The Hawks hit the reset button, but is Ressler up to the task?

“Don’t look at me. I just coach here.” (AP Photo/John Amis)

As Hawks owner, the best thing Tony Ressler had going for him was that he wasn’t the Atlanta Spirit. Twenty-two months on, he’s still not that. (For example, he’s not suing himself.) But nothing he has done has instilled great faith among a forever-dubious electorate, and this latest act makes him look capricious at best and silly at worst.

Not two weeks after expressing full confidence in his front office, Ressler is redoing that front office. If he knew such a thing might happen, why speak to the AJC at all? If he didn’t know such a thing might need to happen, what had he been watching? And even if we ascribe credit to Ressler for finally Seeing The Light, doesn’t the maladroit nature of this makeover make us wonder if he’s capable of building a better mousetrap?

If you’re keeping score, the Hawks are in the market for a new president of basketball operations, Mike Budenholzer having been reduced to being just a coach, and a new general manager, Wes Wilcox having shunted aside to do a job yet to be specified. These things needed to happen, yes. But we ask: Will the new president and new GM be the same person? Will the new person(s) mesh with Budenholzer, who has grown accustomed to getting his way?

Bigger question: Will the new person(s) be able to undo the knots this front office of two years’ standing has tied? Dwight Howard, who apparently nobody else in the NBA wants, is under contract for two more years at $47.3 million. Paul Millsap is 32 and will surely want a five-year deal at max money to stay. Tim Hardaway Jr. can leave as a restricted free agent. There’s 60 percent of the starting five.

The Hawks once had a clear idea of what they wanted to be – a good-shooting, good-passing team that played fast and spaced the court. So how did Dwight Howard, the non-passing lane-clogger who can’t make a jump shot, wind up here? How did a team with four All-Stars only two seasons ago go from having one of the NBA’s sleekest offenses to ranking fourth-from-worst in offensive efficiency? How incongruous will it be to commit to a rebuild around youth if your highest-salaried players are Howard, who’s 31, and – assuming he stays – Millsap?

The Hawks didn’t win 60 games two seasons ago by accident. That team was an example of careful planning and clever cultivation. They didn’t fall from 60 wins to 43 by happenstance, either. They got old and expensive, which you could see coming, but mostly they lost sight of what made them good. This is the tangle the new administration will be handed: How do you rise from being a shade above mediocre if you don’t have one of the NBA’s 10 best players, and how would you persuade one of those 10 players to come here if he’s going to have to play with Dwight Howard?

Let’s be clear: If the right person(s) is/are hired, the Hawks will get better. Danny Ferry made a difference, did he not? But the two years post-Ferry – with Budenholzer as basketball czar and Wilcox as GM – served to undo much of that work. It will take time to turn this battleship. And Howard is 31. And Millsap is 32.

And the owner is no longer a blank slate. On the contrary, Ressler is the guy who insisted the composition of his front office was just dandy — right up until the moment he decided it wasn’t.

Further reading: Ressler’s worst move as Hawks owner was his first.

Reader Comments 0

21 comments
Let them LEARN!
Let them LEARN!

It is well documented that Gearon family was the problem -- and therefore we had to sacrifice Ferry.  New ownership group still has Gearon, I say we trade Gearon for Ferry.  Will Ressler show who is boss?  Put the band back together and let's make some music!

atlanta spirit
atlanta spirit

You can strive for greatness or strive for P.C.  The Hawks chose P.C. 

BeckyD.Ollie
BeckyD.Ollie



my Aunty Taylor just got yellow Mitsubishi Eclipse by working part time from the internet... see more...♪♪♪♥♪♪♪ _a_ ♪♪♪♥♪♪♪.♪♪♪♥♪♪♪ ..²²²²www.smart-job5.com²²²²ᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵ

Calel
Calel

This team started its downward spiral when they caved in to political correctness and let Ferry go. That's all.

lowlow
lowlow

Go with Howard and play him.  Sign Milsap.  And dump the spread attack.  Pick and roll.  Bazemore was the bad signing.  Prince Hardaway and the boys above along with a talented Schroeder could do some good things in the right offense. 

RogerBurke
RogerBurke

they have been going backwards  , sometimes you half to get the right personaltys togather to form a team and atlantas not


Gman84
Gman84

The Hawks organization are champions of life. After all, Isn't it better for a sports franchise to be PC than good?

lexnfx
lexnfx

My question exactly!!!  How did the Hawks go from being a well oiled group to this make shift group of "what you may call it".  Paul Millsap is a true stud.  A really good ballplayer that (had) really good players surrounding him.  Yes I know that money and age are factors in sports but why after such success you don't add that one or two piece that you need to get over the hump?  The only franchise in the NBA that shoots off their nose to spite their face... and for the life of me who  decision was it to bring in the Trash???  Dwaste Howard is straight GARBAGE


Daring Goldman
Daring Goldman

Where is the great Danny Ferry general managing these days?! So stuck on one sad clown who stuck his own foot deep down his throat. Ferry has too much European in him to ever again be a GM in the NBA! Silence!

IlliniBrave
IlliniBrave

@Daring Goldman What a moron. Evidently you are one of those who cared more about making some kind of political statement, even though very very little harm was done, than in having a well-managed team. When the great civil rights leader Andrew Young, along with many other champions of black Americans, says Danny Ferry did not deserve to be fired, you have to wonder WTH happened. I think the BLM movement scared the living s*** out of the white boys in Hawks ownership

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

It is really simple. They fired Ferry who created a 60 win team and then put the entire organization on the back of Bud who is , while a good coach, had no experience at GM and hasn't even been a head coach that long.


What the hell do you expect????????????????

FineSwine
FineSwine

Well said, Mark.  When you are not willing to put 2 of your Top 3 highest paid players on the court during crunch time, you have a completely dysfunctional team.  Will take awhile to shed the Howard and Bazemore debacles...

slydawg
slydawg

Let's resurrect George Wallace

DawgNole
DawgNole

@slydawg

In terms of winning championships, he'd be at least as successful as anyone who preceded him in ATL.

AMFILMSHD
AMFILMSHD

re-hire Ferry, and really clear the air on what really happened.  i do not believe the bs that came out.  he got railroaded.

Bug
Bug

It means nothing. I waited 40 years to actually see a winner as headman. Ferry was the best thing this franchise has ever had. Believe me most of you guy's will never live to see a Hawks championship, I know I will not. It is the same old, same old just new owners.

WWP2158
WWP2158

Danny Ferry, where are you ? We need you back. We made a mistake and are now laying out the red carpet for your return.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

I used to be a die-hard Hawks fan, then they sold the team and moved them to Atlanta, breaking my heart. Decades later after moving to Atlanta it was a real chuckle to see what a joke the franchise had become. Then their owners screwed me over again, selling the Thrashers out of town. Now, it's easier and far more satisfying to root against them than for them.

I will say the Ferry-Bud team was a compelling team to watch and follow. But not unlike the Braves, too many oversized egos in the front office have done them in.

midtown-Mark
midtown-Mark

Discarding Danny Ferry out was flat out stupid.  He made a mistake, but that mistake should not have mandated the Hawks commit operational suicide.  And make no mistake about it, that's exactly what the Hawks did by discarding Ferry.  That foolish move will  have negative ramifications for the Hawks for the next decade.  Is it possible that Ferry can be brought back, or has that ship sailed long ago?

DawgNole
DawgNole

"The Hawks hit the reset button . . . ."

__________________

And how many times is that now--over the past 49 seasons?!