This spring the Hawks sought to expand in the biggest way by trying to hire former Lakers exec Jerry West. "I told our people that if there was a way for us to hire Jerry we should do it, even if I had to leave," says Babcock, who is good friends with West. But West chose to join the Memphis Grizzlies instead. To make room for him, the Grizzlies fired G.M. Billy Knight.
Last week the Hawks hired the highly respected Knight as director of basketball operations. It didn't hurt that Knight had made a trade last year with Babcock that helped both teams, sending Shareef Abdur-Rahim and the draft rights to Jamaal Tinsley to Atlanta for Lorenzen Wright, Brevin Knight and the rights to Pau Gasol, who became Rookie of the Year. "We saw that Billy's two draft pickups, Gasol and [Shane] Battier, turned out to be such great rookies," Babcock says. "Billy is going to be a great help."