Posts Tagged ‘Hilton Armstrong’

Hawks Still Don’t Get The Point

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.

Two-A-Days In Washington?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We’re sure some people are calling him crazy this morning, but all we’ve got for Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders is a salute of approval.

Saunders did what any self-respecting coach would do Monday and stormed out of his team’s morning practice and invited them back for another, unscheduled afternoon session in the hope that they would come back with a bit more urgency than they showed the first time around.

Two-a-days, baby. Who doesn’t like two-a-days?

Now the critics will point out that Saunders struggled to hold his team’s together in both Minnesota (during the later stages of his tenure there) and Detroit (where he struggled to win over a veteran cast used to Larry Brown‘s style). But what else is he supposed to do? The Wizards are 1-4 and rather than see them fall completely apart he decided to make his stand early this season.

Good for you Flip.

Even better, some of the Wizards’ veterans didn’t hesitate to back up their coach, per our main man Mike Lee of the Washington Post:

“Y’all better wake up. You’re making it harder on yourselves,” veteran Josh Howard said as players started quietly heading toward the locker room. Hilton Armstrong wasn’t willing to just let practice end in that fashion, so he called his teammates together and told them there was a reason for the extra session. He could see the frustration but said, “The coaches only want to make us better. Real talk.”

It seems a little “Real Talk” is what’s needed in Washington. This crew is already trying to dig out of the hole of last season’s tumult, trying to mesh the games and personalities of both rookie sensation John Wall and veteran star Gilbert Arenas. All Saunders is asking for is maximum effort and energy from a group that couldn’t get right last season.

If that’s too much to ask for then maybe he’s right to work them twice a day until he gets what he needs out of them.

The Wizards would be wise to listen to Howard, who has been through early season struggles before and come out on the other side. He’s coming back from knee surgery and wasn’t cleared to go full tilt until last week. But he knows of what he speaks when he tells his teammates, young and a little bit older, that now is the time to change their ways.

“I told some of the guys. ‘We getting ready to get a paycheck on the 15th.’ For right now, they getting a paycheck for nothing,” he said. “I can honestly say that. I don’t think guys are really buying into this. If anything, we need to work for this paycheck.

“I’ve been in situations where we started out 0-4, 1-5 and turned it around quick,” said Howard, who won 67 games with Dallas in 2006-07 after the Mavericks started the season 0-4. “It’s a correctable mistake and guys need to go out there and sell it out for one another.”

Five games into their season and it appears these Wizards are already at the crossroads. Saunders is trying to steer them down a different path, one that has to be better than the one they’ve been on the past couple of years.

Now it’s time to see if the Wizards are ready to travel that path.