Danny Ferry has a tough job ahead of him as the Atlanta Hawks general manager. Sure, he has been hired to get this team to somewhere it has never been before -- past the second round of the NBA playoffs.
But he also has to do something that he might not even realize yet. Ferry has to make the Hawks fan base care again. He has to give fans hope that this team can get over the proverbial hump it has been stuck on for decades.
Count me as excited to see if he can do it. Ferry replaced Rick Sund, who did little to excite me in the four years he ran the show. And that was part of the problem with Sund; we never actually knew if he was running the show, or if he was just a puppet for ownership.
For instance, did Sund make the decision to replace Mike Woodson with Larry Drew two years ago, or was it ownership? Why would anyone fire a head coach who had won 53 games in the regular season and replace him with a similar personality? Wouldnt you have wanted a brand new voice, a different approach?
Instead, Sund, or someone, kept the status quo and simply promoted Drew, who was viewed as the cheap option compared to bringing in someone to do what Woodson could not do.
Was it Sunds call to give Joe Johnson that outlandish contract two years ago, or was it ownership? There is no way anyone can justify Johnson earning that much money. But the Hawks were afraid that not signing Johnson would be a sign they were not investing in the team. Smart fans knew better. They knew it was an act of desperation that would handcuff the franchise for the life of the contract.
Give Sund credit for building a strong bench last season, but keeping the core of Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford together for another season was a mistake. Sure, Horford got hurt, and it impacted the Hawks. But theyve proven that this core was not going to compete with the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
Now its Ferrys job to decide whats next. He has no ties to the Hawks, so this is a job for him. He played for and was in the front office for two teams -- Cleveland and San Antonio. This will be a new voice that can come in and truly evaluate what needs to happen for the Hawks to be better.
And it will be his call. Ownership has given him the power and autonomy to make the decisions that Sund might not have been able to make. So the buck will stop with Ferry. If ownership gets out of the way, Ferry might be able to make this work.
Ferry admitted Monday he asked a lot of questions when the owners tried to hire him, and he came away convinced they would get out of the way and let him make the calls.
There was certainly a sense of passion, certainly a sense of investment, with both heart and money going forward, from (team owner) Bruce Levenson that made me feel comfortable and willing to get up here, pick up my family and move to Atlanta, Ferry said.
Ferry wont wait long for his first big decision. The NBA draft is Thursday night, and there are already rumors the Hawks are seeing what they might get in return for Smith. This is the player the Hawks should build around, but if Smith is determined to move on, Ferry will have no choice but to trade him.
And this week will be the time to do just that. Analysts say this years draft might be the strongest and deepest in a decade. So if Smith has to go, taking advantage of the strong draft would be the right move.
It wont take us long to know if Ferry is really running things. Lets just hope when he does, someone in the Hawks front office will finally make the right decisions.
Listen to The Bill Shanks Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. E-mail Bill at email@example.com.