Vivlamore reporting. Here is my story on the roster battle that will appear in the Saturday print version of the AJC.
The Hawks’ final two roster spots – should the team elect to keep the 15-player limit –appears to be a three-man battle between James Anderson, Damion James and Anthony Tolliver.
The Hawks have a training camp roster of 17 players after the release of forward/center Keith Benson and guard Isma’il Muhammad Thursday. With 13 guaranteed contracts, a maximum of two sports remain. Carldell Johnson is considered a long-shot to make the team with the number of point guards already on the roster.
And then there were three.
* Tolliver, a 6-foot-8 forward, has the most NBA experience. He has played four seasons, including the past two with the Timberwolves. He has career averages of 6.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 21.4 minutes with stints that also included the Spurs, Trail Blazers and Warriors.
“I think I’m unique,” said Tolliver, a late training camp addition after a deal couldn’t be reached to return to Minnesota. “I think I’m a guy if you put on this roster can do a lot of different things. … I’m able to guard multiple positions. We have some guys who can do that but paring that with me being able to shoot and play multiple positions on the offensive end, I think helps bring more versatility to the team and more size.”
* Anderson has two seasons of NBA experience with the Spurs, who selected him in the first round (20th overall) in 2010. The 6-6 guard has career averages of 3.7 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 11.5 minutes.
“Defend, that’s the main part of it at the (small forward) spot,” Anderson said. “I feel like I can do that and more. It’s all got to be put on the line. Thirteen are already guaranteed and two spots, at the most, are left. Everything’s has to be put on the line every day in practice and all the preseason games.”
* James, originally a draft pick of the Hawks (24th overall) in 2010, played two seasons with the Nets after they traded for his rights on draft night. The 6-7 forward has career averages of 4.5 points, 3.7 rebounds in 17.9 minutes.
“Energy, defense, rebounding, make all the right plays,” James said of his attributes. “I think this is where I should have been in the first place. It’s a blessing.”
All three have appeared in both exhibition games with James putting up the most impressive statistics. He has played 49 minutes, with one start, and has 17 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists.
Tolliver has 10 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes. Anderson, with one start, has nine points, two rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes. James and Anderson are candidates for the small forward position with Tolliver considered a power forward.
Coach Larry Drew said that several players have caught his eye, but would not elaborate.
“I’ve seen some guys step up but they are still be evaluated,” Drew said.
The Hawks must trim their roster to 15 players by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. Drew said Friday he is unsure when he will make more cuts.
It remains a possibility that the Hawks will carry less than the maximum of 15 players to allow for more flexibility later in the season. The contracts of Anderson, James and Tolliver would not be guaranteed until January.
- Chris Vivlamore
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