As lockout ends, Hawks prepare for hectic training camp

The NBA’s lockout will officially end at 2 p.m. Friday, 162 days after it began, and thus begins a strange new era for the league and its teams.

The lockout wiped out the free-agent signings and trades that usually happen over several weeks of the summer. Now the free-agent and trade periods will begin when camp opens, promising a flurry of transactions as teams prepare during for a 66-game season with a truncated training camp.

That means the Hawks team that takes the practice floor Friday won’t necessarily be the same group that opens the season Dec. 27. Players could be added or subtracted before then.

“I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it the last couple weeks,” Hawks forward Marvin Williams said. “I don’t know how it’s going to work. It’s going to be a new experience for everybody.

“I think we are in a great position because we have guys that have been together for a long time. There’s no chemistry building or anything like that. I think that is definitely a positive.”

The Hawks open camp with seven of their top eight players from the end of last season, though Kirk Hinrich (shoulder) begins on the injured list. They are expected to soon sign free-agent swingman Tracy McGrady and re-sign center Jason Collins.

That leaves room for adding players who could end up playing major roles. The Hawks still need an experienced backup at point guard, another reserve wing player and probably another center.

If the Hawks add those pieces, they will then have two weeks or so to blend them in before beginning a compressed schedule that includes nine games in the first 12 days. It’s a dynamic that none of the Hawks players has experienced before — they weren’t in the league when a lockout shortened the 1998-99 season — and they aren’t sure how it will play out.

“I honestly don’t know,” Hawks center Al Horford said. “It’s such a gray area. I’ve never been in a position like this before. I am hoping to be able to meet with all of the guys and Coach [Larry Drew] and get a better feel for where we are at. I know this is such an important part.”

As it stands now, the Hawks are expected to have begin camp with 13 players on their roster, with nine of them on fully guaranteed contracts.

McGrady, Collins and Hinrich join guards Jeff Teague, Joe Johnson, Pape Sy and Brad Wanamaker; forwards Josh Smith, Magnum Rolle and Williams; and centers Zaza Pachulia, Keith Benson and Horford.

The contracts for Sy, Rolle, and Wanamaker are not fully guaranteed. Benson has yet to sign but, as a second-round draft pick, his contract will not be fully guaranteed.

Free-agent guard Jamal Crawford is the only Hawks rotation player who won’t be on the roster to start camp. Hawks general manager Rick Sund has said he wants to re-sign Crawford, but the guard has drawn strong interest on the market and may be out of the Hawks’ price range.

Crawford, in a series of posts to his Twitter account, expressed frustration with what he considers to be lukewarm interest from the Hawks.

“Whoever wants to talk I’m willing to listen,” Crawford said in response to a message asking him which is his preferred destination. “[T]hat’s what happens when [your] own team is confused.”

In the meantime, the Hawks will prepare for what could be a hectic few days of practice and roster changes in preparation for a wild season.

“I am excited if we have five people, seven people or whatever,” Teague said. “When the games get rolling I know guys will be ready to play. We have been sitting out too long not to be ready.”