Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) is covered by New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (11) during the second half Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Photo: John Bazemore/AP
Photo: John Bazemore/AP

Try to contain your excitement if Hawks return to training facility 

Even as someone so impatient with the pace of sports’ awakening, when I heard the Hawks were considering opening their practice facility this week for individual player workouts I strangely found myself wondering:

Why bother?

Unless they’re getting together for a surprise Vince Carter retirement party – and it will be a sad affair at that since no more than four players are allowed in the building at the same time, and the head coach can’t participate – then, what’s the point?

Monday marks two months since the Hawks last played – a March 11 overtime loss to New York; Trae Young scoring 42, 27 of those in the fourth quarter. They fell to 20-47 for the season. Is there really anything left to be said about their 2019-20 campaign other than a few half-hearted farewells? 

There are dozens of signs and stirrings that the sports public can look to for encouragement that there will be meaningful games to watch again sometime soon. There’s Korean baseball. The ongoing American Cornhole League. And well behind even that is the sight of a few Hawks, maybe better off in the comfort and confines of their homes, coming in to work out solo. One man dribbling in a big gym is such a lonely sound.

We’ll be looking here at the very definition of futility: prepping for a regular season that likely won’t be restarted and knowing that no kind of reconfigured playoff could ever stoop so low in the standings as to include them. Elsewhere, other NBA cities may take players hoisting shots as symbolic of the prospect, however iffy, of more (postseason) basketball this season. But not here, not now.  

Coming in for a little workout, getting reacquainted with some team structure might be good for a young Hawk’s head. Breaking from the confines of home could be a much-needed diversion, especially now that paychecks are shrinking. The NBA reportedly will withhold 25% of Friday’s check against the possibility of lost regular-season games. Better to kick a door at the team facility, where an athletic trainer is available.

Otherwise, if you’re a Hawk, there seems little substantive to be gained by popping in and scrimmaging yourself.  

In the standings, frozen for two months now, the Hawks are 11 back of Orlando for eighth with 15 to play. Can we all agree that if the NBA defaults directly to the postseason, the locals will not have been robbed of a playoff push? Any claim to the contrary is officially a whine, and violators will be shunned.

With a remaining schedule that included 10 of 15 games against opponents with losing records, the best the Hawks could hope for was to complicate their chances for a good landing spot in the NBA draft lottery. Better to just shelter in place right here with the fourth-worst record.

Of the games that may go un-played, the most lamentable was a home date against New Orleans and a chance to see Zion Williamson in the flesh. A lot of flesh. Otherwise, the Hawks have been able to complete nearly 82 percent of their schedule, leaving very little left to the imagination. We get the idea: Young is highly flammable; John Collins needs to be extended; Cam Reddish just might change our opinion of him; the team is not where it needs to be competitively.  

Their season would have ended April 15 with a home game against Cleveland, which may have had draft implications. Scarcely enough reason to go through all the gymnastics of a restart required in the coronavirus times.

Face it fellows, your 2019-20 season is pretty well set in stone. You just may have to live with that .299 winning percentage, second worst in Atlanta-era Hawks annals to the 13-69 team of 2004-05, because, well, you earned it.

This is a season many of us already put to bed early without its supper. We have moved on to concerns about other, more promising, seasons starting, not how the Hawks’ may properly end.

So, c’mon on in, guys, if you’re of a mind, and get in some early work for 2021.

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About the Author

Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.
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