Antoine Walker to Hawks for Terry, Henderson

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Antoine Walker, former Celtic, former Mav, is soon to be a former Hawk. Dallas reportedly traded him to Atlanta for Jason Terry and captain Alan Henderson, according to Peter Vecsey of the New York Post. Walker is in the last year of his deal and will be a free agent come summer 2005. Is Al Harrington going to take an unexpected back seat to Walker in terms of playing time? Or will Walk be playing an undersized center again, like he did in the last part of the season with the Mavs?

Walker is a vocal leader and a versatile point forward. He is ideally suited to play the small forward position, though virtually every coach that has had him has tried to plug him into a power forward or even center spot. The problem is that while he loves shooting three pointers, he doesn't make very many of them. That's probably his biggest weakness. Apart from that, Walker is quick to find teammates with open looks, thrives on moving the ball around, and can be a potent offensive force.

In Atlanta, he will likely play the power forward spot, moving Harrington to the small forward, and Josh Childress either to the bench or to the shooting guard spot.

Is Boris Diaw going to play point guard?

Expect the Hawks to be involved in the remaining free agent market for point guards, particularly Bob Sura, if this deal is finalized.

In other news, the NBA's scheduling department has pretty much given the finger to the Atlanta Hawks, at least in terms of starting the regular season, and that particular finger is the hitchhiker's thumb. Atlanta opens up the 2004-2005 season with a three-game Western Conference road trip. Their role is to play whipping boy to the Suns, Sonics, and Lakers as those teams rev up their seasons in front of rabid hometown fans.

Atlanta's reward for all that mileage? A one-day return for their home opener against LeBron James before being shipped back out to face New Orleans.

But then it'll get easier, right? Ah, the naive hope of a diehard Hawks fan. I'm as sorry to inform you as I was to learn myself that the next phase of the early regular season involves three straight games against title contenders in the Spurs, Rockets, and Pacers. But fortunately, the Spurs and Rockets are at home, and being just the second and third home game, it would really get Atlanta's season off to a rocking start if they could topple just one of those monsters.

A couple losses though might make the people at NBA TV rethink their decision to have one Hawks game broadcast on national TV. That's right, folks: the Celtics-Hawks game of January 22, 2005 is the only Hawks game of the entire season that seems to be on for any national coverage at all, and that is on NBA TV. One slight scheduling change and suddenly the Hawks are this year's invisible team.

The Hawks have (reluctantly?) released their 2004-2005 season schedule.


Peter Vecsey ofThe New York Postwrites: While Jamal Crawford is expected to join the Knicks as soon as today in a trade with the Bulls, it looks like Isiah Thomas will lose out on another piece he'd hope to bring to the Garden — Antoine Walker. That's because Walker will be traded tomorrow from the Mavs to the Hawks for Jason Terry and Alan Henderson, a league source revealed.Walker, a forward, never really fit in during his one year with the Mavs, and was hoping for a deal to either the Sixers (where he'd have been reunited with ex-Celtic coach Jim O'Brien) or the Knicks.

Mike Kahn ofSportsLine.comwrites: The Warriors continue to sit back with Erick Dampier, contemplating the sign-and-trade offers from the Grizzlies, Pacers and Knicks.Obviously, none of them have been exceptional or he would be gone already. And once the Atlanta Hawks -- with all the conceivable cap space to sign him to a maximum contract for six years -- didn't offer that kind of deal, it left Dampier and agent Dan Fegan to work with the Warriors. Dampier was the 10th pick overall of the 1996 draft by the Pacers, who dealt him in the summer of 1997 to the Warriors with Duane Ferrell for ... yes, present Warriors president Chris Mullin. Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh has always liked Dampier, and it's a plus that they're in the East, but it's hard to fathom the Pacers have as much to offer as the Grizzlies. And if the Knicks put Kurt Thomas in the package, that will be enticing. Sitting back with big eyes are the Phoenix Suns, but how much money they are willing to give up to a sometimes injury-prone Dampier is a question mark ... and is he worth Shawn Marion and the eight-figure contract that comes along with it? No, but the Suns could tempt the Warriors with Howard Eisley, second-year 6-11 talent Zarko Cabarkapa and a No. 1 pick for a fewer dollars. Bet on Jerry West reeling him in to the Grizzlies.

The Seattle SuperSonics announced in a press release: The Seattle SuperSonics will tip off their 2004-05 regular season on Nov. 3 when they travel to Los Angeles to meet the Clippers. The Sonics home opener will be Nov. 5 when they host the Atlanta Hawks.

Chris Vivlamore ofThe Atlanta Journal-Constitutionwrites: The Hawks' home opener might well be a sellout. Thanks to LeBron James. After starting the season with three road games, a first in Atlanta history, the Hawks will host James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the team's 2004-05 home opener.James, the NBA Rookie of the Year and an Olympian, will be at Philips Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. 

Jose Garcia ofThe Arizona Republicwrites: New Suns Steve Nash and Quentin Richardson head an uptempo lineup, and Richardson's fiancee, R&B singer Brandy, won't hurt attendance. The Suns' season opener is at home Nov. 3 against Atlanta.