The Hawks traded six-time all-star Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets in the summer and critics believed that Atlanta didn’t have a star or a real leader in the locker room. The team also made major offseason moves in the front office; signing GM Danny Ferry as GM and president of basketball operations.
|Hawks' head coach Larry Drew|
Ferry got to work quickly, acquiring Devin Harris from the Utah Jazz and signed Sixers’ guard Lou Williams. They had great shooting coming off the bench from DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Tolliver and Kyle Korver.
The Hawks had an up and down second half of the season. Atlanta couldn’t find their rhythm after the all-star break and lost chemistry. Nonetheless, with Lou Williams out, the Hawks stepped up and received great bench play from Ivan Johnson, Kyle Korver, Johan Petro and rookie John Jenkins.The Hawks started the New Year at 20-11. Sixth man Lou Williams suffered a serious leg injury in a game against the Nets in late January and many believed that Atlanta’s season was over. The Hawks dealt with this kind of situation before. Last January all-star Al Horford tore his pectoral muscle and was out for the season. Atlanta still finished the year as the fifth seed with home court advantage.
Forward Al Horford played well when the New Year started. He had many games of streaks with double-doubles. His leadership played a tremendous role in the Hawks keeping pace in playoff position. He was in the discussion of making the all-star team but was snubbed. He is a two-time all-star.
When the playoffs came, the Hawks finished as the sixth seed with a record of 44-38. They played against the third-seeded Indiana Pacers. The Pacers won the first two games of the series at home in blowout fashion. The Hawks also defended their home court by winning two games at home. Indiana went on to win the next two games and won the series 4-2. The Pacers dominated the paint with scoring from big men David West, Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert. They did this without all-star Danny Granger.
The Hawks have a busy offseason ahead. Head coach Larry Drew is a free agent and so is Josh Smith. Smith has been in trade discussions every year at the trade deadline but the organization continues to have faith in him. Atlanta has $90 million in cap room. They will be looking to sign a superstar such as Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. Many fans in Atlanta want Josh Smith and Dwight Howard to play together. They both grew up in Atlanta as childhood friends and played on the same AAU team.
Atlanta also has two first round draft picks. One of them is from the Houston Rockets. They hold the 17th and 18th picks. The Hawks will be looking to draft a center to help Al Horford move to his true forward postion. Horford would still be able to receive this help should the Hawks acquire Dwight Howard.
The Hawks suffered a first round exit for the second straight year and are looking for answers. It should be an interesting offseason for Atlanta as a lot of money will be spent and their search for a superstar to take them to the next level starts now. GM Danny Ferry will look to make aggressive moves and bring success to the city of Atlanta.- Yuriy A.