Atlanta Hawks: Damien Wilkins asked to provide defense, toughness

The Hawks declined to sign a defensive-minded wing player over the summer or after Marvin Williams and Mo Evans went down with injuries last month.

They quickly added that type of free agent in the wake of Joe Johnson’s surgery, signing veteran swingman Damien Wilkins to a prorated veteran’s minimum contract today.

“I think we’ll get a hard-nosed player, a guy who plays hard,” coach Larry Drew said. “A good defensive player who gives us a guy with size that can defend the [shooting guard] and the [small forward] spot. I’m more focused on his energy and the toughness that he brings and he’s a solid defensive player. That’s something you can never have enough of. We are very pleased to have him on board.”

Drew said Wilkins would get a “crash course” in the team’s schemes today but he wasn’t sure if Wilkins would dress for tonight’s game against Philadelphia.

Wilkins, 30, is a six-year NBA veteran who played last season with Minnesota and appeared in two preseason games with Memphis in October before being waived. He played two collegiate seasons at Georgia after transferring from North Carolina State.

Wilkins, the son of former NBA player Gerald Wilkins and the nephew of former Hawks star Dominique Wilkins, said he had conversations with the Hawks over the summer. The Hawks called again when Evans and Williams were out.

“But that’s all it was, [just] conversations,” he said.

Wilkins said he had recently contemplated signing with a D-League team so he could stay visible to NBA teams. He finished a workout Thursday and noticed he had multiple missed calls from his agent, who was trying to reach him with the news of Atlanta’s interest.

“I feel like a rookie all over again,” Wilkins said. “This is like a dream come true to play for a team that has been my favorite team pretty much my entire life watching my uncle play here. I still can’t believe it. It hasn’t hit me yet. I am sure it will when I suit up.”

Johnson is expected to miss at least a month after he had surgery to his right elbow Thursday. Under collective bargaining rules, Wilkins’ contract would become fully guaranteed for the rest of the season on Jan. 15.

In the meantime, Wilkins said he’s ready to play the role Drew has for him.

“He told me to provide a whole lot of energy and toughness off the bench at both ends of the floor,” Wilkins said. “He told me to mainly come and have a defensive impact on the game because that’s what this team needs to get to the next level. Those are things I can do.

“Offensively, I think we have a team that is certainly capable of scoring, so I am not assuming they are looking at me to come in and be Joe Johnson and replace what he can do offensively. That being said, the offense is catered to everyone. The opportunities will eventually come. But where I want to make my impact is defensively, toughness and energy off the bench.”

MC

90 comments Add your comment

Jae Evolution

December 3rd, 2010
1:12 pm

Good finally a gritty veteran who plays DEFENSE, hopefully he gets instant minutes when he understands the plays and he fits in perfectly with this team, this guy can bang in the open court.

Kdog

December 3rd, 2010
1:14 pm

LyonsJimmy

December 3rd, 2010
1:20 pm

Freshmaker

December 3rd, 2010
1:22 pm

Nice! Damien should fit in well here. I remember when he went off on the Hawks a few years ago when he was with the Sonics. Glad to have a Wilkins in a Hawks uni again. :)

Grandad

December 3rd, 2010
1:23 pm

A prelude to Dec 15th perhaps?

RicoNiles

December 3rd, 2010
1:24 pm

Trade for Andrew Bogut and give up Mo Evans, Teague, and a Draft Pick. Nice pick up in Damien Wilkins.

northcyde

December 3rd, 2010
1:31 pm

A good signing . . I guess. We’ll see if he can contribute at the level Drew thinks he can. Etan Thomas needs to be cut altogether.

But the signing of Damien means that Jordan Crawford will be glued to the bench, unless Teague or Evans get hurt . . . or Teague just flat out plays horrible.

They should just send Jordan to the D-League, so that he develop his in-game skills.

Jamaaliver

December 3rd, 2010
1:31 pm

I’ve been advocating bringing in D Wilkins since his days in Seattle. Great pick-up for us.

northcyde

December 3rd, 2010
1:33 pm

Grandad . . . what’s gonna happen Dec. 15th?

