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Hawks draft Teague at No. 19, acquire Crawford in trade

POSTED: June 26, 2009 12:42 a.m.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks beefed up their backcourt Thursday, selecting Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague with the 19th pick of the NBA draft a few hours after acquiring Jamal Crawford in a trade with Golden State.

The 6-foot-2 Teague led Wake Forest in points (18.8) and assists (3.5) as a sophomore.

While Crawford is expected to contribute right away the wiry Teague knows he must beef up to be a consistent player in the NBA.

He’s ready to get started.

"I have to get stronger. I know that," Teague said. "But I feel like my game is suited for the NBA."

Teague was the eighth point guard taken in a draft that was especially deep at that position. He’s going to use that as motivation.

"Down the road, I think people are going to look back and say I was the best point guard taken in this draft," he said. "I know a lot of great ones were taken early ... but I want everyone to look back at this draft and say they passed on a great player in Jeff Teague, but the Hawks got me."

Teague was the second Wake Forest player taken in the first round. College teammate James Johnson went to Chicago with the No. 16 pick.

The Hawks, coming off their second straight trip to the playoffs and first postseason series victory since 1999, needed some insurance in the backcourt. Starting point guard Mike Bibby and key backup Flip Murray are both unrestricted free agents.

Atlanta hopes to re-sign both, which would allow them to bring along Teague more slowly.

"When you’re picked at No. 19, it’s tough to come in and get in the rotation right away," Hawks general manager Rick Sund conceded. "But this guy is a pretty good talent. If anyone can do it, it might be Jeff. He’s got great length. He’s a great ballhandler. And he’s a great shooter. I love shooters."

Teague looks forward to joining one of the NBA’s youngest but most athletic teams, with players such as Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Al Horford.

"I love the way Josh Smith and those guys get up and down the court," Teague said.

The Hawks acquired guard Jamal Crawford on Thursday for guards Acie Law and Speedy Claxton, hours before the NBA draft.

Crawford, who had his differences with Golden State coach Don Nelson, provides the Hawks with depth and flexibility in the backcourt. Starting point guard Mike 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 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.

The 29-year-old Crawford averaged 19.7 points, 4.4 assists and 3.0 rebounds last season, but he wasn’t in the Warriors’ plans.

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."

The Warriors acquired Crawford from the New York Knicks early last season. Claxton and Law played sparingly in Atlanta, the trade mainly providing the Warriors some additional room under the salary cap.

The Hawks, coming off their second straight trip to the playoffs, 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.

Nelson indicated to Crawford during the season that he wasn’t in the team’s future plans. Nelson sat Crawford for a game against Charlotte on Feb. 27 and he was benched twice in one week during March. He then missed another game after asking for more practice time to prepare following the benchings.

Ellis, who signed a $66 million, six-year deal after averaging a career-best 20.2 points during the 2007-08 season, averaged 19 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists last season.

He was limited to 25 games because of a serious ankle injury last summer in a motorized scooter accident that resulted in a 30-game suspension without pay from the team.



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