Roll Man receiver? Another Dwight, Dallas’ Dwight Powell (38.5% of plays), so watch out for that guy off the bench today. Don’t expect much Hack-a-Ded, not for a guy who shot a modest 69.9 FT% in his most significant season to date. Dedmon (opponent 44.5 FG% on defended shots, 6th-best in NBA) did nothing to pull the Spurs away from their reputation of fielding top-notch defensive units, either. The 28-year-old former D-League stalwart is looking for a come-up in his fourth NBA season, and seems to have discovered the right fit under Coach Bud’s tutelage in Atlanta. A longer-term target for the Hawks’ future is hoped to grow by leaps and bounds during the season. But rookie John Collins has already wowed onlookers with literal leaps and bounds over opposing defenders in the Summer League. Lead-assistant coach Darvin Ham transitions his athletic-big-man coaching chops from Millsap, Horford, and Howard, to Dedmon and the under-the-hill Collins. Preseason games showed “John the Baptist” is still wet-behind-the-ears, like most first-year players, but he will be granted ample opportunity to make waves, and highlight reels, in his rookie season. While they won’t start together initially, the potential is there for Schröder and the pair of Dedmon and Collins to wreak havoc on pick-and-roll defenses. When active, the two bigs can clean up some of their guard’s misses while still possessing the agility to transition back to defense. Charge-sponge Ersan Ilyasova is The Human Seat Warmer, and will hold the fort ably as a stretch-four option in the starting lineup, until the training wheels can be taken off for Collins. Schröder will also have hope for steadier options along the perimeter. Korver was largely a disappointment for the Hawks at the outset of last season, before finding himself wide-open in LeBronland. As part of the deal for Howard to the Hornets, the Hawks acquired Marco Belinelli. 2014’s Three-Point Contest winner at All-Star Weekend made a name for himself at Spurs U. as well, helping win the 2014 NBA Finals. But he spent much of last season in Charlotte (36.0 3FG%) trying to wash off the stink from the prior ill-fated season as a free agent pickup in Sacramento. Like Dedmon, who has a player option for next season, Babbitt and Ilyasova, Belinelli is playing for his next contract, and is eager to show what he can do when given another fresh start. Coach Bud hopes to deploy a cavalcade of hot-and-ready shooters, like Belinelli, to help Schröder’s kickouts pay off. In addition to Ersan and rookie Tyler Dorsey (42.4 3FG% as a sophomore at Oregon), Marco and a pair of his fellow Killer B’s, forward Luke Babbitt (40.6 career 3FG%, 9th among active players) and ex-Mav forward Nicolas Brussino (52.0 3FG% during 18 Dallas wins last year) will strive to pollinate the Atlanta offense in ways that the Hawks could not (team 34.1 3FG%, 23rd in NBA) in 2016-17. One cannot forget about last season’s most accurate three-point shooter among returning Hawks players, albeit almost by default -- backup center Mike Muscala (41.8 3FG%), who averaged a career-high 6.2 PPG in his fourth season. Moose is back on a short-term deal with a player option, too. His new contract is the product of Ressler’s handpicked successor to a “Team President Bud”, a coach who became the former general manager’s manager at a time of crisis for the franchise, a mess sparked, ironically, after the team tried to turn an icon named Nique into a myth. The latest GM and head of Basketball Ops, Travis Schlenk is trying to infuse some Dubs Magic into the Spurs East manner of thinking over on Marietta Street. The former Warriors exec is staying true to Ressler’s demand not to commit to a complete overhaul, coaching staff included. But Schlenk is quickly demonstrating his unwillingness to hang the albatrosses of decisions past around his neck, or to create whole new albatrosses out of incumbent players on the roster. The club’s cold-shoulder to Millsap at the outset of free agency, despite Ressler’s end-of-season vow to negotiate directly with his star forward, reflected that sentiment. Tim Hardaway, Jr.’s offer from the Knicks was too rich for most everybody’s blood. Through the Howard trade, Schlenk also revealed that he is not, in the near-term, interested in ballasting the franchise down with new bad contracts borne of PR desperation, unless it involves the prospect of ditching a more burdensome contract (looking at you, Miles Plumlee). This is instructive for the highest-salaried player presently on Atlanta’s roster. “If I can’t get by guys, or stay in front of them on defense, it’s frustrating.” Indeed, Kent Bazemore, indeed. Baze is the team’s ultimate True To Atlanta ambassador in the local community, pursuing one philanthropic endeavor after another around town. Akin to the effect Tony Allen had on Memphis, no one wants to plant their flag in Atlanta, as a gritty, grinding basketball player, as much as Bazemore. Yet, as he shared with the AJC last month, his right knee ailed him all last season, and