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Hawks sign veteran free agent forward

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks signed free agent forward Joe Smith on Tuesday to address the team's lack of inside depth. Smith, a 14-year veteran, was the NBA's No. 1 overall draft pick in 1995. The Hawks are his 10th NBA home.

The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Smith will join center Zaza Pachulia as the top inside backups behind starters Al Horford and Josh Smith for the Hawks, who advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season. "Joe's acquisition provides us with a solid complement to our frontcourt," said Hawks general manager Rick Sund. "Not only does he bring years of experience to our team, but his versatility gives our coaching staff a player who can play multiple positions and an individual who will provide tremendous leadership in the locker room."

Terms of the deal were not released on Tuesday.

Smith, 34, played 21 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season after starting the season with Oklahoma City. He averaged 5.5 points and 3.7 rebounds in 13 postseason games with the Cavaliers. He averaged 6.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in the regular season. Smith brings career averages of 11.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He set a career high by averaging 18.7 points per game for Golden State in the 1996-97 season. The Hawks traded for guard Jamal Crawford in June and have re-signed three starters who were free agents: Marvin Williams, Mike Bibby and Pachulia

Coyotes' ownership is up in the air

PHOENIX — A group headed by Jerry Reinsdorf has pulled out as a potential buyer of the Phoenix Coyotes just as the NHL filed a bid in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to purchase the team and keep it in Arizona.

Reinsdorf's group said it was unable to meet Tuesday's court deadline for submitting a firm offer. It also complained of an "unwilling seller" and "an organized publicity effort designed to provide negative and misleading information to interested parties." The Reinsdorf group said in a statement that those tactics were a factor in the inability to reach an agreement with the city of Glendale on an acceptable lease to play in Arena.

The NHL bid apparently was the only one filed by the deadline that would keep the team in Arizona. Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie filed an amended purchase agreement on Monday offering $212.5 million, contingent on moving the franchise to Hamilton, Ontario. If Judge Redfield T. Baum throws out Balsillie's offer because the NHL board of governors rejected his application, by a 26-0 vote, to own the Coyotes, that could leave the league with the only bid. Balsillie wants the judge to overrule the NHL's vote based on bankruptcy law and the fact that he says his offer would provide the most money to creditors

Mets' ace Santana is lost for the season

NEW YORK — Johan Santana needs surgery for bone chips in his left elbow and the star pitcher is out for the season, the latest blow to a New York Mets team battered by injuries.

The team said their 30-year-old ace is expected to be OK for spring training next year. He was examined Tuesday by Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek in New York. "It's not the worst," Santana said on a conference call. "Believe me, I'm going to be ready." The Mets also announced Tuesday that reliever J.J. Putz had a setback in his recovery from elbow surgery and will miss the rest of the season after an MRI revealed "some new fraying and a slight tear" in his right forearm. He will not need surgery and it is merely a preventative measure, the team said.

Santana said he had the same operation after the 2003 season, and came back with a career-high 20 wins and the first of his two Cy Young Awards for Minnesota.

"I know myself," he said. "I've been through this before. I know exactly what it is."

Mets general manager Omar Minaya said Santana was evaluated around the All-Star break as his stats dipped, adding the injury worsened in recent weeks, especially after his last start. The GM said "nothing major was there" during the previous checkup.

"It's mostly soreness," Minaya said on a conference call. "We all want to see Johan Santana pitching in September. But this is a smart move because we want to see him pitching for the long haul."

The Mets had feared a major setback to Santana, who has four seasons left on his $137.5 million, six-year contract. Instead, he will have arthroscopic surgery. Santana said that had the Mets been in the middle of a pennant race, rather than lagging well below .500, he would've tried to keep pitching.

"I didn't want to shut it down," he said. That said, "you don't want to go out there and blow it and make it worse."

Santana went 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA in 25 starts in his second year with the Mets. Strong at the start of the season, his numbers had dropped noticeably since June — he was 7-2 with a 1.77 ERA and averaged nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings before then, but was 6-7 with a 4.02 ERA and averaged 51/2 strikeouts since then.