Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry will take in some rightful heat from both fans, NBA critics, and possibly the league office for a poor choice of words concerning his team’s status as playoff contenders. With a deep 2014 NBA draft and the potential for lottery luck to ring out, some would rather paint the Hawks as “lottery contenders,” willing to drop out of the playoff bracket and watch as its first round pick vaults up several spots. Possibly more, if the lottery balls end up in Atlanta’s favor.

Those critics will have their points, even if they’re likely not tuning into see the beaten-up Hawks try really hard to win games. Here are Ferry’s on-record quotes, via Jeff Zillgitt at USA Today:

"Throughout the year, I felt we've been on a good path," Ferry said. "When healthy, we've been a very good team. I like the way we play. It's system-based. I like our players. There's some substance to them. With the way we're set-up from a salary cap standpoint and a roster standpoint that good things can continue to unfold.
"We're not focused on trying to be the eighth seed in the playoffs because that's not our goal. We're trying to build something that's good, sustainable and the components are in place for us to do so."
This may remind of something Danny Ainge told reporters earlier in the year, prior to clarifying. Either USA Today left out some pertinent quotes, or Ferry (who said similar things to the New York Times over the weekend) passed on such clarification.