Tag:Hawks
Posted on: July 4, 2010 1:55 am
Edited on: July 4, 2010 4:11 pm
 

Johnson, Hawks reach six year, $120 million deal

Update: In his blog on Huffington Post, agent Arm Tellem confirms that Joe Johnson has agreed to six-year, $120 million deal to remain with the Atlanta Hawks.

CBSSports.com reported earlier that Johnson and Atlanta were "close" to finalizing their agreement.

The Hawks came right out of the gates at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and lavished Johnson, the cornerstone of their revival, with the maximum offer they could extend him under the current collective bargaining agreement. Johnson, 28, was determined to explore the options free agency afforded him, and met within an hour with Knicks officials in Los Angeles. The meeting was attended by Johnson's L.A.-based agent, Arn Tellem, and another one of his clients, Mike Miller.

One day passed. Then two. Then three. Hawks officials were not so much growing nervous as flummoxed that Johnson was taking so long to say yes to a contract the likes of which no player of his caliber will see again anytime soon in the NBA. The league's salary structure is one year away from changing dramatically -- and in favor of the owners -- in a new collective bargaining agreement.

On Friday, a person with close ties to Johnson told CBSSports.com that the four-time All-Star was "intrigued" by the opportunity to play in New York or Chicago. In both places, he'd have to be intrigued enough to accept about $25 million less than the Hawks were offering. In both places, he'd either be a complementary piece to one of the top-tier free agents or a substitute -- similar to the situation the Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire was in, except the Suns never offered Stoudemire the max for six years.

As of Saturday afternoon, Johnson was still on the fence as the Knicks, in particular, continued to apply pressure in an all-out effort to persuade Johnson to validate their painful, two-year effort to clear enough salary-cap space to attract marquee free agents. But by later in the evening, word came from Johnson's camp that minor contractual details were on the verge of being resolved in order to keep Johnson with the Hawks -- who would've likely waited until after the new CBA was in place to replace him with a comparable talent. Johnson has averaged at least 17 points per game in all five seasons with the Hawks while playing at least 76 games in four of those seasons.

If Johnson's flirtation with the free-agent recruiting process mirrors that of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, his spasm of wanderlust getting trumped by the far more favorable deal his own team could offer him may be a harbinger of decisions to come. Barring sign-and-trades, by which free agents can change teams and still get max money, the Big Three are in the same boat. Being wanted is great, but money ... everybody likes money.

Speaking of which, Johnson will turn 34 entering the sixth year of this contract, when he'll be making approximately $24 million in his 16th NBA season. But the Hawks felt the potential payoff in the first three years of the deal -- and the risk of losing Johnson without being able to find a comparable replacement -- made the commitment worthwhile. Also, the Hawks are banking on the fact that there will always be a high-revenue team willing to take on a big contract, either as the final piece to a championship-ready team or in the form of an expiring asset.

Posted on: July 2, 2010 11:04 pm
 

Johnson "intrigued" by Chicago and New York

Joe Johnson is “intrigued” by the possibility of playing in Chicago or New York, an explanation for why he still hasn’t accepted the Hawks’ max contract offer, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Friday night.

While Johnson, the centerpiece of the Hawks’ revived franchise, continues to lean toward returning to Atlanta, the developing situations with the Bulls and Knicks have his attention, the person familiar with the process said. The Bulls are trying to create a championship duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or one of those players with Chris Bosh. But short of that happening, Chicago would be ready to move forward with Johnson as a second option – or perhaps as part of a tandem with James or Wade.

The Knicks will look to finalize an agreement with Amar’e Stoudemire on a five-year, $100 million contract over the weekend, and Stoudemire spent much of Friday trying to recruit an All-Star to join him. One such All-Star could be Johnson, but he’d have to forfeit more than $25 million in the process because only the Hawks can offer him a sixth year.

The only way around that would be to have Johnson’s agent, Arn Tellem, organize a sign-and-trade by which Johnson could get home-town money and still go to New York or Chicago. A person with knowledge of the situation said no such talks have been broached; Johnson first has to decide whether he wants to return to the Hawks before such negotiations begin.

Hawks executives, who offered Johnson a fully guaranteed deal for six-years and $120 million immediately upon the start of free agency at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, have waited patiently while Johnson enjoys the free-agent recruiting process. But at some point, the team will need an answer so it can pursue a viable replacement, sources said.
Posted on: July 1, 2010 2:06 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 2:22 pm
 

Johnson, Hawks to have second meeting (UPDATE)

Joe Johnson will sit down for a second meeting with Hawks officials in Los Angeles Thursday and expects to make a decision on the team's six-year, $120 million offer "in the near future," his agent, Arn Tellem, told CBSSports.com.

