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OutletPass
01-31-2003, 09:04 AM
From ESPN's Chad Ford - Friday 1/31

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They say there are no guarantees in life. Hawks GM Pete Babcock is learning that lesson the hard way. At the start of the season, the Hawks were guaranteeing season ticket holders a playoff berth this season. Three months later, the dreaded, but all too familiar "r-word" has crept back into the Hawks vocabulary. The Hawks are talking rebuilding ... again.

It's rare to hear an NBA GM publicly take the blame for a train wreck. But if you're Babcock, at this point, you don't have much of a choice.

Almost every move Babcock has made the last few years has blown up in his face. Trading Steve Smith for Isaiah Rider. Signing Alan Henderson to a long-term deal. Swapping Dikembe Mutombo (and his expiring contract) for an injured Theo Ratliff. Drafting DerMarr Johnson ahead of Desmond Mason, Hidayet Turkoglu or even Jamal Crawford. Exchanging Lorenzen Wright and the draft rights to Pau Gasol for Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Swapping Toni Kukoc and the Hawks' 2003 first-round pick for Glenn Robinson. The list keeps going and going.

"We stuck with our plan, and I was wrong -- across the board," Babcock told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Those are harsh words. But these are harsh times in Atlanta right now. The fans have abandoned the team. The Hawks owners, AOL Time Warner, announced $100 billion in losses this week, the most ever by a U.S. corporation. The team's one bright spot, hosting the 2003 All-Star Game, suffered a huge setback when not one Hawks player was selected to participate in any of the events.

Team president Stan Katsen has vowed to "leave no stone unturned to get this thing fixed." Originally, the thinking was that the Hawks would do that by trying to add another veteran impact player to the roster, which on paper appears quite talented. But for some reason the Hawks are less than the sum of their parts. After weeks of being rebuffed in trade talks, Atlanta has changed its thinking. The quick fix is out. The wrecking ball is on its way. The Hawks may have to destroy this team to save it. Numerous GMs around the league now claim that everyone on the Hawks' roster is available. And they mean everyone.

Abdur-Rahim, Ratliff, Jason Terry, Nazr Mohammed, rookie Dan Dickau and even the newly acquired Robinson all have been attached to at least one trade rumor this week. The latest, according to the NBA GM Rumor Network, has the Hawks talking to the Spurs about Abdur-Rahim for Steve Smith and Danny Ferry. The Raptors and Sixers are offering to take Ratliff off the Hawks' hands. The Raptors are reportedly offering quasi-retired Hakeem Olajuwon and guard Lindsey Hunter. The Sixers are offering to swap Ratliff for Derrick Coleman. Terry's name is popping up all over the board. New York, L.A., New Jersey, Miami, Denver. In almost every instance, the Hawks are insisting that whoever takes Terry also take on the last two years and $16 million of Henderson's ungodly contract. There's talk that the Blazers, Kings and Lakers are all interested in Mohammed.

While many in the league are scratching their heads, trying to figure out which deal may happen, they may be missing the point. This behavior all seems to be pointing in a different direction altogether. Maybe all of these deals will happen. Every proposed deal has one thing in common: The Hawks get back players whose contracts are set to expire this summer. It makes no sense for them to do this with just one player. The Hawks' payroll is currently $55,994,703. Moving one player would get them out of luxury-tax land, but their hands would still be tied as far as the cap goes. If they could move Ratliff and Rahim, they could slip anywhere from $8 million to $10 million under the cap. If they could package Terry and Henderson together, they could clear another $9 million. Dump Mohammed, as well, and another $4.7 million comes off the books. If Babcock was "wrong across the board," why not pluck every feather you can out of the decaying Hawks?

Finances and cap flexibility aren't the only incentives for the Hawks to hold a fire sale. Babcock, who was convinced the Hawks would be a playoff team this year, traded away his 2003 first-round pick to the Bucks as part of the Robinson deal. The pick is top-three protected, but unless the Hawks start losing more games, it's probably gone.

"We were willing to burn that pick, because the history of that stage of the draft is you get role players," Babcock said. "If we knew it was going to be [a high lottery pick], then we would've thought twice about it. I go back every day and rethink every single move I've made in this rebuilding process to see what went wrong and why we're not better than where we are."

