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It's official. Antoine Walker is a Hawker and Tony Delk's been dealt. Atlanta gave up Jason Terry, Alan Henderson, and a complicated first round pick that starts next season and comes from Philadelphia, but potentially doesn't get delivered to Dallas (in which case Atlanta pays a penalty of $1 million).
In the best of all possible worlds, Atlanta would still land Erick Dampier, though the big guy is focusing more on New York these days. If they somehow are able to nab him, then the Hawks have a starting five of Dampier, Walker, Al Harrington, Josh Childress, and Boris Diaw, or alternatively even starting Delk in place of Diaw, who would be the first guard off the bench. Is that a good team? Is that a "competitive" team? Eh.
Walker's skills are as versatile as Lamar Odom's, though Walker tends to flourish more in the half-court game than in the open court, while Odom is the opposite. Harrington is solid at the three. Dampier is solid at the five. Childress at the two? Delk at the one? Hmm....
The Hawks are not done dealing and growing. It will be interesting to see where Walker ends up after next season. The man who claimed the trade by the Celtics last year to the Mavericks was the most lopsided trade in history has been traded again, and will probably be moving for a third time in as many years next summer. He is in a contract year and he'll be getting the ball as often as he likes.
Expect him to explode in 2004-2005.
The Hawks have released their 2004-2005 season schedule.
Our own Patrick J. Austin ofHoopsworld.comwrites: This deal could be more about finances rather than improving the team. By trading away Terry's contract, which doesn't end until 2006, and picking up Walker's expiring deal, we will have an additional seven million dollars in cap space next summer. Why is that so important? Mainly because next summers free agent crop is going to be loaded with talent. Tracy McGrady, Ray Allen, Zrydunas Ilgauskas, Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, and Zach Randolph could all potentially be available.That additional seven million dollars will certainly come in handy when negotiating with these guys.
Curtis Bunn ofThe Atlanta Journal-Constitutionwrites: Billy Knight readily admits there is much more work to be done -- "We need to get bigger, we need shooters, rebounding, defense, shot-blocking -- other than that, we're all right," he said Wednesday.But Knight let it slip that he believes his latest acquisitions are promising for his bluprint to rebuild the Hawks. The additions of all-star forward Antoine Walker and serviceable guard Tony Delk from Dallas became official, prompting Knight to say: "I think we can be competitive."
Marty Burns ofSports Illustratedwrites: Walker, a three-time All-Star, was a poor fit in Dallas' system but he's a proven scorer. He should help a paper-thin Hawks frontcourt that lost Theo Ratliff and Shareef Abdur-Rahim at last season's trade deadline.More important, Walker won't cost much. He is in the last year of a contract that will pay him $14.6 million this season, meaning the Hawks can clear him from the books and get as much as $20 million under the cap next summer. That could enable Atlanta to make a run at a top-tier free agent. Or Hawks GM Billy Knight could decide to trade Walker at midseason to a contender desperate for frontcourt scoring help. Delk, meanwhile, gives the Hawks a veteran combo guard with scoring punch to help man the point.
The Jackson Clarion Ledgerwrites: Asked when the Hawks — 28-54 last season — can be competitive, Knight said: "I really don't know. We're not finished doing anything yet."... The Hawks see Walker as a crucial piece in their rebuilding efforts. The 6-foot-9 Walker can play either forward position. He has averaged 19.9 points in his career, including 14 points with 8.3 rebounds last season. Like Terry, the 6-2 Delk can score from the point guard position but is too small for a full-time role at shooting guard. He averaged 6 points last season. Henderson, a 6-9 center/power forward, played only six games last season due to a knee injury.
Art Garcia ofThe Ft. Worth Star-Telegramwrites: Jason Terry first daydreamed about playing for the Mavericks a little more than a year ago.He sat in the stands at American Airlines Center as the Mavs took on Sacramento in the 2003 Western Conference semifinals, chatted with owner Mark Cuban about the series and visited with players in the locker room. It left a lasting impression... The draft choice the Mavs receive from Atlanta could come as early as 2005, though it's a lottery-protected pick that originally belonged to Philadelphia. If the pick rolls over, it's subject to further restrictions for the following two seasons. Should the Hawks not convey the pick, the Mavs receive $1 million.
Christian Giudice ofToday's Sunbeamwrites: While listening to Atlanta Hawks forward and straight-to-college product Al Harrington talk about the world in which few high school basketball players ever inhabit, Schalick's Paul Gause absorbed the advice and formed his own decision."(Harrington) said that sometimes the situation makes people leave early and that it was something that he doesn't regret," said Gause. "I can see how it helps going to college for one or two years. Look at a guy like (Connecticut's) Charlie Villanueva who didn't have a great year, but will get a lot of experience. "He might have gone to the NBA and never been the same."