HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — So Danny Ferry is the man charged with trying to refocus and revitalize the Atlanta Hawks?
He’s the perfect man for the job.
Why that would be needed for a team that’s made five straight playoff appearances is not the point. With five core players (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Zaza Pachulia) on the roster for the 2012-13 season chewing up the bulk of the salary cap space, the Hawks are in need of a mini-makeover.
Ferry, the vice president of basketball operations for the San Antonio Spurs (and the former general manager in Cleveland) — until he was announced as the Hawks new GM this morning — has proved capable of mastering the mini-makeover. He did it several times in Cleveland when he had to put together the right supporting cast for LeBron James.
His arrival in Atlanta is the franchise’s most significant summer acquisition since Horford fell into their lap with the third pick in the 2007 Draft.
Ferry replaces the retiring Rick Sund, who replaced Billy Knight. And Ferry offers the Hawks a far different and much more aggressive approach to building a team than what Hawks fans are used to. While Sund was a sound caretaker of a franchise that had already crossed the threshold from lottery outfit to regular playoff contender, he never made the bold moves that might have pushed the Hawks to the next level.
The heavy lifting had already been done when Sund arrived. The culture was established under Knight and former coach Mike Woodson. They rolled to a 53-win season in 2010, the franchise’s fifth-best record in their Atlanta history, on Sund’s watch. But they have regressed in each season since then.
Ferry, on the other hand, was the architect of teams in Cleveland that went to The Finals in 2007 and twice finished with the best regular-season record in the league. When he left Cleveland in June of 2010, he went back to the Spurs. He had won a championship there as a player and later worked under Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford, widely regarded as two of the very best in the business of building championship structure and culture.
Even with their core in place for all of these years, and internal bluster that three straight trips to the conference semifinals from 2009-2011 suggested they were among the league’s elite, the Hawks have never been considered championship material.
Hiring Ferry, a home run for the franchise in every way, gives them someone at the controls who knows what an “elite” organization looks like from the inside.