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Bibby Points To End Of Hawks' Misery

He hit the court wearing a silly little headband and some leg-warmer thingies around his calves that made him look like a reject from an '80s workout video, but Atlanta Hawks point guard Mike Bibby was no joke on Monday, as he knocked down five three-pointers and scored 23 points in that 105-96 win against the Washington Wizards.

The real joke is the laughable way the Hawks tried to address their point guard troubles before acquiring Bibby from Sacramento on Feb. 16.


I might not be Chris Paul or Deron Williams or even Speedy Claxton, but I'm kind of a big deal. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

It's well known how they passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams in 2005, but the craziest thing was the next summer, when they decided to sign injury-prone Speedy Claxton - Paul's backup with the Hornets. Claxton has been hurt his entire stint in Atlanta, and his career might be over because of chronic knee problems. The other so-called answers have been Royal Ivey, Tyronn Lue and Anthony Johnson. In a league where a quality point guard is the key to success or failure this season, that wasn't getting it done.

To end the league's longest playoff drought - they haven't been to the postseason since 1999, when Mookie Blaylock ran the show - the Hawks needed a floor general. Not necessarily Bibby, who is more shooter than set up man, but he'll do.

"He's more of a true point guard than I've had since I've been here. And I'm not taking anything away from Lue and Anthony Johnson," Coach Mike Woodson said about two of the four players the Hawks used to pluck Bibby from the Kings, "but Bibby is a different kind of point guard. He's unique in his own way. He can score and make plays for other people."

The Hawks (29-38) got off to a rocky start after making the deal, losing 10 of their first 14 games with Bibby. "In Mike's defense, I didn't want to put any added pressure on him. When you make a trade halfway through, it's a lot of pressure, especially on a point guard where you say, 'Hey, run our basketball team and get them in the playoffs.' " Woodson said. "I don't think it's fair to Mike. It's been not so much a struggle, but our players love playing with him."

It's finally starting to come together, as the Hawks have won three games in a row and sit alone in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference heading into their showdown with the New Jersey Nets. The Hawks have a one-game lead over the Nets.


This is the look, man. You don't know nothing about fashion. At least, I'm matching. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Bibby is averaging 12.5 points and 6.5 assists since joining the Hawks. He's had two of his best performances with the team during the three-game streak - the shot the lights out against Washington and dished out a season-high 14 points against the Los Angeles Clippers. But Bibby said he is still learning to adjust to his new teammates.

"It's still tough, but I mean, I haven't had much time for practice," Bibby said. "I'm still trying to get in the flow of the game. I'm still trying to figure out where my teammates like the ball. They are still trying to figure out where I'm going to pass it to them. There are a couple of passes where guys didn't know I was going to pass it and some other times I don't know where they were going to be. It is tough, but we are going to get through it."

"The guys are listening," he said. "You can have a team of hardheads, but they listen. I'm a pretty smart player and I see a lot of things on the court."

After making the deal to get Bibby, the Hawks became the league's youngest team. Bibby (51 games) and Joe Johnson (15) are the only players on the roster with playoff experience, so Woodson knows that earning the right to get smashed by Boston in the first round.

"I think our chances are good. It's in our hands," Bibby said. "You never really want to leave it up to anybody else to try to get into the playoffs. I've been there before to where I've waited to see how other teams finish to see if you're going to make it not, so I want to impress upon these guys that it's there for us to take and we've got to go do it."

Joe Johnson, a two-time all-star, is relieved that he doesn't have to carry the Hawks alone anymore. Since Johnson came from Phoenix in 2005, the Hawks haven't won more than 30 games in a season. They could top that total before the end of the month. "It's been fun having a guy who's played in big games and is a clutch player. He came in and gave us tremendous help," Johnson said.


How's the view from down there, Derek? (AP Photo)

He and Bibby have both been in the conference finals, but Bibby has more solid playoff reputation. In Game 5 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals against the eventual champion Lakers, Bibby curled around a Chris Webber screen and buried a jumper that gave Sacramento a 3-2 lead in that series - and may have been the last big-time shot for the franchise which has been moving backward since.

"It was time for a fresh start," said Bibby, who spent 6 ½ seasons in Sacramento and three more with Vancouver. "Sometimes a trade will rejuvenate something. I had great times in Sacramento. It was time to move on."

Bibby missed the first 36 games this season after having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Woodson hinted that Bibby has been playing hurt while with the Hawks (which might explain his odd getup on Monday). "That means he's a tough cookie," Woodson said. "I'm happy we got Bibby. I wish we had him a lot sooner."

By Michael Lee  |  March 19, 2008; 12:06 PM ET
 
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Comments

Thanks, Mike. Great post about Bibby and the Hawks. Do you think the Wizards took the Hawks for granted the other night? How else can you explain how flat they came out and what poor defense they played? Do you think the Hawks are simply too fast, athletic and young for the Wizards?

