Big man Al Horford has spent six seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, the first half under head coach Mike Woodson and the second under Larry Drew. He's developed into an All-Star caliber player capable of anchoring a team on both ends, but has yet to advance past the second round of the playoffs. Now with Mike Budenholzer taking the coaching reins and general manager Danny Ferry reshaping the roster, the Hawks are looking to build toward loftier goals. The question is how long it will take them to get there.
Horford's hoping it will happen in the near future, but knows there is more work to do, via NBA.com's David Aldridge:
Adjustments -- that horror of a word -- are nonetheless the essence of the NBA. During seasons, during games, and especially during playoff series, players have to toss what isn't working and change on the fly. It's easier when a team hasn't won or had success, though. Horford and the Hawks have, albeit not at a championship level. So, how patient can he be while Ferry's and Budenholzer's regime takes hold?
"That's a very fair question," Horford said by phone Friday afternoon. "I do realize that, and I do want to win. I do want to be in a really good position to compete. I wonder. I do wonder what's going to be our next move as a team. But for now, all I can focus on is this team, this year. But absolutely -- I want to compete. I want to be part of a winning, successful, championship team. I do trust that Danny's moving in the right direction, but like you said, I have been in seven years already. Some things are going to have to happen the next few years."
According to Budenholzer, Horford's presence was one of the main reasons the longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant was willing to relocate. Atlanta is remodeling rather than rebuilding from the ground up, with a proven force on the inside as a centerpiece who also happens to be professional and in his prime.
"I think that was really important, to have a guy who'd been an established player, who'd been to a couple of All-Star games, and who was a good guy, a character guy," Budenholzer said Saturday, referencing Horford. "You need those kind of people to fulfill something. Instead of taking it down, you've already got a player like him to be a core-type guy. For me, looking at jobs, it was a big part of the attraction."
While Budenholzer's looking to improve the Hawks by borrowing some offensive and defensive principles from San Antonio, they won't be among the East's elite until Ferry adds some more high-end talent. Horford's current deal expires after the 2015-2016 season -- can Ferry turn Atlanta into a contender by then?