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Hawks sign first-round pick Williams
By Associated Press
Jul 10, 2006 - 6:10:00 PM

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ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks signed first-round draft pick Shelden Williams to a four-year deal Monday that will earn the former Duke standout about $5 million the first two years.

Only the first two years of basic rookie contracts are guaranteed. Williams will earn about $2.46 million as a rookie and $2.65 million in his second season.

The 6-foot-9 forward was a four-year starter at Duke and could immediately earn a starting role with the Hawks. He was the fifth pick in the draft after averaging 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds as a senior.

The Hawks' negotiations with Williams and second-round pick Solomon Jones of South Florida were not affected by last week's ruling from a Maryland judge that will prevent the Hawks from signing a free agent to a contract longer than one year.

The stipulation from Montgomery County (Md.) Circuit Court Judge Eric Johnson doesn't relate to negotiations with draft picks.

The ruling also apparently doesn't affect negotiations already under way with free agents, including the Hawks' agreement to sign free agent point guard Speedy Claxton. The deal, believed to be for four years, may be announced as early as Wednesday.

Johnson ruled last month Boston businessman Steve Belkin is entitled to buy the Hawks and the NHL Atlanta Thrashers from his former co-owners. Last week the judge issued a stay, saying the current ownership and management team should retain control while the appeals are heard.

Williams is expected to help address the Hawks' poor inside defense. He was the national defensive player of the year as a junior and was a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year.

He was a first-team All-America by The Associated Press as a senior.

The two rookies participated in the first day of the Hawks' camp Monday. The Hawks summer league squad will participate in the Rocky Mountain Revue beginning Thursday in Salt Lake City.

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