Babcock told Sports Illustrated last week that "there's no one more aggressive than we are" on the trading market. However, he continues to tell local reporters he isn't shopping anyone. "We don't market our players," he told the Journal Constitution. "We have players we'd prefer to keep and build around, [but] we're talking to everybody about every conceivable possibility to straighten it out, because we don't want to ride the course the rest of the season." But everyone, including Babcock, sees through that.

The only real question left is whether Babcock will be around this summer to rebuild the Hawks once again.

"The thing that's really bothered me isn't people are calling for [my] job, but Stan Kasten's," Babcock said. "Calling for my job is fine. I'm the one that made the decisions. It's absolutely unfair for people to be calling for Stan's job. He hired me to do this. He's the boss. I feel badly because I put him in a bad spot. If he decides he needs to make a change, that's his decision. I would respect his decision, but my fondest wish would be to see this thing through to completion."


Heat, Nuggets, Magic trying to massage the cap

Speaking of cap woes and free-agent dreams gone bad, three interesting stories appeared today that could have some impact on what happens before the Feb. 20th trade deadline and during the free-agency period the summer. We'll start with the good news.

LaPhonso Ellis is willing to sacrifice his $3.4 million contract option for next season in order to give the Heat more cap space this summer. Ellis told team officials that he's willing to waive that provision in his contract. There has been talk for the last few weeks, after an Insider report detailing Ellis' contract incentives, that the Heat would be forced to waive Ellis before Feb. 14th. Ellis' contract stated that if he was on the Heat's active roster for 120 games, it became guaranteed for 2003-04. Ellis was on schedule to hit 120 games on the 14th.

The move does allow Ellis to finish the season with the Heat. But while Pat Riley was quick to praise his forward for his unselfishness, he didn't offer him any guarantees he'll have a job next season.

"He's one of the best guys that I've ever had as a real ally," Riley told the Sun Sentinel. "As a coach, you need guys that are going to be for you, your system, what you do, the culture, everything. . .We'd like to keep him, but he belongs on a contender. When we got Fonz, because of all those [veteran] players we had at that time, he could really help us. But now we're at the opposite end of the spectrum with all these younger guys." With Ellis' salary off the Heat's cap, they should have anywhere between $5 and $7 million to spend on free agency this summer.

The Nuggets are also looking to clear a little more cap room before the summer hits. Right now they're looking at around $18 million in spare change to spend on a top free agent or two. With max starting salaries expected to start in the range of $10.5 million next season, that won't be enough to offer to max contracts. That's why there have been so many rumors surrounding Marcus Camby. He's one of the few players on the Nuggets' roster who could clear away a significant amount of cap room if he was traded for an expiring contract. However, recent reports out of Denver had the Nuggets exploring a contract extension with Camby.

That's led the Nuggets to look for cheaper alternatives this summer. As the Rocky Mountain News reports today, Clippers small forward Corey Maggette may be at the top of their list. If they offered Maggette an offer sheet starting at about $7 million a year, the Nuggets, who realistically figure to be about $18 million under the salary cap on July 1, still would have enough dough left to offer a player a maximum deal.

"He's a guy who couldn't shoot at all [when he entered the NBA in 1999]," Cleveland coach Keith Smart to the Mountain News after watching Maggette score 34 points against his team Monday. "People backed off from him and let him shoot. That guy has worked on his game. He's playing as well as any small forward in the league."

While Maggette isn't ready to commit to anyone (and don't forget he's a restricted free agent), he says he likes Denver. "I think Denver is a nice place," he said. "I know [Denver general manager] Kiki [Vandeweghe]) very well and some of their staff. But we have to wait and see what happens. You can't close the door on anyone. If it's an option in the summer, it's an option."

Magic GM John Gabriel has to be sick when he hears Denver complaining about being only $18 million under the cap. Gabriel's been working for years to get the Magic around $13 million under the cap this summer so he could make a second run at Tim Duncan. But with revenues and the cap falling in recent years, and a couple of bone headed moves (I'll never understand why they gave Pat Garrity all that cash last summer after being so frugal for years), the Magic are looking at somwhere between $2 and $4 million in cap space this summer (not even the $6 million the Orlando Sentinel reported today).

That won't be enough to land Duncan, Jermaine O'Neal or Michael Olowokandi. Even guys like P.J. Brown, Elden Campbell and Juwan Howard are probably out of their reach. That's why the Magic have been so active, of late, trying to make a trade with one of their expiring salaries. Their best shot is packaging someone like Andrew DeClercq and Darrell Armstrong for a low-post player while they still have the chance..

grbh
01-31-2003, 12:04 PM
Shareef for Steve Smith and Danny Ferry. I know that helps Atlanta's cap situationwith expiring contracts, but can't the Hawks get more for him.

jayC
01-31-2003, 01:18 PM
The Spurs would be taking candy from a baby with that deal. There aren't that many impact free agents after Duncan and Kidd.

