Rick Sund: A Draft Pick Will Not Crack Our Top 8

A very interesting listen for any Hawks fan with their very opinionated general manager, Rick Sund.  Sund has strong positions on the draft, his free agents, and his current crop of players, especially Al Horford.  Few things that struck me as odd in this interview: First, Sund seems very intent on watching his young players reach their ceiling before making any significant changes.  I understand he doesn’t want to give up on Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, or Al Horford because they may blossom somewhere else, but there has to be decisions made at some point.  Why can’t he surround them with better complimentary players?  And, it comes down to evaluating talent – there just has to come a point when he says, ‘OK, this is what player X will be.’  Enough babbling about this squad by me, Sund does enough of it in this interview.  Sund joined  to discuss that the draft won’t help his team in the near future, how he disagrees with the use of Al Horford, and how he wants to see growth from within the organization.

On the current state of the team:

“I like the direction of the club.  I think every year it’s gotten a little better.  We’ve got a young team.  We had the 2nd youngest team in the playoffs; the youngest team that made the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.  When you put it all together, you don’t dismiss trades, you’re always looking to get better, but you got to be careful as you’ve got these young guys that haven’t reached their potential.  One of the great things with this club is that there’s still growth from within.  We’ll flatten at some point in time and when it does, then you’ve got to start looking.”

On his free agents:

“I’m hopeful.  I think Mike would like to play, I think Flip found a home which is really good. I use the journeyman role as ‘that’s a nice label to have.’  If you can 20 years from now say, ‘I was a journeyman in the NBA, played 10 years and made a lot of money,’ that’s a great thing to do, knowing your role.  He found a fit and this is a team that wants him back and I think he wants to come back and I think Zaza likes it.  The question with Zaza is, he’s playing behind Al, will he be able to go somewhere else where he might get more playing time?  Playing football, if you’re a backup quarterback, if you had the chance to go somewhere that might have more playing time, that may enter into the picture.”

His outlook on the upcoming draft:

“Generally if you’re a playoff caliber club, whoever you get in that draft pick isn’t going to play because it’s tough to beat any of your 8 man rotation… It’s going to be very difficult to say, ‘What are we looking for that we need?’  We really need the growth from within.  Here’s the point – I can build a case and sit here today and say, ‘We should get a center because we don’t know the status of Zaza.’  We can say, ‘Hey, let’s get a forward because we might lose Marvin we can say, ‘What if Flip goes and we need a scorer off the bench and what if Bibby goes?’  You can build a case for any of these, which leads me to think we really should get the best player.”

On Al Horford:

“This is where we disagree – I think he’s a 5.  Al played 67 games last year because of injuries.  If he would have played 70, he would have qualified for playing enough games to be a league leader.  He would have been the 9th best rebounder in the league at the center position.  I watched Orlando in the playoffs and I don’t want Al Horford out there chasing Lewis.  I’d rather have him with his back to the basket playing.  I’d rather have him being able to board, be a physical presence in the middle.  I’ve had several colleagues that said if he hadn’t gotten hurt whenever it was, he probably or possibly would have been voted onto the All Star team as a center.  He’s got a heck of a shot to be one of the top 10 centers in this league.  If he’s out there chasing Nowitzki and Rashard Lewis and Stoudemire and Garnett and all those people, we’re taking away from his strength and I don’t know if he can be an All Star player at the 4 spot.  I do think he can be an All Star center at some point in time.”

On the possibility of Josh Childress returning to Atlanta:

“There is.  I don’t want to say chance.  Possibility?  Yes.  Chance I can’t say, you got to ask him that question… What his agents have told me is that he has an option clause which would allow him to leave if he got an offer in the NBA he wanted to play for.  If we tender him the qualifying offer which we will do, we’re in the same boat that we were a year ago in the sense that we can match any offer, we can negotiate with him.  We have better rules to sign him because he’s with his existing team than someone wanting to go after him.  So that is a possibility.”

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