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Might Hawks Josh Smith cost coach Larry Drew his job?

Apr 9, 2011, 11:22 PM EDT

Larry Drew and Josh Smith

The Atlanta Hawks got their heads handed to them Saturday night by the Washington Wizards. A 32-point beatdown. That would be loss number four in a row. They are stumbling toward the playoffs, and this is not a team anybody has seen flip the switch.

The last two of those losses were without Josh Smith — but he is still the story.

Larry Drew is on the hot seat for the Hawks — this team has taken a step backwards this season — but the bigger problem is that he may have lost the locker room because he could not control Smoove, Sam Amick reports at Sports Illustrated.

And then there is the not-so-obvious sensitive spot: the Josh Smith factor. Drew has been unable to stop the veteran from being a season-long disruption and undermining his position with his other players in the process. Add to that the relative affordability of cutting him loose (he’s owed $1.5 million for next season, lockout notwithstanding), and Drew is looking very vulnerable unless he can lead a deep postseason run.

Where is the veteran leadership on this team? Either Joe Johnson has no faith in Drew either or he didn’t have enough backbone to stand up to Smith and tell him to get in line.

The Hawks defense this season was exactly the same as last season statistically — they gave up 106.7 points per 100 possessions both times.

But Drew came in promising more ball movement in the offense, no more iso-Joe, and the team never seemed to buy into it. That or they were incapable of executing it (meaning they are unwilling or incapable passers). Either way, the offense went from 111.9 points per 100 possessions last season (second best in the league) to 106.5 this season. The results are 44 wins (and they should probably not have that many), which is down from 53 last season.

Drew is and should be in some hot water. Drew and Hawks fans can dream that a healthy Jason Collins can body up Dwight Howard and lead the Hawks to a first-round upset of the Magic. And that winning cures all ills. But that seems about as likely as getting the Golden Ticket to visit the Wonka factory.

If Smoove is a locker room problem, the issues in Atlanta are running deeper than Drew or no Drew and will be much harder to fix than management may realize. Especially in an organization known for over-valuing what they have.

  1. bobulated - Apr 10, 2011 at 2:08 AM

    That’s what happens when you hire a discount coach in today’s NBA. Unfortunately for Hawks fans, the Hawks brain trust (and I use that term loosely) will think the way to solve the problem is by trading Smoove for pennies on the dollar for some expiring contracts and a sack of used practice balls. That way they can afford the horrendous contract for I-don’t-give-bleep Joe.

    • Kevin S. - Apr 10, 2011 at 2:03 PM

      Hey, the Nets will be glad to absorb him with their cap space – Hawks don’t even need to take back expirings!

  2. seanb20124 - Apr 10, 2011 at 6:07 AM

    Drew should just quit like his kia at unc did. Jajajajaj

    • BlackSuperman543259 - Apr 16, 2011 at 3:27 PM

      Maybe Dominique can beat down a few of the players like he did with buddy last moth at Philips arena… too fricken funny….

  3. zackd2 - Apr 10, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Remember when Josh was a “changed player” after only taking 7 3’s last year?
    He now has a career high in 3s taken.

  4. winstonhussein - Apr 10, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    That Johnson contract will be an albatross for years to come. The major fault is on the management for signing the all-star fan hater to such a long, EXPENSIVE deal. We’re going nowhere fast.

  5. corharper - Apr 10, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    “Where is the veteran leadership on this team? Either Joe Johnson has no faith in Drew either or he didn’t have enough backbone to stand up to Smith and tell him to get in line.”

    Joe Johnson’s leadership style suggests the latter.

  6. BlackSuperman543259 - Apr 16, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    The JJ contract was excessive. But what really sticks out in my mind was the wasted draft pick in ’05… Marvin Williams. I say trade JJohnson, Marvin Williams, and maybe Jarron/Jason Collins (whichever one ATL has), cash and a 1st round pick ’12/13 to Denver… for JR Smith, Nene and The Birdman… The lineup ATL has, along with its incessantly ridiculous management are really making a mockery of what could ahve been a solid franchise for years to come… They never should have fired Woody… they should have traded those 3 players (MWilliams is a BUST.. ADMIT IT ATL) after the BOS series in ’08… If nothing else, let’s hope the NBA wises up, strips ATL of that franchise and sends it to Seattle or something… we all know ATL doesn’t give a damn about anything other than the Braves anyways (and yes I am from GA, an hour SW of ATL)… All the wasted draft picks, like letting CP3 get away (he wanted to come to ATL), all the small lineups, all the inferior talent, blown management decisions… this franchis e is headed back for mediocrity real fast- and the media LOVES it… I hope ATL beats ORL… esp Horford caving Dwight Howard’s freaking skull in. All in all, from top to bottom, ATL needs a clean sweep… of management, players… the whole nines… even go back to those ‘PacMan’ jerseys in the ’80s when they were consistently good, and had a great bench… not this paper-thin, no defense playing, SGs playing PF nonsense like we have had the past 4 years.

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