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Atlanta Hawks: Teague, Pachulia back, ready for opener

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.

Jeff Teague and Zaza Pachulia, who both missed the final two exhibition games with sprained left ankles, returned to full-contact practice for the Hawks Monday. They are expected to play in Friday’s regular-season opener against the Rockets.

Teague said he can still feel some soreness in the ankle but it is improving every day. The point guard declared himself a go.

Pachulia has been limited much of the preseason, first with a groin injury and then the ankle. The center appeared in just three exhibition games.

“Right now, I’m doing my best to get back as quick as possible with my timing, my legs,” Pachulia said. “I haven’t had too much time to run and work on my legs. I’m trying to get back in good shape.”

Center Johan Petro did not practice Monday with what coach Larry Drew called a sore back. Petro would be an early candidate to the one player the team must declare inactive for the season opener.

Drew was pleased by …

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Atlanta Hawks: Failure was not an option for Tolliver

Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.

Anthony Tolliver took the phone call from Hawks general manager Danny Ferry Saturday. His first thought before answering was not a good one. Why would the general manger call if not to break some bad news?

The forward, fighting for a roster spot, feared he had failed to make the team. However, Hawks management wanted to inform the veteran quite the opposite.

“It scared me when they called me,” Tolliver said Sunday. “Usually, it’s no news is good news. I was getting a call (Saturday) and I was like ‘This isn’t good.’ But they said they look forward to having me on this team.”

Tolliver secured the final spot on a roster of 14, one below the NBA maximum. The Hawks waived James Anderson and Damion James Saturday to finalize their roster well before the Monday deadline. Coach Larry Drew said the final decisions were not easy, especially in the case of James. The former Hawks draft pick turned heads with his preseason …

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Atlanta Hawks: One year later, ownership ‘extremely’ fortunate to keep stake in team

Here is the story Tim Tucker and I did on the Hawks current ownership situation that appeared in Sunday’s print edition of the AJC. I think you will find some details that haven’t previously been reported.

One year later, the Hawks’ ownership group considers itself fortunate that its deal to sell a majority stake in the team to a Los Angeles businessman fell through.

“Extremely” fortunate, Bruce Levenson said. “Extremely.”

In an exclusive two-hour interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Levenson — the ownership group’s co-managing partner and NBA governor — described in detail for the first time how and why he and his partners moved from having one foot out the door to a full re-engagement.

Levenson said the group has made no effort to sell the team since the deal with Alex Meruelo was called off Nov. 4, 2011. He said the group hopes to add minority investors, but is focused on building the franchise and owning it long-term.

Levenson’s account of …

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Atlanta Hawks: Q and A with Josh Smith

Vivlamore reporting (from vacation, shhhhh).

Here are five questions I asked of Josh Smith as part of the season preview that will appear in Sunday’s print edition of the AJC.

Q. What are your expectations for the team this year and have they changed since the start of training camp?

A. My expectations are the same expectations I set for this ball club every year and that’s to compete for a championship. I think that we have the talent. We have the cohesiveness. All we have to do is be able to figure out a way to play consistently together on the defensive end. I think when we get that down pat, the sky is the limit for this team.

Q. Would that be the biggest challenge with a revamped roster?

A. We were pretty good defensively the last couple of years. We’ve been pretty solid. We might just be a little undersized. We were undersized before but are very undersized now. But that shouldn’t be an issue. I think that we have a lot of feisty and competitive people on this team …

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Video: Hawks still implementing new offense

What will the Atlanta Hawks starting lineup look like on opening night? CineSport’s Brian Clark and the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore discuss this and the implementation of the Hawks’ new offense.

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Healthy Horford rejoins Hawks revamped roster

Vivlamore reporting. Here is my story on Al Horford for the Thursday print edition of the AJC.

It turns out there are parts of the world where news doesn’t travel at the speed of Twitter.

