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The Atlanta Hawks have only a handful of players under contract yet the expansion rules dictated they must expose at least one player for the Bobcats to select. So the Hawks exposed Captain Alan Henderson, whose $8.5 million salary next season was expected to dissuade the Bobcats from selecting him, whether for themselves or as trade bait for someone else.
The ploy worked perfectly.
Captain Henderson is still a Hawk. Atlanta fans everywhere don't need to adopt a phony pirate accent and shout aye-aye, Captain, bye-bye, Captain. Henderson is here to stay.
The 6-9 forward/center played in just six games this past season, his ninth in the league (all with Atlanta), and his last six seasons have been a textbook example of a steady decline. He had a breakout 1997-1998 season in which his minutes doubled, he set what would be career-highs in points and assists, and he was named the NBA's Most Improved Player. Atlanta quickly inked him to a seven-year, $45 million contract, and almost immediately his minutes and production started disappearing.
From the 30 minutes or so he averaged at his peak, he gradually fell to 25, then 20, then just 10 in his six games this last year.
Captain Henderson is in his last year as a Hawk, and will be a free agent at the end of the summer. Right now, his biggest benefit to the Hawks is as trade bait for teams looking for expiring contracts, though given the Hawks' penchant for such contracts themselves, the 32-year-old Henderson may just come off of Atlanta's books at the end of the summer. It is not clear if he will retire immediately.
It's been a long journey for the man who was drafted 16th overall by Atlanta way back in 1995.
The Hawks will have a draft party on Thursday at 7pm. For details, click here.
Our own Patrick J. Austin ofHoopsworld.comwrites: The Hawks enter the offseason with a plethora of options on how the team can be rebuilt.We have two 1st round picks, 2 2nd round picks, and over 20 million dollars in cap space. This is my blueprint for the team, in which we become a young, but competitive ball club, ready to take the East by storm...
Dan Miller ofThe Minnesota Dailywrites: There are 31 players who have declared early entry into Thursday’s NBA draft. Most of those players haven’t graduated college, and 11 are still in high school. Minnesota’s leading scorer and Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Kris Humphries, is on that list. His decision to forgo the remainder of his college career follows in the footsteps of two other recent Minnesota post players. Joel Przybilla declared himself eligible for the 2000 NBA draft in his sophomore season. Przybilla is now with the Atlanta Hawks, where he only played in 17 games this season. He averages 15 out of 48 minutes per game in his career.
Curt Conrad ofThe Mansfield News Journalwrites: With the NBA draft a little more than 24 hours away, all Ricky Minard can do is wait... collegehoopsnet.com has Minard going 34th to the Atlanta Hawks.
Jorge L. Ortiz ofThe San Francisco Chroniclewrites: 17. Atlanta: Al Jefferson, 6-10 forward, Prentiss High (Miss.). After filling a need earlier in the draft, Hawks go for sheer potential in a high schooler with a man's body.
Lacy J. Banks ofThe Chicago Sun-Timeswrites: The Hawks have new owners, are still seeking a new coach and are compelled to select the best players available.They could select a center in the second round.