New Hawks guard Harris likes team's big makeover
After a busy offseason with new general manager Danny Ferry, the new-look began to take shape on Wednesday.
The signing of guard Lou Williams was apparently still awaiting league approval.
Harris, the veteran point guard, told The Associated Press he likes Ferry's ''big moves.''
The biggest move was trading Johnson, the six-time All-Star with four years and $90 million left on his contract, for guards Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar and DeShawn Stevenson, forwards Jordan Williams and Johan Petro, and the Nets' second-round pick in 2017.
The only remaining holdovers from the squad that lost to Boston in the first round of the playoffs are center Al Horford, forward Josh Smith, point guard Jeff Teague and backup center Zaza Pachulia. Other backups may be re-signed.
In a statement released by the team, Ferry thanked Johnson and Marvin Williams for their contributions to the Hawks.
''We felt with the team that we had, we were probably going to maintain the status quo and not be able to reach a championship level,'' Ferry said. ''We now have the opportunity to work within the new CBA in a better way that will allow us to move forward and be opportunistic in the future as we work to build a sustainable championship level team.''
Ferry selected Vanderbilt shooting guard John Jenkins and Virginia forward Mike Scott in the draft.
''I'm excited to see how we all fit together,'' Harris said in a telephone interview.
Harris, 29, is scheduled to make $8.5 million in 2012-13, the final year of his current contract. He said he has not talked with any Hawks official about the possibility of an extension.
Harris played with Dallas and New Jersey before spending one season with Utah. He averaged 11.3 points with Jazz, his low mark since 2006-07, but ranked 17th in the league with his career-best 2.59 assists per turnover ratio.
Harris said the trade to the Hawks ''is a great opportunity.''
''Obviously, I'm coming to a team with a lot of great young talent,'' he said. ''Obviously we've got some great pieces.''
Atlanta also has some small pieces in its backcourt. Harris is 6-3, Teague is 6-2 and Williams is 6-foot-1.
Williams played both guard spots with Philadelphia and is seen as a possible bridge to Jenkins at shooting guard. Any combination of Harris, Teague and Williams on the floor together will give coach Larry Drew a much smaller look than with the 6-foot-8 Johnson at shooting guard.
Drew couldn't talk about his new players at the media availability, which was before the deals became official. However, he did say he's prepared to emphasize speed and quickness in his backcourt instead of size advantages with Johnson.
''I've always said we certainly look at positions and we try to take advantage of certain matchups we feel are to our advantage,'' Drew said. ''Sometimes it's size, sometimes it's speed, sometimes it's quickness.
''We have to look at every position and we have to try to exploit what we perceive to be the advantage. Moving forward, that won't change as far as what we do. We will still look at matchups. If we have a size advantage, we will try to take advantage of it. In other areas where we feel speed and quickness may be an advantage, we will try to put them in a position where they can utilize their speed and quickness.''
Harris set a career high with his average of 21.3 points per game with the Nets in the 2008-09 season. His career average is 13.1.
Harris said he expects the Hawks to play an up-tempo pace, especially with a smaller backcourt.
''I've been with a lot of teams where we played two small guards together,'' Harris said. ''Obviously, they're a team that likes to get up and down and that fits with what we do well.''
Williams set a career high with his 14.9 points per game with the Sixers last season. He opted out of the final year of his contract with Philadelphia after he was runner-up to Oklahoma City's James Harden for NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Williams, who played at South Gwinnett High in the Atlanta area, announced his return to his hometown on his Twitter account on Tuesday.