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thebac
02-17-2004, 11:54 AM
Are Hawks suffering from buyer's remorse?

Less than a week after the Hawks traded Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Theo Ratliff to Portland for Rasheed Wallace, the verdict from NBA GMs on the trade is overwhelmingly in. . . the Hawks didn't get enough.

Will they, in the course of the next three days, reverse course and try to get more for 'Sheed?

"Cap room is great as long as you have a concrete plan how to use it," one GM told Insider in L.A. "They aren't getting Kobe. No way. And when you look at the rest of the board? There isn't another player available as good as Rahim. Atlanta could, like Utah last year, strike out this summer. That's not good."

Everyone understands the Hawks' desire to blow things up. The team was going nowhere and new management wanted a fresh slate. But as the team positions itself to have nearly $20 million in cap space this summer, you have to wonder . . . are any free agents really willing to come to Atlanta?

Several GMs were shocked that the Hawks didn't get at least some talent back in return -- perhaps a first-round pick or a young prospect. After trading Nazr Mohammed to the Knicks on Sunday, the team's core is now Jason Terry, Boris Diaw and second-round pick Travis Hansen.

Considering that management would prefer to unload Terry this summer when his base-year compensation status expires, the Hawks sure don't look like a very desirable free-agent destination for either a marquee free agent or a top-flight coach.

Young players like Kenyon Martin, Jamal Crawford, Quentin Richardson and Stromile Swift could probably be had for the right price on this summer's free-agent market. But given the Hawks' no-existant nucleus, will any of them make a real difference?

That's led to growing speculation that the Hawks will now try to see, over the next few days, if they can get cap space and a prospect or two from another team interested in Rasheed.

The problem with the speculation is that there are actually very few teams with that type of cap room or expiring contracts to make a deal. The Nuggets, Pistons, Kings, Spurs and Jazz are the only teams in a position to offer the Hawks similar cap room, plus picks or prospects in return. Complicating matters even further, with 'Sheed telling everyone who will listen that he's playing in New York next season -- barring some huge financial windfall elsewhere -- why would a team give up anything in order to get him?

The Pistons and Spurs are the only teams with any motivations. With the Knicks, Nets and Pacers all looking strong in the East, you've got to believe that Larry Brown is pushing hard for an inside scoring presence in Detroit. The Pistons offered the expiring contracts (Bob Sura, Zeljko Rebraca, Lindsey Hunter), and an extra first-round pick (from Milwaukee) to Atlanta. But contrary to published reports, the Pistons also were insisting that the Hawks take either Corliss Williamson or Chucky Atkins. That pretty much kills that deal.

The other problem is that the Pistons don't really have the resources to re-sign 'Sheed this summer. Dumars is intent on making Mehmet Okur part of the long-term future in Detroit. They need all of the cap room created from those expiring contracts to get far enough under the cap to re-sign Okur, who is a restricted free agent. While the Pistons could rent 'Sheed for the rest of the year and then say good bye . . . it seems like their first-rounder could get more value somewhere else.

The Spurs are in a similar boat. They could package Ron Mercer, Robert Horry, Hedo Turkoglu and one contract with one more year left (like Bruce Bowen's) to make a deal make sense for the Hawks. But it would cost them Emanuel Ginobili in the end.

Like the Pistons, the Spurs need the cap room from their expiring deals to re-sign Ginobili this summer. Even if they didn't, the Hawks would certainly insist on Ginobili being part of the package for Horry. While 'Sheed would be a great fit in San Antonio, the cost is too high for the Spurs.

The other teams that are really interested in Sheed -- Dallas, New York and Houston -- just don't have the goods to get a deal done with the Hawks.

The bottom line -- the Hawks took a big risk last week with little chance of reaping rewards in the open market. The best hope may be to use their space to broker a trade with a team desperate to get under the cap in July. Several teams like the Grizzlies and Suns will be in hot pursuit of Kobe Bryant this summer and may be willing to trade away significant assets if they get an agreement from Kobe's people that he's willing to play there.

The Hawks would be in a position to reap the benefit in such a situation. But short of that? Iraq may be rebuilt before the Hawks are.

Around the League


With Vin Baker now kicked to the curb, Celtics GM Danny Ainge has turned his attention to the Celtics' glaring hole at the four. Using Chris Mills and Chris Mihm as bait, sources told Insider on Monday that Ainge has made numerous offers to teams and is waiting for someone to come back and say yes.

