Horford, Howard or whoever, does it really matter?

No doubt Dwight Howard will look good in a Hawks uniform, but will he ultimately make a difference?  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

No doubt Dwight Howard will look good in a Hawks uniform, but will he ultimately make a difference? (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Debate the decision to sign the player formerly and laughably known as Superman – Dwight Howard – and to jettison one of the most sincere competitors in Hawks history – Al Horford – all you want. Anything to keep the mind active until the start of training camp.

But, honestly, all we’re really talking about here is the rearranging of some furniture. An exchange of parts that, when installed, will amount to very little actual difference in performance. (OK, I think the Hawks may be a little worse as a result, a little more static, and Boston a little better).

Because of the fad now of the high-profile free agents herding together with others of their kind like nervous sheep, seeking the comfort of each other’s talents, sharing the heat of the spotlight (hello, Kevin Durant), the Hawks already seem assured of being, at best, playoff filler next season. As is 85 percent of the NBA.

The script for 2016-17 in the NBA was written this past week, and nowhere are the Hawks prominently featured. Whatever they do will make no difference so long as LeBron James remains on track to re-sign with Cleveland, and injuries do nothing to swing the balance of power.

The Hawks will be markedly different, with Dennis Schroder the featured point guard and Howard snatching a few more rebounds and weighing down the team free throw percentage like an anvil.

But can you say they will really be markedly better? Better enough to at least win one game against Cleveland in the postseason? To go somewhere this franchise has never been? I certainly don’t see it, but then my eyes, along with my optimism, are failing.

Like that vast majority of the NBA not blessed with the rare, truly difference-making player, the Hawks do these kind make-overs with as much hope as conviction. You’ve got to do something, right? Anything. Shake up the mix and see if somehow its turns into wine. It so seldom does.

What it accomplishes is to give the public something to talk about here when all is theory and conjecture, before hard reality takes hold.

Reader Comments 0

50 comments
OakTownMo
OakTownMo

 I grew up in Oakland and the Warriors were a terrible team for close to 40 years.  Signing or drafting of a star would of course result in a trade in which the struggling individual would become a potential hall of famer (McHale, Parrish, Bernard King, Mitch Richmond, Afernee Hardway, Chris Webber).  


Then came a new ownership group that said from day one that they were going to build a championship team, where free-agents would want to come, and voila, a few SMART trades (Monte Ellis, Mike Dunleavy, and David Lee), a ring, a record breaking season, and now the biggest possible free agency signing besides LeBron.


A winning culture comes from winning leadership. 

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

I trust Budenholzer to do a great job with coaching the roster. I trusted Ferry more to build that roster. Still bummed that in-fighting by the most inept ownership group in the history of sports led to him being shown the door.

agentoranj90
agentoranj90

I get the point of the article.  I've been watching the NBA since the early 80's and it's not too much different.  Replace the Bulls with the Cavs.  The Bulls were nothing until Jordan came and haven't won since.  The exceptions have been refreshing like the Spurs.  I thought the Hawks were moving in that direction with Ferry but now they remind me more of the Hawks of the 90's.  If it plays out the same way we have one at most 2 5-6 seed playoff season; then blow it up and start all over again.

jim771991
jim771991

You get better with high draft picks or free agency.  The Hawks just let the highest draft pick they have had in 20 or 30 years leave with no compensation.  They had no choice but to sign Horford and didn't.  This is a team committed to being middle of the NBA, determined to do it.  Why waste time going to their games.


Jim

Mo'sMule
Mo'sMule

@jim771991 why go to the games??? they got some good hip hop music during time outs! some nights, they got deals on merchandise late game!!

brushback69
brushback69

@jim771991 some of us are fired up about the hawks, you should join the party and avoid being one of the poopers...

AnthonyHurley
AnthonyHurley

@jim771991


What did they win with Al Horford? He was past his prime. I doubt you saw his performances against Cleveland. Grabbing a whopping 3.6 rebounds per game.

96uga
96uga

@jim771991  You win nothing with Al Horford.  You win nothing without Al Horford.  In other words, it made no difference whether the Hawks signed him or not.  At least with Dwight Howard, you commit less money for fewer years, thereby improving your chances to be better in the shorter term.

DawgNole
DawgNole

"Does it really matter"?

Only if the Hawks finally--for the first time in ATL--win a championship.

Mo'sMule
Mo'sMule

dwight's in this for all that money---ATL's the only team that would pay him 25 million / year!! He could not care less about winning games---just keep those paychecks coming--the bentley, the chicks and those mansions don't come cheap!

