Speed Read: Dwyane Wade Pecks at Your Entrails

The Atlanta Hawks’ animal mascot (as opposed to its mall & car dealership mascot) couldn’t get settled for Wednesday night’s Game 2 against the Miami Heat. Before each home game, Spirit the Hawk usually swoops across the arena and land with its handler.

Instead, the (Del?) Harris hawk became confused last night and wandered Philips Arena, landing in the stands, above center court, and on a stanchion.

Spirit the Hawk of the Atlanta Hawks

For reasons unclear, they started the game while Spirit stayed loose. However, the game came to a screeching halt a few minutes in when Spirit landed on the backboard camera and Josh Smith excused himself due to winged predators in the field of play. Eventually, Spirit returned to his handler and play continued.

The rest of the Hawks followed suit in avoiding airborne objects for the remainder of the game, allowing Dwyane Wade to divebomb them with 33 points (including six three-pointers) in a 108-93 win to pull even with the Hawks at a game apiece in the seven-game series.

After the game, Hawks management offered Spirit the scorekeeper job; at least he knows where to look for the ball.

In other NBA games last night, Philadelphia lost to Orlando 96-87, New Orleans lost to Denver 108-93, and the Detroit Pistons lost their ability to care.

A flyby of the NBA may be all that underclassmen college basketball players will get next season when they wish to dip their toe in the NBA Draft. The NCAA has taken steps to limit the time non-seniors can even bat an eyelash in the NBA’s direction by declaring for the draft to the length of an eye blink.

A pensive Stephen Curry

Instead of getting approximately six weeks to consult with NBA teams, speak to trusted advisors, and draw out the decision into key segments of the news cycle, players would get around a week’s time, usually during finals. The NCAA wants to protect their franchisees by encouraging the players to stick around longer to increase their marketing value.

Therefore, no one should show surprise when a young man chooses to skip the NCAA for Europe as Brandon Jennings did. Perhaps we should also not feign indignance when the best high school junior in the country, Jeremy Tyler, packs his extra-long jammies (for his 6′11″ frame) and heads to Europe before his senior year of high school.

Jeremy Tyler

Long-time watchers of tall young men will recognize the puppeteer behind this latest stress test on the basketball pipeline. Sonny Vaccaro has his hand in this year’s Atlantic leap, just as he did for Jennings last year. Tyler turns 18 in June and will be eligible for the 2011 NBA draft.

We have a suggestion for Tyler to consider when he selects an NBA agent:

David Falk

The Bird of Prey himself, of course.

And now the hail of bullet points that you successfully survive thanks to your bra

Who’s now the most likely to be upset in round one?

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Smith Signs Sheet w/Grizz; J-Will Stays Stateside

The Atlanta Hawks seem to be running out of players, and we’re not joshin’. First, Josh Childress forgoes another season in Hotlanta to go play in Greece. Now, Josh Smith has given Hawks management a bear of a problem by signing a $58 million offer sheet with the Grizzlies.

Josh Smith Josh Childress Atlanta Hawks

(In stereo: “So long, suckers!”)

Sekou Smith of the ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION reports that the Hawks have seven days to match the five-year deal offered to their star player. Smith had earlier rejected a five-year, $45 million contract offered by Atlanta back in October, and negotiations have been dragging since.

Is it really so awful to play in Atlanta that hoopsters would rather toil in Memphis or flee the country?

Speaking of NBAers heading overseas, it turns out Jason Williams will not be one of them. Read more…

Offseason Is Not Shaping Up Well for the Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks finally turned a corner in 2007-2008 when they made it to the playoffs. Sure, they only finished eighth overall in a very, very weak Eastern Conference, but they took the Boston Celtics to seven games and nearly had one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. Add in their incredibly awesome and youthful core of players and it’s pretty obvious they’re on the rise, right?

J Smoove

Yeah. About that. Josh Childress is already gone for Europe and while his minutes were relatively minimal, he’ll obviously be missed. But the bigger problem is that with all the free agent shifting from the offseason, somehow Josh Smith can’t get a raise and is suddenly going to demand a trade. If not demand, he’ll at least be in the position to force one, reports SEKOU SMITH of the AJC, who says the Hawks have already gotten several offers.

Read more…