Juwan Howard
2003-2004 SEASON STATS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
54 15.8 6.8 2.0 .447 .796

At the top of the Celtics list? The Magic's Juwan Howard. Howard's reasonable (albeit long) salary, selflessness and hunger to play on a good team all appeal to Ainge. Howard got great reviews in Denver last season and the Celtics believe he can help. To make the deal work, the team would likely also have to swallow the salary of Pat Garrity, who's out the rest of the year with an injury and either Steven Hunter or Gordan Giricek (who the Magic seem to want to keep) in return.

That's not the only team the Celtics are talking to. The Pistons (Corliss Williamson) and the Blazers (Dale Davis) are also potential partners. Ainge's willingness to take on guaranteed salaries make him an unusual player at the trade deadline. The Celtics are confident they'll win in arbitration on the Baker situation, putting their cap number at a more reasonable number. It won't be enough to make a huge splash in free agency, which is why Ainge is determined to move Mills and Mihm now before they slip away for nothing.


What does the wholesale dumping of talent get the Magic? Wiggle room. The team would have only $37 million in guaranteed salaries next season, but with a high lottery pick and several cap holds, there won't be much cap room left to work with unless it also finds a way to move Andrew DeClercq and Reece Gaines off the roster by July 15th.
This really speaks to the problem the Magic are facing. Even with just three guaranteed contracts -- Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill and Drew Gooden -- the high lottery pick and the cap holds the Magic are still nearly capped out.

Several other teams, including Detroit, Philly, Chicago and the Warriors, have been trying to work out their own deals with Orlando, but according to sources, the Magic really don't know what to do. Do they try to add a veteran or two in an area of need (like Eric Snow or Erick Dampier) or do they strip the team down to nothing?

The chances of adding a veteran who can really turn things around in Orlando are slim. But stripping down will surely push McGrady to opt out of his contract after the end of next season. Either way it looks like the Magic are hurting unless, that is, Hill retires (still, his contract wouldn't be of the books until January 2005) or the team's able to trade McGrady for another superstar with more years. Right now both event look unlikely.


Add yet another Knick to the trading block. Several sources told Insider on Monday that Isiah Thomas has brought up Dikembe Mutombo's name in several phone conversations.

Dikembe Mutombo
2003-2004 SEASON STATS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
53 6.1 6.8 0.4 .496 .663

With Nazr Mohammed and Kurt Thomas on board, Thomas feels like Mutombo is expendable . . . especially if he can get another younger, more athletic player in return. Who'd be crazy enough to pick up the last year and half of Mutombo's deal? Thomas is targeting the Mavs, Spurs and Grizzlies -- all of whom need a big man for a playoff run.


The Bucks may not be done dealing either. Rumors are swirling that the Blazers have approached the Bucks about a Dale Davis for Toni Kukoc swap. Kukoc is in the last year of his deal and the Blazers want the cap relief. Why would the Bucks do it? Davis has one more year worth nine million left on his contract. With Bucks suddenly looking like serious playoff contenders with the addition of Keith Van Horn, adding another solid post presence like Davis could really increase their chances in the East. He also comes with minimal risk. The Bucks don't have cap until the summer of 2005 anyway -- when Davis comes off the books.

According to reports, the Bulls won't pay Jamal Crawford more than the mid-level exception next year, which makes you wonder . . . why aren't they moving him now? Crawford will get more on the market with so many teams now under the cap. Is John Paxson really willing to lose Crawford for nothing in return?

The Good, the Bad, the Kitchen Sink

One day after and it's still hard to believe that Shaquille O'Neal now has twice as many All-Star MVPs as regular season MVPs.

The Good
Mike Bibby, Sacramento Kings
Week's work: 2-0, 25 ppg, 3 rpg, 8 apg, 2 spg, 11 triples, 52.7% shooting
Perhaps this would be the right time to point out that Mike Bibby made 15 3-pointers in December, 30 in January and, five games into February, has already hit 22 on 57.9 percent shooting to push him to 43.3 percent on the year. That would make him third-best in the NBA behind only Aaron McKie (44.6%) and Brent Barry (44%). We might also want to mention that he also has 35 assists to go with only eight turnovers this month, too.

Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
Week's work: 1-1, 27 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1 bpg, 56.7% shooting
Last week alone, went met up with Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal and Ben Wallace and came away with 70 points on 29-for-51 shooting while the two-time MVP, two-time All-Star MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year tallied a combined 56 points on 17-for-40 shooting.

Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
Week's work: 2-0, 24 ppg, 14 rpg, 2 apg, 1 spg, 3.5 bpg, 44.9% shooting
Kevin Garnett missed three free throws last game and that's about the worst thing he's done in about two months of basketball since he missed five free throws on Dec. 30 but still tallied 28 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block on 78 percent shooting.

