New Hawks GM Danny Ferry met with the media Tuesday afternoon to discuss where the team stands currently and give an idea of the direction the team is going in. Ferry opened by giving his initial impressions of what he has seen so far of this roster. He was excited with the activity that has gone on the past two months, noting that the gym has been full and active throughout August and September as the guys have been getting together in order to build chemistry with each other. He also praised the early work and preparations of head coach Larry Drew and the coaching staff.
“Working with Larry continues to be a positive,” said Ferry. “Our gym is functioning really well right now, and from a coaching standpoint, the level of preparation that they are putting in to get ready for training camp has been really impressive.”
He also went on to talk about the strengths of this year’s squad from what he has seen early on in pick-up games, as well as, how the team can improve in years to come.
“From a team standpoint, our depth is going to be good, we have some speed and we’re going to be able to shoot the basketball,” revealed Ferry. “I do expect us to be very competitive this year. There are several roadmaps we can take with three ways to get players: strong drafts, free agency and trades. I think in all of those areas we are in a good position moving forward.”
Ferry stated that he was happy with the way the team is building a system of play and an identity early on but would not elaborate much on what that system would be, only noting that they would be playing at a higher tempo, playing more aggressively and pushing the ball more.
Discussion turned, as it often does with the Hawks, to the polarizing figure of the team, Josh Smith. Ferry, since Day 1, has been an ardent Smith supporter and continued to heap praise on the star forward.
“I like that he’s a game-changer defensively and offensively he is a capable scorer and good passer,” gushed Ferry. “I really like his passing ability. He can get rebounds and push the ball down the floor which puts a lot of pressure on the opponents.”
The language Ferry used when talking about Smith sounded like he wanted Smith to remain a Hawk past this year when his contract is up. He said they wanted to help Smith’s career reach the next level. A deal will not come until the end of the year when, as reported by the AJC, Atlanta could offer Smith five years rather than just a three-year extension.
The optimism around the team is very high, and it all starts from the top. Ferry understands reality but also has high hopes for this team. He thinks that, if healthy, the team can compete in the Eastern Conference, but he would not put any specific number or goal out there.
“The goal is to improve from now until the end of the year,” stated Ferry. “Improve in training camp, get better month-to-month and by the end of the year be a better team. If we do that and stay healthy I think we can compete in the East.”
The Hawks traded away their superstar in Joe Johnson, but Ferry did not seem too worried about the absence of Johnson on or off the court. The additions of shooters like John Jenkins, Devin Harris and Lou Williams all should help to fill the offensive hole left behind by Johnson, and in the locker room, Ferry expects the new additions of Williams and Kyle Korver to be more vocal leaders than the Hawks have had in the past. He expects the interior stars, Smith and Al Horford, to step up into more active roles in the offense and stated that the leader of this team is the team as a while.
There is a confidence that Ferry exudes when he talks about the Hawks’ future. It is a comforting feeling that has been missing from the Hawks organization. The stability and direction that Ferry brings to the Hawks has been lacking over the past decade in Atlanta, and that should excite Hawks fans. Ferry talked about how his kids will spend their childhood here and grow up in Atlanta.
Ferry has big plans for the future, and if anyone can make it happen here in Atlanta, it’s him.
“My focus in coming here, to win an NBA Championship,” said Ferry. “Collectively, we have good things in front of us all.”
Ferry was close to bringing a title to Cleveland. With the way he has already opened up cap space in Atlanta, he may get the job done here.