"We met with the Hawks and Knicks [Wednesday] night and have heard a number of other teams with significant interest in Joe," Tellem said in an email. "At this point, Joe has many great options to choose from. We plan to meet with the Hawks again [Thursday] to discuss the details of their offer and we hope to make a decision in the near future."

Miami, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and the Clippers also expressed interest in Johnson. But the fact that he's circling back to the Hawks so early in the process is validation of his desire to stay in Atlanta -- and also his recognition that $120 million is a lot more than the $90 million or so the other teams can offer. That's what the Knicks offered -- a five-year deal at the max, the most that they could -- according to a source familiar with the process.

In fact, one executive within the league said that perhaps the only reason Johnson has waited this long to commit to the Hawks is that he's enjoying the recruiting process that so many of the top free agents have coveted.

"I don't know what else he wants to hear," the executive said. "If that's not enough, then obviously he wants to go somewhere else. Do you want to go New York with $90 million or stay in Atlanta with $120 million and win?"

If and when Johnson commits to the Hawks, he would throw a significant portion of the Knicks' recruiting plan for LeBron James out of whack. New York was hoping, in part, to sell LeBron on pairing up with Johnson because their games and styles would complement each other better than any other two top free agents. But if Johnson doesn't wait for James to hear all the pitches from the six teams currently scheduled to meet with him in Cleveland, it's a sure sign that Johnson wasn't sold on the idea.
Posted on: June 12, 2010 12:37 pm
 

Hawks go for budget hire in Drew


The Hawks' brass had a conference call Thursday afternoon to discuss the three finalists for their vacant head coaching position. By the end of the call, around lunchtime, the consensus was that the team would move forward with an offer to Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey.

What quickly became appparent as various factions of the team's complicated ownership group weighed in, however, was that there was really only one candidate who would fit under the team's $1.5 million annual budget for the job of replacing Mike Woodson. That was Woodson's trusted assistant, Larry Drew.

With Casey and Mark Jackson losing interest as the Hawks' low-ball approach became apparent, the team will move forward with the unproven, in-house candidate and hope that Drew can thrive in much the same way Alvin Gentry emerged as a successful internal option in Phoenix, sources told CBSSports.com Saturday.

So the Hawks' effort to placate free agent Joe Johnson is a known quantity who served under the coach who was fired after Atlanta's uninspiring playoff loss to the Magic. One thing Drew has going for him is that some in the organization believe he can connect with difficult but talented forward Josh Smith. In fact, if Casey had been the choice, it was believed that Drew was amenable to serving on his staff as a way to bridge the gap between administrations and keep Smith engaged.

By going with Drew, the Hawks do something that is increasingly important to low-revenue teams in their financial predicament: Save money. Woodson made a little more than $2 million with incentives last season, and retaining him likely would've cost at least $2.5 million a year on a new contract.

Posted on: June 10, 2010 4:55 pm
 

Hawks closing in on coach; signs point to Casey


BOSTON -- The Hawks are close to making an offer for their head coaching position, with strong indications that Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey will be the choice, sources told CBSSports.com Thursday. But one of the sources cautioned that some members of the organization remain undecided among the candidates Atlanta has interviewed who are still available: Casey, Mark Jackson and assistant coach Larry Drew.

A decision is expected by the end of the weekend, with the Hawks scheduled to host pre-draft workouts on Monday, sources said. One person involved in the process said that all signs pointed to the Hawks moving forward with an offer to Casey as of mid-day Thursday. But later in the day, another person familiar with the situation said there was no final decision.

The team has yet to extend a formal offer, and the negotiation with Casey could take longer than expected given that his agent, Warren LeGarie, is traveling to the West Coast from Europe. The process has been delayed due to Jackson's broadcast schedule during the NBA Finals and the travel schedules of key members of the Hawks' ownership group. The indecision is the latest example of how difficult the decision-making process is for the Hawks, whose diverse ownership group is scattered among Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Boston.

Casey has been the favorite to replace Mike Woodson from the beginning of the Hawks' search, given his working relationship with GM Rick Sund dating to their days together in Seattle, when Casey was associate head coach under Nate McMillan and Sund was the GM. CBSSports.com reported May 20 that it was Casey's job to lose.

