(UPDATE: 9:45 p.m. The Hawks drafted Texas forward Damion James with the 24th pick in the draft. But they are going to complete a trade with the New Jersey Nets for the 27th pick, Jordan Crawford of Xavier, and the 31st pick. Getting a Crawford is huge for the Hawks because he gives them bench scoring. He had a great NCAA tournament and he’s also the player who dunked on LeBron James in a summer camp last year. I’ll be posting a new column soon.)
Welcome to generally the scariest day in Atlanta Hawks’ history, and we speak of course of . . . the . . . draft! (Cue organ music . . . thunder clap . . . loud shrieks from the top of the stair case.)
OK, OK. Actually, things have gotten better in recent years with the drafts of Al Horford, Josh Smith, to a lesser degree Josh Childress, and potentially Jeff Teague. But the ugly history, which includes No. 1 picks like Shelden Williams, Cal Bowdler, Roshown McLeod, Ed Gray and Priest Lauderdale — and the non-drafting of Chris Paul — is tough to overcome.
I’ll be blogging live through the draft, so if you have any questions throw them at me. In the mean time, here are a few items of interest:
♦ Sorry, no Chris Paul (we think): Despite rumors flying of his possible availability — which were given an extra kick when he said he was open to a deal – New Orleans owner George Shinn released a statement, saying: “”We are about building and sustaining a winning tradition. Chris Paul is the cornerstone of our franchise and brings us unequaled support on and off the court. We will continue to build around Chris Paul, and we want to see him in a Hornets uniform for the remainder of his career.”
It’s worth noting that the words, “We will not trade Chris Paul,” aren’t in the statement. New Orleans Times-Picayune’s John DeShazier has a terrific column summarizing this sensitive topic with the Hornets. And yeah, I’m still wondering how a Josh Smith-for-Paul swap could re-shape the Hawks.
♦ Our projected top 5 picks: 1.) Washington: John Wall, PG, Kentucky. 2.) Philadelphia: Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State. 3.) New Jersey: Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech; 4) Minnesota: Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse. 5. Sacramento: DeMarcus Cousins, C-PF, Kentucky.
♦ Six names for the Hawks: It’s almost impossible to project the Hawks’ pick because they draft 24th and they don’t seem focused on one specific position. But here are a few names to look at: Xavier shooting guard Jordan Crawford, Florida State center Solomon Alabi, Marshall center Hassan Whiteside, France power forward Kevin Seraphin, Kentucky point guard Eric Bledsoe, South Florida shooting guard Dominique Jones.
♦ There are reports out of Greece that Josh Childress may sign an offer sheet with the Washington Wizards, which would set up a sign-and-trade scenario with the Hawks. But that report hasn’t been confirmed and general manager Rick Sund won’t be available for comment until after the Hawks pick.
♦ Your free agency fix: Former Tech star Chris Bosh stated the obvious: That LeBron James will be the first domino to fall in this free agency class: “Am I waiting on LeBron? Pretty much. I think everyone has to. I have to as well. … He’s a great player and I would be crazy to think that all the teams that are considering him, they would talk to somebody else first. I think everybody is going to be going at him first.”
That’s it for now. Check back later.
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