Can Josh Smith and Mike Woodson continue co-existing with Atlanta Hawks?
NBA news mixed with analysis …
Their News: “Hawks coach Mike Woodson and Josh Smith finally had their training camp dust-up Tuesday, ringing in yet another year together. Woodson called his team together in a practice-ending huddle and began his speech by telling his team that they needed to take their game to another level with the regular season approaching. He mentioned Smith by name, which prompted the fifth-year forward to react by saying he was willing to "take all the blame." After a brief exchange the huddle broke and Smith headed for the locker room steaming at being called out and shattered his mouthpiece case against a wall. Woodson, smiling the entire time, warned his assistants and other players that Smith would be fine and that they shouldn’t worry. " (Atlanta Journal Constitution, found on CNNSI Fan Nation)
Our Quick Analysis: Smith or Woodson? One should go. The forward and sideline boss have never clicked; when not feuding publicly, they’re engaged in a cold war with tensions ready to spill at any moment.
Who leaves The ATL?
Smith’s talent and new contract should give some security. His skills are impressive. The former dunk champ can score, rebound, block shots, and excite an apathetic Hawk crowd. Impressive is still replaceable, though. Up-and-comer Al Horford could easily take over from Smith as the premier forward.
And Atlanta didn’t rush to re-sign the high-flyer in the off-season. Negotiations were tense and difficult. A deal was only reached when the club had to match Memphis’ below market offer of 58 million dollars.
Coach Woodson recently inked a two-year extension, which should also afford him some staying power. This was a reward for surviving former GM Billy Knight, qualifying for the playoffs, and then pushing the eventual world champion Celtics to seven games in the first round.
Woodson, however, isn’t totally safe. A two-year contract isn’t a blank check. Even thrifty Atlanta would eat some money and pink slip him before his deal expires.
Another option exists. One suited for the dysfunctional Hawks. They continue doing nothing and keep the status quo. The southern franchise is still the NBA’s Siberia; the only outpost a star and coach could clash publicly and then co-exist for years.
Atlanta had some minor success last season. Their fate and the Smith-Woodson dynamic are worth watching in 2008-09.