There won’t be much of a learning curve for Dexter Pittman upon joining the Hawks.
The center signed a 10-day contract Saturday to help the team’s depleted big-man ranks. He most recently played in the NBA Development League for the Austin Toros, the affiliate owned by the Spurs. So, you could say Pittman is familiar with the system used by first-year Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer after the coach’s 19 years in the Spurs organization.
“I know all the plays and sets,” said Pittman, who was a second-round draft pick of the Heat in 2010. “It’s a lot of the stuff we ran in Miami also. I’m kind of ahead of it a little bit if you want to call it that.”
Pittman (6-foot-11, 285 pounds) arrived from Sioux Falls, South Dakota Saturday, after playing in a D-League game the previous night, hours before the Hawks played the Knicks. He was in uniform but did not play. After officially signing his deal, Pittman worked with assistant coaches on the team’s practice court prior to the game.
“Man, I thought I was dreaming,” Pittman said. “I got the call (Saturday) morning. … My agent called me and said you have an hour and half to get to the airport and make this flight. I said ‘For what?’ He said because the Hawks are calling you up. I made it.”
Pittman’s contract will expire March 4. The Hawks have three games during the span. He could be signed to a second 10-day contract depending on the progress of the other injured Hawks centers. Pero Antic (right ankle) and Gustavo Ayon (right shoulder) are recovering. The Hawks had one healthy center, veteran Elton Brand, as the team has also lost Al Horford (right pectoral tear) for the season.
“Dexter’s size and presence inside is where we have a need now,” Budenholzer said. “He has some familiarity with our system and we hope that expedites his chances to help us in a game if needed.”
Pittman, who turns 26 next week, was selected No. 32 overall by the Heat. He played sparingly and his tenure included several D-League stints. He played in the 2011 D-League All-Star game. He won an NBA title with the Heat in 2012 as he appeared in three postseason games.
Pittman was traded to the Grizzlies in February of 2013 and was waived two months later. He played with the Spurs in the 2013 Summer League and then signed with the Bulls. He was released in training camp.
Pittman joined the Toros on Jan. 6. and played 17 games. He made nine starts and averaged 9.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 17.5 minutes.
“It’s been great because I had a chance to play and develop,” Pittman said of his time with the Toros. “The D-League is good now. It’s not like it used to be back in the day. Everybody is very good. You have different type of players. It’s kind of like Triple-A in baseball now. I was thankful to be there and grateful to play at that high level of basketball.”