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May 28, 2008 10:31 AM

Former Sonics GM lands in Atlanta

Posted by Percy Allen

Sources in Atlanta confirm the Hawks have hired former Sonics general manager Rick Sund to replace Billy Knight who resigned May 7.

Sund, 56, spent six seasons in Seattle. He was hired in 2001 by former president Wally Walker. Sund was replaced last year by Sam Presti and spent the past season as a consultant.

He also worked as an analyst for Fox Sports Northwest.

Sund is a NBA-lifer who began his career with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1974.

During his Sonics tenure, he helped orchestrate arguably the best trade in team history which included Gary Payton and Ray Allen. The Feb. 20, 2003 deal sent Payton and Desmond Mason to Milwaukee for Allen, Ronald 'Flip' Murray, Kevin Ollie and a 2003 first-round draft pick that was used to select Luke Ridnour.

Sund is a shrewd negotiator.

Each year he operated on a tight budget and the Sonics never paid the luxury tax. He was the master of "win-win" negotiating and favored short-term, incentive-laden contracts.

Sund was able to keep Rashard Lewis on the roster with two fair-market contracts and he had the good sense not to overpay when the Sonics free agents hit the market such as Jerome James and Antonio Daniels.

Sund also had an eye for finding undrafted talent such as Damien Wilkins and Reggie Evans.

That's the good stuff. But there's a reason he's no longer the Sonics GM and his poor draft record is as much to blame as the change in ownership.

For some unexplainable reason, Sund can spot undrafted players, however, he's been horrendous at finding players in the draft and in the lottery.

He's drafted 16 players during his five years with the Sonics.

In that group, only Earl Watson (Class of '01), Vladimir Radmanovic (Class of '01) and Willie Green (Class of '03) is a full-time starter. Nick Collison (Class of '03) and Bobby Simmons (Class of '01) are part-time starters and role players.

Luke Ridnour (Class of '03) and Johan Petro (Class of '05) are bench guys.

Six players aren't in the NBA and three (Petro, Robert Swift and Mouhmad Sene) are barely hanging on.

Sund killed his credibililty in Seattle when he drafted a 7-foot project for three consecutiive years. In hindsight, Petro, the 25th pick, was a solid choice because it's difficult to find talent so late in the draft.

However, Sund used the 12th pick in '04 to take Swift and the 10th pick in '06 on Sene. Both have struggled to adapt to the NBA. And even if they weren't rehabbing serious knee injuries, they may not be on a roster next season.

Sund's move to Atlanta caught most people off guard. He will not get the luxury of hiring his own coach because ownership promised Mike Woodson would return. Ownership also seemingly blundered in guaranteeing long-term deals to Josh Smith and Josh Childress. That's a big mistake.

Sund has an established All-Star in Joe Johnson and a rising star in Al Horford.

It will be interesting to see if he has any interest in making deals with the Sonics. Folks here would love it if he would take some of the centers he drafted, but that's highly unlikely.

Still, Sund has always been a Ridnour fan and he may pursue a trade for the much-maligned Sonics guard. Other Sund favorites include Collison, Mickael Gelabale and Chris Wilcox. Atlanta has a gluttony of big forwards which rules out Collison or Wilcox, but Gelabale is a possibility in a trade.

It will be intersting to see of Sund plucks away anyone from the Sonics front office. He had a close relationship with assistant GM Rich Cho. Sund may tab Dave Pendergraft and Steve Rosenberry to join him in Atlanta. Pendergraft was the Sonics director of basketball operations and Rosenberry was the top college scout before being released by Presti.

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