Mike Budenholzer paced frantically about the room. “We have to start somebody at small forward. That much is known. But who? Who?”
A nameless assistant coach piped up, “What if we start Lou at the two and move Kyle to the three?”
Budenholzer slammed his fist on the table. “No! Lou is our spark off the bench! To start him would be a fool’s errand!” The other assistants looked on with pity at the one who had made the suggestion.
Breathing heavily, Budenholzer continued, “Cartier Martin is too much of a scrub. Paul Millsap would be out of position, and who would we start at the five if we did that? Gustavo frickin’ Ayon? This roster construction makes me sick to my stomach.”
He grabbed a marker and began to draw on the whiteboard. It soon became clear that the Hawks head coach was drawing a crude, yet recognizable, middle finger. Capping the marker in satisfaction, he said, “That’s what I think about this crappy roster. But we’ll make it work. I’ll make it work.”
A different assistant tentatively said, “Coach…what if we start DeMarre?”
Whipping around to face the speaker, Budenholzer asked, “Who?”
The assistant sat up a little straighter, as if proud that he knew something that Budenholzer didn’t. “DeMarre Carroll, sir. We recently signed him as a free agent.”
“I don’t know who that is,” Budenholzer replied, confused. “Does he take a lot of shots? Can he provide spacing?”
“He can shoot the three, sir, but is generally timid on the offensive side of the ball,” answered the assistant, pushing his glasses up on his nose.
Budenholzer smacked an open hand against the table, this time in jubilation. “I think we’ve found our guy! Dee-mar-ay is a perfect fit; he doesn’t take away shots from Horford and Millsap, but can hit the open three when the defense collapses on our two soon-to-be all-stars,” he announced happily. “But tell me, does he have stupid-looking hair?”
“Well, coach, I have some bad news…”