Hawks retain coach and general manager
ATLANTA -- General manager Billy Knight and coach Terry Stotts will run the Atlanta Hawks this season as ownership of the NBA team remains in limbo after more than three months of negotiations.
While other teams hired and fired coaches and executives this summer, the Hawks didn't make any moves as they wait for the proposed sale of the team from AOL-Time Warner to Dallas auto tycoon David McDavid. The negotiations drag on, so the team decided to retain Knight and Stotts, both of whom were first hired on an interim basis.
McDavid also is negotiating to buy the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers and operating control of Philips Arena.
AOL-Time Warner wants to shed the Hawks, Thrashers and baseball's Atlanta Braves to pay down billions in debt. Analysts have said the three teams together could be worth as much as $750 million. No buyer has stepped forward for the Braves.
Hawks president Stan Kasten told a news conference Monday that the negotiations played a role in the delay of hiring a permanent coach and general manager.
"As we sit here today, that has not concluded," Kasten said. He refused to discuss the negotiations.
Knight and Stotts each got a two-year contract. Financial details were not released.
Kasten, Stotts and Knight said their focus now is improving the Hawks. Despite trading Glenn Robinson, the team's top scorer, in a salary dump, team officials said they are optimistic the Hawks can improve.
Kasten said a lot depends on the team's ability to retain guard Jason Terry, a restricted free agent.
Stotts was made interim coach of the Hawks on Dec. 26, when Lon Kruger was fired. The team went 24-31 after the change, missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year, but playing better in the last few weeks.
"We very much like the way we played at the end of last year," Kasten said.
Given the uncertainty with the pending sale, the Hawks allowed Stotts to talk with other teams during the offseason. He was a finalist for the head coaching job in Milwaukee, where he once served as an assistant, but lost out to Terry Porter.
Stotts also interviewed for the head coaching job in Philadelphia and an assistant's job with the New York Knicks.
"There were a lot of people who had to OK this, so obviously this wasn't a quick decision," Stotts said Monday. "I'm glad to be part of the Hawks."
Stotts said he has spoken to McDavid about what would happen if he takes over the team. He said that whether the team is sold or not sold, he believes he will be the coach next season.
Knight, who was general manager of the Vancouver-Memphis Grizzlies for two seasons, took over that post late last season after longtime GM Pete Babcock was fired.
Knight played with the Indiana Pacers in the ABA and NBA, finishing as the leading scorer in franchise history.
McDavid was given exclusive negotiating rights to buy the Hawks and Thrashers in April, but that arrangement was only supposed to last until mid-June.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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