FOX Sports South: The Hawks knew that the situation with Josh Smith, who will become a free agent this summer, was going to come to a head at some point. How do you think they’ve dealt the trade rumors?
I think they’ve dealt with it as well as you possibly can.
They made their presentation to Smith before the season started. One thing we did not hear about on a week-to-week basis was what they were going to do with him. It wasn’t until about a week ago that all this came to fruition and that’s only because the trade deadline is Feb. 21st.
This could have hung over them all year long and been a total distraction. I applaud both Josh Smith’s people and general manager Danny Ferry for keeping this basically under wraps and out of the headlines, newspapers and talk shows on a daily basis until about a week ago. FSS: How have the players dealt with not knowing what’s going to happen to one of their best players?
It’s been my experience, regardless of the sport, that all athletes realize first and foremost that they are playing a professional sport and there isn’t one athlete out there that will hold it against another athlete if he does what is best for him and his family.
They all realize that they are playing for a paycheck and you have to do what you have to do. If that means Josh leaves or if the team has to trade him, they understand the business aspect of the team.
As disappointing as it is, sometimes with friendships or with team chemistry, they all understand at the end of the day it’s the individual player’s decision — for the most part — or the team’s.
So nobody ever holds it against another player in that aspect. That’s just been the experience I’ve had, whether it was early days covering football or my days covering the Braves and Hawks.
FSS: Entering the All-Star break, can you take stock of where things are with this team?
Going into the season, I thought this team was a sixth or seventh seed. Right now with 29 wins … if you’d told me at the beginning of October that they would be where they are, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.
That being said, I think they should have 32 wins instead of 29. I think they let a couple get away from them. I’ll take 29 wins, especially with the injuries they went through and losing Lou Williams the way they did. Without question, if I were a Hawks fan I’d be terribly excited heading into the second half of the season.
FSS: When you look at the point guard situation, you mentioned Lou Williams’ injury, do you think they have the amount of depth there to carry them into the playoffs?
I do, but it all depends on injury.
They lost Devin Harris for so long and if he goes down again, they’re going to be in a lot of trouble. Now with both him and Jeff Teague there, they’re fine. They’re going to have to make a decision on Jannero Pargo and they haven’t made it yet.
I think they’re better off with three, but I think they can get by with two as long as Harris is healthy, but you never know. Teague or Harris could get hurt and if that happens, they’re desperately going to need to do something. FSS: The Hawks get a few days before they have to face the Heat on Feb. 20 at home. How key is this game as far as building momentum?
I spoke with the Stinger, Mike Glenn, about this in the postgame show after the win Wednesday night against the Magic. He said it’s just a great boost to go into the break with a two-game winning streak.
But I just think you can’t carry momentum — I don’t care how talented you are — over a six-day layoff like that.
You’re going to lose a little bit of rhythm. I don’t care how good you are, how bad you are, how well you’re playing, how much you’re struggling. Six days in a row off changes everything, but that’s just my opinion.
FSS: Is this a must-win game for the Hawks with the defending champions in town, a team they’re looking up at in the Southeast Division?
I don’t think it’s a must-win situation. It may build their confidence to get the W, but I don’t think it’s anything where they’re going to look back a month from now and go “Oh, we should have beaten the Heat that day.”
I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal because once you get into the playoffs, it’s all going to be determined by how you play in that first round and how you match up with them over the series.
I don’t think one game, in middle-to-late February, is going to be that big of a deal.