HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With the assortment of wild and crazy stories and rumors we that make their way through the hideout each day, there’s usually nothing that truly shocks us.
But if there is any validity to these rumblings out of Oakland that Keith Smart is in danger of being ousted as coach of the Warriors, then we have our first truly shocking story of the month.
If there is “no problem between Smart and Warriors guard Steph Curry,” as my main man Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com states clearly, then why in the world is their “relationship” at the center of this chatter about Smart being weeks away from the unemployment line?
If you’ve been watching the Warriors all season long you’ve seen it. To say Smart has had Curry on a shorter leash than Don Nelson did a year ago would be an understatement.
You’d have to be watching a different game to not notice all those times Smart showed his frustration after a Curry mistake or misplay, which was typically followed with Acie Law at the scorer’s table.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The last time the Hawks swung a trade deadline deal for a point guard, they got Mike Bibby from Sacramento and proceeded to make the playoffs three years in a row with the veteran big shot artist directing their attack.
That was February 2008. Fast forward to now and the Hawks are still trying to find the right fit at point guard. They traded Bibby, Mo Evans, Jordan Crawford and their 2011 first-round Draft pick to Washington for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong yesterday.
The Hawks are trying, once again, to solve the point guard problems that have plagued them since Draft night 2005, when they passed up Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Raymond Felton to take Marvin Williams with the No. 2 pick.
“In hindsight, that might be the biggest top three Draft mistake since the Pistons took Darko [Milicic],” an Eastern Conference executive said. “And it’s not just about the player you take, it’s about the player or players you pass up when you make that pick.”
The Pistons passed on Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to take Milicic after LeBron James was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 Draft.
“Anyone that doesn’t think you’ll pay for your Draft mistakes for years to come, just take a look at the Hawks and Pistons right now,” the exec said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t have some success even with those mistakes. But at some point, you will pay for the mistake.”
The Hawks reportedly targeted both Felton and Devin Harris as potential trade pieces but came up empty both times. Bottom line: the Hawks still don’t get the point. Hinrich is yet another short-term answer to a long-term problem. He only has one year left on his deal (at $8 million), meaning the Hawks will have to make decisions about their point guard future all over again this time next year.
Jeff Teague, the Hawks’ second-year point guard, is clearly not ready for a starring role … and might not be anytime soon. He was given every opportunity to supplant Bibby and couldn’t do it. He’s the latest in a long line of supposed point guard solutions that ended up being a problem (Speedy Claxton, Acie Law) for the Hawks.
They’ve tried everything at the point from Royal Ivey to Anthony Johnson to Tyronn Lue to even playing Joe Johnson at point guard during his first season with the team. That’s nine different point guard options spanning two different regimes (former general manager Billy Knight is the man who drafted Marvin Williams, paid Claxton, drafted Law and also traded for Bibby while current general manager Rick Sund is the man who shipped Claxton and Law out of town for Jamal Crawford, drafted Teague and made the deal for Hinrich).
While Hinrich is clearly an upgrade over Bibby, particularly at the defensive end, he still doesn’t solve the Hawks’ seemingly eternal point guard problem.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Spend enough time in NBA locker rooms before and after practices and games and you’re bound to stumble upon conversations with players about all sorts of things.
One of the topics that always drew a crowd was longevity, how to attain it for the youngsters and how to maintain it for the veterans. The facts are the facts. There’s a thin line between a lottery pick and a journeyman, and sometimes you can end up as both.
Former lottery pick Acie Law IV has to know this well, now that he’s on his fifth team, he signed with Hang Time’s Grizzlies, as he enters his fourth season in the league.
Drafted by the Hawks with the 11th pick in the 2007 draft, his stint as the team’s “point guard of the future” only lasted until the trade deadline in 2008, when Mike Bibby was brought in to shore up the position. By the time he was moved on draft night 2009, he and Speedy Claxton were shipped to Golden State for Jamal Crawford, he was already in danger of becoming a full-fledged journeyman.
Stints with the Warriors, Bobcats and Bulls didn’t produce any long-term solution to a dilemma that has nothing to with Law’s ability to play the game. But it pounds home a very important message to youngsters throughout the league that have yet to find their niche; treat each and every opportunity like it’s your last!
While searching for a backup point guard, Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace pondered whether to bring in a seasoned veteran.
The decision became clearer when he came across Acie Law. Among the things that intrigued him about Law was the fact that he has been in the NBA for three years with limited playing time.
With Law just 25 years old, Wallace felt like there is still time for the 6-3, 202-pound guard to reach the potential that made him the 11th player taken in the 2007 draft by the Atlanta Hawks.
The Grizzlies signed Law to a one-year contract Thursday, bringing their roster to 14 players. Terms were not announced.
“We think Acie can not only help us now, but maybe we’ll be fortunate there’s a little upside we can reach because he’s still young,” Wallace said. “He hasn’t had major injuries. We’re excited to see what he can bring.” …
… “It hasn’t clicked for him yet in any of the spots he’s been with,” Wallace said of the 2006-07 Bob Cousy Award winner as the nation’s top collegiate point guard. “He’s been in situations where there were some established players ahead of him. He got included into some trades for his contract.
“We felt it was intriguing to have a guy that was that high of a pick, that was that highly regarded of as a college player.”
Vasquez would be wise to pick the brain of his newest teammate and competition for the backup job to Conley.
Nothing is guaranteed other than that contract for a first round pick. And even that doesn’t guarantee you a long-term home in the league.