Drew, a loyal member of Woodson's staff, has emerged as a strong in-house option in the past two weeks. If the Hawks decide to enter negotiations with Casey, it is believed that Drew would be amenable to staying with the Hawks as Casey's top assistant. His relationship with the existing players, especially headstrong forward Josh Smith, would make him a valuable asset to Casey during the transition period.

In addition to Casey, Jackson and Drew, the Hawks also interviewed Portland assistant Dean Demopoulos and former Mavs coach Avery Johnson, who was named coach of the Nets Thursday.




Posted on: May 27, 2010 9:18 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2010 1:07 pm
 

Thibodeau hires agent; series complicates search

LOS ANGELES – While Tom Thibodeau remains the front-runner for the Hornets’ head coaching position, the extension of the Celtics-Magic series has complicated efforts by both parties to close the deal.

Thibodeau, architect of the Boston defense that ousted LeBron James from the playoffs, is entrenched in a suddenly difficult Eastern Conference finals with Orlando as the Celtics’ 3-0 lead has dwindled to 3-2 heading into Game 6 Friday night in Boston. In preparation for a contract negotiation with New Orleans, Thibodeau hired leading sports representation firm Creative Artists Agency on Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. CAA has an expanding coaching business in addition to its dealings with top free agents James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Celtics’ difficulty in closing out the Magic also has affected the progress of other coaching searches, most notably Atlanta’s. The Hawks, who have twice interviewed Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey, the leading candidate for the job, have been unable to schedule an interview with Mark Jackson due to his broadcasting and travel obligations in the Eastern Conference finals. That interview is expected to take place in the next couple of days, according to a person familiar with that situation.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have officially embarked on their search for a candidate to replace Mike Brown, who was fired after back-to-back 60-win seasons. At or near the top of the list is Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, a person familiar with the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com. But the Cavs have quietly begun conducting background checks on several other candidates and have been privately saying in those conversations that James, a soon-to-be-free agent, will not be making the decision, according to a person familiar with the Cavs’ search. James certainly will have input, but the person said James doesn’t want his fingerprints on the Cavs’ hire – in part because the organization doesn’t yet know if he will be staying or leaving as a free agent.

A person with close ties to James told CBSSports.com that he remains undecided, citing the complicated series of decisions league-wide on coaching hires and the movement of other top free agents. Wade told the Chicago Tribune in a story published Thursday that he plans to sit down with fellow CAA clients James and Bosh to jointly discuss their options.

The Bulls and Nets also are interested in Thibodeau, though in Chicago’s case, his hiring of an agent could complicate matters since the Bulls are one of the only teams in the NBA that do not negotiate with coaching agents. Portland assistant Monty Williams also remains on the radar for the Nets, Hornets and Clippers, who also are interested in Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin. A person familiar with the situation said Williams is believed to be the No. 2 choice in New Orleans if Thibodeau says no. Williams performed extremely well in the interview process and impressed incoming Hornets owner Gary Chouest and team president Hugh Weber.

The Clippers, according to sources, remain hopeful of persuading Larry Brown to leave Charlotte for L.A., but pressure is expected to mount on Brown to tell the Bobcats’ brass definitively if he’s saying or leaving so the team doesn’t get shut out in the search for qualified replacements.
Posted on: May 24, 2010 2:40 am
Edited on: June 5, 2010 2:16 pm
 

Cavs fire Brown; next up, LeBron (UPDATE)

The unraveling of the Cavaliers’ season came to its inevitable conclusion early Monday with a source confirming to CBSSports.com that coach Mike Brown has been fired.

Back-to-back 60-win seasons couldn’t save Brown from the backlash of another premature playoff ouster after the Cavs, with the best record in the league, were eliminated from the playoffs in six games by the Boston Celtics.

By firing Brown, the 2008-09 NBA coach of the year, by Sunday at midnight, the Cavs avoided his $4.5 million salary for next season becoming fully guaranteed. Since he was let go before the deadline, only half of Brown’s salary is guaranteed.

Brown, a strong defensive coach groomed in the successful Spurs organization, will immediately become a candidate for head coaching openings in New Orleans and Atlanta and perhaps elsewhere.

According to a second source familiar with the Cavs' strategy, Brown's ouster was the first -- and most important -- piece of the puzzle that had to be solved before Cleveland could proceed with its plan to persuade LeBron James to return to the Cavs once the free-agent negotiating period begins July 1. Recent reports have indicated that James recused himself from the decision on Brown, but decision makers in the organization were well aware that he was not pleased with the way the team failed to adjust to its opponent's style of play for the second straight postseason. Last season, it was Orlando foiling the Cavs' simplistic defensive rotations. This time, it was Boston shredding the Cavs' defense with Rajon Rondo's dribble penetration and mismatches on the interior, with Kevin Garnett exposing Antawn Jamison for the entire six-game series.