Posted by: Rockville | March 19, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Imagine that. The Hawks were able to draft well and ship those players out for a great vet like Bibby. Pays to draft well and not let your players walk without compensation.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 19, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The Hawks were able to draft well?

How? By NOT DRAFTING Chris Paul AND Deron Williams?

If you are trying to imply that the Hawks drafted good young talent, then traded it for Mike Bibby - I think your point is incorrect.

Most of the players they traded for Bibby were NOT acquired through the Draft.

The Hawks acquired Anthony Johnson from the Dallas Mavericks
They acquired Tyronn Lue in a trade with Houston.
Lorenzen Wright was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers
Of all of the players traded for Mike Bibby, only Shelden Williams was actually drafted by the Hawks.

Posted by: Rook | March 19, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert Arenas is the most dreamiest, awesomest man on the planet.

Posted by: Bullets70s | March 19, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Draft well? Marvin Williams over Chris Paul/Deron Williams isn't drafting well. The Hawks got Bibby because the Kings were dumping salary. If they had drafted well, they wouldn't need to make this deal. If the Hawks make the playoffs, bully for them, but Bibby's contract makes their near-term future not great.

Posted by: George Templeton | March 19, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

An argument can be made that the Hawks have had some terrible drafts...!!

With the exception of 2007, when they drafted Horford (who looks like a pretty good player), most of their picks look terrible.

In 2006 they drafted Shelden Williams 5th in the First round. They could have had Brandon Roy, Randy Foye, or even Charlie Villanova...

In 2005, they drafted Marvin Williams as the second overall pick, and let the Jazz take Deron Williams and the Hornets selected Chris Paul.... even though they needed a point guard!!!

In 2004 they drafted 2004 Josh Cildress with the #6 pick, passing on Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala. They got lucky later in the 1st round and took Josh Smith.

There's a reason the Hawks were consistantly picking in the top 10 of the draft every year....

Posted by: Rook | March 19, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

The Hawks got Bibby because the Kings were dumping salary.
Posted by: George Templeton | March 19, 2008 01:49 PM


Absolutely on target George.

Both Anthony Johnson and Sheldon Williams are in their last contract year and the Kings will be able free up some salary when they renounce their rights.

Posted by: Rook | March 19, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

However you want to put it, it was a great move for the Hawks to move their assets for a solid PG in Bibby, and they didn't let their free agents or draft picks walk without compensation.

It's a combination of management and foresight. It worked out for them, unlike for Les BouleS who drafted Jarvis and Jared, didn't develop them properly, and then let them walk. Or, brought Larry Hughes on, and then let him walk.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 19, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Baltimore: Is Gilbert obsessed with his contract? Thats all he talks about. God, it's like he doesn't even care about basketball anymore, it's max, this max that. Jeez, Antawn barely even talks about his situation....can't he just concentrate on getting better?

Ivan Carter: You do bring up a good point about Jamison and it's one of the reasons why the guy is so interesting. He hasn't missed a game all year, puts up at least 20 and 10 just about every night and never mades noise about the fact the he is going to be a free agent this summer. He has really raised is value and that's something Ernie Grunfeld has to ponder as he decides what to do about Arenas. Antawn will never say because it's not his style but I'd love to know what he really thinks about all of this.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 19, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"However you want to put it, it was a great move for the Hawks to move their assets for a solid PG in Bibby, and they didn't let their free agents or draft picks walk without compensation."

Kind of like what the Wizards did when they traded Stack and Laettner for Jamison and Kwame for Butler?

Posted by: kalorama | March 19, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Or when they traded Laron Profit for the rights to Haywood?

Posted by: kalorrama | March 19, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"Kind of like what the Wizards did when they traded Stack and Laettner for Jamison and Kwame for Butler?

Posted by: kalorama | March 19, 2008 02:40 PM "

Those were great moves, but 2 draft picks left and Larry Hughes left, and Les BouleS have nothing to show for it. You either build with the draft and develop your players, or build through free agency, or both.

Les BouleS haven't done with the former, and this summer, both FA's (Gilby and AJ) could walk without compensation. Not good.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 19, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

There's no chance in hell that Arenas or Jamison signs anywhere else without compensation because no other team has anywhere near the kind of cap space needed to sign them to market value deals. If they do go (and it's possible Arenas might) it'll be a sign and trade, in which case the Wizards will get something back.

Posted by: kalorama | March 19, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Luray, Va.: I'd put your entire next paycheck on Blatche and Stevenson. I notice you said YOUR. Very funny. At least it's not $7,000

Now for my question. What is up with Andre Blatche. He seems to have no energy. He's not playing defense. He's making way too many mistakes (trying to be a guard) - and it looks like Eddie is cutting down on his minutes as a result.

Is there something going on there? Is it that he's hit a wall and is tired?


