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  #1  
Old 08-04-05, 11:03 PM
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Restraining order issued to block intended Joe Johnson trade....

Belkin sues Hawks partners

By TIM TUCKER The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 08/04/05

http://www.ajc.com/hawks/content/spo...5/05hawks.html

The bitter battle within the Atlanta Hawks' ownership group escalated Thursday when one of the owners took his partners to court and got a restraining order against them.

The order, sought by Steve Belkin in a Boston court, temporarily prohibits the majority of the Hawks' owners from removing him as the team's NBA governor — a position Belkin has used this week to block a trade his partners want to make with the Phoenix Suns for guard Joe Johnson.

Thursday's legal salvo is the latest setback for a troubled franchise that has struggled for years to win games, fans and credibility.

The Boston-based Belkin filed the lawsuit against his partners after they called a meeting for Friday to vote on removing him as the Hawks' governor.

One of Belkin's partners, Atlanta businessman Michael Gearon Jr., responded to the court action: "We are aware of the lawsuit filed by Steve Belkin in Boston. We will not allow that to deter us from building a winning team in Atlanta."

In an e-mail to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Belkin wrote: "Some of my fellow co-owners took action to prevent me from doing what I believe is in the best interests of the franchise, consistent with my role as NBA governor. There was no option but to seek legal protection."

It's hardly the first clash between Belkin and his partners in the nine-man group that bought the Hawks, Thrashers and Philips Arena operating rights from Time Warner last year. At the time, Belkin and the others professed confidence that the far-flung group — which would work well together.

But barely a year later, in late April, Belkin and two of the other principal owners — Gearon and the Washington-based Bruce Levenson — were summoned to New York for a meeting with NBA commissioner David Stern and a league committee to discuss discord within the partnership.

At the time, Belkin said the league's message was: "Hey, you guys, work it out."

Thursday, the league refused to address the worsened situation.

"All we're going to say is, this is an internal team matter," NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said. "Due to the pending litigation, we decline comment."

Dominique Wilkins, former Hawks star and current team vice president, did comment: "This is real damaging. This can't work if everybody is pulling in different directions."

At the center of the dispute is a proposed trade that would send guard Boris Diaw and two future first-round draft picks from the Hawks to Phoenix for Johnson, who would sign a five-year, $70 million contract to play for Atlanta. The trade is favored by the Hawks' management and all of the owners except Belkin.

Belkin's lawsuit, which seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting his removal as governor, contends that his partners "seek to oust [him] . . . merely because they disagree with [him] over the day-to-day management of the Atlanta Hawks, because Belkin has been unwilling, based on prudent business considerations" to approve the Johnson trade.

A hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston. The court ordered that "in the meantime" the defendants "desist and refrain" from removing Belkin as governor.

Belkin has declined to be interviewed this week about the situation, but in an e-mail to the Journal-Constitution on Thursday, he said he wants Johnson on the team but is opposed to the proposed deal because he believes the Hawks would be giving up too much in return.

"As NBA governor . . . I have the responsibility to manage the business and affairs of the team and to look out for the best interests of the team," Belkin wrote. "In that capacity, I am charged with authorizing any player signing or trade. Like my fellow co-owners, I have supported signing Joe Johnson for the Hawks under contract terms proposed by general manager Billy Knight.

"However, I cannot support, in my capacity as NBA governor, a sign-and-trade that involves two first-round draft picks and a quality player, which I believe would be giving up too much of our future. I remain hopeful that Joe Johnson will be wearing a Hawks uniform next year, and that a deal can be completed in a manner that allows us to build around Joe in the future."

Said Gearon: "My other partners and I will continue to commit our financial resources, as evidenced [this week] by the signing of the biggest free agent in the history of the Thrashers, Bobby Holik."

Gearon expressed hope that a trade for Johnson still might get done. Belkin's e-mail seems to suggest he'd be open to a variation of the proposed trade - perhaps one that gives up fewer first-round draft picks.

