Salt Lake City–Damien Wilkins fulfilled a dream when he got to wear a Hawks uniform like his Uncle ‘Nique. He didn’t have one in his locker tonight after being the team waived him.
The fact that he’s still here with the Hawks indicates how much he wants to wear it again.
“They gave me the option [to stay],” Wilkins said. “I wanted to be around the guys and show them how much I wanted to be here and how much I’m committed to the team. We’ll see what happens.”
By waiving Wilkins today the Hawks assure he won’t be on the roster on Jan. 10, when his contract would become guaranteed for the rest of the season. The Hawks could sign him (or any other free agent) to a 10-day contract once he clears waivers in a couple days.
L.D. said the Hawks “certainly could use another wing” especially with Marvin still on the injured list. He said re-signing Wilkins is a possibility.
“I thought he did a really good job for us,” L.D. said. “You always leave your options open to bring him back. We’ll explore what the opportunities will be out there. There is still a possibility we could bring him back or we could look elsewhere and bring in somebody else.”
Wilkins said the Hawks made a “business decision” and he understands it. Atlanta signed him on Dec. 3, the day after J.J’s surgery, and Wilkins knew that his time could be up now that Joe is back in the lineup.
L.D. asked Wilkins to be a physical defender and Wilkins said that’s what he tried to do for the Hawks. He played 170 minutes over 13 games had memorable stints checking LeBron and Durant.
“This is always where I wanted to be,” Wilkins said. “Wearing this uniform was the greatest thing for me in my career. It was fun.”
The Hawks now have 14 players on the roster.
Pape Sy sighting
Pape Sy visited the Hawks locker room before the game and was met with enthusiastic greetings from his teammates (many of whom playfully pronounce his name with a long “a” so it rhymes with “tape”).
“It’s good to see them,” Sy said.
Sy said his back is feeling good but he doesn’t have his legs yet after playing in two games for the Utah Flash. He hadn’t played since Summer League.
“I’m trying to get back in shape,” he said. “I’m trying to work to get back in Atlanta.”
Do it again?
The game tonight has a familiar feeling as the last time the Hawks were in this building. Remember they’d blown an 18-point lead at Golden State the night before they beat Utah here for the first time since 1993.
The Hawks didn’t lose at Sacto last night but the shaky ending marred what otherwise was a strong performance. The bench guys let the Kings back in it at the end, and now they have to lift the Hawks tonight.
“We really rely on our bench, especially when we play back-to-back,” Drew said. “Last night had guys log a few minutes, so it’s going to be a key for our guys off the bench to be ready and prepared to play. We really feel like we have a solid bench; we just have to get more consistency with them. Last night we didn’t have the consistency. But I believe in our bench. I believe every guy can get the job done and tonight it’s going to be important.”