ILL-Logical

December 3rd, 2010
1:53 pm

Interesting.

Section 303

December 3rd, 2010
1:53 pm

northcyde, I think Grandad is suggesting the Hawks will make a move then. December 15 is when guys who were signed or re-signed in the off season can be traded.

I like the Wilkins signing. My lasting memory of him is scoring 40 + on the Hawks three years ago. Hope we see that again….though, something tells me we won’t.

DTC

December 3rd, 2010
1:55 pm

I don’t know much about Damien, but I know his dad used to give Michael Jordan fits when they played against each other. Gerald was a very good defensive player. What would you expect, when he grew up playing against his brother every day. Hope a little of his dads defensive skills has rubbed off on him.

Grandad

December 3rd, 2010
2:06 pm

northcyde

Dec 15th is the date that FA’s, who signed over the summer,
can be traded. [example - Joe Johnson]
Although I do not expect Joe to be traded.
Rumors (around the League) are that some deals have already
been consumated. (if the Clippers are involved make your own joke)
I cannot remember the all the names that I’ve heard bandied about,
however, J.Childress is one.
My speculation [hope], as always is that the Hawks will try and
improve sooner than later. (trade deadline)
Others rumored to possibly be traded on Dec 15:
Melo, Chris Paul, Nash, Bosh…..
“rumors are made up unless they’re true”

Melvin

December 3rd, 2010
2:07 pm

Good move Hawks….

Ramon

December 3rd, 2010
2:12 pm

This was a good add for the Hawks. I am curious to see Wilkins’ quickness now.

Grandad, we can only dream.

Grandad

December 3rd, 2010
2:16 pm

G-Dad’s *Holiday Special* Trade O’the Day

G-State gets:
Marv, JC2, Jeff Teague + 1st round pick

Hawks get:
Monta Ellis

This one has nothin’ to do with Dec 15th.

{MAC-Town Georgia 478}

December 3rd, 2010
2:16 pm

Freshmaker

December 3rd, 2010
1:22 pm

Nice! Damien should fit in well here. I remember when he went off on the Hawks a few years ago when he was with the Sonics. Glad to have a Wilkins in a Hawks uni again
…………….

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=271116001

yea that was quite a game

KOOL

December 3rd, 2010
2:23 pm

Let him wear #21 !!!!

Patrick

December 3rd, 2010
2:28 pm

LOL, the first broadcast with Nique on the mic is going to be hecka interesting, wouldn’t you think?

Ramon

December 3rd, 2010
2:29 pm

Grandad, what would you think of the Heat trading Bosh for Nash and Lopez?

I think that deal may wouldn’t be terrible for the Heat. They’d get the PG they need, and can run with who can shoot the jumper consistently. And the C that will help defend the post. Also it would allow Haslem, Anthony, and Howard to man the PF position in the playoffs.

Grandad

December 3rd, 2010
2:30 pm

G-dad’s *Holiday Special* Trade O’the day………#2

T-Wolves get:
Marv, Jeff Teague

Hawks get:
Corey Brewer, Luke Ridnour, & Kosta Koufos

This trade *would* be a Dec 15th trade!

Ramon

December 3rd, 2010
2:31 pm

Grandad, I would do that deal any day of the week. And its hard to think that GS wouldn’t either.

really tho?

December 3rd, 2010
2:31 pm

if damien is “ALL THAT” why was he not on someone’s team already?

terrell

December 3rd, 2010
2:31 pm

Been screaming for the Hawks to sign this guy for 5 years now. Bout time. Now get rid of Etan and sign Damien for the rest of the season. Finally gives us some depth at sf, because for the last time Mo Evans in a sg. Thanks Sund. Good signing. Too bad it took an injury for you to realize it. But anyway, Wilkins makes the bench even deeper, especially when Joe comes back.