Phoenix CEO Jerry Colangelo told reporters in Phoenix on Thursday the Suns would only agree to the current deal with the Hawks.

Under an agreement struck between Belkin and his partners when their Hawks-Thrashers purchase was consummated last year, he was given a five-year term as the team's NBA governor. The agreement allows for his removal "only on two narrow and explicit grounds," according to the lawsuit filed Thursday. Those grounds are identified as casting a vote at an NBA Board of Governors meeting that does not reflect the wishes of a majority of the Hawks' owners, or taking any action that legally binds the team against the wishes of a majority of the owners.

Belkin's lawsuit contends that his position on the Johnson trade does not meet either of those grounds for removal as governor.

Belkin holds a 30 percent stake in the ownership group, while the Washington-based partners — principally Levenson and Ed Peskowitz — own 40 percent and the Atlanta-based partners - led by Gearon and Rutherford Seydel — own 30 percent.


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Spurs fans, Pacer fans, Laker fans, hell, even Soccer fans, if you are reading this, please join me in one big THANK GOD THIS GUY DOESN'T OWN MY TEAM!!
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  #2  
Old 08-04-05, 11:10 PM
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It is a horrible trade. At least someone showed they have a few brain cells left.
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  #3  
Old 08-04-05, 11:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jones
It is a horrible trade. At least someone showed they have a few brain cells left.
When someone as talented as Joe is willing to sign somewhere as pathetic as Atlanta, you get the man to sign.

Anyone who trusts the Hawk's Front Office to actually make anything of those draft picks are the ones lacking brain cells.

This guy is only looking at the money, and not even putting a thought to actually improving the Hawks as a basketball team.
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Old 08-04-05, 11:17 PM
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When I started reading this I thought, wow what an idiot, but as i finished I tended to agree with him, although he is still an idiot. I do believe that the Hawks are giving up too much for Johnson. But that is where I stop agreeing. These owners need to handle it out internally and not bring in the courts and let their squables go public, imo that is not very professional.
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  #5  
Old 08-04-05, 11:18 PM
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Wow... that's amazing someone actually did that!!!
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  #6  
Old 08-04-05, 11:19 PM
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Yeah, that guy is a crappy owner. The hawks have no payroll right now, it's not like they're over the cap why not overpay for a guy who will help you win games and bring people into the stands! This guy is why the hawks have been so bad for so long!
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  #7  
Old 08-04-05, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jones
It is a horrible trade. At least someone showed they have a few brain cells left.
Totally agree. As much as I want Johnson out of Phoenix, Atlanta should never have agrred to include two first round picks.
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  #8  
Old 08-04-05, 11:19 PM
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Soup, so they are smart enough to sign Johnson, but not smart enough to draft well?

I don't see how giving a way a bunch of draft picks and overpaying a player is a good move.
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  #9  
Old 08-04-05, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jones
So they are smart enough to sign Johnson, but not smart enough to draft well?

I don't see how giving a way a bunch of draft picks and overpaying a player is a good move.

It's not so much that they were smart enough to sign Joe, as it was they were lucky enough. These guys throw big money at the top FA's every offseason.
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Old 08-04-05, 11:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by undertoh
Yeah, that guy is a crappy owner. The hawks have no payroll right now, it's not like they're over the cap why not overpay for a guy who will help you win games and bring people into the stands! This guy is why the hawks have been so bad for so long!
Because you are still overpaying, and JJ isn't the kind of player who is going to magically draw fans in Atlanta.

And if they make a habit of it, then they become the Knicks of the South ... a ton of payroll and still no results.
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Old 08-04-05, 11:24 PM
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we gave up 2 draft picks for nazr, does that mean RC is stupid? The Hawks have alot of young talent they can't always be terrible, if they pick up JJ and a solid PF they will be a good team in the near future.

