Abdur-Rahim Heading Home

Abdur-Rahim received his Hawks jersey July 3.
AP Photos

ATLANTA (AP) - Shareef Abdur-Rahim is coming home, which takes
care of the frontcourt for the Atlanta Hawks. There's still some
work to do in the backcourt.

The rebuilding Hawks moved a step closer to respectability when
they used the No. 3 pick in Wednesday's NBA draft to acquire
Abdur-Rahim from the Vancouver Grizzlies.

"If we had taken someone with that pick, we would have hoped he
could become a player like Shareef in three years," Atlanta
general manager Pete Babcock said. "Why wait for that when we can
get him now?"

Abdur-Rahim, a 6-foot-9 forward, is a native of suburban
Marietta and still has a home in the Atlanta area. The leading
scorer in Grizzlies' history, he averaged 20.5 points, 9.1 rebounds
and 3.1 assists per game last season.

Abdur-Rahim, 24, will play power forward for the Hawks, joining
center Theo Ratliff and small forward Toni Kukoc. Those two players
were both acquired last season in a trade-deadline deal that sent
Dikembe Mutombo to the Philadelphia 76ers.

"We now have a pretty good front line," Babcock said.
There's a major hole at point guard, however. In the deal with
the Grizzlies, the Hawks also gave up Brevin Knight, last year's
starter, and forward-center Lorenzen Wright.

Atlanta acquired the No. 27 pick in the first round, taking Iowa
State guard Jamaal Tinsley, but immediately sending him to Indiana
for a future first-rounder.

The Hawks weren't through dealing. They acquired another future
first-rounder from Houston in exchange for Maryland forward Terence
Morris, taken in the second round.

"We acquired two first-round picks and Shareef out of this
draft," Babcock said. "We feel pretty good about it."

Babcock said his next priority is landing a point guard with
some size, probably through another trade. The Hawks have plenty of
big men to offer up in a deal, including Alan Henderson, Chris
Crawford, Cal Bowdler and Hanno Mottola.

The Hawks have no intention of returning former first-rounder
Jason Terry to the point. He struggled until a move to shooting
guard, where he blossomed into the team's top scorer at 19.7
points.

The Hawks are coming off their two worst seasons since moving to
Atlanta in 1968, a heavy price to pay for restructuring an aging,
slowing team. Now, Babcock can see signs of hope.

"We intentionally tore our team apart," he said. "It was
painful to go through, but we were very methodical and stayed with
our plan."

The trade won't be formally completed until July 18 because of
complicated NBA cap rules governing base salaries. The Hawks picked
for Vancouver with the No. 3 choice, selecting 7-footer Pau Gasol
of F.C. Barcelona in Spain.

Gasol was handed a Hawks hat to wear for the cameras in New
York, but it was merely a souvenir.

Abdur-Rahim still has four years left on a $71 million contract
extension he signed in 1999, which includes an $11.25 million
salary for next season. He had asked to be traded by the woeful
Grizzlies, who are expected to move to Memphis next season.

Billy Knight, the Grizzlies' general manager, said Gasol and
Battier will help the team develop a more up-tempo style of play.
The deal with the Hawks wasn't the last one for the Grizzlies,
either.

Late Wednesday, they acquired point guard Jason Williams and
guard Nick Anderson for guards Mike Bibby and Brent Price.

"Sometimes these decisions are made in sports," Knight said.

The 25-year-old Wright moved into the Hawks starting lineup last
season, averaging 12.4 points and 7.5 rebounds. Knight was acquired
from Cleveland in a January trade; he averaged 6.3 points and 5.9
assists during his brief tenure with the Hawks.