Two-deep rosters aren’t strictly for NFL teams.
Hawks coach Mike Woodson has a white board hanging from the back wall of his office with various scribbles on it, but it wasn’t hard to make out the two rows of initials he jotted down one recent afternoon, or the glaring omission in one category.
There was no power forward listed behind starter Josh Smith. And there is little in the way of depth behind Smith, starting center Al Horford and starting center Zaza Pachulia in a frontcourt rotation that looks dreadfully thin on paper. Seldom-used backup Randolph Morris is under contract but will have to make a major push in training camp to push his way into the rotation.
“We’re in a bind right now,” Woodson said. “When you see it up there on the wall, it really hits home where we’re lacking right now.”
While big men have been flying off the free-agent shelves all summer, the Hawks have had no luck in luring talent outside of the organization. The Hawks’ have been pursuing veteran power forward Joe Smith since last month but haven’t been able to secure a commitment from the former No. 1 overall pick.
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They rescinded a qualifying offer to Solomon Jones, who proved to be an able fill-in when Josh Smith was injured early last season. Jones signed a two-year deal with Indiana last week, leaving the Hawks razor thin, at least for the time being.
“Based on our situation, there just aren’t a whole lot of guys to choose from, really,” Woodson said. “People are snapping up these bigs left and right. And not to take anything away from any of the guys still out there, of the guys I really had targeted, there’s only one of them left. And that’s why we’re going through the process of now bringing in some bigs and working them out, and then we can see where we go from there.”
One of the first to come in will be Augusta State 7-footer Garret Siler. The 305-pound Siler attended the Hawks’ rookie/free agent mini-camp last month and made an impression. He has already been added to the training roster. Veteran center Jason Collins, another 7-footer, is also expected in for a look as early as this week.
Johan Petro, Stromile Swift and Courtney Sims are other names believed to be on the Hawks’ radar.
“We’ve got several guys we’re going to take a closer look at,” he said. “We have to find some answers, though, because right now we’re not where we need to be.”
Hunter awaits call to training camp
Othello Hunter has been one of the regulars on the Hawks’ practice court this summer. Whether he’ll be in training camp with the Hawks remains to be seen.
“I’m still waiting to hear something for sure,” Hunter said after working out with Marvin Williams late last week. “We’ll see.”
Hunter was another standout performer during the Hawks’ recent rookie/free-agent mini-camp. He made the team as an undrafted free agent last season but played sparingly, appearing in only 16 games.
Woodson identified Hunter, 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, as one of the players who made the greatest leap from the start of last season to the finish, both on and off the floor.
“He’s a guy you have to look at,” Woodson said. “He put in his time last year and really worked on his game, and it showed this summer.”
Williams says pain no longer problem
Williams said he’s finally pain free after dealing with back and wrist injuries last season. His lower-back injury sidelined him for the final month and a half of the regular season, though he did come back in time for the playoffs.
“That was the toughest part about last season,” he said. “It was tough to just sit and watch and even tougher to watch us struggle at times, but Mo Evans stepped it up and the guys really picked it up all year whenever somebody was hurt.
“For us to make it to the second round of the playoffs in spite of all those injuries shows you just how far we’ve come as a unit. And this year we have to go out there and take the next step.”