Ivan Carter: Blatche had a pretty solid game against Milwaukee (15 points and 7 rebounds) and he helped get the win at Toronto (12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks not to mention two clutch free throws down the stretch) but as usual with him, it's a matter of consistency. Consistency of performance, consistency of effort and consistency of attitude. He's a good dude, don't get me wrong, but the coaching staff is still waiting to see whether he'll develop that night in, night out hunger it takes to be a very good player rather than an occassionally good player.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 19, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"

There's no chance in hell that Arenas or Jamison signs anywhere else without compensation because no other team has anywhere near the kind of cap space needed to sign them to market value deals. If they do go (and it's possible Arenas might) it'll be a sign and trade, in which case the Wizards will get something back.

Posted by: kalorama | March 19, 2008 02:54 PM "

Unfortunately, that "something back" probably won't be of equal value and worse case, would just be for cap relief the following year. You might be back to square one.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 19, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Or when they traded Laron Profit for the rights to Haywood?

Posted by: kalorrama | March 19, 2008 02:47 PM
===============
Actually, we traded a future first rounder and Profit for Haywood's rights in '01. Don't know who the 1st rounder turned out to be though...

Saw the $7,000 mentioned by Luray in the chat...

Posted by: CN | March 19, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

If anybody has the Post, you should read the "best wizards input" in the sports section that they have today. Pretty funny.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 19, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I have been dreaming of a blumpkin for a long time now

Posted by: Anonymous | March 19, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Is gilbert playing tonight?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 19, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I am still waiting on someone to update me (or date me if you are hunky enough for that matter), but does anyonr know if Gilbert plans on posing in Playgirl?
I sure hope so.

Posted by: Bullets70s | March 19, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

NO GILBERT AINT POSING FOR PLAYGIRL!!!!! but i am

Posted by: i | March 19, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Hayes and Jeffries were picked 10th and 11th respectively in their draft years (and the Wiz wanted CB who was taken at No. 10 by Miami in 2002!). Both suffered serious knee injuries in either their 1st or 2nd year which hindered their development. Only Hayes was drafted by EG and his career was derailed by missing almost 2 full seasons with knee injuries. Glad to see he's found a niche off the bench for Detroit because he's a good dude.

As for L. Hughes, he was picked up by MJ as a free agent for a very reasonable 3-year, $5M per year contract (one of MJ's few good moves as GM). We should be thanking EG for letting Hughes walk since he was grossly overpaid by Cleveland who unloaded him after 2+ injury-plagued years.

Posted by: wizfan89 | March 19, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert isnt posing for Playgirl? Man thats dissapointing.
I would really love to see him in his birthday suit.

Posted by: Bullets70s | March 19, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

>

What more should the Wizards have done to develop Jarvis Hayes? EJ made him a starter as a rookie, and he got a lot of playing time when he wasn't injured. The problem was that the guy couldn't stay healthy. That's not his fault, but you can't blame that on EJ or EG. When Jarvis came into the league, he was a leaper, a guy who could block shots and get to the rim. After the injuries, he's reduced to being a spot-up shooter from the perimeter. In that capacity, he fits in better as a reserve with the Pistons. By letting him walk, EG cleared cap space to sign DS and AB, both of whom are more valuable to the team at this point. That's how it works out sometimes.


As for Jeffries, except for the rookie year in which he tore his ACL, he got plenty of opportunities as well. It was his own stupid choice to ask EG not to match his offer from the Knicks, so that he could play for Isiah Thomas. Could EG have done a sign-and-trade? Perhaps. But other than David Lee and Jamal Crawford,who they probably wouldn't have given up, who would you have wanted from their roster? Jeffries certainly isn't worth the $60 million (including luxury tax) that the Knicks are paying for him.

Larry Hughes, as I recall, was an unresricted free agent. EG's second offer to him actually was more than what the Cavs offered, but Larry, in his wisdom, turned it down. You can't stop a player from making his own bad career decisions.

Posted by: John Brisker | March 19, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Jeffries was drafted by MJ at No. 11 in the 2002 draft (Wizards wanted Caron who was picked by Miami at No. 10) and Hayes was picked at No. 10 in 2003. Each had a serious knee injury in their first or second year which hindered their development. J. Hayes essentially missed two entire seasons and lost his confidence last year (which he admitted in interviews after signing with Detroit). You can't blame the Wizards coaching staff for their lack of development - injuries played a big part in it.

As for Hughes, he was a free agent signee by MJ (one of his few good personnel moves besides onloading J. Howard's contract). EG should be thanked for letting Hughes leave for the ridiculous contract he was given by Cleveland (who was unloaded on Chicago a couple weeks back).

Posted by: wizfan89 | March 19, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I misspoke when I said that not signing Jarvis cleared cap space. What I meant to say was that after signing DS and AB, it wouldn't have been possible to sign Jarvis and stay under the cap.

Posted by: John Brisker | March 19, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

"What I meant to say was that after signing DS and AB, it wouldn't have been possible to sign Jarvis and stay under the cap."

They didn't stay under the cap by not signing Hayes. They were already well over the cap. Not signing him did keep them under the luxury tax, however.

Posted by: kalorama | March 19, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

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