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Citing a “source,” the reliable Ken Berger of CBS Sports just reported, via Twitter, that free-agent center Erick Dampier has narrowed his list of teams with which he’d sign to three; the Hawks, once rumored to be a potential destination, do not appear:
The Heat, Rockets, and Nuggets were mentioned alongside the Hawks in earlier reports. Their presence here, minus the Hawks’, strongly suggests that Dampier has declined Atlanta’s offer.
The Hawks will soon learn if their overtures to free-agent center Erick Dampier worked. His agent, Dan Fegan, told FOX Houston that Dampier “plans to make his decision by Thursday.” The Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, and Miami Heat are the other teams Dampier is considering, according to the report.
A fourteen-year veteran, Dampier became a free agent last week when the Charlotte Bobcats waived him, thus removing his nearly fully unguaranteed, $14 million salary from their cap. He is now free to choose a new team.
Atlanta could certainly use Dampier’s size and skill up front. Though strictly a finisher and garbageman on offense, Dampier is gifted defensively, averaging at least one blocked shot per game in each of his last ten seasons, and at least seven rebounds per game in each of his last seven seasons. The Hawks are indeed aware of the value a sound, defensive-oriented center can provide, as the Orlando Magic swept them out of last year’s playoffs partially due to their inability to contain Dwight Howard inside.
We pointed out yesterday Mark Berman’s report that the Hawks plan to court the recently waived Erick Dampier, a defensive-oriented veteran of 14 NBA seasons. Today, it appears that the interest between the Hawks and Dampier is mutual. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that Dampier will visit with the Hawks, Heat, and Rockets in the coming days to decide on his future. While Wojnarowski classifies the Hawks as a “potential sleeper” to actually land the coveted center, the fact that Dampier has put them on his shortlist is certainly a reason for optimism.
Kris Willis of Peachtree Hoops, SB Nation’s Hawks blog, weighed Dampier’s pros and cons yesterday. While he would certainly help the team as a legitimate backup center to Al Horford, the real issue is that signing him to a fair contract would put Atlanta over the luxury-tax barrier. Willis says it seems “highly unlikely” that the Hawks would commit to paying the tax for merely a backup center, especially considering they just signed Etan Thomas on the cheap to “provide some of the toughness and size that they have been chasing for two seasons now.”
We’ll see how it all shakes out in the coming days. While Wojnarowski does not mention a timetable for Dampier’s decision in his report, it seems likely that he would like to choose a new team before training camps open at the end of this month.
So far this offseason, the Hawks have tried to address their need for a reliable big man by re-signing Jason Collins, signing Josh Powell, and signing Etan Thomas. They may not be finished; Mark Berman of Fox Houston reports that the Hawks have joined the Heat, Raptors, and Rockets in making overtures to Erick Dampier. The Charlotte Bobcats waived the 14-year veteran earlier this week in order to clear his $13 million salary from their books.
Atlanta may have an advantage over most teams because it can still offer Dampier the full mid-level exception, as it has yet to use it this offseason. The money comes atop the almost surefire guarantee of ample playing time, as he would give the Hawks an effective, physical defender in the low post to use against the East’s burliest centers, such as Orlando’s Dwight Howard.
Dampier owns career averages of 7.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocked shots. Additionally, he does not make many mistakes on offense, having converted more than 60 percent of his shot attempts in each of the last four years.
The Atlanta Hawks have officially signed free agent center Etan Thomas according to numerous reports.
Arthur Triche, the Atlanta Hawks Vice President of Public Relations, noted on Twitter that “Thomas will wear #36, recently familiar to Hawks fans by way of Royal Ivey and Rasheed Wallace.”
Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution corroborates Jorge Sierra’s earlier report—which we noted a few days ago in this StoryStream—about the Hawks’ imminent signing of veteran big man Etan Thomas. Thomas will come aboard “within the next few days,” Cunningham says, for a deal worth the minimum salary for nine-year veterans.
The Atlanta Hawks may soon round out their big-man rotation, as Jorge Sierra reports they’re close to a deal with center Etan Thomas, an eight-year veteran. Thomas averaged 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 28 games with Oklahoma City last year. He spent the first seven years of his career with the Washington Wizards.
Well, that was short-lived. Michael Cunningham was all over this one. Almost as soon as the reports about the Hawks’ supposed interest in Earl Boykins surfaced, Michael Cunningham responds in his blog.
But I figured maybe the Hawks wanted to bring Boykins to camp as some kind of insurance, so I checked it out. I was told there’s nothing to it, that it’s a “crazy rumor” and that the Hawks are still focused on adding a big man. So it looks like Boykins won’t even get a camp invite from the Hawks.
MC was right, this rumor didn’t make a great deal of sense, as having another defensive liability at PG to take minutes away from Jeff Teague didn’t seem advisable. Earl Boykins was really the last type of the player the Hawks need, since Jamal Crawford will take a lot of point guard minutes as well. And the search for a 13th man continues.
