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Aging Hawks Trade Blaylock to Warriors to Move to No. 10

<i> From Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Mookie Blaylock, who ran the Atlanta Hawks’ offense for seven years, was traded to the Golden State Warriors in a three-player deal Tuesday that allowed the Hawks to move up to the 10th position in the NBA draft.

The Hawks sent Blaylock and one of their four first-round picks, No. 21 overall, to the Warriors for the higher pick as well as guard Bimbo Coles and forward Duane Ferrell.

The aging Hawks are revamping their team after being swept out of the playoffs in the second round by the younger, quicker New York Knicks. They looked to move Blaylock, a two-time member of the NBA’s all-defensive team who took most of the blame for Atlanta’s stagnant offense this season.

By trading Blaylock, the Hawks might be able to take advantage of a draft deep in point guards. Maryland’s Steve Francis and UCLA’s Baron Davis are expected to go in the top five tonight, but the Hawks might have a chance at Utah’s Andre Miller, Arizona’s Jason Terry or Duke’s William Avery.

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“This gives us an opportunity to move up significantly to a part of the draft where we feel we can get a high-quality player,” General Manager Pete Babcock said during a hastily called news conference. “The top 10 was what we were trying to get. We got to the fringe of it.”

Blaylock had been an integral part of the Hawks since he was acquired from the New Jersey Nets in 1992 for Rumeal Robinson. He led the league in steals in 1996-97 and 1997-98, joining Alvin Robertson and Magic Johnson as the only players to pull off that feat in consecutive seasons.

The 32-year-old Blaylock took a step back this year after the lockout ended, shooting only 37.9% and averaging 5.8 assists per game. Both figures were the worst since his rookie season with the Nets in 1989-90.

The Hawks still have four first-round picks in the draft.

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The Houston Rockets listened to their hearts--and possibly avoided a major public relations blunder--when they refused a trade offer from the Toronto Raptors for Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the city’s most recognizable athletes.

Loyalty to the 12-time NBA all-star was a factor in Houston’s declining Toronto’s offers.

The deal reportedly would have involved Kevin Willis, who played two seasons with the Rockets before he was traded to the Raptors last June for Roy Rogers and two first-round draft picks. Willis, 36, averaged 12 points and 8.3 rebounds last season.

The reports said Houston also would have gotten swingman Doug Christie, 29, who played 3 1/2 seasons for the Lakers and New York Knicks before spending the last three seasons in Toronto.

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The NBA and basketball’s world governing body, FIBA, announced that this year’s McDonald’s Championship, featuring the newly crowned NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, will be held Oct. 14-16 in Milan, Italy.

The Spurs will be joined at the tournament by the Adelaide 36ers of Australia, C.S. Sagesse of Asia, Verese Roosters of Italy, Vasco de Gama of South America, and Zalgiris Kaunas of Lithuania.

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The Sacramento Kings will play two games against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Japan in November.

The Spurs were initially slated to play the Timberwolves, but as NBA champions, the Spurs became obligated to play in the McDonald’s Championship.


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