Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Updated: June 25, 11:44 PM ET
Hawks deal two to Warriors
By Marc Stein
The Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors have finalized a trade for Jamal Crawford.
The Warriors and Hawks completed the deal sending Crawford to Atlanta for Acie Law and Speedy Claxton on Thursday.
The deal was completed after Crawford signed paperwork indicating he won't opt out of his contract and become a free agent. He is due to make nearly $20 million the next two years.
A player who has the ability to opt out of his contract cannot be traded until July 1 -- when the next calendar year in the NBA begins -- unless such an amendment stating Crawford won't opt out is signed.
Warriors coach Don Nelson made no secret of the fact that Crawford wasn't in his future plans. Crawford averaged 19.7 points, 4.4 assists and 3.0 rebounds last season. By shedding Crawford's longer contract and by virtue of insurance payments that will cover some of the costs of Claxton, Golden State would secure a decent measure of payroll relief with the trade.
Now that the Warriors have landed Claxton and Law, they are expected to go big at No. 7 in the draft with the likely favorite being Arizona junior forward Jordan Hill, assuming he is still on the board.
Monta Ellis has already been made Golden State's starting point guard heading into training camp. New general manager Larry Riley and Nelson recently visited Ellis in Memphis to tell him how important he is to the franchise.
"We feel we have gained tremendous flexibility with the addition of Jamal," Hawks general manager Rick Sund said. "He gives us balance in the backcourt, having produced at both point guard and shooting guard positions. Not only is Jamal a talented scorer, but he can also deliver quality production down the stretch of games."
Less clear is what impact the move will have on Atlanta's forthcoming negotiations with free agent-to-be Mike Bibby. Although Crawford is not a pure point guard, he's a prolific scorer whose arrival could affect the sort of contract offer Bibby expected to command from the Hawks.
Bibby and backup combo guard Flip Murray are both unrestricted free agents after helping Atlanta reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
The Hawks needed some insurance in case Bibby and Murray sign elsewhere.
Crawford provides it.
"He's another veteran piece that makes a lot of sense for our ballclub," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Jamal's a great talent offensively and only enhances what we are trying to do."
Bibby averaged 14.9 points and 5.0 assists, giving the Hawks their first true point guard since Mookie Blaylock. Murray chipped in with a 12.2 scoring average.
The 31-year-old Claxton was a fan favorite during two seasons with the Warriors from 2003-05 but has been hampered by knee problems and other ailments. He was a huge bust in Atlanta after signing a four-year, $25.5 million contract in 2006, going more than two years without playing.
Law, a first-round pick from Texas A&M in 2007, never panned out, either. He averaged 3.6 points in 111 games over two seasons with the Hawks.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.