David McCallum
David McCallum

As a long time and realistic Hawks fan, I don't view the Dwight Howard acquisition as a move that puts the Hawks even remotely close to the Cavs. They still have some more serious work to do. Yes, Lebron James is in the East, but according to this guy Steve Hammer, every other NBA team in the East should just concede and fold up its tent before the season start, only to anoint the Cavs Eastern Conference champs as long as Lebron is playing. That folks, is why I hold these writers like Steve Hammer accountable for taking the easy way out by writing these articles. It really doesn't take much thought or courage to write an article like this. 

96uga
96uga

@David McCallum  Re-signing Al Horford also would not have put the Hawks any closer to the Cavs.

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

Two things: 1. I will take Cleveland and Golden St and let you have the rest of the field. 2.I only watch the playoffs so I can see just how bad off the Hawks are from the top two teams....We will never win a title....   Never.



Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

I don't care what any of these guys makes. It's not my money.  

Now we will see if Coach Bud can earn his paycheck.  He's gonna have to get these guys to play together and who knows what can happen.  Maybe Dwight makes Millsap better and opens things up for the outside shooters with strong post play.  

Maybe the Hawks shock us all, win more games than last year and win a few games against the Cavs in the playoffs.  It's a new year and anything can happen.

tiger7_88
tiger7_88

@Born2Buzz The outside shooters weren't very good this year.  As far as I can see, the two wingers they drafted aren't deadly shooters either.

Ray Goff Anyone?
Ray Goff Anyone?

That's because the NBA is about ticket/merchandise/tv revenue first.  As you said, the NBA championship teams are set (barring injury) and they are the same as last year.  Lebron is a once in a decade talent.  The Warriors with the best record in the NBA went out and signed the top free agent (who was willing to move) just to try and compete.  Until the Hawks find that needle in a haystack or Lebron retires we are stuck being a 2nd tier talent in the East. 

Hummer, did you see the Cleveland series? Big AL did nothing and was destroyed on the boards. Which by the way was the reason they did not win 1 single game.  Al could not hold Howards jock strap and even the "King" himself will not drive to the basket with howard there. Now the Hawks can guard the 3 line and not worry about drives to the basket. As a result the Hawks are a better team now than they have been since pistol and Lou Hudson. Hummer you need to get a real job buddy.                                                                                  

JenkinsFamily
JenkinsFamily

Atlanta is the 13 county metro area. 

However, only people who live in the city care about the Hawks.


How many season tix holders in Gwinnett and Cobb?


I bet 90% are in Fulton and DeKalb.

hardworkinman
hardworkinman

@JenkinsFamily I beg to differ. I don't live in any of those 13 counties and have followed the Hawks since the 70's.


Truth is that there are very few true Atlanta fans in the metro area. Most diehard followers of the Hawks, Falcons, and Braves live outside the immediate Atlanta area. The area around Atlanta has become a haven for northern transplants. Hence, the reason that there are often more visiting fans at home games than there are home fans.


I remember seeing a sports piece on one of the networks a while back where a reporter walked around Atlanta trying to find Falcons fans. It was ten to one that the folks who were football fans followed other teams besides the Falcons.

GA_and_Education_futile
GA_and_Education_futile

@hardworkinman @JenkinsFamily 

Agreed!

I saw Dominique Wilkins walking around the Target store in Conyers...not being bothered at all. My daughter and I were star struck but no one else was...why...too many transplants!

Go Hawks!

 

tiger7_88
tiger7_88

@RollDawg Ever hear the story of the guy who had 2 Falcons tickets he couldn't get rid of, so he just put them under his windshield wiper before he went into the office, hoping someone would take them?


When he came back out to his car at the end of his work day, he had 4 Falcon's tickets under his windshield wiper.


So go the Hawks.

RollDawg
RollDawg

Wrong Knucklehead. I live in Smyrna and we have 6 season Tickets.

Braveschop
Braveschop

Tired of the doom and gloom,Al made his choice just like Kent did plus Dwight seems motivated with the chance to play for the Hawks so let's see how it plays out and we need to add a shooting guard so badly 

David McCallum
David McCallum

@Braveschop Can we be honest about Al Horford. While a fine human being and good basketball player, this guy had no real intentions of resigning with the Hawks. I remember many games when Jeff Teague out rebounded this guy. He's going to play well for gothic celtics early, but Celtics fans will become disenchanted with his sift play. He's a jump shooting PW with zero back to the basket skills. Milsap was the right guy to keep and a much better player. 

brushback69
brushback69

so it doesn't matter who we get? Won't change a thing huh?

Apparently that applies to all you sportswriters too.  You all have pooped all over this Howard signing and clearly refuse to give any support or positive outlook.


How long will it be now until the AJC sportswriters go on another campaign trail to oust Coach Bud, same as they help to successfully orchestrate with Smitty & Freddi?