The Bad
Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons
Weak work: 0-2 record, 13 ppg, 2 rpg, 6 apg, 0.5 spg, 0 bpg, 34.7% shooting
For only the third time this entire season, Billups failed to get to the free-throw line once while, in that same game against the Kings, failed to get a single rebound for the first time all season. Even more peculiar is the fact that he is now shooting 38.3 percent from the field (11th worst on the Pistons' 13-man roster) while shooting 42.1 percent from long range for a career high.

Ricky Davis, Boston Celtics
Weak work: 0-2 record, 9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0 bpg, 33.3% shooting
If Davis can't complement or be complemented by LeBron James or Paul Pierce, two of the most well-rounded players in the game today, then he and his agent will be about the only ones who will ever remember that he once averaged 20.6 points per game back in 2003.

Zach Randolph, Portland Trail Blazers
Weak work: 0-2 record, 12 ppg, 8 rpg, 1.5 apg, 3 spg, 0.5 bpg, 36.3% shooting
With Rasheed in the lineup, Randolph was a legit 20-10 guy with a career shooting mark of 49 percent. Without Wallace, what you see is what you get with 10 turnovers to boot.

The Ugly

Glenn Robinson is gone. Shareef Abdur-Rahim is gone. Theo Ratliff is gone. Take the remaining players on the Hawks roster, add in the two players from the latest deal (Michael Doleac and Joel Pryzbilla), and their combined scoring averages for the season would put them at 69.9 points per game.

Currently, the lowest-scoring team in the NBA is the Toronto Raptors at 85.4 with the Hawks at 88.9 and falling faster than you can say "Jason Terry is a 42.9 percent career shooter."

The Kitchen Sink
Aaron Williams
Forward-Center
New Jersey Nets
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
41 7.1 4.5 1.0 .514 .697


NET GAIN
In the month of February, five different New Jersey Nets are averaging double digits. Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin, you knew. Richard Jefferson you could guess. Perhaps even Kerry Kittles. But now that Alonzo Mourning has retired with Jason Collins peaking much lower than expected but still taking up the bulk of minutes in the middle, who would have thought that Aaron Williams would be at 10.8 points per game to go along with 6.2 rebounds and 54 percent shooting.

GUARDED PESSIMISM
In their last two games, which just so happen to also be their last two losses, the Clipper guards have shot 2-for-14 from 3-point range. But that shouldn't come as too big a surprise as Marko Jaric, Quentin Richardson, Eddie House and Keyon Dooling, a combined 39.2 percent from the field as a group on the season, have also shot 35.6 percent on their current four-game losing streak.

HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Not only do the Indiana Pacers have the best record in the East (and only 0.004 percentage points behind the Kings for the best record in the entire league) but they're also 12-6 against the West with their next five interconference games against the Jazz (twice), Warriors (twice) and Clippers, three of the four worst records in the opposing conference.

SPURIOUS SHOOTING
Counting the all-star stats, Tim Duncan has made 105 of 193 free throws since the New Year for 54.4 percent. Even worse is that fact that he has gone 4-for-16 on freebies in the Spurs' last three losses, and in those games, San Antonio has lost by a combined eight points. For the record, Shaquille O'Neal is a 54 percent shooter from the foul line for his career.

RUSSIAN DEFENSE
Ben Wallace is right in the hunt for his third Defensive Player of the Year Award. Theo Ratliff is leading the league in blocks. Again. Ron Artest is usually recognized as the best perimeter defender in the game today. But let's not forget Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz. Currently, he is third in the league in blocks per game at 2.82 behind only Ratliff (3.15) and Wallace (2.98). The difference, though, is that he's also fifth in the league in steals per game at 1.98. Artest is fourth at 2.06 while Wallace is eighth at 1.81. Meanwhile, Artest averages 0.7 blocks per game and Ratliff averages 0.5 steals per game.


LOAD OF BULL
Eddy Curry, first five games of the season
9.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.6 spg, 1.6 bpg, 36.3% shooting

Eddy Curry, latest five games of the season
20.8 ppg, 6 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.8 bpg, 57.3% shooting

TRIAGE SPECIAL
Sacramento Kings (37-13) versus Minnesota Timberwolves (37-15)
Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2004 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
7:30 p.m. EST on TNT

The two teams with the best records in the Western Conference clash and we can only wonder how good this game could have been with Chris Webber, Wally Szczerbiak, Troy Hudson, Michael Olowokandi and, maybe, Brad Miller. Until then, we'll have to settle for Kevin Garnett, Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby, Sam Cassell and, maybe, Brad Miller.


