The free-falling Hawks are in real trouble

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) passes as Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2016, in Atlanta. Golden State won 102-92. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Stephen Curry dazzled the Hawks with passing — and 36 points. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

For a moment, you thought this could be THE moment. A good team going bad had gone from being embarrassed on its home court — the Atlanta Hawks trailed by 23 points with 18 minutes remaining — to leading the best team of this century and maybe since the 1971-72 Lakers. After a lost weekend against undermanned Miami and sub-mediocre Milwaukee, the Hawks were leading mighty Golden State.

Win this game, steal this game, and … well, one game is never much of a predictor, but still: How long has it been since the Hawks won any game that made us sit up and take notice? If you beat the Warriors, the watching world takes notice. Win this one and a regular season that has 24 games remaining might take a different shape. Win this one …

OK, enough. Final score: Golden State 102, Atlanta 92. Three straight home losses for the Hawks coming off the All-Star break. Three straight home losses after the Hawks’ big deadline move was to re-acquire Kirk Hinrich, who hasn’t yet played a minute in his second Atlanta tour. Three straight home losses to drop the Hawks to 31-27.

Know what the Hawks were after 58 games last season? Why, 46-12. That’s a reversal of 15 games, which is a lot for a team that lost only one starter. If we hadn’t known the daring deeds of last year were a one-shot deal, we know it now. Even if you didn’t expect the Hawks to go 60-22 again, nobody saw 31-27 coming.

The Hawks trail Miami by two games in the Southeast Division. They’re a half-game ahead of Charlotte for seventh place in the East. It’s hard to imagine this team missing the playoffs, but then you check the remaining schedule — three games with Toronto, two with Cleveland, another with Golden State — and you note that the Hawks’ lead over ninth-place Detroit is but 2 1/2 games, and then you think, “Whoa.”

For all the reasons the Hawks have sagged the year after 60-22 — lousy rebounding, the absence of DeMarre Carroll, the slippage of Jeff Teague — the biggest is that Kyle Korver has become just another guy. In 2014-2015, he averaged 12.1 points and made 49.2 percent of his 3-pointers. He’s averaging 9.4 points and making 38.8 percent of his treys this season. Against the Warriors, he played 30 minutes and scored two points. (Those on a 2-footer off a loose ball.) He tried only two treys. He had one assist and two turnovers.

It wasn’t happenstance that the Hawks’ rally came with Korver on the bench. Neither was it an accident that the Hawks went from three points ahead to four behind in the four minutes and 14 seconds after Korver returned in the fourth quarter. The Hawks were outscored by 16 points with him on the floor this night. (He wasn’t alone in not pulling his weight. Kent Bazemore was minus-20; the All-Star Paul Millsap was minus-26.)

Some of this could have been foreseen. Korver turns 35 next month and is coming off ankle surgery. But his inability to shake free in the playoffs was why the East’s No. 1 seed had so much trouble with Brooklyn and Washington and no chance against Cleveland. (Once Korver was hurt in Game 2 against the Cavaliers, that was that.) For all the lip service paid to the Hawks’ exquisite balance last season, opponents learned that shackling Korver diminished the four others. The pace-and-space stuff didn’t amount to quite as much if he wasn’t raining 3-pointers.

Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes locked up Korver on Monday night, same as Washington’s Bradley Beal and Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert did in the playoffs. At his advanced age, this is probably the final year for Korver as a starter, but where else will the Hawks turn for floor-balancing? Bazemore will be a free agent. Tim Hardaway Jr. seems a career reserve. Forgive me for repeating myself, but this is not a young team.

That’s the truly sobering part about this lesser season: Even if Al Horford sticks around, next year could be no better. Whatever worked last season  — through 82 games, pretty much everything did — has ceased to function. Golden State toyed with the Hawks in pulling ahead by 23 and then, after the home side fashioned a surge built on wounded pride, went on a 16-2 run to re-win the thing. Easy peasey.

Granted, the Warriors are great. But the Hawks aren’t even good anymore. They’re just OK, and over three losses in four days they haven’t even been that. It has been a while since we’ve been able to say, “The Hawks are in real trouble.” But they absolutely are.

Further Hawks reading:

More than a team, the Warriors are a sensation.

Dwight Howard to the Hawks? Wouldn’t be prudent.

8 questions the Hawks must ask themselves.

The Hawks have gone from soaring to slogging.

The Hawks shouldn’t trade Horford — or Teague.

A year later, the Hawks are only pretty good.

Reader Comments 0

40 comments
Ryan Suhm
Ryan Suhm

Andrew Edwards at least we still got the thrashers

GirlieGurley
GirlieGurley

Bradley is upset his Cats aren't very good and that Calipari is primed for a March loss at the hands of a less talented team, which is his history.

Gman84
Gman84

Good thing they got rid of Danny Ferry and his unspeakable thought crimes.

Chamelio Salamander
Chamelio Salamander

Got to get it done though, we cant win with this squad...UPGRADE needed.

