Ferry discusses Hawks' new pieces, prospects for season
ATLANTA –- With his second training camp as general manager set to begin on Tuesday in Athens, Ga., Hawks general manager Danny Ferry met with the media to discuss the state of his overhauled roster and the style of basketball he expects to play under first-year head coach Mike Budenholzer.
Ferry said he expects his teams to play with grit and competitiveness but also with "pace and space" as Budenholzer, formerly a long-time assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, makes his imprint on the organization, which could have a minimum of two new starters in the opening night lineup.
"Guys that can push tempo and make plays and knock down shots will be important things that I'll have to look for when I'm making decisions about players," Ferry said.
Along with point guard Jeff Teague and Al Horford, who likely will play center, swingman Kyle Korver, who started 60 games last season, new starters likely will include forward Paul Millsap and, possibly, new signing DeMarre Carroll. His contract took a while to complete and so Thursday represented the first chance for Ferry to talk about where the 6-foot-8, 27-year-old fits in. With Korver's defensive deficiencies, the gritty Carroll will be a good counterpart to have in the lineup -– sort of the role that DeShawn Stevenson played last season.
"I think DeMarre certainly will come in and compete for an opportunity to play, whether that's starting or not, I'm not a big advocate of your best five guys starting," Ferry said, "but those ultimately will be the coaching staff's decisions. But DeMarre, size on the wing, I thought he really made a great step as a professional and as an NBA player last year (with Utah).
"We look forward to continue to push him. You don't have to push him hard. He's going to work. He brings size to that wing position, which obviously, is very important in the NBA right now."
Ferry also provided an update on the rehab of veteran guard Lou Williams, who was one of the team's top scorers last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury after playing 39 games. Ferry seemed as if he did not want to get caught in the gray area that the Chicago Bulls did with star guard Derrick Rose and his return from ACL surgery last season during the playoffs. Rose practiced with the team and so media and fans wondered when he would return, which he did not do in the postseason.
"Lou's really had a good last few months of his rehab, which was hard at first but the last few months have been good," Ferry said. "He's worked hard I'm not going to set a timeline for him right now. He's in a mode where he's playing one-on-one and no restrictions in doing so. Again, I'm happy with how he's worked and the approach he's had for this whole thing. Coming back from injuries, it's a working document."
Ferry said that draft picks Lucas Nogueira, a first-rounder from Brazil, and Mike Muscala, a second-rounder from Bucknell, each will play in Spain, a league the GM considers the second best in the world after the NBA. He said they will be important players on their team, which, he believes, will help them to grow. Rookie Denis Schroeder, the team's other first-round pick, who hails from Germany, likely will fill the role as the back-up point guard.
Ferry expects other young Hawks players to continue to develop.
"I think this year rookie Dennis Shroeder, John Jenkins, Mike Scott, possibly being integral parts of our team going forward, are important for us to build depth, not just of our basketball team, but our program," Ferry said, the latter two being the Hawks' first- and second-round picks in 2012, respectively. "We can't just be veterans, sign a bunch of new guys. We're putting ourselves in a situation where I think getting good young players, we have to develop them well and eventually give them an opportunity and we're in that process with those guys."
With a new coach and mostly new coaching staff and so many new players, Ferry was not inclined to offer any predictions as to how the Hawks will finish. He thinks the Eastern Conference is stronger, specifically naming Charlotte, Detroit -- which signed ex-Hawk Josh Smith and former Milwaukee Buck Brandon Jennings -- and the Bucks themselves, with former Atlanta coach Larry Drew and center Zaza Pachulia.
"I expect us to be competitive," he said. "As far as how that relates to wins and losses and so on, I don't know. The East is better…. I think I like where we are right now… We have to focus on trying to get better every day."