There are a number of big-picture questions about the Hawks moving forward, whether related to the direction they’re going or the vision and competency of the front office. But in the short-term, the biggest uncertainties are:
• 1) Did they make the right decision to sign Dwight Howard?.
• 2) Did they make the right decision to commit to Dennis Schroder over Jeff Teague?
The Howard question is the higher-profile of the two subjects because for most of his career he was a superstar until an on-court and off-court slide over the past five seasons. Schroder is a different issue entirely, but in the long-term he may have a greater determination in how the Hawks do this season and beyond for the simple reason he’s the starting point guard.
The Hawks certainly are committing to him. Schroder announced on Twitter Wednesday that he signed a four-year contract extension with the Hawks. The deal is worth $70 million ($62 million guaranteed), beginning in 2017-18.
In the NBA world, which is different from the real world, $17.5 million a year for a good starting point guard is not outrageous. If you factor in that he will earn only $2.7 million this season, his five-year annual average actually comes down to $14.54 million. But will Schroder prove to be worth that?
The Hawks had to decide between Teague and Schroder after last season. It figured they would choose the younger player with the perceived higher upside. So Teague went to Indiana in a three-way trade that brought Utah’s first-round pick (Taurean Prince) to Atlanta.
Schroder is a fun player to watch. He also can be aggravating to watch. In some ways, he reminds me of Josh Smith. If you picked out the five best and five worst plays of any game in a season, there was a good chance Smith was involved in majority of the 10.
Nobody questions Schroder’s talent, speed, enthusiasm, fire or passion. When a game is on the line, he certainly won’t be shy about taking the shot or having the ball in his hand. His emotions (good and bad) were on display in the playoff series against Boston last season.
But he also can be stubborn and immature. The uncertainty is whether he can be a leader, on and off the court. And can he make players around him better?
We’re about the find out. If Schroder evolves into the player the Hawks believe he can be, they’ll be fine. If not, the team will be on the hook for a lot of money for a player who should be coming off the bench.
COMING THURSDAY: Part 1 of a fantastic two-part interview with Hawks co-owner Jesse Itzler on the “We Never Played The Game Podcast.” Part I will be posted Thursday morning and Part II on Monday, both accompanied by blogs. Subscribe for free and listen to all podcasts on iTunes or on the WSB Radio show page.
Some recent ramblings
- Florida has defined Georgia’s failures. Can Kirby Smart change that?
- No suspension for players? Welcome to new world at Georgia
- Quinn’s decision might’ve been right but everything else was wrong
- Throwback performance: Falcons blow 27-10 lead and lose
- If Howard can help Hawks, he’ll change how his story is written
- Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets hibernate; Falcons, Bama roll
- Paul Johnson on critics, future; will Jackets finish better than Dogs?
- Georgia’s makeover looks more like a decline
- Georgia playing to level of opponents — and against Vandy, that’s bad
- Weekend Predictions: Votes for Dogs and Jackets, but Falcons’ run ends in Seattle
- Podcast blog: Braves should have done a little more for Snitker
- Brian Snitker, a 40-year temp, finally gets his shot
- Braves’ Snitker an unusual choice but not necessarily wrong choice
- Podcast blog: Arthur Blank (Part II): On future, Vick and his plans to fire Petrino anyway
- After past two weeks, any win looks good to Georgia
- Jacob Eason struggles in win but it’s a little early to jump ship
- Braves wrong to blame McDowell for struggling prospects
- Weekend Predictions: Georgia wins over remains of Spurrier’s mess
- NEW: Podcast blog: ‘We Never Played The Game’ podcast (Arthur Blank, Part I)
- Positive vibes about rebuild aside, Braves still need starting pitching
- Snitker was good but Bud Black may be Braves’ choice for manager
- View in NFC South isn’t what most expected: Falcons on top
- It’s early but Falcons are looking legit
- Will optics of Mark Richt (4-0) vs. Kirby Smart (3-2) get better for Georgia?
- Mark Richt makes his return and looks right at home again at Georgia Tech
- Best Braves memory at Turner Field: 2010 and Bobby Cox’s final season
- Weekend Predictions: And now for something completely different — Dogs win
- Falcons’ Deion Jones runs for glory, not survival, in return home
- Falcons create a new memory for themselves in New Orleans
- Falcons can’t create more happy memories for Saints
- LSU just fired Les Miles — this is what lunacy looks like