Bee Mott
Bee Mott

Someone has to want to give on the trading end for it to happen.

Andrew Edwards
Andrew Edwards

I agree, but it sounds like they tried to make some moves at the deadline. Apparently we tried to trade Teague for Khris Middleton but the Bucks rejected. Unfortunately we're probably looking at a first or second round exit now.

Paul Hoover
Paul Hoover

I don't know. When did Jon Koncak stop playing?

Chamelio Salamander
Chamelio Salamander

Should have made some trades..... They know they cant bet the top teams so you have to make a change...Isn't the goal to win a Championship? Just don't understand the owners of ATL's sports teams.. Guess they are ok with just making a little money not bringing home banners..

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

Handing all the keys to Coach Bud is too much. They should have never gotten rid of Ferry. Carroll was just one player but at times it seemed he was the only effective one especially in the playoffs.Ferry got shown the door, and then Carroll, then Bud turned the 16th overall into a backup shooting guard (I bet it didn't take the Knicks long to say yes to that one) and now we pick up a 35 year old guard.


Hawks in trouble? Yeah, you bet.

tyger
tyger

Easy to pin loss on KKorver...


2pts just doesn't get'er done...

But at $5M per, easy fix...


Bigger issue + worst kept secret...

$20M man Millsap disappeared again...

No aberration either, there's a pattern...

See 2015 playoffs...see game losing shots...


When time to step up, he steps back...

Some need to rethink their coronation...

"Best Hawks player"... I don't see it...


Big salary, empty stats don't equate to "best"...

Game winning plays equates to "best"...


Hawks about to make biggest mistake since Nique...

Big Al Horford is a winner...period end of story...

see 2015 playoffs...see winning time


Big Al makes game winning plays...

He doesn't disappear, he shows up...

That's the franchise...


You don't compound mistakes...

We've seen Hawks w/o Horford...

8th seed, 1st rd. loss, gone fishing...


Expunge underachievers...not overachievers...

Before fanbase starts looking at Budz sideways...


TrueFan1
TrueFan1

TrueFan1 5ptsFeatured
3 hours ago

"One and Done", The Atlanta Hawks postseason war cry for the last 30 years!!!....Time to go make  some Waffles.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Ferry is clearly a lightening rod, I get that.  Was he a great GM, no, his draft picks were average at best.  I felt he offset that however, by getting some steals in free agency, when this team was ran by the worse ownership group in sports history, and very few free agents were dying to play in Atlanta.  Who wants to play for a franchise that has one owner suing the rest. He also got the team out from under Joe Johnson's contract.

If folks will look at it beyond race, and just ask themselves this question; was the franchise better with Ferry making personnel decisions or with Bud making the personnel decisions?.  My personal opinion is, we were better with Ferry.  

As a long suffering Atlanta fan, the number 1 reason why the teams in this city never win championships (except the Braves once), is because we have extremely poor GM's - decision makers in the front office - Frank Wren, Thomas Dimitroff, Don Waddell, Billy Knight, Rich Mckay, to name a few.

At least with Ferry, I thought we finally had a GM who had a clue.

AtlantaSportsVictory
AtlantaSportsVictory

Bradley, you were saying we shouldn't break up the core. Well, this is what you get. 

Falcaints
Falcaints

The Hawks like all Atlanta sports teams are just average.  They have no stars and as a result they are boring and fail to capture the fans.  The Hawks have no stars and apparently can't attract any.  The same can be said of the Falcons and the Braves.  Yawn, Atlanta sports put people to sleep.


CedricM
CedricM

ATL needs to tank it the rest of the way to get in the lottery and score the #1 or 2 pick---clean house, and start over.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@FairValue 

Stupid observation.

Ever taken a look at the Hawks history of draft picks?

Apparently not.

chasealmighty
chasealmighty

Danny Ferry lost his job not just because of his racial comments. I spoke to several people who worked with the Hawks. He rubbed too many people the wrong way. Inside that organizatuon. Besides, If he was so great the Nets would have hired him.

Personally, for as much good he has done he has put them in a bad spot once again.

Losing Carroll was a Ferry CBA mistake

The same mistake will show itself between Horford Bazemore and improving the team this summer.

Not getting a center but let Zaza walk.

Experimental draft picks Jenkins, Payne, Patterson, Scott and BEBE

Destroying Teague's confidence which is not totally on him. the Hawks have dangled him since he has been there.

The year they drafted Jenkins they passed on Draymond like the other 28 teams.

Coach Bud was a good hire as a coach but he has forced the trade of Lou Williams because they couldn't get along.

They need a bench scorer. That trade to the raptors made them give up Bebe who is in their rotation.

