Everyone is shifting toward the fire Westphal, and I am aditidly one of them, but it's hard to take a honest look at the struggles of this team without placing a lot of blame on the one who assembled the players, Geoff Petrie.
He has a gotten a huge pass it seems to me over the downward decent of this franchise, very few seem to place blame on him when a coach doesn't work and just as commonly a trade is heavily one sided against us. Now true the Malloofs play a part in both the hiring of coaches and probably telling Petrie to shed salary. Just the same Petrie should be held accountable for some of the bad decisions that are made.
One thing I will give him is that he does make solid draft choices. I will never questions his ability in that area only having the occasional whiff (Quincy Douby) among a long line of success. But his ability to sign free agents along with his recent trend of bad trades are what worry me most.
So lets look at his offseason signings the last few years :
2005 : Signed Shariff Adul-Rahim to a contract. Worth noting that the Nets recinded their offer after getting results on his knee. The very knee that forced him into retirement and made him one of the highest paid assistants in the league as he coached his player contract off before becoming an assitant general manger this year. Not a good signing in terms of production on the court.
2006 : NA
2007 : Beno Udrich was an awesome signing having a great year. He was signed to a fairly substantial contract only to have a terrible year. He turned it around again and had a nice year last year under Westphal. I'm uncertain how to judge him this season as he seems to be one of our most reliable scorers and one of our worst defenders. Like many free agent signings, Beno was signed for way more than what he was actually worth, but it could have been worse I guess. An 'Okay' signing in my book.
2010 : Antione Wright and Pooh Jeter. Again no major free agent signings. Wright was a complete failure and Jeter looks like he may end up being something. Kind of reminds me of the way I felt about Price when he played here before moving on to Utah.
Here's of the two major problem area, trades. This gets ugly!
2004 : Christie for Mobley : I could see what Petrie was thinking at the time, but you trade the best defender on the team for another shooter. It did not work out well.
Webber for Williamson, Thomas, and Skinner. This was a terrible trade. It was said at the time it was for slarly cap relief but we carried Thomas (who did not pay) for a LONG time. Philly was done with Webber's contract long before we were done paying on the contracts we got back. Webber was the star of the city and we got not even a marginal starter back. Williamson ended up being the best piece and he was a decent 8th or 9th man off the bench for a season or two. Webber did not fare well in Philly, but Philly won this trade definately.
2005 : Bobby Jackson traded for Bonzi Wells. Hindsight is always 20/20 but Bobby Jackson was slowing down and coming off of an injury plagued season. Bonzi was a questionable character but had some talent. I think this trade marked the begining of fans really tuning off the team. Bonzi played a year here and had a lot of people wanting him back after their brief playoff run.
05-06 : Peja for Artest : This trade was a toss up for me. Peja was not going to carry the load for our team and we needed a change. Ron got us in the playoffs the first year and with Bonzi and Martin coming into his own we had a fun 1st round loss to the Spurs. In hindsight maybe we would have been better off blowing the thing up that year, but I can't fault Petrie for trying to salvage the season. They were at least trying to make a trade to win at this time.
07-08 : Bibby for 2nd round pick and four crappy players none who stuck with the team past that season. Bibby still starts at point for a playoff bound decent Hawks team, so at least Bibby won here. This was one of the salary cap moves that plagues all of our trades to this date. So the team succeeded in cutting salary but we gave away a decent player for nothing and thus got worse for to this date no forseeable gain (because we didn't use the money that was freed to this date). For a starting point guard with playoff success you would think we could get a 1st round pick somewhere right? Terrible trade.
08-09 : Ron Artest for Donte' Green and Omri Caspi (it was a draft pick that became him) : I'm undecided on this trade. Donte' and Casspi could go either way but at least we got value for this trade instead of crap and a 2nd round pick.
09 : Brad Miller and John Salmons to Chicago for junk (ultimately Nocioni). A huge salary dump where we attached a decent wing in Salmons to rid ourselves of Miller's contract and be stuck with Nocioni's contract until another crappy trade made later. It did ultimately clear cap space, but for what? Miller and Salmons contract ended last season and we still had to deal Nociani's contract away. So in the end what did it achieve other than saying to the fan base, we don't want to spend money on players? We got nothing back of value to this team (other than a higher draft pick I guess because this trade made us even worse).
Martin for Landry : Here's where we really start getting spanked on these trades. Landry is undersized PF (sounds like Thomas part 2) that was a decent 6th man in Houston. We trade one of the most efficient scorers and outside shooting threats on our team (and I do recognize the injury history) for a bench guy and nothing more. Shocking that Martin is a starting SG and one of the leagues leading scorers and Landry is a bench player, undersized PF that can't rebound. Hmmm, shocking. This was a terrible trade. Again we shed some long term money that has not been spent but in return weaken the talent base of an already young team. Terrible trade.
2010 : Hawes and Nocioni for Dalembert : And again we trade a young guy that played well the second half of last season so we can get rid of salary for a guy eceryone from Philly couldn't wait to get rid of. Now we have an expiring contract sitting on our bench while Hawes improves each month over in Philly. We were already one of the lowest payroll teams in the league by this point, so why go further? The Maloofs have already said they will not spend money until the new CBA, because they are hoping they strangle players salaries because ultimately they don't/can't spend the money.
So overall we spent the last 6 years making moves that decreased our talent level so the owners could save money, and now we are the worst team in the league and everyone scratches their heads as to why the arena is not full. Sure it's the economy but it's also we've witnessed what this team has been about and it hasn't been about putting a winning team on the floor, at least if you look at the trades.
Even if you have to salary dump, Petrie could have squeezed something more out of those trades the last few years. And the last few trades are just embarressing. Petrie got schooled in the Martin and Hawes trades for sure.
But lastly Petire is also in charge of hiring coaches and without going over each one, he has not been good at getting a decent coach. I know he is working on a budget but the recent history is terrible. Petrie's only success came with Adleman, and Petrie's success stopped when Adleman left. Petrie's luck with ducking the blame will run out soon. My suggestion is Woodson for longterm. I think he's a guy that will get it done and his track record with the Hawks shows as much. Plus he has a connection with this team and area. It's a simple and easy fit. Pay the money and get it done.
If Petrie doesn't get it done this upcoming off-season it's time to pull the plug on him too. Although he brought Sacramento it's only taste at success earlier this decade he has also played a big part in it's horrible downfall. I like some of the pieces we have in place in Tyreke and DMC. But we need to find some leadership to get it all in place. Letting the players continue on and develop bad habits is not a way to run a team, especially if it's to save a few bucks. You have the lowest payroll in the NBA, firing the lowest paid coach should not kill your bank account.
Fix this starting now Petrie before it's too late!