ATLANTA — The struggling Atlanta Hawks acquired guard Kirk Hinrich from Washington in a five-player trade Wednesday, upgrading their backcourt for the playoff run.
The Hawks also received forward Hilton Armstrong in exchange for guard Mike Bibby, rookie guard Jordan Crawford, swingman Maurice Evans and a first-round pick in this year's draft.
The Hawks have lost four out of five games and slipped to fifth in the top-heavy Eastern Conference. Not only do they have to worry about catching the teams ahead of them; the sixth-place New York Knicks, who began the night five games behind Atlanta, made one of biggest splashes ahead of Thursday's trade deadline by acquiring Denver star Carmelo Anthony.
The 32-year-old Bibby had lost a step defensively and was no longer the creative force offensively he was in his younger days. Hawks coach Larry Drew had hoped second-year player Jeff Teague would take on a larger role at the point, but he was averaging less than 12 minutes a game.
Hinrich should be an improvement over Bibby at both ends of the court. He was averaging 11.1 points and 4.4 assists as on off-and-on starter, frequently playing alongside rookie star John Wall.
"We felt we had a good opportunity to improve our ballclub by adding Kirk and Hilton," Hawks general manager Rick Sund said. "Kirk is a well-rounded player that gives us options at both guard positions. In addition to being a solid and hard-nosed defender, he is a good shooter who can also distribute the ball. His resume includes significant playoff experience as well.
Hilton can play both center and power forward, and will add frontcourt depth."
Bibby was averaging 9.4 points and 3.6 assists. The Hawks gave up some depth on their bench by dealing Evans (4.5 points a game) and Crawford (4.2), but clearly felt it was worth the expected improvement at the crucial point.
It was clear a deal was imminent when Hinrich was scratched from the Washington lineup just before a game in Philadelphia against the 76ers. He and Armstrong watched the first half from the bench, but neither came out for the second half.
The Wizards, going through another dreadful season, are focused on building for the future around Wall. While Bibby and Evans add experience, the team should reap more long-term benefits from landing a prospect such as Crawford and adding another first-round pick to its haul.
"We were able to acquire a proven, clutch leader in Mike, a hard-nosed veteran in Maurice, and an intriguing prospect in Jordan, as well as a first-round draft choice to add to our own first-round pick this summer," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "This trade continues our plan to build with draft picks and prospects, develop our young players and stay financially flexible."