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News » NBA scramble begins

NBA scramble begins

NBA scramble begins
Hawks general manager Rick Sund doesn't have enough hands for all the phones he'll need for keeping things straight this month in free agency.

It'll help that he's detail-oriented because the Hawks have as many or more T's to cross than any team in the NBA.

Four of the Hawks' top eight players became targets for the rest of the league today.

Mike Bibby, Zaza Pachulia and Flip Murray are unrestricted free agents. Marvin Williams is a restricted free agent.

That means Sund and his staff either have to re-recruit their own players or find replacements between now and the start of training camp.

"The one thing I've learned in the free-agent world is that the only thing that is predictable is that it's unpredictable," Sund said. "When you're talking about unrestricted free agents --- and I'm not just talking about our players, I'm talking about all of them --- they can go wherever they want.

"We're going to sit down and talk to our guys that are free agents, and hopefully we can get something done there. If we can't, we'll look at the free agent world and continue to look at trades.

"We've got a pretty good core right now of players that are under contract. Hopefully, the summer will progress and we'll continue to become a stronger ballclub. What we want to do is keep the teams behind us behind us and see if we can close the gap on the teams ahead of us."

The Hawks fortified themselves at point guard last week by trading for Jamal Crawford and drafting Jeff Teague on the same day. They traded two point guards for Crawford, Acie Law IV and Speedy Claxton.

Any fortification in the frontcourt, however, will have to be done now. Josh Smith and Al Horford are the only rotation frontcourt players who are under contract. Reserve big man Solomon Jones is also a restricted free agent this summer, as is swingman Mario West.

Pachulia is sure to be a target for other teams, mainly because quality 7-footers at reasonable prices are hard to find. He just finished a four-year, $16 million deal with the Hawks and stands to command more on his next deal.

"We'll see how things go," Pachulia said via e-mail Tuesday afternoon. "All you can do is watch how the negotiations go and move on from there."

The Hawks got burned last summer in their negotiations with Josh Childress, who at the time was a restricted free agent. When talks slowed between his representatives --- who also represent Pachulia and Williams --- and the Hawks and it appeared his options might be running out for a better deal elsewhere in the NBA, Childress opted for a groundbreaking $32 million contract with Greek power Olympiakos.

That's one of the reasons Sund said the Hawks moved the way they did to acquire Crawford before the draft.

"Who would have thought he'd have the opportunity to make the amount of money he made in Europe?" Sund said. "And good for him. Jamal gives us a bird in the hand with a pretty good and talented club, and it provided us with another asset. This wasn't done strictly for free agency."

But it was absolutely done with free agency in mind. And now the Hawks have decisions to make about how best to allocate funds for Bibby and Murray, whose price tags are to be determined.

"There's just total uncertainty in [unrestricted] free agency," Sund said. "I can't stress that enough. So all we can do is prepare ourselves the best we can and let the process play itself out."

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Added: July 1, 2009


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