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Hawks retain coach and general manager

8/11/2003 - Atlanta Hawks

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.