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News » Bibby, Pachulia happy to return

Bibby, Pachulia happy to return

Bibby, Pachulia happy to return
Mike Bibby arrived first, sporting jeans and a blue shirt. His jacket was still on a hangar.

Zaza Pachulia showed up shortly thereafter, dressed to the nines as usual.

Both men were smiling when they hit the door, verification that this summer is off to the kind of start Hawks coach Mike Woodson hoped for when the free agency period began two weeks ago.

"This is huge," Woodson said Monday, when the Hawks made their formal announcement that the veteran free agents had signed multi-year contracts. "We've been talking about it since our season ended in May. This is what we had to do, keep this group together and keep pushing forward."

Bibby signed his three-year, $18 million deal. Pachulia followed, signing his four-year, $19 million deal.

That guarantees that six of the Hawks' top eight players will return next season. And talks are ongoing with restricted free agent Marvin Williams, who is also represented by Pachulia's agent, Jim Tanner.

"This is no introductory press conference," Hawks general manager Rick Sund said smiling. "This is a 'welcome back' press opportunity for two guys that really wanted to be here."

Bibby said there was no doubt he wanted to remain in Atlanta. After guiding the Hawks to back-to-back playoff trips, he said it would have been difficult to go elsewhere.

"I knew all along I wanted to come back," he said. "It was really on what the team wanted to do. And things worked out. The fact is, teams are making moves in the Eastern Conference this summer. And we were right there last season, so we had to keep our guys and maintain our continuity.

"You play better the longer you've been together. That's one of the main things I've learned over the years playing in the NBA, that consistency matters. Just look at the winning teams."

Pachulia signed a similar deal four years ago, when the Hawks were trying to climb out of the basement of the league standings. He's still stunned by the dramatic turnaround.

"Four years is a long time and we've been through a lot around here," Pachulia said. "To leave all this behind, the fans and the hard work that's gone on, would have been tough. It would have been hard to go somewhere else and start over. I would have done whatever I had to, but it's good to be on a team that knows what it's like to have success.

"And no matter how you cut it, to improve every year and keep getting better the way we have, that shows you something."

They have their starting point guard and backup center back in the fold, but the Hawks are far from finished with their summer work. They still have to work out a deal for Williams, and Tanner said that while the sides continue talking, they aren't close to an agreement.

The Hawks are exploring options with restricted free agent Josh Childress, who has until Wednesday to decide if he wants to opt out of his contract with Greek power Olympiakos and try to return to the NBA next season.

Sund said he and his staff have been multi-tasking all summer, working every angle to maintain the team's momentum.

"You're juggling all these things at once," Sund said. "You have to. You just can't focus on one thing. So you're doing all of it at the same time and it's just a matter of which ones come together first. These two guys really wanted to be here, and once their agents got that message they were very cooperative in getting something done that worked for us and worked for them."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: July 14, 2009


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