The End
"We're a bad team."

Atlanta Hawks general manager Billy Knight before realizing that he didn't have a single player who averaged more than 16 points or 4.5 rebounds a game on his entire roster.

Rumor Central

WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Dikembe Mutombo
Knicks

Raptors
Wolves
Mavs
Grizzlies
Spurs

Feb. 17 - The New York Daily News suggests the Knicks could deal Mutombo by Thursday's deadline, now that Nazr Mohammed is certain to supplant Dikembe in the starting lineup. Team president Isiah Thomas feels Mutombo is expendable ... especially if he can get a younger, more athletic player in return. Who'd be crazy enough to pick up the last year and half of Mutombo's deal? Thomas is targeting the Mavs, Spurs, Raptors, Wolves and Grizzlies -- all of whom need a big man for a playoff run.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Rasheed Wallace
Hawks

Knicks
Pistons?
Spurs?

Feb. 17 - There's growing speculation the Hawks will try to see if they can get cap space and a prospect or two from another team interested in Rasheed. The problem is, there are actually very few teams with that type of cap room or expiring contracts to make a deal.
The Nuggets, Pistons, Kings, Spurs and Jazz are the only teams in position to offer the Hawks similar cap room, plus picks or prospects in return. Complicating matters even further, with 'Sheed telling everyone who will listen that he's going to play in New York next season -- barring some huge financial windfall elsewhere -- why would a team give up anything in order to get him? The Pistons and Spurs are the only teams with any motivations.

After this season, though, Wallace has his eyes on joining the Knicks, even if it means taking their $5 million veterans exception to do so. It's likely the Knicks and Hawks will discuss sign-and-trade scenarios, but if nothing can be worked out, look for Wallace to head to New York as a free agent.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Juwan Howard
Magic

Celtics
Wolves
Sonics
Nuggets
Pistons

Feb. 17 - Howard is at the top of the shopping lists of the Celtics and Wolves as the trade deadline nears. To make a deal work, the Celtics would have to give up the expiring contracts of Chris Mills and Chris Mihm and likely take back the salary of Pat Garrity, out for the season with an injury, and either Steven Hunter or Gordan Giricek (whom the Magic now seem to want to keep) in return.
The Wolves have been mulling a Michael Olowokandi-for-Howard trade.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Dale Davis
Blazers

Bucks
Raptors
Mavs

Feb. 17 - With the addition of Keith Van Horn and a playoff run in mind, rumors are swirling that the Bucks and Blazers are talking about a Toni Kukoc-for-Davis deal. Kukoc's contract expires at the end of the season, meaning the move could significantly reduce payroll next season for the Blazers and add some much needed help at small forward. The Bucks would have to eat the last year of Davis' deal, but then would have plenty of cap room for the summer of 2005.
The Raptors and Mavericks also have shown interest in Davis, and if the Blazers can get back a contract that expires after next season along with a prospect, they'll pull the trigger. Toronto has plenty of expiring contracts, but they're also discussing Christian Laettner.

Peep Show

New York Knicks: If this is Tuesday, then that must mean Allan Houston's ready to play again . . . right? "I want to make sure I'm ready," said Houston in the New York Times. "I've played with it being injured and with it being sore and with it being painful for a long time and I don't want to go back and do that again. I want to make sure it's strengthened, and I want to make sure it's ready. I'm not going to put a timetable on it. I know it has continued to get better over the last two weeks. I kind of started from below ground, and I kind of moved to ground level, and now I'm continuing to move up."

Memphis Grizzlies: Pau Gasol is back without the bad back. "I'm feeling very strong and very positive about it," Gasol said in the Commercial Appeal. "We're going to be in a great race until the end of the season. It's going to be very competitive, and guys are going to play through a lot. We're going to fight every game." Meanwhile, his trainer has a different fight. "He has a mild degenerative changes in his low back that cause the pain and stiffness in the muscles. That's what we're fighting," Griz trainer Scott McCullough said. "Once we're able to break the pain he'll move more fluidly like he has in the past. That will come with therapy, exercise and activity modification on practice days."

Philadelphia 76ers: Different coach, same Allen Iverson. "He should have been here," Ford said in the Philadelphia Inquirer after the all-star missed practice on Monday. "I know he's en route to Denver. I fully expected everyone to be here. We'll take [the matter] under advisement tonight, and I'll let you know tomorrow what I'm going to do . . . I can't tell you what I'm going to do. I haven't come to that conclusion yet. I'll take everything into consideration. I will not make a rash judgment."

