Harrington a Happy Hawk But K-Mart Opts For Denver's Blue-Light Special

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Al Harrington will become a happy Hawk today in exchange for a possibly even happier re-signed Stephen Jackson. But Jackson is not the only player optimistic Atlanta fans won't see next year: Kenyon Martin has opted for Denver's blue-light special offer over an identical one from the Hawks.

Martin will reportedly sign a hugely front-loaded maximum contract. It is not clear if the Atlanta offer was equally front-loaded. To put it in perspective, Martin will be paid something like $20-30 million in his first year, of which $15 million is a signing bonus that for salary cap purposes is averaged out over the six-year deal worth approximately $80 million in total. For payment purposes, however, the Nets would have to pay a whole lot of money today just to keep K-Mart in New Jersey, and it is unclear how far new owner Bruce Ratner will go to keep his triumphant triumvirate of Martin, Jason Kidd, and Richard Jefferson together. Either way, Martin will not be a Hawk next season.

And neither will Stephen Jackson, though this comes as no surprise. Jackson used Atlanta as his own personal stage to display the skills that the Spurs spurned him on, and that the rest of the league underrated in thinking that he was benefiting primarily from playing alongside Tim Duncan. Well, Jackson's seeming blunder in not signing a more lucrative contract with the Spurs paid off, as the cheapskate contract he signed with the Hawks led him to his huge payday today. Hawks fans will keep a warm place in their hearts for this temporary visitor. At the very least, Jackson played more games than Rasheed Wallace as a Hawk.

Harrington joins a team that is already overcrowded at small forward, and with Martin out of the picture, he will likely find himself playing a lot of minutes at the power forward position, where he is likely to be outmatched by many opponents though not by all. Harrington would probably play better as a small forward but when the rest of the roster includes nothing but small forwards and you are one of the most talented players on the roster, if not the most talented, then you succumb to the law of competitive advantages, and you play power forward because even though you would be a somewhat better small forward than the #2 option, you are a significantly better power forward than that #2 option.

Harrington should see this as his moment to shine. If not this year, starting on a lowly team where he should get lots of minutes, then where? He has essentially orchestrated a trade by telling Larry Bird in Indiana that he wanted to be moved to a team where he could get more minutes. He neglected to say, however, that he wanted those minutes to come at the small forward spot.

Be careful what you wish for.

On the other hand, Harrington could play the four-spot in the mold of Kevin Garnett or Lamar Odom: a little thin to defend the bigger guys but a lot quicker and able to score more on the offensive end, and score with style and panache on drives and penetrations.

There's a flip side to everything. Let's hope Harrington is happy here as a Hawk.

The Hawks will participate in the Reebok Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City, Utah from July 16-24. Their first game will be versus the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, Friday July 16th at 4:00 p.m. EDT/2:00 p.m. MDT. Other teams participating in the RMR include the Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle Sonics, and host Utah Jazz. The remainder of their RMR schedule is as follows:

*Friday, July 16th - Charlotte - 4:00 p.m. EDT
*Saturday, July 17th - Seattle - 6:00 p.m. EDT
*Sunday, July 18th - Bye
*Monday, July 19th - Phoenix - 4:00 p.m. EDT
*Tuesday, July 20th - Dallas - 6:00 p.m. EDT
*Wednesday, July 21st - Bye
*Thursday, July 22nd - Utah - 10:00 p.m. EDT
*Friday, July 23rd - Bye
*Saturday, July 24th - Portland - 4:00 p.m. EDT

Bridgett Nesbit ofThe Charlotte Observernotes: "NOTHING BUT NET:" The YMCA of Iredell County, 828 Wesley Dr., Statesville, and Bill Fitzgerald, a former NCAA Division I coach who worked with the NBA Atlanta Hawks for five years, will present a basketball campfor boys and girls ages 10-14 called "Nothing But Net," 9 a.m.-1 p.m. July 26-29. Guest speaker will be former N.C. State University and ABA and NBA great David Thompson. Cost is $75 for YMCA members and $150 for nonmembers. A limited number of scholarships are available. Details: (704) 392-9748.


Mark Montieth ofThe Indianapolis Starwrites: The Pacers and Atlanta Hawks will begin consummating a trade of Al Harrington for Stephen Jackson today, but Indiana won't necessarily stop there.Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh and president Larry Bird continue to investigate other ways to improve their roster, with center Erick Dampier still a candidate for a trade.

Ryan Thorburn ofThe Daily Camerawrites: The Daily Camera confirmed on Tuesday night — after the 10:01 p.m. free-agent signing period officially began — that Denver could not agree on a sign-and-trade deal for New Jersey's Kenyon Martin and that the Nuggets offered the Nets restricted free agent a maximum contract offer in the six-year, $83 million neighborhood. Martin, who received the same proposal from the Atlanta Hawks, is expected to sign Denver's front-loaded offer sheet today.That means he will only be moving to the Pepsi Center next season if New Jersey decides not to match the deal in the next 15 days.

Marc J. Spears ofThe Denver Postwrites: A sign-and-trade deal the Nuggets attempted with the New Jersey Nets collapsed Tuesday, according to Nets president Rod Thorn. Once that happened, the Nuggets were preparing to present Martin a heavily front-loaded, six-year offer sheet that would pay him as much as $85 million. An NBA source said Martin is expected to sign the offer sheet today over a similar offer put forth by the Atlanta Hawks.Free agents technically could begin signing as early as 10 p.m. Tuesday. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that Martin informed the Hawks he will sign with Denver.