NBA.com's David Aldridge has his new weekly column up, and as usual, it's packed full of interesting notes, quotes, and stories. Let's take a look at some highlights….
- The Hawks' Larry Drew was the NBA's Coach of the Month in December, but as we saw with Avery Johnson, that doesn't always guarantee job security. The Hawks have dropped eight of their last ten and there has been speculation around the league that GM Danny Ferry is waiting for the end of the season to remove Drew and hire Mike Brown. For his part, Ferry says that he has enjoyed working with Drew and plans to discuss his future with him after the season.
- Ferry acknowledged that he made decisions this summer with the idea of freeing up cap space down the line. It was a plan that he knew wouldn't yield a world-beating Hawks team in 2012/13. "I had no preconceived notions," Ferry said. "We were in a situation where we had six guys back and we were going to have to fill the roster with six guys to stay under the tax. Ownership gave me permission to go over the tax, but I didn't think there was anything we were going to be able to do to be a contender even over the tax."
- Prior to his suspension, Josh Smith told Aldridge that he had a great deal of confidence in the Hawks' core and believed that they could be a couple pieces away from contending.
- Nicolas Batum's says that his lucrative new deal hasn't put pressure on him and has instead left him feeling liberated. The forward is averaging 16.8 PPG with 5.9 RPG per game this season which are both career highs.
- There has been some buzz about a possible return to the Cavaliers for LeBron James in 2014, but Aldridge believes that Cleveland will still be more than two years from contending with a core including Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.