Evilmav2
01-31-2003, 01:58 PM
Thanks for the Insider post Outlet. It's too bad we don't have much in the way of players with expiring contracts any more. I still remember Cuban going nuts trying to make a Shareef Abdur Rahim deal go down with Vancouver two years ago. I wouldn't be surprised to see him and Nelson try to move mountains to be in that trade talk...

jayC
01-31-2003, 03:27 PM
The trade won't work it was declined on Real GM. I could see how it would work for the Spurs. Wow they would be good with another option in the post. Duncan
Shareef
Jackson
Parker
Ginobli.
Wow that' s a team.

Atlanta has to get more than Ferry and Smith surely Finley would be that acquistion for the Hawks.
Raef/Bradley
Dirk/Eddie Najera
Shareef/Walt Williams
Griffin/
nash/Nick
A lot of balance on offense at least extra post player. Not small ball necessarily. Just balance. Two big guys that you can post people. Would have a legup on Sacramento. In the front court.
Atlanta not bad Finley might look really good in the East.
terry
finley
Robinson
Ratliff
Then again maybe we don't do anything.

LRB
01-31-2003, 04:05 PM
JayC if I'm understandin your post right, you're advocating trading Fin for Shareef and starting Nick at the 2 guard? Or in other words going with Small Ball full time?

jayC
01-31-2003, 06:19 PM
Not two guard's all the time. Griffin would start at two. The offense would be centered in the post. Not at the guard's. or you could slipp Walt William's to the Two. And let him pull-up. Off of doubles in the post. Big men are hard to find, guard's their are a ton of them. Maggette couldn't be their next year. And if I could play three 7'0" at both ends of the ball without liabilies at either side of the ball you do it. Nellie loves big ball and the zone might work well with this line-up it would be match-up hell for opponent's

Take a look at the Stats he shoots 47% from the field. Compared to Finley's pedestrian 43% from the field. And sometimes this season we have trouble grinding out points in the half court. If you could swing maybe Van Exel and Walt William's still a better offer than the Spurs.

Steve
Finley
Griffin
Dirk
Raef
Sixth man
Shareef

centrlpark08
01-31-2003, 06:21 PM
I dont like that trade, its not like shareef can shoot the three? and finley is just better but reef and younger.

LRB
01-31-2003, 06:53 PM
<< And if I could play three 7'0&quot; at both ends of the ball without liabilies at either side of the ball you do it. >>



Shareef is 6'9&quot; not 7'0. Atlanta needs a PG more than a shooting guard and needs to dump salary as well. NVE would be a better, but necessarily good, than Fin. Shareef will give us a post game if he doesn't have the same problems that Juwan had. Namely being matched up with taller and bigger defenders. I don't think that he is a good enough post player to build your team around. Quite frankly, I'd rather see Dirk in the post that Shareef. I think we get more benefit out of Dirk down there than Shareef long term and possibly even short term. Still Shareef is a good player and probably worth NVE if the Hawks would be willing to pull the trigger. I just wouldn't pay much more for him than some cash and possible a draft pick or TAW.

jayC
02-01-2003, 10:02 AM
Okay if you could swing a deal with Van Exel + Rigs. or whoever and 3 million max. I would do that too.
nick + popeye+walt or raja. Walt, Pops, both have expiring contracts after the season. Save at least some on the cap and then if cuban adds 3 million then the trade looks pretty good.

centrlpark08
02-01-2003, 02:08 PM
Would the hawks make that deal? It sounds to good to be true, and have many years is left on reefs contract?

