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Hawks introduce draft picks Horford, Law

ATLANTA - The Atlanta Hawks talked of hope - and unity - when introducing their two first-round draft picks on Monday.

Forward-center Al Horford and point guard Acie Law answered questions and posed with their new jerseys - numbers 15 and 4, respectively - in their first Atlanta appearances since Thursday's draft.

Then, after the formal news conference, Hawks general manager Billy Knight and Michael Gearon Jr., the most visible member of the ownership group, showed no sign of tension as they stood together, smiling and talking.

Four days after the draft, Knight and Gearon remained enthusiastic about two rookies they believe can help end the team's eight-year playoff drought.

Gearon strongly denied draft-day rumors and Internet reports that disagreements among the owners interfered with a possible trade for Phoenix Suns center Amare Stoudemire.

There were reports of a proposed three-way trade in which the Suns tried to send Stoudemire to Atlanta, the Hawks would trade their two first-round selections to Minnesota, and the Timberwolves would send forward Kevin Garnett to Phoenix.

Did disagreements among Atlanta owners block the deal?

'None. Not at all. Not even close,' Gearon said.

'In respect to the rumors about Phoenix, there was never a deal. There was nothing to dispute. That was all nonsense.'

There also was a report Gearon and Knight clashed on the decision to pick Horford because Gearon wanted the team to draft forward Yi Jianlian of China, thereby boosting Gearon's business interests in China.

'I have some business interests in southeast Asia that is farther from China than Venezuela is from the United States,' Gearon said. 'There's not a connection there.'

Gearon said the ongoing Atlanta Spirit LLC ownership dispute pitted Boston-based Steve Belkin against the rest of the owners in part because Gearon and the other owners backed Knight in his 2005 trade with Phoenix for guard Joe Johnson. Belkin believed the Hawks gave up too much - including two first-round picks and Boris Diaw - and wouldn't back Knight in the deal, leading to the still-unresolved split in the ownership group.

'Everyone knows I have a very good relationship with Billy Knight, so the thought of the two of us butting heads is just silly,' Gearon said.

Gearon acknowledged the owners had 'some debate' about trading at least one pick for a veteran - possibly a point guard. Gearon said some believed the Hawks didn't need two more young players after years of building around Johnson and recent draft picks Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Marvin Williams and Shelden Williams.

Knight said Monday there is no plan to trade Horford or Law. He said the two will be 'major components of our franchise for a lot of years forward.'

Florida's Horford (6-10, 245) was listed as a power forward on draft lists but also will play center with Atlanta, possibly displacing Zaza Pachulia as the starter. No one flinched Monday when asked about the possibility of a Hawks front line including Smith, Marvin Williams and Horford, the No. 3 pick in the draft.

'Sure that will happen,' Knight said. 'Absolutely that will happen.'

Gearon said Horford is about the same size as the much-discussed Stoudemire: 'We feel great that Horford is a beast and is going to be great for us. We think with the way the NBA is now, you're going to see him play a lot of 5. He's as big as (Chicago center) Ben Wallace. The league is not a center-dominated league anymore, particularly in the East.'

Horford said he's ready to play either inside position for Atlanta after also playing both spots while winning consecutive NCAA championships at Florida.

'I feel comfortable, even though it's on a different level, that I can play the 4 and the 5,' Horford said. 'I feel like that's something I bring to the team and it's one of my strengths, playing multiple positions.'

Horford's father, former NBA center Tito Horford, attended the news conference.

Law, the No. 11 selection, was seen by some as more of a shooting guard than point guard after he averaged 18.1 points per game for Texas A&M as a senior.

'I just want to do whatever it takes to win,' Law said. 'On my team at A&M, I was the best scorer on my team, so I had to score for us to be successful.'