I think this blog has an annual May entry, as the Hawks bowed out early in the NBA Playoffs for the 5th straight year. For those that don't know, the Hawks history in the playoffs is not impressive to say the least. This year isn't unlike the others, but before we dive in to what happened and what now, I want to get this out there...not giving excuses, but I am 100% sure that the following things are true:
1) If Paul Pierce made the same move against Joe Johnson that Joe made against him at the end of Game 6, there would have been a foul called.
2) If Rondo/Pierce/Garnett/Allen had been fouled the way Al was at the end of Game 6, a flagrant foul would have been called.
3) If the Celtics had lost Game 6 in Atlanta to lose the series and had a player fouled clearly before an in-bounds pass, we would have had multiple experts telling us the Celtics were screwed and it would have been a topic on PTI, Around the horn, etc, and Bill Simmons would have written a column on how bad the officiating was in the series, specifically Game 6.
But I digress...it was a disappointing series loss, but the problem is traced to Game 2 when the Hawks lost at home to a Boston team that was without Allen/Rondo, and had a double-digit 3rd quarter lead. This team looks outstanding at time, and completely no-shows others. I want to think that this core can do better, but it just doesn't seem likely. That being said...
The only thing management can do for the betterment of the franchise is keep this core intact. Breaking up this team, i.e. trading Josh Smith, will make this team much worse. Believe me, if I thought the Hawks could get multiple players/picks/etc for Smith, I would be for it, but they simply won't get equal value in a trade.
If ASG and Sund think the team needs to trade Smith to improve the team and appease the fan base, the move would go against everything the front office has said the past few years, which is that this core can advance past Round 2. If they break up the team, they will likely go the route of the franchise 15 years ago when Pete Babcock caved in and got rid of Mookie/Smith/Deke and others in order to get younger and more athletic (bringing in Isaiah Rider)....
Truthfully, the way to win titles in the NBA is to get an All-Timer (Kobe, LeBron, Dirk, Duncan) and surround him with solid pieces and hope other stars choose to join him. The easiest way to get one of these guys is to have a Top 5 draft pick, which would likely be coming the Hawks way if they blow up the current core.
The likely scenario: Management renews Larry Drew for another year or two, Sund keeps some of the veterans, brings in some new veterans, adds a 1st round pick, and ASG sells the city on seeing what this team can do when healthy.
The scary scenario: Management panics and trades key pieces for less than equal value and this is a 35 win team next year.
My suggestion: Scenario 1 without renewing Larry Drew. Lets bring in someone that has won before and would have the players respect. Flip Saunders was just fired for not being able to win with an awful Wizards roster, but is just a few years removed from 3 straight conference finals series.
There is a time to blow up a roster, but with the contracts this team has and the current trade market, now is not it for the Hawks. The Falcons sold me on "Hey, it will be better with the same players if we get better coaches", it's time for the ASG to prepare the same pitch.