If Only 'Nique Still Wanted to Coach...

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

The Atlanta Hawks missed their chance in asking Dominique Wilkins to coach. He is reportedly no longer interested in such a position. Several years ago, maybe. Now? Now he has probably realized how quickly coaches get eaten up and spit out by the demon that is the NBA. If anything, 'Nique wants to be a GM. Unfortunately, that position in Atlanta is taken.

If he were still interested, he would be an ideal candidate. The Hawks are bringing in swingmen in all shapes and sizes this offseason as GM Billy Knight is looking to create a versatile and athletic roster. Who better to mold and coach such a group than one of the most versatile and athletic players of all time?

But what would be the upside to Wilkins agreeing to coach? For him, virtually none. This coming year is likely to be yet another in a long string of Atlanta duds. Terry Stotts did probably the best job possible with the roster he had last year, and he still got sacked. It would have been easier to understand if it had been a Detroit-like pre-sacking in anticipation of hiring a big name like Larry Brown. But the Hawks are still coachless.

Today they are interviewing their last candidate for the job: Pistons assistant coach Mike Woodson. They have already missed out on Doc Rivers, Byron Scott, and Del Harris. Is someone in the front office not willing to pull the trigger fast enough? Or is this whole interview process a charade?

But if the Hawks do want to bring Wilkins aboard, why go through this rigmarole with interviewing everyone under the sun? And why take so long to do it?

The only way Wilkins could be convinced to coach, at least to my way of thinking, would be if he were guaranteed something, whether it was a five-year coaching contract, or a vesting equity investment in the Hawks, or a GM position should King retire or move on.

But it just doesn't seem like it's going to happen.

Fortunately, Wilkins is still at least with the Hawks.

It could be worse.

Read the chat with Josh Childress here. You will find out, among other things, that he wants to outrebound Rip Hamilton, that he most looks forward to matching up with Kobe Bryant, and that growing up he was a big Scottie Pippen fan.

Hawks draft picks Josh Childress, Josh Smith, Donta Smith and Royal Ivey visited Atlanta on Monday. See what they, along with Hawks GM Billy Knight, had to sayin their first meeting with the city's media.


Keith Parsons ofThe Associated Presswrites inThe Durham Herald Sun: Josh Childress joined most of the country in tuning out the Atlanta Hawks last season... [Josh] Smith, who played last season with prep power Oak Hill Academy, is a native of Atlanta, but even he knew little about the Hawks... Unlike most second-round picks around the NBA, Donta Smith from Southeastern Illinois Junior College and Royal Ivey from Texas have a good chance to make the Hawks...They all fit into Knight's plan to have versatile players who can fill multiple positions.

Michael Lee ofThe Atlanta Journal-Constitutionwrites: The Hawks plan to meet with Detroit Pistons assistant coach Mike Woodson today, and general manager Billy Knight said Woodson will be the sixth and final candidate he will interview before making a decision about the next coach.While the Hawks won't have a coach in place before the free agent recruiting period begins Thursday, the intent is to have someone before rookie and free agent training camp begins July 12. With the Hawks in a rebuilding mode, Knight said the team will have to consider giving a new coach at least a three- to four-year contract... Knight has confined his search to two distinct types of candidates: veteran NBA coaches who can teach a young nucleus and assistant coaches who haven't been given an opportunity. He has interviewed former NBA coaches Del Harris, John MacLeod and Mike Fratello and assistants Dwane Casey, Mike Brown and now Woodson.

Eddie Sefko ofThe Dallas Morning Newswrites: Among those with cap room, Atlanta, Denver and Utah are the main teams in the market for a shooting guard, [Marquis] Daniels' natural position.However, the Hawks drafted four small forwards last week, some of whom can double as shooting guards.

Tim Turner ofThe Columbus Ledger-Enquirerwrites: The Raptors fired general manager Glen Grunwald last season and only recently replaced him with Rob Babcock, Minnesota's former vice president of player personnel. It was partly from that relationship that Babcock chose Mitchell over Seattle SuperSonics assistant Dwane Casey and Detroit Pistons assistant Mike Woodson. Both Casey and Woodson are still candidates for the Atlanta Hawks' head coaching position.

Lonnie Wheeler ofThe Times Record Newswrites: "We were playing the Atlanta Hawks in the first round in one of those mini-series they used to have, two out of three," he [Kevin Grevey] said. "I looked up and saw my buddy Howie Garfinkel, who ran the basketball camps that I used to work. Howie said, 'Hey, after you lose tonight, give me a call.' And he gave me a business card to put in my sock. "Well, I got to thinking about that, and didn't like it very much. But I put that card in my sock and went out and had like 43 points, a career night.I'm being interviewed after the game, and I reach down to my sock and pull out this card, which is all pulp and sweat, and I told the story. As I was doing it I spotted Howie and said, 'Howie, you got any more cards?' And he gave me a box of cards. I put one in my sock every night and had a great series and we had our miracle run and won it all."