Las Vegas–It looks like the free-agent center situation finally is starting to shake out, with Atlanta’s (and Shaq’s) options dwindling:
– The Hawks are still in the running for Brad Miller.
“There is definitely mutual interest,” agent Mark Bartelstein said today. “Where that’s going to lead, it’s tough to say. There are a lot of things he’s looking at. Nothing has been decided.”
Boston and Miami also reportedly have been talking to Miller, but a return to Chicago is still a possibility. Bartelstein said Miller could make a decision by the end of the week.
The Hawks apparently think Miller would be a good fit in L.D.’s offense. He had been a good outside shooter for years but slipped in that area last season. So too did his defense and rebounding for that matter.
But Miller’s Synergy numbers in the post were pretty good at .87 points per possession on 204 possessions, suggesting he’s still tough around the basket. Actually, Miller is a pretty tough guy, period, and the Hawks probably could use some of that nastiness.
– Another Bartelstein client, Kwame Brown, also remains interested in the Hawks. Bartelstein said Brown has visits scheduled with a few teams but the Hawks aren’t among them. The Celtics liked Brown after working him out but apparently can’t offer him the kind of money he’s seeking after they gave their full mid-level to Jermaine O’Neal.
Brown has the body and athleticism to be a good defender but his opponent PER raises some questions. Interesting comments on BRown from Doc Rivers to A. Sherrod Blakely of NECN.com: “He’s a better athlete than I thought. I wouldn’t mind having him on our team, I can tell you that. He could help us.”
– Hawks target Zydrunas Ilgauskas is headed to the Heat. Some persuasion from LeBron convinced Big Z to reunite with him in Miami for a minimum deal with a player option for the second season.
– For some reason, there is still speculation that Shaq might join the Heat. Has everyone already forgotten how he torched the organization on his way to Phoenix? I checked in with some Miami peeps I can assure they haven’t forgotten down there. It looks like the Mavs are still interested in Shaq, but after re-signing Brendan Haywood they likely want him for a bench role.
Atlanta’s discussions with Shaq are still in the preliminary stages. My interpretation of that is Shaq is hedging on his money (remember, dude made $21 million last year) and accepting a bench role and is waiting to see what happens in free agency before committing to any team.
He better not wait too long if he wants to play for a winner. I’ve noticed that the reports about Shaq to the Spurs have quieted down. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein doubts that’s a real possibility because San Antonio isn’t interested in a “chemistry experiment.” I know the Hawks take pride that their guys don’t usually stir things up, so that’s a strike against Shaq.
– Anthony Tolliver remains a possibility for the Hawks but he’s viewed as more of a power forward than center. Tolliver also reportedly is drawing interest from the Wizards and Jazz.