Grandad

December 3rd, 2010
2:34 pm

Ramon

I’m against anything that helps Miami and that would help Miami.

Haslem out for the year, latest I heard?

Awful PR for PHX.

Bosh has been exposed!

ant banks

December 3rd, 2010
2:36 pm

‘rell,

how many minutes do you see damien gettin’? i saw that game where he lit us up for 30+, but what is the skinny on him? why was he released last yr by minnesota and why had no one picked him up this yr until hawks got him?

The Truth

December 3rd, 2010
2:38 pm

“But where I want to make my impact is defensively, toughness and energy off the bench.”

Damien has the right prospective about what is required to become a mainstay on this team. Now, if the Hawks can just upgrade their interior, they would be set. Will that happen? Knowing Sund, I doubt it. Most here agree this signing is late on arrival and should have been done months if not years ago. When Damien was on his game, he has shown to be an impact player. However, how, if or when LD uses him will determine whether Damien can make an impact for the Hawks.

Stuart

December 3rd, 2010
2:39 pm

Defense…energy…? Didn’t we have Mario West for that? We couldn’t have just kept him? But I hope Wilkins does bring the D and E to the table; the Hawks certainly need it!

Ramon

December 3rd, 2010
2:41 pm

@ Grandad, lol. The funny part is, remember Bosh had his best game against Phoenix. I actually think his numbers would be better than Amare’s based on his jump shot alone.

But you’re correct it would help Miami a lot. I wonder if the same package you offered for Monta Ellis, could get the Hawks Nash.

hbcuclassics

December 3rd, 2010
2:41 pm

Thank God, they didnt re-sign Mario West!!!!

Grandad

December 3rd, 2010
2:42 pm

Ramon

I like the GS one better myself.

I sometimes wonder, if Sund ever has a thought?
*Any kind of thought*
Other than “I think I shall have All-Bran this morning”.
I mean, an original thought, a brainstorm,
not something that falls in his lap such as Jamaal.

Sund is a caretaker not an innovator.

ant banks

December 3rd, 2010
2:44 pm

HBCUclassiscs,

mario was adhd and add on defense. lol. but he was an offensive liability, never worked on his offense over the summer?

Grandad

December 3rd, 2010
2:46 pm

Ramon:
concerning Bosh;
“I actually think his numbers would be better than Amare’s
based on his jump shot alone”,
only if Nash were there to get him the ball.

Ramon

December 3rd, 2010
2:49 pm

Grandad,

We agree on the Sund ‘thought’ statement.

Also, Bosh would have Dragic giving him the ball. Dragic would still be the best PG Bosh ever played with, lol.

terrell

December 3rd, 2010
2:49 pm

10-15 min for Damien, backing up Marvin. Possibly more if Marvin turns back into Duck.

Grandad

December 3rd, 2010
2:50 pm

Ramon

I would trade Joe…straight up for Nash.
*[29 for 36] translation – age.

terrell

December 3rd, 2010
2:54 pm

Nash/Evans/Marvin/Josh/Al
Bibby/Jamal/Damien/Powell/Twin
Zaza/JC2.
Not bad Grandad. That’s a tough one. lol!

terrell

December 3rd, 2010
2:55 pm

Forgot about Teague. He’d be glued to the bench anyway if we got Nash, so I guess it doesnt matter. lol!

Ramon

December 3rd, 2010
2:59 pm

Grandad, I’m sorry but you’re on your own for that one, lol. I would trade JC1 and Teague straight up for Nash. But not Joe. Joe is still our best defender at the 2 and the 3. Joe is also the best defender we have against larger PGs. I would trade Joe and Teague for Chris Paul. But if you trade Joe for Nash, than your three main perimeter players (Nash, JC1, and Bibby) are each players who do not impact the game on the defensive end. And knowing in the playoffs you have to go against Rondo, Nelson, Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Rose, and Wade you’re strategically putting yourself at an even greater disadvantage in the 2nd round. Where as now we’re playing 3 on 5 or 4 on 5 on defense. Then we’d be playing 3 on 5 most games. And that would be terrible, when you think about Horford is already not playing great defense against the centers that we’ll likely face in the 2nd round.