Golden State Warriors: Some days are better than others for Mike Dunleavy's bum ankle. "It's doing all right," Dunleavy said in the Contra Costa Times. "It's coming along pretty slowly. It does all right and then it stiffens up. This weekend I didn't think it was feeling better. But I woke up this morning and it felt better. Today was really the first day I could jump off it." But coach Eric Musselman saw it all very clearly. "Brian's done a good job," Musselman said of his other small forward, Brian Cardinal. "Mike's done a good job. We want to see how Mike's ankle is before practice (Tuesday) and the game. But if Mike is 100 percent healthy, we'll probably start Mike."

Boston Celtics: The Celtics may not want to pay Vin Baker, but that doesn't mean other teams don't. "There's no gray area in this instance," Billy Hunter said in the Boston Herald. "What they're trying to do is contend that Vin is unfit to play basketball, and that's going to be impossible for them to do. How can he be unfit to play when there are four teams that are prepared to sign him? The fact he can go and play for another team would negate their argument right there." But what about all the alcohol relapses? "But they've still got to show that Vin Baker is unfit to play, and they simply cannot show that," Hunter said. "If he had a problem, he's dealt with it. I can assure you Vin is in the best shape he's ever been in."

Los Angeles Lakers: Karl Malone may need more time to recover from his injury but only a split second to decide on his coach. "I want him here. I want him here," said Malone of Phil Jackson's impending free agency in the Los Angeles Daily News. "I think coach is going to do what's best for him. You know what, I respect that. I did the same thing when I left Utah. I did what was best for me, and I think everybody goes through that stage in their life. I think what I'm going to do is -- however many games it is, whether it's 20, 25 or whatever -- I'm going to enjoy those 20 games and the playoffs, and when it's all over with, I think everybody should have a feel on what direction we're going (as a team)," Malone said. "But I'm just going to wait and see. I want them to have the same feeling that I have about them. And if somebody don't have that, I can walk away from the game or I can play. And that's kind of my attitude about it."

ddh33
02-17-2004, 12:16 PM
This article says what I've been saying for the last week or so. Atlanta went about this Rasheed thing all wrong. I understand wanting to clear cap room, but you also must get young talent and draft picks in the process. You need other assets, and they got none. That's why I said they would be better off going after someone like Antoine Walker. In fact, I would still like the Mavs to make a courtesy phone call to the Hawks.

As for the Mavs interest in players mentioned in this article. I can't imagine Dallas wanting Mutombo or even Dale Davis. Those guys are on their last legs. I can't imagine them making a huge difference, and I don't think I would give up anything worthwhile for either player.

It's going to be an interesting few days for NBA and specifically Mavs fans though because these rumors are going to hang around.

DNNF
02-17-2004, 12:45 PM
Originally posted by: ddh33
This article says what I've been saying for the last week or so. Atlanta went about this Rasheed thing all wrong. I understand wanting to clear cap room, but you also must get young talent and draft picks in the process. You need other assets, and they got none. That's why I said they would be better off going after someone like Antoine Walker. In fact, I would still like the Mavs to make a courtesy phone call to the Hawks.

As for the Mavs interest in players mentioned in this article. I can't imagine Dallas wanting Mutombo or even Dale Davis. Those guys are on their last legs. I can't imagine them making a huge difference, and I don't think I would give up anything worthwhile for either player.

It's going to be an interesting few days for NBA and specifically Mavs fans though because these rumors are going to hang around.


The Hawks got about 40 mils of cap space to go for Kobe and a few more quality FA. They will probably get the one of the top 3 picks of the draft and could go for Okafor. The Hawks's future is very very bright.

ddh33
02-17-2004, 02:25 PM
I just think they are going to have a hard time getting free agents. I can't imagine anybody being excited about a huge rebuilding job in a building that's empty.

Maybe they have a better plan than I think though. I'm sure they do. Maybe Doc Rivers gets in there next season and really builds some enthusiam. I just thought they would be better off getting assets instead of cap room alone.

Nash13
02-17-2004, 06:17 PM
I just think they are going to have a hard time getting free agents. I can't imagine anybody being excited about a huge rebuilding job in a building that's empty.

Good point.

With the exception of Miami with Odom, Denver with Miller, and Washington with Arenas, the teams that lower their cap hardly ever get the big time free agents. Either they stay with their team, or accept lower money for another team.