Originally created 01/27/99

Hawks re-sign Corbin, have starting five in place



MARIETTA, Ga. -- After spending nearly six months wondering who would be on his team, Lenny Wilkens is pleased that his roster has finally taken shape.

The Atlanta Hawks' coach now has all five returning starters in place following the re-signing Tuesday of Tyrone Corbin. The 13-year small forward, who had averaged approximately $600,000 as a starter the last two seasons, agreed to a one-year, $2.8-million contract.

Corbin's agreement came less than four days after power forward Alan Henderson re-signed with the team.

"We're having to make some quick decision," Wilkens said at the Hawks' training facility at Life University. "At the same time, I want to get guys in great shape but not injured.

"I want to go into this season healthy. I don't want to get too far behind (in the won-lost column) to anybody."

Wilkens will spend the rest of the week fine-tuning his roster. Because of the labor impasse that started July 1 and ended last Wednesday, each NBA team will be allowed to carry 14 players for the first two weeks of the season.

Atlanta, which will extend its two-a-day practices through Thursday, plays only two exhibition games -- both against Charlotte. Following a 7:30 p.m. game Saturday at the Georgia Dome, the 50-game season officially starts Feb. 5, when the Hawks play host to Cleveland at the Georgia Dome.

For Henderson, who agreed to a seven-year deal worth $45 million Saturday night, the Hawks' future is now. Named the NBA's most improved player last year, Henderson joins a lineup that includes point guard Mookie Blaylock, shooting guard Steve Smith and center Dikembe Mutombo.

"We all know each other's game real well," said Henderson, whose emergence last April allowed the Hawks to trade Christian Laettner to Detroit Friday. "We've been together here for a few years. We'll really be ready to make a statement."

Wilkens glows when asked about team depth. Backing up Blaylock, who missed Tuesday's morning workout with a stomach illness, will be Anthony Johnson, who played in all but four games as a rookie last year in Sacramento.

Mutombo will have the support of free-agent signee Mark West, a 15-year veteran who has changed teams eight times, and Scot Pollard, who played sparingly as a rookie last year and was acquired in the Laettner deal.

Roshown McLeod of Duke and Shammond Williams of North Carolina, the Hawks' top two draft choices last year, will back up Corbin and Blaylock, respectively.

And Ed Gray, who missed most of his rookie season last year with a fractured ankle, should provide some scoring punch behind Smith.

"I think we'll be deeper this year," Wilkens said with a slight grin. "I feel like we have guys who can really play. The young guys can really play. We've added some veteran players.

"All of a sudden, I've got two guys behind Mookie. Who did I have as a real legitimate point guard last year? I didn't have one."

NOTES: Highly regarded free agent LaPhonso Ellis reportedly has narrowed his choices to Utah and Atlanta. If they land Ellis, who was treated to a lavish tour Monday by general manager Pete Babcock, the Hawks' roster would be set.

The two players Atlanta will keep for the first two weeks of the season will be chosen from among guard Jeff Sheppard and forwards Chris Crawford, Bakari Hendrix and Kebu Stewart -- all of whom can remain with the team until Feb. 5.