You have to spend money to make money, period.
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  #12  
Old 08-04-05, 11:25 PM
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Soup, I guess the signing could be seen as "good" if the attitude is that something is better than nothing. It doesn't seem like a way to begin a rebuilding process.

I think we both could agree they need better management?
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  #13  
Old 08-04-05, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by undertoh
we gave up 2 draft picks for nazr, does that mean RC is stupid? The Hawks have alot of young talent they can't always be terrible, if they pick up JJ and a solid PF they will be a good team in the near future.
We already had Tim. Atlanta doesn't. Joe Johnson would instantly become the best player on that team, and he would cost them $72 million. That is a ton of money, and it severely limits what you can do in the future.

And the Clippers have always had young talent too, but their FO always seems to drive them away. Atlanta is quickly becoming that team, and may have surpassed them.
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Old 08-04-05, 11:38 PM
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It is stupid. Joe Johnson would have signed the contract and Sarver would not have matched. The Hawks don't need to make a trade for him. They can sign him outright.
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Old 08-04-05, 11:39 PM
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I've thought right from the beginning that this trade is not in the best interest of the Hawks.

Wow, I would totally support this guy cuz, JJ's signing would be for nothing. They wouldn't

be able to build around him cuz nobody goes there unless they are drafted or nobody wants

them. My guess is that the Suns have been bluffing and Hawks Owners bit, does anyone

really think Suns would match such a big offer when they weren't willing to pay him 45-

50mil on his extention? I don't think so, Suns just want something in return. Suns

would benefit from this deal in every way. What would Hawks have besides JJ? NOTHING
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Old 08-04-05, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JFly
We already had Tim. Atlanta doesn't. Joe Johnson would instantly become the best player on that team, and he would cost them $72 million. That is a ton of money, and it severely limits what you can do in the future.

And the Clippers have always had young talent too, but their FO always seems to drive them away. Atlanta is quickly becoming that team, and may have surpassed them.
Don't forget, anyone, that in addition to Boris Diaw (whom I actually think can play) and the two #1's, Atlanta is also giving up an approximately $5 million trade exemption. So I actually agree with Belkin that the Hawks are giving up too much - in assets as well as the $70 million salary - for Joe Johnson, but with the way they've been unable to attract anyone to the team via free agency, it may just be the way they have to go. Must really suck to be a Hawks fan...something I once was - albeit passively - when they had a backcourt of Steve Smith and Mookie Blaylock.
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  #17  
Old 08-04-05, 11:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by undertoh
Yeah, that guy is a crappy owner. The hawks have no payroll right now, it's not like they're over the cap why not overpay for a guy who will help you win games and bring people into the stands! This guy is why the hawks have been so bad for so long!
Ahem.....he bought the Hawks last year.

The Hawks haven't made the playoffs since 1999. They haven't won a divisional championship since 1994. They haven't been to a Conference Finals since 1964.

You can't blame this guy for Atlanta being a pathetic franchise. It's NOT his fault.

He's trying to improve the club by adding a quality player like Johnson, and like any good businessman - he doesn't want to pay through the nose to get him.

They're paying him $70 million, PLUS they're giving up 2 Draft picks and Boris Diaw - for what??

To give something to Phoenix when they absolutely don't have to??? They can sign Johnson outright - they don't have to give up a thing!

After Johnson and Sarvers comments,it appears now that Phoenix will not match the offer.

And if they do???? You save yourself from paying a decent player WAY too much money - and you look for another player somewhere else - maybe even next year.

I would prefer to see Johnson stay in Phoenix anyway. I applaud the guy for putting his foot down on a stupid deal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bnwhuxley
It is stupid. Joe Johnson would have signed the contract and Sarver would not have matched. The Hawks don't need to make a trade for him. They can sign him outright.
Absolutely correct.

I don't see why Atlanta is willing to give up all this stuff for a player they can sign outright ANYWAY!!
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Old 08-05-05, 12:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichB
They're paying him $70 million, PLUS they're giving up 2 Draft picks and Boris Diaw - for what??

