Originally created 06/26/02

Hawks willing to sit out another first round

ATLANTA -- For the second year in a row, the Atlanta Hawks don't have a pick in the first round of the NBA draft, though they've heard from plenty of teams willing to fill that void.

"We could get a first-round pick right now," said general manager Pete Babcock, who was manning the phones Tuesday. "We could probably have our choice of six different picks. But we're not motivated to be in the first round of the draft just to be there. It has to be to get someone we like."

The Hawks, who have missed the playoffs three years in a row, aren't likely to make a move until the draft begins Wednesday night - if they do anything at all.

As it stands, Atlanta will make its lone pick in the second round, No. 37 overall. The Hawks would have picked No. 8, but they gave up their first-rounder three years ago in a trade to acquire Lorenzen Wright from the Los Angeles Clippers.

Wright was eventually dealt to Memphis, along with last year's first-round pick, in the trade that brought All-Star forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim to the Hawks.

Several teams are willing to give up their first-round picks this year so they don't have to take on the financial burden of a three-year guaranteed contract.

Babcock has several areas he wants to address during the offseason, starting with perimeter scoring and defensive toughness. The draft is unlikely to provide immediate help, so the Hawks are more interested in making a trade for a veteran player.

"Three years from now, we'll probably look back and see this was a really good draft," Babcock said. "But it's so young. There's a good number of talented players who won't play the first year. It will probably take three or four years to figure out the validity of this draft."

Besides, the Hawks haven't had much luck of draft day. In the past decade, they've only picked one first-rounder, Jason Terry, who's made a major impact. Along the way, they've picked such flops as Ed Gray, Priest Lauderdale and Doug Edwards.

"The best avenue for improving our team is through a trade," said Babcock, who has taken most of the heat for the Hawks' poor draft record. "Even if we still had the No. 8 pick, we'd probably get a player who's not going to help us immediately."

Babcock said he's already had major trade talks in the past month, though he's not sure if he'll be able to land the type of player he wants. If nothing else, he believes the Hawks will get a major boost from having Theo Ratliff, who missed nearly all of last season with a hip injury.

"We're adding an all-star center to our roster immediately," Babcock said. "That's a major, major addition."

But he'll keep the phone lines open Tuesday night, just in case.

"If we see a guy out there we're interested in, we'll do something," Babcock said. "If not, then we won't use it."


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