LRB
02-01-2003, 02:33 PM
<< Would the hawks make that deal? It sounds to good to be true, and have many years is left on reefs contract? >>



Ah the multimillion dollar questions. i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif

centrlpark08
02-01-2003, 02:39 PM
not much help LRB...

aexchange
02-01-2003, 06:27 PM
hawks wouldnt do that deal.

hawks want to clear salary cap room, not make a lateral move by taking more salaries in return. the only real tradeable commodity we have besides the big 3 is avery johnson, and thats because his salary expires next season.

while, the hawks making a trade with the mavs instead of the spurs is a better move in terms of talent, its a lateral move in terms of dumping salary which is their objective.

centrlpark08
02-01-2003, 07:08 PM
That was what i was looking for. Hey Aexchange, do you think we could get the all-star ilgauskus and ricky davis here without any problems?

scooterj5
02-01-2003, 07:37 PM
I'm very skeptical about Shareef. His teams have never ever won more than what like 25 games, on 2 different teams in about 7 years.

centrlpark08
02-01-2003, 09:39 PM
I feel sorry for him but atlanta is his hometown?

grbh
02-02-2003, 12:07 AM
Z has a couple more years on his contract, so I could see the Cavs possibly willing to give him up in the off season.

It would take NVE+draft pick+money+spare probably to make it happen. Hard to say.

LRB
02-02-2003, 12:15 AM
At least with a summer trade we could see if he could stay healthy for most of a year. Thanks my biggest fear about Z. We trade for him, and he gets and stays injured. Ala Greg Buckner, Gary Trent, Kurt Thomas, and a host of other past players.

scooterj5
02-02-2003, 08:09 PM
Thanks a bunch for posting these Insider articles Outlet! Great stuff i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif

MFFL
02-02-2003, 10:34 PM
Dallas trades: PG Nick Van Exel (12.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.4 apg in 27.0 minutes)
C Evan Eschmeyer (2.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.0 apg in 9.5 minutes)
Dallas receives: C Zydrunas Illgauskas (18.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.5 apg in 31.0 minutes)
Change in team outlook: +3.3 ppg, +3.7 rpg, and -2.9 apg.

Cleveland trades: C Zydrunas Illgauskas (18.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.5 apg in 31.0 minutes)
Cleveland receives: PG Nick Van Exel (12.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.4 apg in 37 games)
C Evan Eschmeyer (2.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.0 apg in 2 games)
Change in team outlook: -3.3 ppg, -3.7 rpg, and +2.9 apg.

TRADE ACCEPTED

Drbio
02-02-2003, 10:48 PM
Even I would probably do that one.

MFFL
02-02-2003, 11:16 PM
We would obviously have to throw in a couple of firsts and the $3 mil kicker. But this is assuming that they want to dump Z

centrlpark08
02-03-2003, 10:27 PM
hey then why wont someone go email mark cuban and let him know about getting Z? maybe he'll consider thinking about it......i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif

OutletPass
02-03-2003, 11:17 PM
You're welcome Scooterj...and for those wondering about Z...there's more talk today on ESPN about him being made available.

BrianJ
02-03-2003, 11:23 PM
What do u want Z for? He is going to get hurt anyway.Would rather have the mantis and Raef then him anyday. Even if we got him nellie would not have him Raef and Dirk on the floor at once. Way to tall. Plus we need defense we have the mantis.

MFFL
02-03-2003, 11:34 PM
edit - I'm not in the mood to discuss Bradley.

LRB
02-04-2003, 12:00 AM
<< I would trade the mantis for an old hound dog and then shoot the dog. I hate Bradley. >>



Hate is a rather strong word. i/expressions/face-icon-small-frown.gif

MFFL
02-04-2003, 12:04 AM
edit - I'm not in the mood to discuss Bradley.

jayC
02-05-2003, 10:39 PM
Big Z is even better. If money expiring contracts and stars are the game steve nash is the most tradeable contract. If you could swing a deal to get Gasol and who ever that would make us better. Gasol is younger and is a good post player.

Second thing maybe you can dump Bradley and Van Exel.

BigZ/Raef/Eschmeyer
Raef/Dirk/najera
Dirk/Griffin
Finley/Walt Williams
Nash/Johnson

We would finally have balance with the lineup to challenge the kings this year and beyond.
Or if we could swing a deal for Gasol and maybe give up Nash.
Raef/Bradley
Gasol/Griffin
Dirk/williams
Finley/Bell
Nick/Johnson
That's a pretty balanced lineup right their.

jayC
02-06-2003, 12:42 PM
Central everyone on this team can shoot the three. Its not the end all of games.

jayC
02-06-2003, 12:44 PM
My question is how many people knew that the maverics were involved with Denver in trade talks. If I am a gm do i want to show my hand before it happens.

centrlpark08
02-06-2003, 05:12 PM
jayC, i didnt know nothing about the nuggets rumors last season. I was shocked that dallas even talked to them, i heard it and was very surprised that it happned and it shows how nellie and cuban think, so you never know who they have they're eyes on.