Joe Smith: A perfect fit for Hawks
After 14 years in the NBA, Joe Smith is prepared to play the role of wise sage.
“That’s just a part of the equation when you’ve been around as long as I have,” Smith said and then laughed.
That’s in addition, of course, to playing his role in the Hawks’ playing rotation, which should stretch 10 players deep.
Smith, who signed a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum last week, gives the Hawks an experienced two-deep rotation at all five positions.
Earlier this summer Hawks coach Mike Woodson said the team had a hole behind Josh Smith at power forward. Smith closes that hole and lends some depth at small forward in certain situations, while also being able to guard some centers in the league.
Still, one of the more valuable aspects of having him around is the influence he can have on young big men such as Smith and Al Horford in the locker room and in games.
“There isn’t much I haven’t seen during my time in the league,” said Joe Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 NBA draft out of Maryland. “Honestly, the time has gone so fast that it’s hard to believe draft night was so long ago, but that’s why you have to take the things you’ve learned along the way and be ready to pass them on. I’m ready to do that on this team.”
Smith served in a similar capacity last season, both in Oklahoma City and Cleveland. He began the season with the Thunder, playing 36 games before being bought out and released. He played in 21 regular-season games after being picked up by the Cavaliers and saw action in 13 playoff games with the league’s best regular-season team.
He said his time with the Thunder and Cavaliers gave him plenty of training time with young teams, insight that should serve him well with a maturing Hawks team.
“I’m excited,” said Smith, 33, who will wear No. 32 with the Hawks. “I can’t wait to get started.”
More beef on the way?
Adding Joe Smith wasn’t the Hawks’ last frontcourt move of the summer. The Hawks are close to completing a deal to add veteran center Jason Collins.
Collins was in town for a workout with the Hawks two weeks ago and made a favorable impression. A 7-foot, 255-pound eight-year veteran, Collins would also sign a one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum, as Smith did.
A quality defender with a physical presence, Collins also would provide depth and insurance in the frontcourt. He spent the first six and half years of his career in New Jersey, starting 404 games at center time there. Collins was a starter on the Nets’ 2003 NBA Finals team.
Hunter coming to camp
Second-year forward Othello Hunter has committed to attend the Hawks’ training camp, which kicks off late next month.
He’ll join a growing list of camp invitees that already includes rookie free agent Garrett Siler, Frank Robinson and Courtney Sims.