short takes

A renaissance arising on Peachtree Road

The Atlanta Hawks' fortunes are looking up, and not just on the court where they are the surprise story of this NBA season with the Eastern Conference's best record.

Forbes magazine's latest franchise valuations estimate the Hawks' worth has doubled from just a year ago, up to $825 million just in time for the team's sale. Television viewership locally has increased 61 percent and attendance has increased 2,220 a game from last season. Five of six recent home games were announced as sellouts; the Timberwolves make their lone Philips Arena visit Sunday.

The Hawks' three ownership groups plan to sell the franchise and arena operating rights after a racially offensive e-mail written by co-owner Bruce Levenson was leaked.

Worth the wait for Waiters

Consider new Oklahoma City guard Dion Waiters a happy man. Wouldn't you be, too, if you just left Cleveland?

But seriously, folks…Since the Thunder acquired Waiters in a three-way trade three weeks ago, he has found a slightly expanded role and apparently, more receptive star teammates in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook than he had with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. The Wolves visit Oklahoma City on Monday.

"Listen," Waiters told the Oklahoman newspaper, "they give me the ball. Like, I touch the ball. Like, I actually, like, you know, touch the ball…They brought me in since Day 1 with love. It seems like I've been here forever. It seems like I've been playing with them forever, too. When I came here, we clicked right away."

Barkley's parting words

NBA fans worldwide last week picked injury-prone Kobe Bryant over Houston's James Harden to start the All-Star Game.

"I love Kobe Bryant, but James Harden deserves to be starting in the All-Star Game," TNT analyst Charles Barkley said. "The Lakers stink and Kobe hasn't played enough games. James Harden should be starting … plain and simple."