The Hawks just haven't valued talent but love potential.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@chasealmighty Disagree. He did rub people the wrong way, but those people were Gearon Jr. and Dominique.  When he told them to go pound sand, they went on their smear campaign on him, which is why Gearon made the comments from the scouting report, public. No other organization sabotages themself like that.  Carroll and Milsap only wanted to sign 2 year deals.  He couldn't control that.  Green was a diamond in the rough.  He wasn't even GS's first pick in that draft.  They got lucky.  Williams was coming off a knee injury and didn't play defense.  Don't forget letting him go, opened up time for Korver and DMC.  In regards to the Nets, they are not that smart, Ferry was the one who suckered them into taking Joe Johnson and his contract.  The Nets are hardly an organization you should be measuring Ferry's hiring against.

tyger
tyger

@chasealmighty Bigger issue is DF alienated the NBA players, 90% African American. Free agents would not sign with ATL and still may not. Which partly explains why Hawks limited to re-signing own players and insignificant trades. 

Big Wally
Big Wally

@tyger @chasealmighty They didn't pursue free agents this past year because they had no cap room due to the acquisition of Splitter. 

GirlieGurley
GirlieGurley

@chasealmighty  Name 3 people of the "several" that you talked to that worked with Hawks. Betcha can't name a single one, ya fool.

FineSwine
FineSwine

They lost me when they got rid of Danny Ferry.  No GM now.  It was fun while it lasted, but, hey, we have to remember, its the Hawks!!

Big Wally
Big Wally

Everyone who wanted Ferry out, well, this is what we get.  You folks with your PC agenda's are a joke.  You only look at his draft picks, not the free agent acquisitions he made, nor the bad deals/contracts he got us out of.   The Hawks are collapsing, but hey we got rid of Ferry, so live with it.

ErvinOliver
ErvinOliver

Mark, it's gotta be said: a big part of why this team is lacking in youth is Danny Ferry's poor usage of draft picks. This team is still comprised primarily of his players.

The farm system is in ruins.

Bud and Wes share responsibility, but Ferry's imprint is all over this roster.

There s a reason the team never saw true success until he was exiled.

33-2 was a fluke. What we're seeing now is exactly what we were throughout Ferry's tenure. A slightly better than average team.

PS Hawks should have traded Teague while the getting was good. His trade value only decreases from here on out.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@ErvinOliver Wrong.  It is Bud's off season's acquisitions that have killed this team.  Splitter, THjr, and now Hinrich.   Ferry's team was the one that won 60 games last year.   

ErvinOliver
ErvinOliver


@Big Wally @ErvinOliver  Wasn't it also ferry's team that won 38 games the year prior? Wasn't it ferry's team that won 44 games the year prior to that? Why would you only tell part of the Danny Ferry as GM story? Ferry wasn't a bad GM, but his strategy was far from flawless...


Big Wally
Big Wally

@ErvinOliver @Big Wally I'll be fair, if you will.  One of the year's you are referring to Horford missed 2/3rds of the season with an injury.  Prior to the injury they were one of the best teams in the East.  The other year he had Larry Drew as a head coach as his 1st year as GM.  The same Larry Drew who Milwaukee chased off after 1 year. when they had one of the worse records in the NBA.

ErvinOliver
ErvinOliver


@Big Wally @ErvinOliver  All true. But even before Horford was injured that 2nd time...that HAWKS team was just a few games above .500. That season fell apart because Ferry hadn't adequately prepared us by acquiring a passable backup Center.  (Pero, Ayon and E Brand were not dependable options.)  Ferry's entire tenure saw a team floating right around the break even mark....except for a single two month stretch after he was gone. 33-2 was an aberration. Everything else over the larger sample size reflects a solid GM who's desperate attempts to garner a top Free Agent flamed out time and time again.


Big Wally
Big Wally

@ErvinOliver @Big Wally My memory may be off, but I thought the last time Horford got hurt which was when they got the 8 seed and nearly beat the Pacers in the 1st round.  Prior to him getting hurt, they had a good record.   True, he was not able to sign big name free agents, but then again, there are a lot of other factors, what big name free agent wanted to play for the Atlanta Spirit Group.  Also what big name Free Agent wants to play in Atlanta, where half of the fans every night are pulling for the other team, and we always rank in the bottom for attendance.

IlliniBrave
IlliniBrave

Gotta wonder what kind of moves Danny Ferry would have made since the playoff collapse of last season. We'll never know, because your politically-correct, hypersensitive ATL Hawks canned the alleged mastermind of the two-year rebuild-and-resurgence. The same supposed racist who had Andrew Young of all people come to his defense. Dumb move, made by dumb management. Now we watch his successors make stupid move after stupid move after stupid move. A #2 pick for Tim Hardaway? Tiago Splitter? Kirk Hinrichs? None of these guys belong on an NBA roster.

ErvinOliver
ErvinOliver

This myth of Danny Ferry has to stop. This is his team. There's a reason this squad never made t sat the first round under his watch...because the teams he built weren't that good.

Fans have let a single two month span completely rewrite the entire mediocre run that came before it under his guidance.

John Jenkins, Adreian Payne, the Bebe trade...all decisions made by Ferry. He deserves some credit.

But he also deserves some blame...