To give something to Phoenix when they absolutely don't have to??? They can sign Johnson outright - they don't have to give up a thing!

After Johnson and Sarvers comments,it appears now that Phoenix will not match the offer.

EXACTLY!!! I couldn't believe the Hawks were going to give up two 1st rounders and Diaw for a player they were going to overpay for in the first place. The only reason you offer $20 million more than your next highest bidder is because you know you have to entice them to sign with you. You don't offer them $20 million more than the guy's current team is willing to match, and then turn around and help that team out!!! That's just stupid, and I agree with this owner for pulling out all the stops to try and get this thing axed.
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  #19  
Old 08-05-05, 12:17 AM
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Sure, Atlanta can just sign JJ outright.

But there is no guarantee that Phoenix wouldn't match.

Has Sarver actually said "If Atlanta signs JJ......we will not match"?

Phoenix has some leverage.....all they have to do is tell Atlanta "We will match the offer" despite what is said publically, and use that leverage to force ATL to agree to send draft picks and Diaw to PHX via trade.

Again, there is no guarantee that PHX won't match an offer by Phoenix.....there is no guarantee that Atlanta can just sign JJ outright.
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  #20  
Old 08-05-05, 12:34 AM
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I actually side with Belkin. I don't think overpaying Johnson is going to accomplish anything, plus giving up draft picks? Bleh.
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Old 08-05-05, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by To be named later
Sure, Atlanta can just sign JJ outright.

But there is no guarantee that Phoenix wouldn't match.

Has Sarver actually said "If Atlanta signs JJ......we will not match"?

Phoenix has some leverage.....all they have to do is tell Atlanta "We will match the offer" despite what is said publically, and use that leverage to force ATL to agree to send draft picks and Diaw to PHX via trade.

Again, there is no guarantee that PHX won't match an offer by Phoenix.....there is no guarantee that Atlanta can just sign JJ outright.
Exactly. Who's to say, when presented with getting NOTHING in return, Phoenix wouldn't match? The sign and trade guarantees that Atlanta gets their man, instead of possibly missing out yet again.
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Old 08-05-05, 01:00 AM
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While I totally agree that Phoenix has leverage, 2 high 1st-rounder + a potentially good player is definitely too much to give up. I'd be ok with one 1st-rounder instead of 2, but I still won't be happy about it.
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  #23  
Old 08-05-05, 01:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason R
I actually side with Belkin. I don't think overpaying Johnson is going to accomplish anything, plus giving up draft picks? Bleh.

Being an owner, means you can do whatever stupid a deal you want

Belkin is only 30% owner --- 70% ownership should be able to make the decisions in this case--- Stupid or not .

Belkin should have known--- going into the ownership group-- that the control of decisions were not his ---with minority % ownership.

if Belkin had wanted control -- he should have bought 51% ownership.

Last edited by geeter; 08-05-05 at 01:57 AM.
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  #24  
Old 08-05-05, 02:07 AM
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they should set fire to the team facilities and all merchandise with hawk's logos on it... they're overpaying for jj because around the league, everyone not wearing a spurs jersey seems to be overpayed. (especially with some of the insane sg deals around the league)

atlanta is in no position to be putting its foot down on bad spending. that capspace they have, its not for lack of trying to spend it... they've thrown money at alot of people... they were just smart enough not to take it, knowing that no one else would join them... and now this.
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Old 08-05-05, 08:55 AM
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This predicament just shows why Atlanta is in the franchise shape they are in. When top management cant get along a common goal cannot be achieved.
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  #26  
Old 08-05-05, 09:18 AM
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Is Joe Johnson going to make them that much of a better team? Hell no he isn't. He isn't going to get them to the playoffs, he isn't going to win them anything other then a few more games.

