FROM THE CHEAP SEATS: I.J. opines on the Hawks’ front office decisions and gives Logan Gray a thumbs up

The Hawks let us all down. Period.
The team that that looked like it could be a serious contender in the NBA’s Eastern Conference down the stretch, seemed to forget everything come playoff time, getting beat by a combined 101 points in the four losses to Orlando and going 4-7 in the postseason.
Even owner Michael Gearon told the AJC, "I thought we kind of looked like a deer in headlights."

What happened? Not real sure. But it is apparent that while this team won 53 games in the regular season, there is a serious leadership problem, whether that is on the bench or on the court. Let it be said that head coach Mike Woodson had done a very good job getting the team to this point, taking them from 13 wins in 2005 to a third-place finish in the conference, three more wins over Boston that, at press time, had No. 1 seed Cleveland down three games to two in their quarterfinals series.
But we all must ask if Woodson has done about as much as he can do here. Eventually, NBA players stop listening to their coach and even the best of the league’s head coaches. Perhaps it’s time to make a chance and bring in a coach with a different style who can take the organization to the next level.
The good news is there is plenty of talent. I can’t see Mike Bibby coming back and, despite his play in the postseason, they will find a way to keep free-agent-to-be Joe Johnson. But young point guard Jeff Teague is going to be a player and Jamal Crawford proved this year he can carry a team offensively.
As far hiring a new coach, this is where I agree with the AJC’s Mark Bradley. Wrote Bradley earlier this week: "Still, The man I’d hire was interviewed for this job when Woodson got it in 2004. (Also interviewed back then: Mike Brown, who now coaches LeBron.) The man I’d hire is Dwane Casey, who’s currently being sought by other teams – he has interviewed with the Hornets – but might have a greater interest in these Hawks.
It just so happens, Casey worked under now Hawks general manager Rick Sund. The two were in Seattle when Casey was an assistant to Sonics head coach Nat McMillan. What Casey, according to Bradley, does best is deal with players and it became obvious in the playoffs that Woodson had trouble on a communications level with his team. There didn’t appear to be any trust between them.
Meanwhile, it is important to remember that despite the debacle against Orlando, this was a good season for the Hawks and one they certainly can build on. They just have to decide who under Sund does that building on the court. For Woodson, if he’s not back he should have no problem getting another job. He has proven he can rebuild teams and there are plenty that need his talents across the league. But the Hawks are past that and we all have to wonder whether Woodson is the one that has led the team to water but now someone else must get them to drink.
Georgia’s football team got a break this week when quarterback Logan Gray decided not to transfer. While Gray will probably always be a backup, his departure would have left the team in a horrible situation considering No. 1 QB Aaron Murray doesn’t have a down of college experience and Lassiter signee Hudson Mason is not ready to play in the SEC, or at least give the Bulldogs a chance to be really competitive. Gray did the right thing, which is nice to see in college sports these days.
Grey said in a written statement: "I have decided to stay at the University of Georgia because I truly do love being a Georgia Bulldog. I want to be a part of this team getting back to the SEC championship game and winning it.”
Gray will get some work at wide receiver but is there as an insurance policy to Murray. It’s easy to pull for a kid that makes that kind of unselfish decision.
Kudos to AJC high school writer Michael Carvell, who currently is previewing 30 high school football teams during spring practice, putting one out every day on It’s amazing how popular the sport has become year-round and Carvell is one of the best at covering high schools. He had an interesting piece this week on the Berry twins at Creekside, soon-to-be sophomores and younger brothers of the Eric Berry, the defensive back who just went No. 5 in the NFL draft to Kansas City. Word is the twins are better players now than when Eric was the same age. That’s scary.

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