the pressure on the rangy swingman to compensate, and somehow live up to his generous new free-agency deal, contributed to more problems with his hips and back. Those nagging injuries led to nagging amongst the Hawks fanbase, about his severe decline in performance at both ends of the court. After a summer of collaboration with the training staff, Baze insists he is feeling as good and confident as ever, and while the final preseason game was promising, everyone is in wait-and-see mode as to whether he can simply reclaim his 2015-16 form, or at least, elevate his trade value for Schlenk, enough that Kent might grace another NBA town with his charitable benevolence. Not many second-year pros can tout being inked as an opening-day NBA starter, but one other bellwether for the Hawks’ prospects this season involves whether this will be a bump, or a slump, for the sophomore Prince. Mike Schmitz of ESPN is certainly among the “bump” faction, noting that Taurean, as a rookie, was among just ten players averaging at least one steal, one block, one three-point basket, and two steals per-40. His second season is an opportunity for Prince, with improving mechanics, to step into the lauded 3-and-D role once played to perfection by DeMarre Carroll. For as long as he’s here, Bazemore can collaborate on the wings with second-year pros Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry to stifle opponents on the perimeter. Discouraged by the omnipresence of Howard and Millsap inside, Hawk opponents swung the ball around the horn to hoist 30.2 three-point attempts per-48 last season (2nd-most in NBA, ahead of Charlotte’s 31.2). Foes shot only around the league average (35.7 opponent 3FG%; Dallas’ 38.0% was second-worst), but Atlanta’s woeful outside shooting often made it hard to keep up. Improvement in this area can create better parity, if not advantages, from game-to-game. Killer B’s Babbitt, Belinelli, and Brussino have been the opposite of sound defenders in their careers, but at least have the height to properly contest long-range jumpshots before they go up. The other Killer B’s, Baze and Bembry, along with Prince, will have a critical role in sustaining transition defense for Atlanta, one of Coach Bud’s continuing emphasis areas. Despite Baze’s ebbing penchant for chasedown blocks, the Hawks allowed just 1.04 points per possession on transition plays, opponents scoring on just 47.4 percent of those occasions (each 3rd-best in NBA) last season. Still, opponents created 17.2 points per-48 off Atlanta turnovers, and outscored the Hawks on the fastbreak. Negative turnover margins, on paper, will get even harder to close with the absence of strip- and deflection-happy forwards Millsap and Thabo Sefolosha around. Key to turning this around is if Schröder, resembling more of his playoff form, and backup guards Malcolm Delaney and Isaiah Taylor, can finish better at the rim while suppressing ballhandling and shot-forcing mistakes that lead to opportunities for easier buckets on the wrong end of the floor. Their abilities to read defenses, particularly coming off screens, and making swift, sound decisions with the ball in their hands, should only improve as the season wears on. In addition to the big-man tandem of Collins and Dedmon, the trio of Bazemore, Prince, and Bembry should allow Atlanta to confound opponents with a plethora of well-timed cuts to the hoop. The wings are not yet reliable three-point shooters, and improvements in this area will be needed to make them a threat to draw semi-serious closeout defenders and beat them off the dribble. In the interim, catching interior defenders napping when Schröder and the guards draw their attention will have to do. As with the small guards, gathering and finishing strong in the paint will be paramount for the Hawks to have any success on a routine basis. Beyond turnover-mitigation and poise, a most telling sign of Schröder’s maturity and fitness to lead this team will be tied to his commitment to anticipate screens and properly fight through them. Among 17 NBA guards facing at least five pick-and-roll ballhandler plays per game, opponents shot 48.0 eFG% (5th-highest) while opposing teams scored on 39.8% of those plays (8th-highest). Dennis’ figures were better than what his predecessor, Teague, turned in last-season, and they proved superior to the offense-minded Irving. But improving reaction-time and decision-making in this area is one subtle yet significant way his fullcourt game will stand out. Team pick-and-roll coverage proved problematic for the Hawks in their final dress rehearsal, a 108-94 loss to players not even on the Mavericks’ opening-day roster. Crafty head coach Rick Carlisle directed Powell (3-for-6 3FGs) and his third-string and G-League-bound upstarts to loft 48 three-point shots, his team burying 19 of them, and the wayward-shooting Hawks in the process. Budenholzer suggested opponents will find those shots significantly less-open in the regular season, and Carlisle will put that assertion to