It was back in late December when Hawks center Al Horford suffered a torn pectoral muscle, almost certainly ending his season. The team's record then: 16-13.
Most of what has happened since has been predictable. The Hawks pulled together for several weeks in an effort to prevent the bottom from falling out of their schedule. They went 9-8 in the first 17 games without Horford. But now they’re running on fumes. They dropped five straight going into the All-Star break, and have come out of it with consecutive losses to Indiana and Washington.
This is what it looks like when a team is allowed to die on the vine.
The Hawks are 25-28 with a seven-game losing streak and they’ve dropped from third to seventh place overall in the Eastern Conference standings, just 3½ games out of a playoff spot.
Still no help has arrived.
Are you getting the message?
The NBA trade deadline is at 3 p.m. today. If the Hawks do anything -- or certainly anything of significance -- it will be a surprise. They're not in the mode of dealing low-cost assets (or certainly a draft pick) for a players carrying a big contract. These are the soundbites you will hear from general manager Danny Ferry later today. He will say the team’s building strategy isn’t about this season, it’s about the future.
UPDATE: The Hawks made a move -- a strange move, actually -- to acquire 37-year-old forward Antawn Jamison from the Los Angeles Clippers for the rights to Cenk Akyol, a second-round pick in 2005. Whether Jamison will actually play or just be bought out is another matter. Neither party has made that decision, apparently. Here's a MyAJC link to Chris Vivlamore's full account of the deal.
From a business perspective, that's understandable. But how would you feel right now if you’re a player in the locker room. Or a season-ticket holder. Or just someone who was thinking about buying a ticket to a game? Maybe the Hawks should just let everybody in for free for the rest of the season.
The decision to not make a significant move to replace Horford effectively jeopardized the team’s ability to make the playoffs. These are not things ever highlighted in marketing campaigns.
Do you care? I posed the question a month ago: What’s better for the Hawks – to replace Horford or to tank? The response was mixed.
The more the Hawks lose, the higher their draft pick will be. (They have an option to swap first-rounders with Brooklyn, which looked desirable when the Nets were 5-14 but now they’re ahead of the Hawks.)
Do you endorse Ferry’s decision to effectively blow off this season by not making a significant move since Horford’s injury?
You can comment below and vote in the poll.