2 lottery draft picks and a player with some potential for Joe Johnson, as well as having to pay him an average of 14 million for the next 5 seasons, that is a stupid deal for the Hawks. If they were getting an all-star post player then it might be worth it, but a perimeter player who has never even averaged over 20 points a game, and was the 4th option on his team last year isnt worth what they would have to give up in money, players, and picks.

Joe Johnson is a good role player, but he's not the kind of guy you build a team around. They would be better off keeping thier draft picks then giving Johnson a 5 year, 14 million on avg per season contract.

Just because they have cap space doesn't mean they should spend it stupidly. Johnson also had his best season last year, and Steve Nash had a lot to do with it. A strugling franchise like the Hawks should only throw that kind of money at a player who will make everyone on thier team better, Johnson won't do that for them, he's a great role player at best, be he won't lead them anywhere.
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Old 08-05-05, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by constantstate
they should set fire to the team facilities and all merchandise with hawk's logos on it... they're overpaying for jj because around the league, everyone not wearing a spurs jersey seems to be overpayed. (especially with some of the insane sg deals around the league)
Rasho Nesterovic??


Atlanta can't seem to get anything right. IMO, it would be a blessing in disguise if the deal were to fall apart. They don't need Joe Johnson. The Hawks have more than enough capable SG's and SF's.
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Old 08-05-05, 09:38 AM
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They don't need Joe Johnson. The Hawks have more than enough capable SG's and SF's.
No crap how many 6-7 swing men do they need over there?

Joe Johnson = 6-7 GF
Boris Diaw = 6-8 GF (he would be traded)
Josh Childress = 6-8 GF
Al Harrington = 6-9 F
Donta Smith = 6-7 GF
Josh Smith = 6-9 GF
Marvin Williams = 6-9 F

They have one PG, Tony Delk, who avgs 11.9 ppg and 1.9 apg, that's horrible for the teams floor general.

They also have one center, Jason Collier, who only plays 13.5 minutes per game and puts up 5.7 ppg and 2.6 rpg, as well as 0.2 bpg, again horrible.

They would be much better off waiting it out to get a all-star caliber PG or Center, becasue they are so thin at those spots and a major improvement in either of those two spots would imporve thier team drastically.
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  #29  
Old 08-05-05, 09:38 AM
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"Worst Trade Ever!"


Last edited by Spurs817; 08-05-05 at 09:40 AM.
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  #30  
Old 08-05-05, 09:57 AM
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Guys, this has nothing to do with the trade. Belkin is just using it for leverage because the other owners want him to sell his stake. (He's being outvoted 8 to 1 among the owners).

As far as the trade, the Suns have said publically that they have to get compensation for JJ, whether it be a trade or matching the contract. They have given all appearances that they WILL match the contract.

So, Atlanta gives up three things:

1. A player that has been an incredible underachiever on a horrible team.

2. The Celtics' pick (via the Lakers) which is top 10 protected this year and will likely be in the 13-18 range in a weak draft. If the Lakers finish 10th or worse, that pick goes to 2008 and becomes the worst of the Celtics' three picks that year (Celtics, Cavs, Lakers).

3. Their own pick in 2007 because they're not likely to make the playoffs this coming season. In 2007, it's lottery-protected, so the Hawks won't miss out on a franchise player that year.

At some point, the Hawks have to assume their young players will improve. They will also have a ton of money in free agency next year to improve the team, plus their own draft pick. They already have a ton of young players and are one of the few teams in the league that don't need to get any younger.

It's definitely not a steal for the Hawks, but it's less than the Nuggets gave up for Kenyon Martin and a shorter contract.
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  #31  
Old 08-05-05, 10:08 AM
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Phoenix is bluffing. They don't want to pay JJ that much money. Especially when he said he doesn't want to play there anymore.
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  #32  
Old 08-05-05, 01:36 PM
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If this deal doesn't go threw and they don't get JJ who would ever want to come to the hawks? the ownership is now a bigger joke then the team, which player would actually want to play for this team now?
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