--C Zaza Pachulia said it four years ago but no one took him seriously at the time.He said he was going to become a part of the fabric of Atlanta and the Hawks, a bold statement at the time for a 21-year-old free agent center still in the diaper stage of his NBA career.
Turns out he was right.
The free agent agreed to terms July 8 with the Hawks on a new four-year deal worth $19 million. Pachulia played a significant role in the Hawks' rise from the bottom of the league standings the year before he joined the team to now.
This past season he started 26 games with both Al Horford and Josh Smith missing significant time due to injuries. Pachulia averaged 6.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game, saving one of his best outings for the playoffs.
He came off the bench to score 12 points and grab a playoff-career high 18 rebounds to help the Hawks to a crucial Game 4 win on the road against Miami in their first-round playoff series. The Hawks had lost back-to-back games before that but rebounded to win the series in seven games.
--The Hawks are monitoring two other players, but it's not certain if either one will be in uniform for them this season. Josh Childress and David Andersen are under contract with European teams but have until July 15 to opt out and play in the NBA.
Both would take major pay cuts to play for the Hawks. And Childress has made clear his preference to play elsewhere after he was unable to secure a deal to his liking from the Hawks last summer, his first as a restricted free agent.
No one knows what's going to happen until it happens, which is surely just the way both players want it.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Mike was the main difference for us. We had some good guys, some vets and young guys over the years that came in and held it down for us at point guard. But things changed for the better when Mike Bibby showed up. And nobody can argue that." -- Hawks forward Josh Smith, on Mike Bibby's impact on the team.