- Created on 24 May 2013
In a report from the LA Daily News, the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors are amongst the teams that Dwight Howard will be considering during free agency in the offseason.
A source close to the three-time Defensive Player of the Year and Atlanta native says that Howard is planning on testing free agency this summer after a season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Howard is listed as considering Atlanta, the Lakers, Dallas, Houston and Golden State.
Due to salary cap space, the Hawks will be one of the few teams able to offer Howard a max contract when free agency opens. The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets would be next in line, having to make a minor deal in order to present Howard with a max offer.
With free agency still a month away, NBA superstars Howard and point guard Chris Paul will be the two biggest targets on the market and the two under the watchful eye of Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry.
Howard played high school basketball at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy before forgoing college to enter the NBA draft.
- Created on 24 May 2013
The Atlanta Dream finalized its 11-player roster Wednesday, waiving forward Cathrine Kraayeveld and guard Sydney Carter and suspending forward Yelena Leuchanka. The Dream roster is now set for Saturday's 7 p.m. season opener against the Tulsa Shock in Philips Arena.
Kraayeveld was signed as a free agent prior to the 2012 season, and averaged 4.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in 33 games during her only season in Atlanta. She set a team record for 3-point field goal percentage in a season (.402) and has averaged 7.5 points and 3.8 rebounds during her eight seasons in the league.
Carter was signed to a training camp contract in March. The second-year player averaged 5.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in Atlanta's two preseason games. She played in one regular-season game for Chicago last year.
Leuchanka is currently playing on the national team for Belarus, which is preparing for the EuroBasket Women competition which takes place June 15-30 in France. She played the 2010 and 2012 seasons with the Dream, averaging 3.7 points and 2.6 rebounds over 51 games.
The two-time Eastern Conference Champion Atlanta Dream will tip off its sixth season in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) on May 25 at Philips Arena against the Tulsa Shock.
- Created on 22 May 2013
With two recent injuries to the Atlanta bullpen, the last thing the Braves could afford was a lengthy rain delay. But that is exactly what they got in a 5-4 victory in extra innings against the Minnesota twins.
What appeared to be a sunny game at Turner Field quickly gave way to a 10 minute downpour on the 28,663 fans in attendance, followed by an hour-long rain delay, which included two brief power outages.
Atlanta's two big lefties Johnny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty are likely to miss the rest of the season due to Tommy John surgery and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez announced before Tuesday's game that he is unsure when injured relief pitcher Jordan Walden will return to the roster.
Despite the injuries, the Braves still bolster one of the best pitching staffs in Major League Baseball. Atlanta leads MLB with a collective 2.64 ERA and ranks sixth in the majors with a .223 opponents' batting average.
But with the string of injuries, the Braves need their starters to go deep into the ball game, but after the delay pitcher Tim Hudson went just five innings. He had 5 strikeouts on 81 pitches and gave up two earned runs.
"For [Hudson] to give us five innings after that delay was a tremendous feat," said Gonzalez. "As a coach, sometimes you need to do what's best for your player and not risk any injury."
After Hudson left in the fifth, the Braves' Anthony Varvaro took over and pitched a solid two innings, giving up just one hit with two strikeouts. Varvaro, who will likely anchor the bullpen with rookie left-hander Luis Alvilan, has pitched five straight scoreless appearances dating back to May 13.
Alvilan did not fare as well, however, and the Twins broke through against he and right hander Cory Gearrin to take the lead in the eighth as Minnesota scored two runs on three hits.
The Braves needed some late inning heroics to cover for the bullpen's mishap. With two outs in the ninth inning Evan Gattis hit his third pinch hit home run to tie the game and Freedie Freeman had the walk off RBI in the 10th to give Atlanta the win.
"Varvaro pitched great for us; the eighth inning got a little sideways but Gattis tied it up and we battled for the win," said Gonzalez.
As has been the case seemingly all season, Gattis's teammates were singing his praises as well.
"I think it's unbelievable what [Gattis] is doing," said Freeman. "I think that's three or four times he has put us ahead to win it."
Atlanta recently called up relief pitcher Cory Rasmus from Gwinnett to help the roster. Starting Pitcher Brandon Beachy was sent to Gwinnett for a rehab assignment.
After finishing the series against the Twins, the Braves will travel on a five-game road trip to face the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays.
- Created on 23 May 2013
Coming off an extra innings win Tuesday night, Braves' Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he wanted to send out his 'B' squad to see if they could complete the series sweep of the Minnesota Twins. It would be safe to say after Atlanta's 8-3 victory, its 'B' squad can compete with most major league lineups.
Gonzalez gave Jordan Schafer, Ramiro Pena and Evan Gattis the start in the series wrap up against the slumping Twins, who are on a seven-game losing steak.
The Braves bench players batted in five of Atlanta's eight runs, including a grand slam from Gattis, the National League Rookie of the Month.
The 27-year-old rookie had the green light to swing away at a 3-0 pitch and sent a 90 mph fastball over the right field fence to extend the Braves' lead to 8-0.
"The way [Gattis] swings the bat I wanted to give him some RBI opportunities and a chance to give us four runs," said Gonzalez. "He did just that,"
Gattis has played only 37 games but already ranks second on the team in home runs (10) and second in RBI (27).
"I was a little surprised he gave me the green light on a 3-0 pitch considering the game was still tight, It shows that [Gonzalez] trusts me," said Gattis.
Atlanta extended its winning streak to six games and the Braves bench players played a big role, hitting a combined 4-for-9.
"We got a good bench. We gave [Andrelton] Simmons the day off and Pena came in and had a couple of good hits," said Gonzalez. "We played good today."
Pena, who substituted for Simmons at short stop, had a solo homer in the third and finished the day 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
"I try to do my best every time I get an opportunity but it took me time to learn how to not play every day," said Pena, who is hitting .286 with eight RBI. "It was tough for me in the beginning but I feel good right now."
The issue facing the Braves' lineup is finding playing time for the highly productive bench. Jordan Schafer has played only 31 games, yet is hitting for a .309 batting average. Schafer, who started in left field to give Justin Upton the day off, also has two triples on the season with six stolen bases and ranks first on the team with a .434 on base percentage.
Everyday players like B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla, and Jason Heyward are all hitting below .200 and have combined for 126 strikeouts on the season.
"Everybody on the bench is playing great," said Pena. "It's good for our ball club to have people that can come in and play."
Gonzalez may make some changes in the next few days to give Gattis and others more at bats.
The Braves welcome a much needed day off Thursday after a stretch of 17 games in 18 days then travel to New York to begin the road series with the New York Mets. Atlanta holds a 27-18 overall record pushing the National League East lead to 4.5 games.
- Created on 22 May 2013
On May 22, 1988, the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics met at the Boston Garden for the deciding game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. What ensued was one of the greatest playoff duels in NBA history.
Today at 8:30 a.m., on the match-up's 25th anniversary, the Hawks will release an oral history account of this legendary game exclusively on www.hawks.com, featuring commentary from Dominique Wilkins, Larry Bird, Mike Fratello, Doc Rivers, Danny Ainge, Bill Walton, Steve Holman and more who were at the Garden that day.
Wilkins and Bird put on an unparalleled performance to fight for a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. Wilkins scored 16 of his game-high 47 in the fourth quarter, while Bird hit 9-of-10 shots in the fourth for 20 of his 34 points.
To read the complete oral history of Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals, visit http://www.nba.com/hawks/features/nique-bird-oral-history.