Jarrett Jack is also coming back home.
The Hawks’ recently signed point guard has made Atlanta his residence since he was a freshman at Georgia Tech. He stayed in the city through three collegiate and 11 NBA seasons with seven teams.
The timing was right to return home when he signed a one-year deal with the Hawks as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“I love it being able to come back to a place I’m very, very familiar with and is familiar with me,” Jack told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “It’s where I live. It’s a thought that has always run across my mind, getting a chance to come back and play in Atlanta again. I think now is a great time, a great opportunity.”
The 32-year-old Jack became available when he was waived by the Nets in June. The 6-foot-3 guard was having a solid season before he suffered a torn ACL and small medial meniscus tear in his right knee that ended his year in January.
Following the worst injury of his career, Jack said he is on track to begin next season at full strength.
“It’s strong,” Jack said of his surgically repaired knee. “I’m about 80 percent with about two months left until training camp. I easily expect myself to be ready by the first of October and ready to hit the ground running.”
The Hawks are likely to bring Jack along slowly from the injury, just as they did three seasons ago with Lou Williams after he suffered a torn ACL.
“Possibly,” Jack said of a cautious return. “We haven’t sat down and discussed a plan as far as how things are going to go as far as the season is concerned. I’m going to listen to the training staff and do whatever is in the best interest of me and the team. I’m working very, very hard, very, very diligently to come back and be ready to play all 82 (games).”
Jack averaged 12.8 points and 7.4 assists in 32 games before he was injured. He said he was not surprised by the Nets decision to let him go as they were a team with a new coach and front office and wanted to start fresh.
Jack said he received interest from several teams, most were leery of giving him a longer-term deal coming off such an injury. It was a point he understood.
Jack said the Hawks’ commitment to winning, the opportunity to play for Mike Budenholzer and the team’s acquisition of Dwight Howard were all deciding factors in his decision. Signing was the easy part. Missing the game of basketball while injured was the hard part.
“It’s difficult,” Jack said of missing the game. “Basketball is my first love, my second love, my third love. Not having that with me for the first time was definitely a struggle. Usually that is my outlet for a lot of things. Not having it at your disposal is kind of difficult to cope with but you have to understand this thing is temporary and get back to what I know in no time.”
Jack will be the backup to Dennis Schroder at point guard. The team also signed Malcolm Delaney, who can play both guard positions and will enable a deliberate return to the court for Jack. Budenholzer praised Jack’s “leadership and versatility” in announcing his signing last month.
Jack said he has been overwhelmed by the local support, even before the move became official. He was a part of Georgia Tech’s national runner-up finish in 2004. In an AJC poll posted in June, before he was released by the Nets, 85 percent of about 2,500 respondents favored a Hawks signing of Jack.
“Even before it was official, walking around the city people were saying they wanted me back and it would be great if the Hawks would extend an offer,” Jack said. “The fan support has been tremendous. I’m just happy. I’m happy they show a liking to the way I play and hopefully I can do them justice by playing hard for them night in and night out.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.