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Hawks hire Sund as new GM

POSTED: June 8, 2008 5:01 a.m.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks, looking for new experienced front-office leadership after ending their playoff drought this season, hired Rick Sund as general manager on Wednesday.

Sund has worked in NBA front offices for more than 30 years, including stints with Milwaukee, Dallas, Detroit and most recently the Seattle SuperSonics.

He spent last year as a consultant for the Sonics after serving as the team’s general manager from 2001-07.

The 56-year-old Sund will replace Billy Knight, who announced on May 7 he is resigning after six years with the team, the last five as general manager.

Sund inherits a team that ended the NBA’s longest playoff drought this year by making its first postseason appearance since 1999. The Hawks lost to Boston in seven games in the first round.

The Hawks do not have a pick in the June 26 draft and have two prominent restricted free agents, shot-blocking forward Josh Smith and sixth man Josh Childress.

Another priority for Sund will be to address the status of coach Mike Woodson, whose contract expires on June 30. Woodson did not immediately return a phone message on Wednesday.

“I’m very excited and impressed with what the Hawks have currently developed, and I look forward to continuing that process,” Sund said, adding he “was impressed with the effort they displayed” by winning three home playoff games against the Celtics.

The Hawks addressed two needs in Knight’s last season by drafting center Al Horford, the only unanimous choice to the NBA’s All-Rookie team, and trading for point guard Mike Bibby. Guard Joe Johnson is a two-time All-Star.

“We have a great nucleus of players, and while we have some work ahead of us, there’s tremendous potential and continued growth with the guys on this roster,” Sund said.

Sund, working as co-chairman of the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando, is expected to have his first day in Atlanta next Wednesday.

The Hawks hired Sund after talking with Cleveland assistant general manager Chris Grant, who previously worked in Atlanta under Knight and former general manager Pete Babcock. Grant withdrew his name from consideration on Tuesday.

Sund was linked with front-office openings with the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers before taking the job with the Hawks.

“Rick has an enormous amount of experience, and an outstanding reputation around the league,” Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. said.

“During this process, as we spoke with basketball people that we respect around the NBA, everyone had glowing things to say about Rick and his work. Our objective was to add an individual who would help us take the momentum we gained last season, and move to the next level. We feel we’ve done that, and we’re thrilled to add someone of Rick’s caliber to our franchise.”

Sund helped lead Seattle to two playoff appearances, including in the 2004-05 season, when the Sonics won the Northwest Division and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals.



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