In a telling dose of doom for Brown after the Cavs' ouster in Game 6 of the conference semis, James was noncommittal about Brown and declined to come to his defense publicly when asked. Despite Brown's regular season success, it was only a matter of time before the playoff losses caught up to him. And in Cleveland, where an entire city is bracing for James' anticipated foray into unrestricted free agency, the regular season doesn't matter. Playoffs and championships do.

So with everyone from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to President Obama urging LeBron to weigh his chances of winning a title in another city, the process of sucking up to James begins anew. What coach would persuade him to stay? Or better yet, what coach and supporting cast would persuade him not to leave?

Despite the Cavs' best efforts to placate him with roster additions that have not worked -- Mo Williams, Shaquille O'Neal, Jamison -- there is a growing belief among those familiar with the situation that James is more open than ever to the possibility that he would be able to find a better supporting cast in Chicago. Several factors independent of the Cavs' playoff collapse have enhanced the Bulls' position. The possibility of playing with Derrick Rose, and the fact that the Bulls have left their coaching job vacant -- with James' buddy, John Calipari, lurking in the wings and with Phil Jackson's contractual situation with the Lakers still unresolved -- have conspired to make the Cavs' job of keeping him even harder.

Step one was firing Brown, whether LeBron was directly involved in the decision or not. The next set of dominoes will begin tumbling almost immediately, with Cleveland engaging in a coaching search and LeBron getting some clarity as to what he'd be returning to if he stayed in Cleveland.

Whether Brown deserved to be fired is hardly the issue. Given the expectations, and what was at stake for James' future, it's hard to argue with the decision. Under those circumstances, you can't bring a team with the best record in the league into the playoffs and lose as thoroughly as the Cavs did and expect to keep your job. All we know for sure, though, is that one shoe has dropped. The big ones -- the franchise-shaping ones -- are coming next.




Posted on: May 20, 2010 8:00 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2010 8:49 pm
 

Sources: Casey has inside track for Hawks job

Former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey has the inside track for the Atlanta Hawks' job, three sources familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Thursday.

Casey, an assistant for Rick Carlisle on the Dallas bench who's attracted interest from several teams in the market for a coach, has a strong relationship with Hawks GM Rick Sund from their days in Seattle together. Plus, considering the likelihood that Casey would fit under the Hawks' $2 million annual budget for a head coach, it looks like "his job to lose," one of the sources said. Casey and the Hawks' brass were planning to discuss the opening in Chicago during the pre-draft camp this week.

A second source familiar with the situation, however, noted that Sund is in the process of formulating a list of 4-5 candidates to interview for the position vacated when Mike Woodson's contract was not renewed after an embarrassing second-round sweep at the hands of the Orlando Magic. Mark Jackson, the broadcaster and former player, is one of those expected to be interviewed, the source said. Sund also is interested in speaking with Blazers assistant Dean Demopoulos, among others. Casey, one of the sources said, will have to earn the job.

While the Hawks are expected to target Casey and the Sixers have agreed to terms with Doug Collins, several other teams are in holding patterns in their coaching searches. The Bulls, Clippers and Nets are in no rush to hire a coach, particularly with all that is riding on their pursuit of LeBron James and other free agents when the negotiating period opens July 1. No team in the running for those elite players wants to give up the negotiating power of allowing the player to have input on the coaching hire. The Clippers, sources say, also are holding out hope that Larry Brown could be persuaded to take over a young, talented roster with cap space for a max free agent. And with Phil Jackson's future with the Lakers in limbo, there's a pie-in-the-sky theory that perhaps Jackson could be persuaded to move across the hall at Staples Center and take on a reclamation project -- especially if he can't come to terms with Dr. Jerry Buss on how much of a pay cut he's expected to take.

The other shoe to drop -- and it's a big one-- is Mike Brown in Cleveland. Brown and most of his staff are expected to be fired "sooner than later," according to a person familiar with the Cavs' organizational dynamics. According to that person, letting Brown go will come with a softer-than-expected financial blow because of an unusual circumstance in which Brown's salary for next season is only half guaranteed.

If and when Brown is let go, he immediately would become a candidate for any team with an opening that isn't a realistic destination for James. No team hoping to lure James would hire a coach who was just fired at his behest.

 
 





 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com