Josh Smith Not Fazed By His Critics

Atlanta Hawks fans would probably be more at ease watching Jeff Teague jump off a 20-foot ladder into a shallow pool of water than watching Josh Smith catch a pass anywhere outside of 12 feet from the rim. Considering Smith only knocked down 28-of-109 3-point attempts (25.7 percent) last season, there is a reason to be concerned.

Frequenters of Philips Arena have not forgot either. In the Hawks home opener—a 109-102 loss to the Houston Rockets—Smith was met with a chorus of gasps when he got the ball on the 3-point line with literally no one near him.

Boos followed, as Smith was unable to knock down the wide-open shot.

Still, Smith seems unfazed by the naysayers and focused on making his jump shot better. This year, he will benefit from having a new set of accomplished shooting coaches — his teammates.

Smith has already spent time working with Kyle Korver, the man who holds the record for highest single season 3-point percentage in NBA history. Korver said he thinks, with a little direction and practice, Smith might be able to silence some of his critics.

“I think Josh has the ability to be a great shooter,” Korver said. “I’m just working with him on some small things.”

Korver said he is impressed by how fast Smith is picking his tips up.

“He is a quick learner,” he said. “You don’t ever want to do a total overhaul of a guy’s shot right before the season starts, but I think there are some things that he can focus on that will help out quite a bit.”

Continuing to launch up shots, is definitely not what most would recommend for Smith given his explosiveness and ability to score around the rim, but Korver said staying the course is just one of the ingredients to being a good shooter.

“He has the mentality of ‘I don’t care if I missed the last ten, I’m going to throw up the next one,’” said Korver. “That’s what good shooters have. You can knock that, or you can praise that. The bottom line is, he has the ability to be a very good shooter.”

Although Hawks head coach Larry Drew has criticized Smith’s shot selection in the past, he seems very confident in the abilities of the versatile big man.

“The beauty about Josh is Josh knows every position on the floor,” Drew said in an interview before the season. “I can play him at three and also at times I can move him to some two. We can use him in different ways in what we do.”

It may take a while for Smith to gain the trust of the Atlanta Hawks fans, but with a visibly improved shot stroke and the right mentality, he might be on his way.

Ferry Quick To Leave His Mark On Hawks

Danny Ferry has been in charge of the Atlanta Hawks for less than a month, and already he’s stamped his indelible mark on the team with two huge trades.

It started out like a fairly normal week for the Hawks.  Just a few days after the NBA draft, most fans and analysts were pontificating and arguing about whether or not Atlanta had gotten themselves any help with their draft picks.

Then it started.

A few whispers and rumblings, using words like “discussions” and “ongoing talks” in regards to Joe Johnson being traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Most figured it was just foolish gossip.  There was no way Atlanta was going to be able to convince any team to take on Johnson’s cap space eating contract.

And then in an interesting twist, Joe Johnson signed up for the social media photography service called Instagram, under the name “imstartinova2″.

Maybe the rumors and stories had some merit?

Apparently so, because before Monday was over the Hawks looked like a completely different team.

Ferry did what most said couldn’t be done and traded Joe Johnson to the Nets, and he didn’t end up with pie in the face while doing it.

Atlanta unloaded Johnson and his enormous contract to Brooklyn in exchange for the expiring contracts of Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, and Sean Williams, and get free-agent DeShawn Stevenson via a sign-and-trade. The Hawks will also get a lottery protected first round pick (via Houston).

The deal is set to be finalized on July 11 when the free-agent moratorium ends.

So the Hawks dump nearly $90 million they were going to have to pay Johnson over the next four years, and they get some players to look at, and a pick?

Score: Danny Ferry – 1, Doubters – 0

But the new Hawks GM wasn’t done yet.  No sooner had the Joe Johnson deal been solidified and writers filed their stories, Ferry pulled the trigger on another deal. The Hawks are sending seven-year veteran forward Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for point guard Devin Harris, who is in the final year of his contract.

Williams was the number two overall draft pick in 2005, and has spent his entire NBA career with the Hawks, averaging 11.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists.  He was due to be paid $8.3 million in 2012-13 and $7.5 million in 2013-14.

In return, Atlanta gets a dynamic point guard with starting experience for at least one season, and who will provide a great complimentary teammate for the Hawks’ incumbent point guard Jeff Teague.

Score: Danny Ferry – 2, Doubters – 0

When you take in to account the trades of Johnson and Williams, and add in the fact that Atlanta had nine unrestricted free agents on the team, you could be looking at nearly a completely different roster by the time training camp rolls around.

But the question of what will happen with star forward Josh Smith still remains.  Smith’s future will likely depend on how his meetings with Ferry go, and if he gives a definitive indication on whether he plans to re-sign after this season or go elsewhere.

If Smith tells Ferry that his plan is to leave Atlanta after his contract expires this season, Hawks fans may see yet another big deal go down.

Garnett Helps Celtics Eliminate Hawks

After Game 2 of Boston’s opening round series against Atlanta, Kevin Garnett said the Celtics were “all grit and balls.”

28 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and three steals later, Kevin Garnett carried the Celtics to an 83-80 series clinching victory over the Hawks in Game 6. The Big Ticket’s impact on this series isn’t hard to grasp. Simply put, he was vintage KG. With Garnett on the floor the Celtics were +73. When he was sitting on the pine -42.

One question remains though: With so many game changing injuries having already occurred in the NBA, can a veteran Celtics team stay together for one last title run? The Celtics weaknesses were pretty glaring in this series. They can’t rebound, they lack elite athleticism, they struggle to score for stretches and they’re old.

Despite all of the above, when the Green Team plays at their peak they can be the best team in basketball. After the All Star break the C’s went 26 -12 down the stretch—proving they still had gas in the tank.

In the next round they will play the upstart Philadelphia 76ers and rekindle an old school playoff rivalry. In two different affairs in “The City of Brotherly Love,” the C’s were not feeling any love.

In their first face-off, former No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner had the best game of his young NBA career. Pouring in 26 points and grabbing nine boards. Along with Turner’s effort the Green Team failed to hit the glass and got out rebounded by 19.

In the second game the Celtics started out strong, before a scary injury derailed their momentum. Late in the first half swingman Mickel Pietrus fell awkwardly before being carted off on a stretcher. His injury seemed serious at the time after he was spitting up blood on the court and the Celtics could not rebound from what was a gruesome sight.

However, in their last match-up of the season the Celtics got the 76ers number. With Avery Bradley scoring 18 points and Rondo dishing out 15 assists the Celtics cruised to a double-digit home victory.

The series will not be an easy one for either side. However, if the Celtics can stay healthy, they should win this series in seven.