By Jerel Marshall
After their underwhelming exit from the playoffs, the Hawks have been one of the lowest regarded 50 plus win teams in the league. With a new coach, an increasingly inpatient sixth-man of the year recipient and a very minimally upgraded roster, the Hawks still have some questions to answer.
What’s up with Jamal?
Jamal Crawford’s expiring contract was the elephant in the room during Monday’s media day. Although Crawford refused to talk about the “extension or trade me” rumors, he did open up about wanting to stay in Atlanta.
“What do I want?” Crawford said. “I want to be here.”
Crawford went on about how much he loves Atlanta. The frustration was written all over his face as he talked about his current predicament.
“It’s a weird situation,” Crawford said. “I would love to work something out and be here long term. Last year I would have thought this was home and I’m part of the team’s future but if it doesn’t work out that way, I guess we will just have to cross that bridge when we get there.”
The guard said he thinks the expiring CBA has something to do with his current situation.
“A lot of it has to do with [the CBA],” Crawford said. “I have played in a contract year before but with the CBA there is no telling what can happen.”
Joe Johnson Has Lots Of Confidence In His Team
Joe Johnson seems to have plenty of confidence in his team despite learning a new system and making very few roster upgrades.
Joe Johnson echoed the sentiments that have been floating around about head coach Larry Drew.
“He is well respected,” Johnson said. “He is not going to take anything off of anybody.”
When asked to describe the new offensive system the Hawks will be running Johnson said there will be a lot more pick and rolls and down screens. He thinks this will open up space for shooters.
The past couple of years Johnson had a lot of opportunities to isolate and try to break defenses down on his own. This year it seems the Hawks will be running a much more disciplined offense.
It would make sense if Johnson needed time to learn how fit into the new schemes but he said this is not the case. When asked if he would have problems adjusting to the new offense Johnson said: “Not at all. I have been playing this game since I was six years old. At the end of the day, its basketball.”
Johnson didn’t seem blown away by the super team assembled in Miami. When asked about the Heat Johnson responded: “I don’t know. I haven’t seen them play yet.”
Johnson said he thinks the Hawks are still one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
“We aren’t going take a step back,” he said. “We are just as good as any other team in the East.”
Can Jeff Teague Takeover?
Teague, who could potentially have a breakout year, said he had a very active off-season.
“I’ve been in the gym,” Teague said. “Trying to get everything right. I’m trying to get better every day.”
The question on everyone’s mind is will the sophomore get the starting point guard job. His close relationship with Drew might play a factor.
“Last year I worked with Coach Drew a lot,” Teague said. “With him being the head coach now, it’s a little different. I don’t know his style on the court too much.”
Teague said he plans on being a lot more aggressive this year. He has been working on his shot and has built up his confidence.
What will Jordan Crawford bring?
Jordan Crawford could possibly make some contributions in his rookie season. The young guard said he has some assets that he brings to the table.
“I’m aggressive, I can score and get steals,” Jordan Crawford said. “I’m just going to get out there and try to play to the best of my abilities.”
Jordan Crawford said he has a bit of the preseason jitters.
“I’m very nervous,” he said. “It’s my first season and I’m just looking forward to seeing what the NBA is about.”
Jordan Crawford said he has spent a lot of time in the gym trying to get ready for the step up in competition he is about to face.
“I have worked on my defense the most,” he said. “The talent at this level is crazy. It takes a lot more energy to check your man.”