--In their quest to fill the hole left by Josh Childress' departure, the Hawks signed guard Ronald "Flip" Murray to a contract. Terms were not disclosed. Murray played for the Pistons and Pacers last year and has a career average of 9.3 points per game, 2.4 assists per game and 2.0 rebounds per game.--C Randolph Morris didn't wait for the free agent process to take its course. He sought out his break and pounced on it when the Hawks reciprocated the interest he showed in his hometown team.
"So few people get those second opportunities," Morris said last week from the Hawks' headquarters in downtown Atlanta. "I'm happy they extended the offer to me so I could start over, so to speak. I didn't get a chance to play as much as I wanted to in New York. So I'm just starting over and trying to rewrite things for myself."
Morris finished each of the past two seasons with the Knicks, though he played sparingly behind an overstuffed frontcourt group headlined by Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry.
"In New York I was sort of lost in the sauce in, per se," Morris said. "It was my first year and we had people that were already experienced in the grind of the NBA and it was hard for me. The opportunities were few and far between. But now I'm working from ground zero with a chance to work my way up."
The Hawks needed someone like Morris, a 6-foot-11, 270-pound center/power forward who immediately challenges Zaza Pachulia for the title as the team's largest player.
They just had no idea they'd be the hunted and not the hunter, an interesting about face from the usual dynamics of free agency.
After all, it was Morris that made the first move, contacting the Hawks about the possibilities of joining them. And it was Morris that suggested he take part in the mini-camp so the team could get a better look at him.
"That opportunity to look at him and analyze that he has an upside and some depth and that he's young probably sealed the deal," Hawks general manager Rick Sund said Friday morning after presenting Morris with his No. 33 jersey. "He was already on our board but he sought us out initially. But that's basically how all of this materialized."
Where it goes from here is up to Morris. And he knows it, especially after the humbling start to his NBA career -- he's averaged 2.6 points and 2.0 rebounds in just 23 career appearances -- in a city and NBA market that feasts on the weak.
"I think living back here in Atlanta is going to be a much better fit for me," Morris said, before adding that his phone hasn't stopped ringing with calls from family and friends congratulating him and wishing him well. "It's exciting, the newness of me coming back home. Everybody's thrilled. But I'm trying to make it a positive experience for everybody."
--New Hawks swingman Maurice Evans brought Josh Smith's name up, unprompted, 90 seconds into his opening statement during a gathering at Philips Arena where he was introduced to the local media and presented with his Hawks jersey.
"Whenever you played here you knew you were going to have to deal with all these athletes, all these guys who could run and jump and block shots, guys like Josh Smith," said Evans, who will wear be wearing the No. 1 jersey vacated by Josh Childress this season. "You hope that things will take place and that we can get him back in uniform and go after a playoff spot again."
A team with Smith, Childress and Evans all in the same rotation was the original blueprint, Hawks GM Rick Sund said. But an unpredictable free agent summer wreaked havoc on the most meticulously scripted plans -- until the Hawks had to match Memphis' offer sheet for Smith to keep him.
Evans wasn't sure where he was going to end up before things heated up with the Hawks. He too entertained overtures from European teams as well as several other NBA teams interested in adding him to their mix.
He found security, a three-year deal worth $2.5 million a season, and opportunity in the same place with the Hawks; a team Evans kept an eye on last season when he was starting for the Hawks' Southeast Division rival Orlando.
"Obviously, it's important when you go to the playoffs and hadn't been in a long time you probably don't want to shake things up too much," Evans said. "In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes teams make is when you're having success and then you try to bring in different pieces that might upgrade your situation and you end up downgrading it. And now you've set yourself back. You can't afford to take those steps back."
--The Hawks signed two of their summer league players to contracts. G Thomas Gardner and C Othello Hunter. Terms were not disclosed.
"Both players played well in our mini-camp and summer league," said GM Rick Sund. "Thomas is a solid shooter with range, who has the ability to score in bunches. Othello is an athletic power forward who runs the floor really well."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm hoping my acquisition and keeping this team intact will really allow us to keep moving forward. Because the East(tern Conference) has gotten better throughout free agency. It was a wild free agency summer to say the least, but I'm really happy with my situation and really happy with (GM) Rick (Sund) bringing me here and hoping it will be a good situation for everybody." -- New Hawks swingman Maurice Evans.