by Lang Whitaker

I spent all day Monday and Tuesday in Vegas on a secret mission. Once I receive clearance to talk about it, I will. In the meantime, stuff’s backing up here, so I wanted to try and get to a lot of stuff today…

• First, reader mail, like back in the day. Reader Jake F. writes…

Lang, long time Slam reader and Hawks fan from Chattanooga here. I’m hoping to get some kind of response from you to Sekou’s reporting on the Childress situation. I consider you two to be the most knowledgeable about anything Hawks related (and we fans owe you because seemingly no one else has uttered the word Hawks in the last four years absent a punchline). HOWEVA, there seems to be a difference of opinion on the reason Josh left and its effect, symbolic and real, on the team.

We both know Sekou can be prone to an occasional overreaction, but he calls this a TKO for the franchise and blames management for not locking Chillz up last year. You take a less cynical stance noting he wasn’t even among the top hundred scorers in the league and isn’t irreplaceable. Your point that a sixth man who can’t create his own shot and isn’t a proven outside shooter is not worth 10 mil a year is well taken. And given the anomalous nature of this situation, can we blame Spirit? Sund? Woodson?

I guess what I’m saying is in my head I agree with you that this is a unique situation in which the Hawks couldn’t win. But Sekou speaks for my heart. We have our best showing in 9 years and in the offseason one of our top players spurns us for Greece? At the very least its another black eye. At worst, it reveals the depths at which the franchise remains.

So how do I reconcile my head vs. heart here? (Hint: Any good news on the Smoove front would help). And I’m right that the Hawks aren’t a playoff team with Law/Pachulia as the 6th/7th men, right? Wade, Beasley, and Marion could beat the Hawks with me at point and you at center. Indy looks improved. Ah, whatever.

Thanks as always for the Hawks coverage. Keep hope alive.

First, thanks for the letter, Jake. I won’t speak for Sekou, but he can leave a comment below if he can stop drinking his cafe con leches long enough.

After thinking about it for the night, I still don’t think this is a disaster for the Hawks. New Hawks GM Rick Sund did a phone press conference late yesterday, and the first question was from an AJC columnist, and he asked Sund, rather incredulously, “How could you let this happen?”

The thing is, I don’t really understand what else Sund could have done. The Hawks had a chance to lock up Childress to a multi-year deal one year ago, and the GM at the time (Billy Knight) chose not to do that. So by the time this offseason rolled around, Childress had done his job and had a good season and raised his value (or at least his perceived relative value).

Then, when free agency began this summer, Sund reportedly made an offer that was, at least by NBA standards, a competitive offer, and he (allegedly) told Josh’s team of representatives that if they could find him a better deal, the Hawks would match it. Josh found a much better deal, but it was in Greece, where not only does the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement not apply, but even our currency doesn’t hold as much weight. Maybe the deal Josh found is competitive by Euroleague standards or Greek League standards, but by NBA standards, where the deal would have real world applications for the Hawks, it was way too pricey for the Hawks to match. And I get that. It sucks for the Hawks, but it is what it is.

Many years ago, when the Hawks were an up-and-coming team in the ’80s, they had a young reserve center (Jon Koncak!) who was a restricted free agent. Detroit signed him to what was then a wildly inflated offer sheet, and the Hawks matched it, scared to let one of their young reserves leave. And it ended up partially handcuffing the Hawks for the next six years.

I love Josh as a person and a player, but even I don’t think the Hawks could afford or should have to pay him what he could get in Greece. I would’ve let him go, too. I’ve gotten emails from people and seen message board comments about how the Hawks don’t care about their fans. Well, I’d argue that if they’d paid Josh $10 million a year, that would mean they don’t care about their fans. (Although I also realize that things like nuanced thinking aren’t really common occurances on mesage boards.)

And no, we didn’t get anything in return for him, but what could the Hawks do? No other NBA team was offering JC $10 mil a year, so there weren’t sign-and-trade options out there. Besides, the NBA is the only League bound by the CBA, so there was no real way the Hawks could demand anything in return for him.

Would Josh have taken less money to stay a Hawk? Maybe, but that process would’ve had to begin years ago. And to me, that’s not Rick Sund’s fault.

• SLAM columnist Dave Zirin is suing the government! For real. And only Dave could reference Ice-T in a column about COINTELPRO.

• We were talking yesterday about this John Edwards stuff and how nobody seems to be paying attention to the story.

Well, I think this one is a way better story to pay attention to. I knew it all along!

This one has a great headline. It would be awesome if it was Mr. Ping Ping.

• And finally, I was looking at videos of brawls last night while putting together a list for SI.com today, and I came across the following video of a basketball brawl in a Big Ten game (Minnesota vs. Ohio State) in 1972. Even though this went down well before I was born, I can’t believe I’d never heard or read about it at all. The knee-to-the-groin move is incredible…