the test today. The Hawks will catch a break as guard Seth Curry (team-high 42.5 3FG%) heals a lower-leg injury, and Josh McBob is out as well. But they’ll find Dallas (33-49 in 2016-17; 14-16 versus the NBA East) unrelenting in their opener, even without them. In the umpteenth edition of the Dirk Nowitzki Farewell Tour, Carlisle will place him at center, daring Dedmon and Muscala to meet him at his jump-kicking spots outside the paint. Leading scorer Harrison Barnes (19.2 PPG, 35.1 3FG% in 2016-17) will try his wares when unabated, as he strives to expand beyond his mid-range mastery. Even without That Other Curry, Dallas (5th in three-point-attempt rate last year) has a conga-line of driving, pass-minded guards behind and beside Smith (J.J. Barea, Yogi Ferrell, Devin Harris), eager to draw the Hawks inward enough to free up Wesley Matthews (team-high 2.4 3FGs per game) and the Mavs capable-shooting bigs. How well Carlisle infuses bet-on-himself center Nerlens Noel into this floor-spreading mix is anyone’s guess, but they’ll try to get him involved with lobs and putbacks when the Hawks fail to rotate and box-out. Accommodating the ongoing renovations at the Highlight Factory, the NBA’s season-opening schedule allows the Hawks to bond away from home with five, not terribly imposing, but densely packed, road contests, concluding with a visit to the Imploda-Bulls eight days from today. Gaining a victory in the first match will require Schröder demonstrating that he has a more effective bag-of-tricks at his disposal than anyone guarding him, including the rookie Smith. It will also require every Hawk to know and execute their defensive roles, as Dallas strives to be more effective at picking opponents apart from outside. Were he in charge today, Mayor Young might assert that these Hawks are “building the team’s character now.” But as The Wolf once wisely offered, just because you are a character doesn’t mean you have character. Hawks fans have been wooed on “characters” before, from “Pistol Pete” to “Atlanta’s Own”. Atlanta execs have long gone all-in to try reigniting the fanbase on the basis of “characters,” from Reggie Theus to Danny Manning, from Dikembe to J.R. Rider to Big Dog, often to help obscure a major roster overhaul. But it’s the character you discover and possess that draws Hawks fans to Philips Arena in droves. The 2014-15 outfit’s appeal bubbled over once fans discovered that Bud’s Bunch had character, not just another pleasant winning streak. Dwight certainly brought “character” to Atlanta last season, but not the kind necessary for lasting success in this modern era of the league. The Hawks were sobered into the reality that older does not, in and of itself, translate into wiser on the hardwood. That’s why the eight-eldest players that suited up for the Hawks last season were not brought back, leaving Bazemore, Muscala and Schröder to be fashioned, from a Budball perspective, as this team’s “elder” statesmen. These are the “characters” presented, for now, as part of the Hawks’ foundation for a more prosperous NBA future. But future fans, and free agents, will to need something more substantive than the occasional Moose Goggles, or postgame Gazes, before they consider affixing themselves to this outfit. It will be Budenholzer, unshackled from management duties, and the slightly-tweaked coaching staff’s job to design and articulate that character-building substance. It’s the players’ task to reflect their understanding of that substance on the court every night, regardless of the score, the opponent, or the results. Where “getting younger” and “getting wiser” converge, can these particular Hawks hit that sweet-spot? The closer they come to hitting the mark, the more likely they’ll be around once it’s time to transition from bronzed to golden. In any event, they will not be allowed to rust, not under this new regime’s watch. If players stray too far from the new management’s objectives, they risk being dispatched and unceremoniously forgotten. But not before Atlantans look up, scratch their heads, and wonder, “Wait, where did they all go? They were just here!” Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  4. Parsons has a player option worth $16 million for 2016-17. Given his knee status, and how hard he openly protested DeAndre's reneging last summer, I'd suggest he go ahead and accept it as soon as the time comes to do so. ~lw3
  5. Chandler finally knows better than to Mark Cuban's Words. But he ain't mad, tho... ~lw3
  6. http://www.insidehoo...m/blog/?p=11275 Suspended, reinstated, suspended. That's Delonte being Delonte. UPDATE: He's having a rough go of it on Twitter at the moment: ~lw3
  7. went on hoopshype this morning and saw this tweet: the link in the quote goes to a spanish website but I found another site talking a little more about him. and yes, I know its talking about the Mavs interest but since the other site did mention the Hawks in it as well I figured it was relevant. http://bleacherrepor...el-hettsheimeir thoughts?