1. Blowing up the team:
Knight's most controversial move came shortly after he replaced Pete Babcock in 2003, when he made the decision to blow up the team's nucleus of Jason Terry, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Glenn Robinson and Theo Ratliff and start from scratch. Just for good measure, he whacked coach Terry Stotts, too.
I don't remember anyone saying "hey, let's keep together this nucleus of under performing, expensive players on the downward slopes of their careers." In what way was breaking up Babcock's dreadful collection a controversial move? And this argument is the weakest I've ever seen from Hollinger:
However, even with that, the brutal truth is that after five years, his team wasn't any better than the one he nuked.
Gee, would I rather have a roster full of good, cheap, young pieces are an expensive collection of malcontents who refuse to play defense? The Hawks' record might have been only two games better this year as compared to the 2002-3 team that Knight blew up, but the Hawks' trajectory and potential is much better.
2. Knight's Talent Acquisition
I can't argue with any of this:
In truth, his trades and free-agency moves probably would have allowed him to keep his job if his drafts hadn't been so horrible. However, his decisions to take Marvin Williams instead of Chris Paul and Shelden Williams instead of Brandon Roy squandered two of Atlanta's three top-five picks during his reign. Selecting Acie Law ahead of Rodney Stuckey in last year's draft looks like it might be a similar blunder. Offsetting all that was only one comparatively good move: taking high-schooler Josh Smith with the 17th pick in 2004.
And this is somewhat concerning:
Additionally, it's an opportunity for a new guy to clean up in areas in which Knight failed. For instance, the Hawks have had the rights to Danish-Australian forward David Andersen since 2002, but never have made any concerted effort to bring him over, even though he has been one of the best players in the Europe.
But this is simply not correct:
Along those same lines, Atlanta has had unusual trouble coming up with decent players to fill out the bench. Most notably, every attempt at adding a low-cost big man has been beyond disastrous. It was Knight who gave Atlantans the unholy trinity of John Edwards, Lorenzen Wright, and Esteban Batista, and believe it or not, each received a guaranteed, multiyear deal. Efforts at adding depth on the wings and in the backcourt didn't go much better.
What do you call signing Zaza Pachulia for four year and $16M?
I'm honestly a little surprised that Hollinger's shots at Knight aren't sharper. Hollinger is the best writer that ESPN.com has on the NBA and he pays special attention to the Hawks. The Knight epitaph should have been right in his wheel house, but a lot of his criticisms missed the mark.