Hawks’ Vit Krejci settling in following whirlwind week

The dust has settled from Tuesday evening’s trade, and the Hawks have gotten a chance to see their new addition up close.

The Hawks acquired Vit Krejci (pronounced veet kray-chee) in exchange for Maurice “Moe” Harkless and a second-round pick earlier this week. Now, the team has added another versatile guard who brings plenty of size to its backcourt.

A 6-foot 8 Czech guard, Krejci averaged 6.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 21.1 minutes last season. He shot 40.7% from the floor and knocked down 32.7% of his 3-pointers.

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It has been a bit of a whirlwind for Krejci over the past couple of days. He learned that he would suit up for a different team as he headed to practice in Oklahoma City just hours before the deal was announced.

“It was Tuesday, coming to the practice, you know, (Thunder general manager) Sam (Presti) just called me and told me that (the) trade happened and that Atlanta would call me and we’d figure things out,” Krejci said. “So that was it.”

Roughly 24 hours later, Krejci joined the Hawks ahead of their open practice Wednesday night. He didn’t participate in the drills or scrimmage, but it gave him a preview of what to anticipate when he joined the team for practice Thursday morning.

Krejci said he is still adjusting to his new surroundings, and he understood that it would take a little bit of time to get to know his new teammates.

“Yeah, I mean, obviously, the last few days were really tough moving everything,” Krejci said. “And so, you know, I was just coming here, you know, to get to know the guys got to get some runs in, you know, and then just move from here.”

Part of that included getting ready for Abu Dhabi, something that wasn’t on his radar before this week.

“Yeah, it was one day you go into the practice and everything’s good, and then next thing you know, you got to prepare for in two days, you’re going to Abu Dhabi to play some international games,” Krejci said. “So it was, like I said, a lot of time on the phone, figuring out what to do with all the movements. Obviously, (it was) the first time for me (going there), so there was also stuff I needed to figure out. But obviously I had a lot of help from Atlanta and from OKC to make this the easiest way possible. So, it wasn’t that hard. I thought it would be the worst, to be honest.”

Krejci and the Hawks needed to make sure his passport, travel documents and COVID-19 vaccination status were in order. Everything went smoothly, and no surprises seemed to pop up.

Now, he gets to experience a new city and country as he gets to know his new teammates.

For Krejci, it’s a little bit like his rookie season again because the Thunder and the Hawks are on different paths. The Hawks are on the hunt for a championship, while the Thunder is in the midst of rebuilding the team. So, he didn’t get to pick the brains of many veterans last season.

So, he’s ready to soak up as much as he can from his young but more experienced teammates.

“In OKC you had ... two guys, and both of them were bigs that were veterans, you know,” Krejci said. “So here, we have a lot of guys like, Trae (Young’s) obviously really young, but you know, he’s been through a lot and (Dejounte) Murray and everybody. So, it’s just nice to get to get to know them. Obviously, it’s gonna be a big help.”

Though Krejci has only a couple of days of practice under his belt, the 22-year-old has impressed coach Nate McMillan.

“He knows how to play,” McMillan said. “I think he has a high basketball IQ. We put him right out there. It was good to see him be available to play and practice with our guys today. So that was exciting.”

Injury notes

- AJ Griffin participated in live play Friday for the first time in a couple of weeks. Griffin missed Summer League in July because of foot soreness and missed some of camp because of a mild ankle sprain. McMillan said Griffin did what he could, but participated in almost the entire practice.

“He was excited to just get out there and play with his teammates, and I liked what I saw,” McMillan said. “It was good to see him.”

- Jalen Johnson and Trent Forrest did not participate in practice. The two likely will miss some, and possibly all, of the Hawks’ trip to Abu Dhabi as they deal with a non-COVID illness.

McMillan said that the team would evaluate whether to bring the two over once they have recovered, depending on how much time remained on the trip.