After 30-plus years in the NBA, new Hawks general manager Rick Sund can appreciate a situation where a team hatches a plan to rebuild a franchise and actually sees it through.That's why he wasn't at all shy about voicing his desire to Hawks ownership to continue that process as Billy Knight's replacement.
It took nearly three weeks, since his interview, and the last minute breakdown of negotiations with another candidate, Cleveland's Chris Grant, before it actually happened.
But now that he has the job, Sund is eager to get started.
"They stayed with the plan," Sund said. "From ownership to Billy to the coaches to everyone involved. They stayed with the plan. There are highs and lows in the process. And you're not totally there yet. But you love to see that type of progress."
The 56-year-old Sund, who has helped build teams in Milwaukee, Dallas, Detroit and Seattle, sees a similar task in what the Hawks are trying to do with one of the league's youngest (and most athletic) rosters.
Sund will be in charge of charting that progress going forward. And he has pressing issues that need to be addressed, most notably the fate of a coaching staff with contracts that expire June 30 and two restricted free agents -- Josh Smith and Josh Childress -- who can entertain offers from other teams July 1.
But he won't rush.
"I don't have a magic formula today," Sund said. "What I'm going to do is come in next week and meet with the staff and obviously talk with some of the players and get a lay of the land before we proceed to do anything. Once we do that we'll go forward.
"Right now, my plan is to take one step back and get a good lay of the land and be a real good listener."
Sund's analytical approach is one of the things that struck Hawks ownership, which sorted through a long list of candidates before deciding to hire Sund.
"I know this sounds simple, but Rick gets it," Hawks part owner Michael Gearon Jr. said. "This is a guy that understands all the aspects of the process and what it takes to win. From his early days in Milwaukee, to Dallas and Detroit and finally Seattle, he's had some of the best coaches in the history of the league. We're talking about a guy that is able to be rational and objective in how he analyzes where we are and what we need to do to get better."
Sund admitted that the Hawks first have to look within when assessing how they move forward. And since he's bringing an outsider's perspective to the process, he is well aware that evaluations have to be made first before verdicts are rendered.
"An outsider looking in always has a fresh perspective," Sund said. "You can't go crazy with that perspective, though. What we do have, however, is tremendous growth potential. Acie Law hasn't reached his full growth potential. Al Horford hasn't reached his full growth potential. Josh Smith, Josh Childress and Marvin Williams, none of those guys have reached their full growth potential yet. And that is a major plus.
"Like I said, it's an exciting time right now for the Hawks. But there is a lot of work to be done the next few years. So for me, it's a great time to come in and be a part of what's going on now and in the future."
SEASON HIGHLIGHT: The Hawks' hair-raising run to Game 7 against Boston in their first round playoff series woke up a slumbering fan base and put the rest of the league on notice. The Hawks showed the world that there is more to the franchise than just a dysfunctional ownership group and mixed up front office crew. There's also some talent on hand.
TURNING POINT: Mike Bibby's acquisition at the trade deadline changed things dramatically for the Hawks. They went 16-17 with Bibby in the lineup and ended an eight-year playoff drought with Bibby at the controls. The veteran point guard provided everything the Hawks needed to get to the postseason but fell flat against the Celtics.