The Hawks have been re-tooling a team that earned the No. 6 seed last season and tied the Pacers heading into Game 5 of their first-round series.
Paul Millsap replaces Josh Smith. Elton Brand replaces Ivan Johnson. Dennis Schroeder replaces Devin Harris. Mike Budenholzer replaces Larry Drew. Lou Williams is getting healthy. Free agents Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver are back.
Does this make Atlanta better? Probably not, but the Hawks aren’t necessarily worse, either. They’re just changing, and for a playoff team, that’s not so bad.
But all hopeful playoff teams could use more depth in at the power positions, so Atlanta has signed Pero Antic, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Vivamore:
Antic (pronounced An Titch) said he had an opportunity to sign with the Magic in 2008 but couldn’t pass up the financial offer of a team from Russia. Now, he wants a chance to prove himself against the best.
“This time, for myself, I don’t want to say that I had a chance but didn’t go (to the NBA),” Antic said. “This is for myself, for a bigger challenge, and this is the biggest challenge you can get.”
Antic said he sees himself as a power forward who can spread the floor with his ability to shoot and who will get rebounds. He added that he will play center if that is what the Hawks need him to do.
“Pero is a skilled and versatile big man who will add depth to our frontcourt,” general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement. “He will fit in well with what we’re building and we’re excited to add him to the team.”
The Hawks have a few proven big men – Al Horford, Millsap and Brand – ahead of Antic. So, they don’t need Antic – a 6-foot-11, 230-pound 30-year-old who averaged 6.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in 15.2 minutes per game for Olympiacos last season – to provide much. Just a little boost off the bench in the back end of the rotation could be enough to keep Atlanta in the playoffs as it battles a crowded middle in the Eastern Conference.