The Atlanta Hawks’ front-office apparently wasn’t too disappointed with the New York Knicks overtaking them Wednesday night for the final Playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. According to GM Danny Ferry, Atlanta is
failing at tanking not interested in sneaking into the postseason, despite the team having somehow hung on — Hawks players have missed 172 games due to injuries this season. Per USA Today:
The Atlanta Hawks were 16-13 and one of three teams with a winning record in the Eastern Conference when center Al Horford tore his right pectoral muscle, ending his season.
The Hawks were 25-21 on Feb. 1, but season-season-ending injuries to guard John Jenkins and big man Gustavo Ayon in February sapped Atlanta’s depth. Pero Antic missed the entire month an injured right ankle. All-Star forward Paul Millsap, one of the NBA’s best free agent additions, missed the last week of February and first week of March with a bruised right knee. The Hawks have been devoid of big men.
Atlanta was 2-10 in February, and March hasn’t been any kinder. Sharpshooter Kyle Korver has missed six games, and the Hawks lost all six.
“The injuries that compounded after Al the past two months certainly can’t be ignored when you look at the whole of the season,” Hawks general manager Danny Ferry said. “We don’t want to use them as excuses. It’s been a reality, and I like that our group has continued to compete. It’s part of the reason I like the substance of our group. It will allow us to be competitive going forward.”
“Throughout the year, I felt we’ve been on a good path,” Ferry said. “When healthy, we’ve been a very good team. I like the way we play. It’s system-based. I like our players. There’s some substance to them. With the way we’re set-up from a salary cap standpoint and a roster standpoint that good things can continue to unfold.
“We’re not focused on trying to be the eighth seed in the playoffs because that’s not our goal. We’re trying to build something that’s good, sustainable and the components are in place for us to do so.”
The Hawks, who will have salary cap space to spend in the next two offseasons, are in a strange place when it comes to the playoffs and the draft.
If they make the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, they get either the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat in the first round and the 15th pick in the draft. If they miss out, the Hawks probably will land the 10th or 11th pick, with about a 4% chance a top three pick and about a 2% chance of falling to 13th.