Friday, May 16, 2008
Gabriel, Lindsey, Sheppard, Wohl on short list for Hawks' GM job
By Marc Stein
The Atlanta Hawks have established an initial list of four candidates in their search to replace outgoing general manager Billy Knight, according to NBA front-office sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Hawks have either interviewed or plan to meet with Portland Trail Blazers personnel scout John Gabriel, San Antonio Spurs assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey, Washington Wizards vice president of basketball administration Tommy Sheppard and Boston Celtics assistant general manager Dave Wohl.
Former Philadelphia 76ers general manager Billy King, billed by sources as a frontrunner for the post when Knight announced his resignation last week, will apparently only be considered if the Hawks decide to expand their current list. Sources say the same applies to Cleveland Cavaliers assistant general manager Chris Grant, who previously worked in Atlanta under Knight and Pete Babcock.
Sources close to the process say that Knight -- widely expected to be fired after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs -- actually had the opportunity to stay with the Hawks on a one-year contract. But Knight elected to step down effective July 1 and is believed to be a candidate in New York to work alongside new Knicks president Donnie Walsh.
ESPN.com reported last Wednesday that the Hawks would be targeting Lindsey, who appears to have an edge over the rest of the field given his growing reputation and ties to the Spurs. After winning championships in three of the past five seasons, San Antonio has been repeatedly raided for executives in recent years.
Yet there are doubts that the Hawks, with their muddled ownership situation and a reputation of their own for limiting Knight's ability to make moves, can lure Lindsey away from San Antonio.
Following a long stint in Houston, Lindsey currently serves as the top aide to Spurs front-office chief R.C. Buford, having moved to San Antonio after Cleveland [Danny Ferry] and Seattle [Sam Presti] hired away two of Buford's more recent assistants.
Gabriel is a former GM -- and former NBA executive of the year winner -- with Orlando who left his post late in the Magic's 21-61 nightmare season in 2003-04. In his current job, Gabriel serves as a scout and adviser to Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard.
The fast-rising Sheppard works as a lead assistant to Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld and was a finalist in Seattle for the job that went to Presti.
Wohl, meanwhile, has held a variety of bench and front-office jobs in the past 25-plus years, including a stint as the New Jersey Nets coach from 1985-87 and as the top lieutenant in Miami's front office alongside Pat Riley in the 1990s. He moved from the Celtics' bench as an assistant to Doc Rivers to the personnel side before this season to assist the NBA's newly minted executive of the year Danny Ainge.
Although Atlanta currently has no pick in the June 26 draft, either in the first or second round, Knight's successor is expected to make a firm ruling on the future of coach Mike Woodson, whose contract expires June 30. Knight reportedly tried to fire Woodson multiple times this season before the Hawks halted the league's longest playoff drought -- dating to 1999 -- and wound up extending the 66-win Celtics to a Game 7 in the first round.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.