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Jeff Schultz columns

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Keys to success for Hawks, Falcons, Braves? Glad you asked
For Dwight Howard’s signing to be a success with the Hawks, the former All-Star center needs to have a greater offensive impact than he had when he played for Houston. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

4:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 5, 2016

If somebody had assured you at the outset of NBA free agency that the Hawks’ consensus title odds for next season would soon be the same as Oklahoma City’s, it would’ve caused excitement in a city known more for shoes being thrown at television sets during local pro sports events.But ...
Budenholzer’s makeover of Hawks comes with major risk
The Hawks have re-signed Atlanta native Dwight Howard, left, who played the past three seasons in Houston, but has had a checkered career, and lost Al Horford to Boston as a free agent. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

8:24 p.m. Saturday, July 2, 2016

A great coach is important. A great builder is more important. An average coach can win a championship with a great roster, one constructed by a general manager with an eye for talent, a sense for chemistry and a vision for where the league is headed. A great coach can ...
Losing Horford would mean Hawks’ return to irrelevance
Al Horford is being pursued by several teams in free agency and the Hawks would take a big step back if they don’t re-sign him. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Updated: 5:16 p.m. Thursday, June 30, 2016

When people fret over how expensive an athlete’s contract might be, they tend to look at all of the bad stuff. So in the interest of minimizing Al Horford’s value to the Hawks, let’s consider his perceived weaknesses. He’s seldom the first option on offense. He’s often not even the ...
Hawks can’t continue to have top free agents ignore them
High profile free agents like Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant have generally ignored the Hawks’ overtures in the past. Can the team change that? (Nate Billings/The Oklahoman)

Updated: 6:16 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It’s that time of year again when NBA free agency begins and everybody in Atlanta wonders: Why is everybody ignoring us?Because for as much progress as the franchise has made on the court over the last three years, the Hawks’ haven’t been destination central for high-profile free agents. If NBA ...
Film doesn’t lie, but Matt Ryan learning from mistakes
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spends hours watching game film in the quarterback room at the Falcons’ training facility in Flowery Branch. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

12:00 a.m. Saturday, June 11, 2016

The lights are off, the door is cracked open and inside a small meeting room at the Falcons’ practice facility, Matt Ryan is sitting in a chair, holding a remote, his eyes shifting from the two computer monitors in front of him to a large screen on the far wall. ...
Roddy White says he’ll only play for contender, or will retire
Roddy White, 34, amassed 808 catches, 10,863 yards and 63 touchdowns over 11 seasons with the Falcons. 

11:22 a.m. Thursday, June 9, 2016

For the first time since stepping off the UAB campus 12 years ago, Roddy White finds himself without a team, a paycheck and the certainty of a career. But he’s at peace with that. He has made and banked millions, he has five beautiful children, he’s building his dream home ...
Braves’ ‘good players’ have made a bad team worse
Freddie Freeman is hitting only .242, including .122 with runners in scoring position, and leads the contingent of underperforming Braves’ players. ( Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

11:18 a.m. Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Braves continued their trip in San Diego on Tuesday, having lost five consecutive, seven of nine and 11 of 15. Coincidentally, the “Look! They’re better under Brian Snitker!” contingent has gone mute.It’s the pieces, not the direction from the dugout. But while makeover artists John Coppolella and John Hart ...
Muhammad Ali wasn’t ‘The Greatest’ just for what he did in boxing

10:51 a.m. Saturday, June 4, 2016

It was 1996, and Evander Holyfield wasn’t happy. His hometown was about to host the world’s biggest sports event, and Atlanta’s most famous sports resident and former Olympian had hoped he would be the one asked to light the cauldron in the Olympic stadium, signaling the start of the Centennial ...
Next step for colleges: Ban coaches who enable criminal behavior
Former Baylor coach Art Briles lost his job in the wake of sexual-assault and domestic-violence cases involving his football players, but there are no rules that would prevent him from getting a job elsewhere. (AP photo)

12:00 a.m. Saturday, June 4, 2016

While the college football world obsesses over trivial matters such as satellite camps and Jim Harbaugh vs. The Universe mindless spitball wars, something far significant was addressed and quickly dismissed at the SEC’s spring meetings this past week.Culpability.The topic was Baylor — specifically the fallout of sexual-assault and domestic-violence cases ...
Did Braves make Blair’s growing pains worse?
Braves rookie starting pitcher Aaron Blair is pulled by interim manager Brian Snitker after giving up a third straight two-run homer to San Francisco in Thursday’s 6-0 loss at Turner Field. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

4:53 p.m. Thursday, June 2, 2016

It wouldn’t be fair to lay this at the feet of Aaron Blair because this often is what happens with young pitchers. They can make a mistake in the minors and still draw a pop-up. They make a mistake in the majors and the ball screams off the bat and ...
Mallex Smith: Watchable player in Braves’ unwatchable season
Rookie Mallex Smith, who has been playing left field, has the speed and raw talent to possibly be an everyday player for the Braves. (AP photo)

8:08 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Braves didn’t play another game Tuesday night so much as they again attempted to answer the question, “OK, who’s a keeper?” Because when a team is 20 games below .500 before the calendar flips to June, the safest thing a player can do is keep his head down, play ...
Will Atlanta’s role in championships be limited to spectators?
This was image of a finished Mercedes Benz Stadium and symbols for the college football championship, Super Bowl and Final Four was sent out by the Twitter account belonging to Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed.

