In a season rocked by injuries, Paul Millsap has become the latest Atlanta Hawks player to go down. Out due to a bruised kneecap, Millsap missed Saturday’s game and will miss the next two games as well.
This is terrible for the team not only because they’re losing an All-Star but perhaps even more so due to the lack of depth in the frontcourt. Along with Millsap being out, Gustavo Ayon has been sidelined with a shoulder injury and Pero Antic has been out with a shoulder injury to go along with Al Horford, who is out for the season.
This has left the Hawks with Elton Brand being their lone center and over the past four games he’s averaging nearly 34 minutes per game–he even played 43(!) on Saturday. While it’s great for the team that he’s still able to be out on the court for so long it’s only going to be a matter of time before he’s injured as well. At 34 years old with a history of injuries of his own, Brand is playing one of the punishing positions on the court against the biggest and strongest the NBA has to offer.
While you can’t blame the management for the injuries to the players, one could question as to why they aren’t doing much to lessen the burden. They recently signed Dexter Pittman to a 10-day contract and have inquired about 2013 second round pick Mike Muscala but these won’t really address the issues down low. For a team with enough cap space and maybe using a Disabled Player Exception for Horford, the Hawks could have at least made a run at acquiring Glen Davis for the rest of the season. Others have argued that maybe they should look into acquiring fan-favorite Ivan Johnson or tried to pick up Jason Collins.
As it stands, it seems clear that General Manager Danny Ferry is content to leave this team out to dry. Obviously the Hawks couldn’t going to make any moves that would make the team into contenders—the season was pretty much done with Horford out—and just by putting five competent players on the court the Hawks are already better than half of the East. It makes sense that Hawks would stay pat but instead of bunkering down and hibernating until next year it feels more like management has just abandoned all hope and the team. Getting stuck in no-man’s land is no fun, especially with the upcoming draft. However, with Horford returning next year things will get better. In the meanwhile, instead of leaving what’s left of a beat up squad to fend for themselves it might be good for management to find some quality support. If not helpful it would at least be considerate.