--Jeremy Richardson had every reason to believe he'd finish the 2006-07 season with the Hawks. He played well in two 10-day stints with the team last season and appeared to have carved out a niche for himself on a roster full of developing young talents. But it never happened.After playing five games with the Hawks he moved back to the basketball hinterlands to finish out the season and moved on. Now he's back and sticking with the Hawks for the remainder of this season after completing the second of two 10-day contracts Saturday. And if things go as planned, Richardson will be with the Hawks through the summer, into next season and perhaps beyond.
"That's what I'm hoping for," the second-year swingman said before the Hawks faced off with the Orlando Magic Monday night at Amway Arena. "It's good to know that you'll have the security for the rest of this season and this is definitely something good to have on my resume. I can focus now on doing whatever I can, in however many minutes I see, to help this team get to the playoffs."
After the Hawks traded for Mike Bibby Feb. 16, a four-for-one swap with Sacramento, they needed bodies to fill out the roster. Richardson was coming off of a MVP performance at the NBDL All-Star Game that same weekend in New Orleans. The timing, this year, couldn't have been better for Richardson, who averaged 6.6 minutes in the nine games he's seen action in for the Hawks this season.
"We liked him last year," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Now we have to develop him through the summer and since we don't have any draft picks this summer, we can use him like a 11th or 12th man, because he has some skills to work with. He just hasn't had the reps needed yet to be totally confident in what he can do out there. But that will come."
--Hawks rookie point guard Acie Law IV finally made his return to action against the Magic. Law missed 10 straight games with a sprained right wrist suffered on a nasty fall during a Feb. 20 loss in Sacramento. Without his backup point guard available, Woodson has had to shuffle his lineup and squeeze more minutes out of some guys than was ideal. "I've got to start playing (Law) so I can maybe cut Bibby's minutes down to about 30," Woodson said. "I want to keep him fresher. He hasn't had a real breather because we haven't really had anybody behind him." Bibby's played on a bruised right heel since his opening night with the Hawks.
--Forward Josh Smith admits to being something of a "so-so" math student in school. He's well aware of what it will take for the Hawks to get to the playoffs, though. Sitting on 26 wins (and 36 losses) before Monday's game, 12-14 more wins all but guarantees the Hawks a playoff spot in the feeble Eastern Conference. "We don't really know what the cut off is going to be," he said. "So what you've got to do is go out there and win as many as you can. You get to 38 to 40 wins and you figure you've got a shot to get in."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought we took a huge step defensively against Miami (on Saturday), and we took a huge step backward against this team." -- Hawks coach Mike Woodson to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on his team's effort against Orlando.