The whole lot of ya need to be replaced.

BobJ27284
BobJ27284

I hate losing Al with no compensation.  I hate that there is not a better sign and trade mechanism in the league.  I am not happy about DH coming here.  I love Al's heart, but he is not a max player and Hawks seemed to get DH a little on the cheap and for a shorter term. Maybe it was the best move, but seriously - at what point do you cut bait and rebuild?

We are still a mid-level playoff team with no real expectations to win anything of note. At some point, do you look to trade Millsap and Howard to stock pile some draft picks and go with a youth movement?  Sadly, DH is one of the bigger free agent signings the club has had...we are not going to make it through free agency.

moboman
moboman

@BobJ27284 The problem with cutting bait is that Lebron type athletes dont come all that often.  And the lottery assures that you might not even get first pick.  Unlike other pro sports where there is more available talent to choose from, the NBA draft is just a crapshoot as far as attaining the needed superstar.


David McCallum
David McCallum

@BobJ27284 This is not baseball. As Hawks fans you should know better. The bottom line is that the Hawks, until they can prove otherwise, is not attracting real players to this town via free agency. I don't necessarily classify DH in that category any longer. While still; an excellent but limited players, he's no longer there.


The Hawks, like many teams, must build their teams through trades, or get lucky in the draft with say the 12th or 21st pick, and hope those players become more than average contributors. The Hawks are a middling team and middling teams don't succeed in the NBA. That's been proven over time. For example, the Hawks will never be bad enough to secure the top pick in the draft nor will they good enough to win NBA title in the foreseeable future. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@BobJ27284: ". . .at what point do you cut bait and rebuild?"

________________

Don't wanna hear any "rebuild" crapola when you've never so much as appeared in the Finals during your entire 48 years in ATL!

And the "compensation" for Al is not having to pay that $115 million contract.

moboman
moboman

The NBA is going to have to address this "herding" trend among the elite players.  Barring injury, the Warriors have such a manpower advantage that the season will be a joke.  No way that league rules should permit this type of mockery of competitive balance.  A 73 win team adds Durant to their arsenal???   And now rumors that Cavs trying to get Wade?  Its damaging to league credibility.  


Im excited to see what DH adds to the Hawks, and what other moves are forthcoming, but will any of it mean anything?

moboman
moboman

And latest news is that Ray Allen has reached out to GSW and Cavs about joining the herd...

brushback69
brushback69

@moboman that's just absurd, who does he think he is, 41 yrs old, out for 2 years and now he wants a cheapo championship ring.  They should just laugh in his face...

Max_TN
Max_TN

Al is good player, but no way he is a max player.   I'm sure the Hawks gave him a reasonable offer, but he turn it down and left, so get over it folks!    


I think if he had stay and with our front line up with Paul and Dwight, I think we'll get pass the 2nd round at the least.    


The last 9 yrs with Al, our line up were undersized and just about every team split through the middle and score on it us.  The little midget from the Celtics was having an all-star game in the playoff against us.    Let's see if he can do it against Dwight.

Section303
Section303

Such a tired narrative that the Celtics are better than the Hawks now...annoying that a local media member joins the national media as a Celtic cheerleader. You're a marginal (at best) writer with little basketball knowledge.

POV1948
POV1948

@Section303 Tired narratives often are true.  Not seeing much cheer leading for anybody in Hummer's piece. 


With Dennis more erratic and less of an offensive threat than Jeff was, the Hawks seem likely to be a lesser team than they've been, no matter how things go with Howard in ATL and Horford in Boston.

Dis custed
Dis custed

@POV1948 @Section303 Thats more dynamic with regard to Dennis who's motor is always turned on. Not done molding this team yet  .. hang on Danny ferry always comes through.

KBP
KBP

Another local sportswriter who has overvalued Al's production. As a Hawk he was a 14 and 9 guy who consistently got outrebounded by other center's in the playoffs. Dwight's production has "fallen" to what Al's is in his prime. Al chose to leave and he was not jettisoned. Al made all-star before Drummond and Whiteside became the players they are now and when Dwight was in the West. Let's see if he makes it again. I hope so but I doubt it. Dwight is a better 5 and Paul is a better 4 than Al. If Shroeder can run the team, they will be better next season. One last thing, so many sportswriter speak as if Al was a 25 and 12 guy who opposing teams feared. When no team in the league double teams you, you are not a great player. Al is very good but far from great.

kevkat
kevkat

Same thing goes for sports writers...geeze

Kligou
Kligou

The NBA is now a two-tier league.  Perhaps it should recognize that and play a separate schedule among the super-teams, where each game would have essentially critical importance.  Then the winner of that competition could play the winner of the regular league for the championship.