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Hawks hire Babcock as new general manager

ATLANTA - Pete Babcock was hired away from the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday to become the new general manager of the Atlanta Hawks. Stan Kasten, who has held the dual titles of president and general manager with the Hawks, announced Babcock's appointment. Kasten had indicated he wanted to give up his general manager's duties.

Babcock, 40, was with the Nuggets' organization for 5 1/2 years, most recently as general manager. He also has been a scout with the New Orleans Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks and joined the Los Angeles Clippers as general manager in 1980.

Babcock said he began talking with Kasten last weekend during the NBA All-Star break in Miami "when it became apparent it was the desire of the Nuggets not to have me stay."

Babcock was stripped of the general manager's title after the new Denver owners bought the club last year. In an odd twist of fate two weeks ago, just as Babcock was negotiating a contract settlement that would have allowed him to leave the Nuggets, general manager Jon Spoelstra resigned and Babcock was retained.

His duties were not clearly defined, however. "Making me general manager again was just a cosmetic move," Babcock said.

Kasten had said he wanted to hire a Hawks general manager so he could devote more time to running owner Ted Turner's baseball team, the Braves.

Babcock's departure leaves the Nuggets without an experienced basketball man in the front office.

Still to be worked out is a settlement of the 5 1/2 years Babcock has remaining on his $400,000-a-year contract with the Nuggets. It is expected that the Nuggets and Hawks will work out a mutually acceptable percentage that each will pay.