Harrington will get his chance in Atlanta
(Sports Network) – Al Harrington wanted to be a starter in the NBA, and as a
member of the Pacers he was not going to get that chance with All-Stars Ron
Artest and Jermaine O’Neal locked into the two forward spots in Indiana.
The 24-year-old Harrington will get his chance as a member of the Atlanta
Hawks, who acquired the 6-9 forward from the Pacers in a sign-and-trade deal
for swingman Stephen Jackson, who was an unrestricted free agent.
Originally selected out of St. Patrick’s High School by the Pacers in the
first round (25th pick overall) of the 1998 NBA Draft, Harrington played in 79
contests for Indiana in 2003-04 and averaged career-highs in points (13.3 ppg)
and rebounds (6.4 rpg). He started just 15 games and played just under 31
minutes per night. With the Hawks, Harrington will be a fixture in the
starting lineup and should see a significant increase in his playing time.
“I want to start by saying thanks to Billy (Knight), Dominique (Wilkins) and
Coach (Mike) Woodson for giving me this opportunity,” Harrington said at the
press conference where he was introduced as a member of the Hawks. “This is
something that I’ve been looking for for a long time. I feel like this is a
great situation for me, for this city, for this organization and we are going
to turn it around quickly.”
Over his six-year career, Harrington has played in 354 regular-season games,
starting 91, and has averaged 10.1 points and 5.3 boards. He also has
significant playoff experience which will help the youthful Hawks as they
improve in the upcoming years and try to re-enter postseason play. Harrington
played in 25 playoff games for Indiana and averaged 7.1 points and 5.3
rebounds in those contests.
“I am finally in a position where I can really be a role model for my
teammates – it’s bigger than just starting,” said Harrington. “Now I have a
lot of responsibilities and these are responsibilities that I have been
looking for the last two years of my career. I’m very excited be here and we
are going to get it ‘poppin’ out here again.”
Harrington joins an Atlanta squad that is in the first steps of the re-
building process. The Hawks still have guard Jason Terry, who is an offensive
threat. The 26-year-old Terry was second on the Hawks in scoring (16.8 ppg)
and led the club in assists (5.4 apg) this past season, while Jackson was
Atlanta’s leading scorer at 18.1 points per game. Harrington will be asked to
surpass Jackson’s offensive production.
“That’s what this team needs, and that’s one of the challenges that I am ready
to accept,” said Harrington. “I know I am going to be ready, because I know
I’ll work hard this summer. I don’t think anyone works harder as me and with
that brings confidence in the offensive end and my total game.”
The Hawks hope rookie swingman Josh Childress, who was selected out of
Stanford with the sixth overall pick by Atlanta in the 2004 NBA Draft, will be
able to make an immediate impact. The Hawks feel that they could have a
formidable threesome in Childress, Harrington and Terry.
Harrington is ready for the challenge and is happy to be a part of the Atlanta
“I wanted to come here because I feel like I have a lot more to offer,” said
Harrington. “Indiana was a great situation, I am going to miss everybody
there, but it just came to a point with that team that we just had too many
guys. Something had to give and I guess I was the one that was willing to step
back and try a new thing. It was a blessing in disguise – it just happened out
of nowhere. I am just so happy to be here – I have family here and this is a
place that I definitely can make my home.”
Atlanta is off to a solid start in re-shaping its franchise. The Hawks still
have a long way to go before they are contending for a playoff spot, but
building a roster with young and athletic players is a smart way to go.
Harrington wanted a chance to start and he is going to get that opportunity
with the Hawks. Not only will he be a starter, but Harrington will be a go-to
guy for a team that is starting over. The six-year veteran’s time has come and
he will be give the chance to shine in the NBA.
“I have an announcement to make, said Harrington. “Atlanta come out and
support us. We are going to turn this thing around and we are going to play
hard, give 110%. Just come out, bear with us and I promise that we are going
to give maximum effort every night and we are going to make it entertaining.”