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Hawks to sign point guard Speedy Claxton
By Associated Press
Jul 3, 2006 - 8:45:00 PM

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ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks have reportedly reached agreement with veteran point guard Speedy Claxton, filling one of the team's greatest needs.

Claxton, a five-year NBA veteran, played on San Antonio's 2003 NBA championship team and averaged 12.3 points, 4.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds last season with the Hornets.

Under free-agency rules, he cannot officially sign a contract until July 12. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on its Web site Monday that the deal is believed to be for four years and worth about $25 million.

"I think it's a good fit," Claxton's agent, Bill Duffy, told the newspaper. "Speedy likes the fact you have a bunch of young legs, and they need leadership. This is a team that's definitely on the rise."

The Hawks are the youngest team in the league, with an average age of 23. Atlanta has been looking to improve at point guard after having to fill the position over the last two years with inexperienced players such as Royal Ivey or playing leading scorer Joe Johnson out of position.

The Hawks took a lot of fan criticism after passing up on drafting Chris Paul in 2005, especially after Paul was named NBA rookie of the year with the Hornets.

Claxton played behind or alongside Paul with New Orleans, but he will start for the Hawks. That will allow Johnson, who averaged 20.2 points a game last season, to play shooting guard full-time.

Atlanta general manager Billy Knight had said the point guard spot would most likely be filled through free agency.

In last month's draft, the Hawks took Duke big man Shelden Williams with the No. 5 overall pick and another prospect with inside defensive skills, Solomon Jones of South Florida, in the second round.

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