The Hawks still haven’t addressed their need for additional size up front—unless one counts re-signing Jason Collins and adding Josh Powell—but they aren’t blind to the other holes in their roster. RealGM’s Christopher Reina reports that the Hawks have indeed “reached out” to 5-foot-5 point guard Earl Boykins, an 11-year veteran.
Boykins, 34, spent last season with the Wizards, for whom he scored 6.6 points in 16.7 minutes. His best asset is that he can fill up the scoring column, which is remarkable considering his small stature. For the right price, Boykins could be a decent fit for a Hawks team lacking in bench production, as well as depth at point guard behind Mike Bibby and Jeff Teague, though his iffy shooting (42.7 percent last season) should stand out as a red flag.
Atlanta still has the full mid-level exception ($5.7 million) and the bi-annual exception ($2.08 million) to use if it so desires.
Well, the Hawks didn’t wind up landing Shaquille O’Neal. That honor went to the Boston Celtics.
Now it’s back to the drawing board for Atlanta, who still needs another big man. Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution assesses the landscape.
The Hawks still are in the market for a center (I’ve still heard nothing to indicate they are seeking a wing) and they have veterans Francisco Elson, Brian Skinner and Josh Boone on their radar. Not so much Kwame Brown, who is thought to still be seeking a deal for more than the vet minimum.
Beyond those options, I also could see the Hawks waiting to see if any centers shake free as teams buy out vets when training camps open. They also might consider bringing some young center prospects to camp and give them a month to earn the 13th roster spot. There is some interest in Garrett Siler but he’s got a lot to prove after a bad showing at Summer League.
That, my friends, is the bottom of the bucket.
After the Hawks apparently couldn’t afford his services, Shaquille O’Neal has signed with the Celtics for the league minimum $1.4 million.
Peachtree Hoops commenters: disappointed or relieved?
Jeff Schultz: disappointed.
The book on Shaq seems to be that he’s as over the hill as a future Hall of Famer can be, making him the perfect fit for the Celtics. He’ll love playing for a team that staggers through regular seasons and turns it on for the playoffs. The Hawks, of course, are the exact opposite, thriving in games that don’t count. Shaq to Boston is simply a perfect match between player and team.
Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse recently chatted with power forward Josh Powell, one of the newest members of the Atlanta Hawks, about the coming season. Powell, a five-year veteran, spent each of the last two years with the L.A. Lakers. At 6-foot-8, he figures to bolster the Hawks’ depth at center and power forward.
Povtak says Powell isn’t sure about his role:
“I haven’t talked much about how they plan to use me, but I know they wanted me,‘’ Powell said. "I know they are looking for guys who can play.’’
But that uncertainty shouldn’t be a problem. “[T]he Hawks know I’ll do whatever I’m asked,” Powell said.
Powell owns career averages of 3.8 points and 3.0 rebounds. Atlanta, on top of being his sixth NBA club, is sort-of his hometown team. Though born in Charleston, SC, he attended Riverdale High School, which isn’t far from downtown Atlanta.
Atlanta Hawks management is hopeful that Jason Collins, whom the Hawks re-signed after one unremarkable season in the Highlight Factory, can contribute more this year than he did last year, reports Michael Bradley of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Atlanta thinks Collins will be more effective in 2010-11 because he will be in better shape. Word is he’s already lost a significant amount of weight. Also, ASG’s Michael Gearon Jr. is on record as saying (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) he didn’t think Collins was properly utilized by Woody [former Hawks coach Mike Woodson]. So maybe L.D. [new Hawks coach Larry Drew] gets Collins gets more minutes.
To review, he only played 115 minutes over 24 games last year, scoring 16 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and committing 21 fouls. Almost anything would have to be an improvement.
The reaction from Hawks blogs echoes that sentiment. SB Nation’s own Peachtree Hoops says “I would have much preferred someone with a little more upside to them,” while Hoopinion writes that signing him with the expectation that he’ll contribute is “breathtakingly misguided.”
While the possibility of adding free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal lingers, the Atlanta Hawks made another move to shore up their frontcourt by re-signing Jason Collins, reports Lang Whitaker of SLAM Online.
A nine-year veteran, Collins played in 24 games for the Hawks last year, averaging 0.7 points and 0.6 rebounds. He provides size and fouls to use defensively against the league’s beefier centers.
Sekou Smith of NBA.com did some digging over the weekend and learned the Atlanta Hawks may not have abandoned their pursuit of free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal after all:
An extended conversation with one Hawks official over the weekend led to at least a few minutes of discussion about the Big Teamless One. And despite rumblings to the contrary, the Hawks have not abandoned the idea of O’Neal joining the size-deficient frontline rotation that already includes All-Star center Al Horford, Defensive Player of the Year runner-up and power forward Josh Smith, starting small forward Marvin Williams and reserves like Zaza Pachulia and Josh Powell (whose signing has yet to be announced officially).
“The Shaq situation is not a dead subject for us,” the Hawks official told me. “We are still exploring the possibilities.”
Smith worked the Hawks beat for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for five years, according to his NBA.com bio, so there’s no reason to doubt his connections or authenticity.
Smith, rather boldly, says the only “glitch” that could stop Shaq from landing in Atlanta is “another team sliding in there and taking Shaq off the market before the Hawks can get their affairs in order.”
