By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Johnson's future to overshadow draft
Placeholder Image
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks' NBA draft will be overshadowed by the possibility of losing Joe Johnson to free agency.

The Hawks have the 24th overall pick in tonight's NBA draft. It could be difficult to find immediate help at that spot, but it could be especially important to add scoring help if the team loses Johnson, a four-time All-Star and the team's first option.

General manager Rick Sund said Tuesday the Hawks hope to re-sign Johnson.

The Hawks' draft plans also could be affected by possible interest in Josh Childress, who has spent the last two years in Greece with Olympiakos.

Childress signed a three-year, $20 million deal with Olympiakos after scoring in double figures in each of his four seasons with the Hawks. He could opt out of the contract and return to the NBA.

Johnson led the Hawks averaging 21.3 points per game, but he faded in the second round of the playoffs while scoring only 12.8 points per contests in four straight losses to Orlando.

What are the chances Johnson will return to Atlanta?

"I can't really talk on that other than we would like to keep him," Sund said. "Hopefully, we'll sign him and he'll be here."

Sund said he would make a qualifying offer to Childress before June 30 which would allow the Hawks to match offers from any other NBA team.

Childress, the No. 6 overall pick in 2004, played shooting guard and small forward as a starter and sixth man with the Hawks. If the Hawks lose Johnson and re-sign Childress, then Childress or Jamal Crawford could move into the starting lineup. Crawford was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year.

The Hawks' post game centers around Al Horford and Josh Smith. Point guard Mike Bibby and Marvin Williams also are returning starters. Jeff Teague may take over for Bibby under new coach Larry Drew.

Sund also said Tuesday says he's open to trading the team's first-round pick.

"I like our club," Sund said. "Each year we've gotten better. So if we can get somebody at the 24th pick, or use that pick to get somebody who gives you some depth, yeah, we'll do that."

Assistant general manager Dave Pendergraft said it is almost impossible to predict what player may be available at No. 24 in a year it's difficult to identify the players who will be selected in the first half of the first round.

"Let's put it this way: If the NBA league office had a hard time inviting 15 people to the green room, (the latest mock draft) was guess work," Pendergraft said. "And if it was guess work for them, just imagine the bottom half of the first round. We don't know where everyone is going to be going."

Pendergraft identified Xavier shooting guard Jordan Crawford as one of several players "that you know can score."

Among other players who may be taken late in the first round are Marquette forward Lazar Hayward, Texas forward Damion James, Oklahoma State shooting guard James Anderson, Texas guard Avery Bradley, Kentucky point guard Eric Bledsoe, Georgia Tech power forward Gani Lawal and Iowa State power forward Craig Brackins.

"You face a challenge as a staff," Pendergraft said. "Do you try to figure out who's drafting who? Or do we try to continue to evaluate the players on tape and do background information on them? That's the challenge.

"There's not enough hours in the day to do both."
Friends to Follow social media