12:00 a.m. Saturday, May 28, 2016

We live in Atlanta, which is about to become to big-game nirvana.In a span of four years and three months, beginning New Year’s Eve, Atlanta will host (chronologically): a national college football semifinal, the college football championship game, a Super Bowl, another college football semifinal and a Final Four.We live ...
Is WNBA’s expectation for success just a dream?
Atlanta Dream’s Elizabeth Williams attempts a shot during last week’s home opener against Chicago at Phillips Arena. The Dream drew just over 6,000 fans for the game. (Branden Camp / Special to the AJC)

Updated: 7:26 p.m. Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lisa Borders is mic’d up and working the room, selling women’s basketball like someone pitching timeshares. She’s talking about new uniforms, a new ball, a new playoff format, a new TV deal, at which point I flashed back to my marketing and advertising class in college.Professor: “Does anybody know the ...
Braves likely won’t look far for next hiring
Braves interim manager Brian Snitker, right, talks with bench coach Terry Pendleton in the dugout before a recent game. Both are candidates to become the team’s manager next season, along with Eddie Perez. (AP photo)

8:19 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Braves have a history of not looking great distances for their next manager. The words “national search” must not appear in their executive handbook. In 1988, then-general manager Bobby Cox fired Chuck Tanner and promoted Russ Nixon from the minors. A little more than two years later, he fired ...
Braves’ front office situation seems unsettling
Then Braves president and current vice chairman John Schuerholz, left, and president of baseball operations John Hart, right, introduced John Coppolella as the team’s new general manager last October. Coppolella was the Braves’ assistant GM for three years. (Hyosyb Shin / hshin@ajc.com)

2:54 p.m. Thursday, May 19, 2016

Regardless of what side you fall on in the “Should Fredi Gonzalez have been fired” debate, most will agree on this: It’s rarely one person’s fault or one person’s success story. It’s organizational.Ownership has to be committed (and Liberty Media hasn’t been). All front office members need to be on ...
Gonzalez fired because Braves needed someone to blame

3:07 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, 2016

If you choose to make the argument that Fredi Gonzalez wasn’t fired for this season but rather September collapses of years past, we can have that debate.If you choose to make the argument that Fredi Gonzalez isn’t the right manager to nurture young players as the Braves attempt to build ...
Do Braves, Falcons or Hawks inspire any confidence?
Has the Braves’ front office of general manager John Coppolella (center), president John Schuerholz (left) and president of baseball operations John Hart given fans a reason to feel confident about future — moreso than Falcons’ or Hawks’ future? (Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com)

12:00 a.m. Saturday, May 14, 2016

Atlanta’s three pro sports teams have a winning problem. (I know. And the sky is blue.) The Braves are setting franchise standards for futility. The Falcons have missed the playoffs three consecutive years. The Hawks’ limitations are best illustrated by losing 11 consecutive games to the Cleveland Cavaliers, including two ...
Gonzalez assaults towel rack (but otherwise handling adversity)
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez runs his team through batting practice before a game against the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday night at Turner Field. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

8:06 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The morning after another loss and taking out his aggressions on an office towel rack — even several swings of a fungo bat couldn’t knock it off the wall, a fitting parallel to the Braves’ slugging percentage — Fredi Gonzalez climbed aboard his Harley and went for a ride.Gonzalez rode ...
Hawks need major change, lack a go-to star
Cleveland’s LeBron James and J.R.Smith signal jump ball after James tied up the Hawks’ Dennis Schroder in the final seconds of Sunday’s 100-99 Hawks’ loss at Philips Arena. The Hawks were swept 4-0 in the second-round playoff series. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

8:19 p.m. Sunday, May 8, 2016

It would not have made a difference in how deep into the playoffs the Hawks made it this season. No brilliant scripted play or defensive coverage or any player short of a LeBron James clone was going to make them better than the Cleveland Cavaliers in this second round. But ...
When Hawks’ season wraps up, Budenholzer may need help
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer has a number of key roster decisions to make this offseason as the team’s de facto architect, including what to do with impending free-agent center Al Horford (left). (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

3:25 p.m. Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Hawks went into their second-round series against Cleveland understanding, even if not publicly admitting, that they were overmatched in almost every area except one: defense. And today, that one thing they believed they could cling to looks like the after-shot when your dad accidentally backed over your Big Wheel.“You’re ...
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