The Atlanta Hawks have their eyes on a big man… but it’s not Shaquille O’Neal. David Aldridge reports on NBA.com that the Hawks are close to adding former Los Angeles Laker Josh Powell.
The Atlanta Hawks are close to addressing their need for a backup big man by acquiring Los Angeles Lakers reserve forward Josh Powell on a one-year deal expected to be for the veteran minimum $992,680, according to league sources. Powell is expected to pick the Hawks over Cleveland, Chicago and New Jersey in the next couple of days.
Aldridge writes that the move could signal a change of direction away from Shaq for the Hawks.
They explored centers like Brad Miller, who wound up signing with the Rockets, and looked into free agent Shaquille O’Neal, but weren’t willing to promise him the money or minutes he was seeking.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that the Dallas Mavericks have ruled out adding free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal, which makes the Atlanta Hawks the league’s only team currently known to be interested in the all-time leading scorer among active players.
However, the Hawks are unwilling to break the bank for Shaq:
No team out there, including Atlanta, is known to be willing to pay Shaq more than $2 million for next season.
Stein says O’Neal is seeking a salary north of the $5.8 million mid-level exception. For him to wind up in Atlanta, the Hawks would have to change their financial stance, or O’Neal would have to be willing to accept less money. Neither outcome looks especially likely right now.
Chris Tomasson of NBA FanHouse reports that the Atlanta Hawks have eliminated free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal from their wishlist due to financial concerns.
A source close to the situation said Thursday that Atlanta’s ownership doesn’t want to exceed the luxury-tax threshold of $70.307 million. The Hawks are about $4 million shy right now.
Tomasson emphasizes this point later when he writes, “the directive from ownership to not exceed the luxury tax has altered” the Hawks’ interest.
This one just keeps going back and forth. Are we shipping forward Marvin Williams to Cleveland in a sign-and-trade for Shaquille O'Neal or not? The latest, from Brian Windhorst:
Windhorst earned himself quite a bit of street cred during the LeBron rose ceremony, at least on Speculation Street and the other mean streets of Reporter County.
790 The Zone is reporting that a sign and trade between Cleveland and Atlanta for Shaquille O’Neill is close to being done. The Hawks would be sending Marvin Williams to the Cavs.
It takes two to trade, and right now both the Hawks and Cavs are complaining about their dancing shoes being too tight, the DJ playing too many new songs, and having eaten so much beforehand that they now feel all bloated and sluggish. (That last part applies mainly to 2010 Shaq.)
Michael Cunningham reports that the Hawks think Shaq’s requests of $8 million per, plus a starting job, are about as crazy as selling a draft pick or trading a proven sixth-man for a second-round pick. Except they’re not going to do it. (ht Peachtree Hoops)
You’d hesitate to proclaim a weird roster move dead, particularly when Hawks management is present, but it looks like the big fella won’t be a Hawk this year.
Mark Bradley of the AJC added his take on the rumor today, giving his 5 different reasons why he’s not very enthusiastic.
5. This has Moses Malone written all over it.
I recommend you read the whole thing.
From Michael Cunningham at the AJC, don't get your Shaq jerseys just yet:
I can confirm at least the Shaq half of this story: He’d be interesting in playing for the Hawks, according to a person with knowledge of his free-agent desires. But a person familiar with Atlanta’s plans said it’s doubtful the team has made such an offer this early in the free-agent process. The Hawks are seeking a bulky center, and ASG is said to be willing to use the mid-level exception and pay some luxury tax if necessary to do so, but so far it doesn’t appear the Hawks have decided whom else to target after re-signing J.J.
From Hoopinion, here is some more analysis:
Paying Shaquille O'Neal approximately $12 million for his age 38 and 39 seasons to be a marginal upgrade over Zaza Pachulia while taking minutes away from the three Hawks on the most reasonable contracts (not to mention potentially increasing the chances Josh Smith plays the 3 more often) doesn't strike me as a great allocation of resources but, hey, Shaq's really, really famous and nothing says a franchise is serious about winning like signing famous people, right?
It sounds like most people would be excited to have Shaq initially, but after a few months the cache might wear off.
Free-agent center Shaquille O'Neal is seriously considering a two-year deal with the Hawks that starts at the mid-level exception of $5.8 million, according to NBA sources close to both the team and the future Hall of Fame player. [...]
"I think he wants to see how everything shakes out with all the free agents, but he's seriously considering Atlanta's offer,'' said the source who asked that his name not be used. "He wants to play two more years, and he wants it to be with a contender. He thinks he can help them become a serious one.''
The chess pieces keep moving for the Hawks. One of their stated (and obvious) off-season goals was an upgrade in the middle, and while Shaq is entering his "Just For Men" years, a motivated Shaq could be a good veteran presence to have in Atlanta, even of he wouldn't be as effective on the court.
Another point of bringing Shaq to Atlanta would be the PR spin of the move. The Hawks need to do something to drum up interest in a franchise that is all but forgotten about by many Atlantans, and a big named player like Shaq would certainly help put more buts in the stands.
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