terrell

December 3rd, 2010
3:02 pm

Really though, how long did it take you to think of that one? lol! And who said he was “all that”. We need a defensive minded backup 3 on the roster that can possibly hold down the fort until Pape is ready. (If he”ll ever be). Wilkins provides that. Doesnt have to be “all that” to play defense. Hell, most NBA teams focus on offense nowadays. Maybe that’s why he bouncing around? Who cares? He’s here now. We can use all the help we can get. Better than wasting a spot like we did with Etan.

terrell

December 3rd, 2010
3:05 pm

Ramon, you forgot about Mo. He can play a little defense. Unlike the before mentioned. lol!

Tony

December 3rd, 2010
3:10 pm

We have the second highest field goal percentage shooting teams and one of the worst rebounding teams but yet people want to trade for a point guard? I don”t get it

Astro Joe

December 3rd, 2010
3:12 pm

MC, welcome back, I hope that you are feeling better. Not ALL one-year vet contracts are unguaranteed, right until mid-January, right? Or asked differently, can the Hawks dump Collins, Etan and Powell before 1/15 also?

I don’t get the disdain for Etan. Dude was signed to be our 4th center and to play spot duty. Either Etan or Collins were going to be inactive all along (as long as the top 10 were healthy).

Ramon

December 3rd, 2010
3:13 pm

Terrell, you’re right, he’s good on defense (against everyone not named Wade, lol). But Mo would still be the fourth perimeter guy in terms of minutes. Our top three guys would still be Bibby, Nash, and JC1.

Ramon

December 3rd, 2010
3:20 pm

Tony, a defensive minded PG would help the rebounding A LOT. A defensive minded PG (like Paul) would be able to keep the opposing team’s PG out of the lane. Einstein’s ‘reaction’ theory is the perfect explanation of how the rebounding would be better. Each time a PG drives past Bibby or JC1 (which happens majority of the plays), it causes Josh and Horford to react to cover the PG. By the Josh and Horford being forced to leave their man to play help on the driving PG. It leaves the Hawks in a disadvantage for any shot attempt that the PG makes, or any shot attempt that is missed off of a drive and kick out. This would lead to forcing more jump shots as a defense, and keeping our front court players in the best position to box out.

Najeh Davenpoop

December 3rd, 2010
3:22 pm

Wow, the Hawks actually signed someone. I’m amazed.

Marvin better watch his back. If Wilkins can regain his Seattle form (not that he was some kind of All Star there, except when he played the Hawks), he might challenge Marvin as the best SF on this team, not that that’s saying much.

Najeh Davenpoop

December 3rd, 2010
3:27 pm

“Defense…energy…? Didn’t we have Mario West for that? We couldn’t have just kept him? ”

Unlike Mario West, Wilkins actually bas basketball skills. West was a bundle of energy and effort (and fouls) who has no clue what to do with the basketball.

KevinM

December 3rd, 2010
3:30 pm

terrell

December 3rd, 2010
2:31 pm
Been screaming for the Hawks to sign this guy for 5 years now. Bout time

No problem, Sund was thinking about it….about this long too! Our GM is right on it.

Finally a move that makes sense for a team that needs help on defense. Are they finally convinced the defense needs improvement? Dont get comfortable with him though….since he was brought in for Joe, they won’t be sending Pape back overseas.

Damien has a chance to find a role on this team for 4 weeks, then watch from the bench when Joe returns. Give Marvin a battle in practice!

KevinM

December 3rd, 2010
3:33 pm

Now, what to do with Etan, Zaza and Twin…….$6M worth.

Give that money to JC1!

wxwax

December 3rd, 2010
3:33 pm

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the team goes on a winning streak after they ditch the pouty superstar and bring in a journeyman who has grit and can defend?

I know, I know, rainbows and unicorns.

But still, I’d like see the team show some b*lls for a change.