Hawks center Al Horford (15) reacts after dunking the ball during the second half of Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs at Philips Arena in May. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

Hawks center Al Horford (15) reacts after dunking the ball during the second half of Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs at Philips Arena in May. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

During much of the Hawks’ busy offseason, Al Horford trained with the Dominican Republic National team. The center was in South America for a three-week stint – during which the Hawks traded six-time All-Star Joe Johnson and former first-round pick Marvin Williams in separate deals. Horford was without the internet and had to rely on phone calls from his father, Tito, for one shocking update after another.

In addition, Horford’s name was often mentioned in rumors as the Hawks were one team interested in trading for Dwight Howard.

“For me it was a good time to be away from everything,” Horford said.

A …

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Atlanta Hawks practice report: Day 2 gets feisty

Vivlamore reporting.

Here is today’s practice report from Day 2 of training camp practices.

* Zaza Pachulia (leg) and Devin Harris (knee) again practiced on a limited basis. They sat out contact drills, including 5-on-5 sets. Coach Larry Drew said the team is being cautious with the veterans.

“They both are moving really well on the floor but we’ll keep an eye on them day-to-day,” Drew said.

* Drew said that players got a little edgy in some of the drills, particularly on the defensive end. The confrontations occurred before the media was allowed in to watch the last half hour of practice but it didn’t sound like anything serious.

“We had some guys starting to go at it a little bit,” Drew said. “I embrace that because I can see they are all being competitive and they are all committed to defending.”

* Not being able to see much of practice, it’s hard to get a real grasp on the players’ conditioning. I did get to see some running and two players stood out. …

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Atlanta Hawks: Drew another entering free-agent year

Vivlamore reporting before the second day of Hawks training camp practice.

Larry Drew is another of the Hawks entering his free-agent year.

The head coach embarks on the final of the three-year deal he signed in 2010 to take over the franchise, which included the option the team picked up this summer for the upcoming season.

Hawks coach Larry Drew gets a fist bump of Josh Smith during the team's media day Monday. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Hawks coach Larry Drew gets a fist bump from Josh Smith during the team's media day Monday. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

New general manager Danny Ferry agreed with the decision to pick up Drew’s option and the two will wait until after the season to discuss the coach’s future.

“My focus is to go out and coach as well as I can,” Drew told the AJC. “I don’t want to concern myself. I had a conversation with my representative back in the early part of the summer and let it be known that I think the last couple of years speak for themselves as far as my ability as a head coach in this league. Things that I can’t control I’ve made my mind …

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Atlanta Hawks: Defense first even with new up-tempo offense

New Hawks guards Lou Williams (left) and Devin Harris are, according to coach Larry Drew,a "two-headed snake" that will enable the team to play a more up-tempo style.

New Hawks guards Lou Williams (left) and Devin Harris are, according to coach Larry Drew, a "two-headed snake" that will enable the team to play a more up-tempo style.

Vivlamore reporting. Here is my main story for Wednesday’s paper.

It didn’t take long for Larry Drew to see the good – and perhaps the bad – from his new-look roster.

The Hawks coach watched a pick-up game this summer featuring point guards Jeff Teague and Devin Harris on the team’s practice court.

Teague picks up the story. “I played with Devin for the first week and, man, he’s a blur,” the fourth-year guard said. “I remember one time we were playing against each other. I went down and scored a full-court layup. He came down and scored a full-court layup. I went down and scored a full-court layup. Coach Drew pulled us aside and said ‘Y’all not going to play any defense?’ I’m like ‘He’s fast. I’m fast.’”

Drew is adapting to his roster, which features only …

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Atlanta Hawks practice report: Pachulia, Harris limited

Vivlamore reporting from the first day of Hawks practice.

Just a quick report as I didn’t get to see much of practice Tuesday. The sessions that were open to the media involved only  some running, stretching and free-throw shooting.

Here is coach Larry Drew’s assessment of the first day, including an injury report.

Zaza Pachulia (leg) and Devin Harris (knee) participated in practice but were limited in contract drills. Harris stayed long after practice and continued shooting jump shots. Drew also said DeShawn Stevenson was ailing but he fully participated in the workout. Pachulia injured his leg before going to Georgia to play for his national team. Drew said the injury was not related to the foot issue that caused him to miss playoff games last season. Harris got an injection in his knee several days ago, according to Drew, and the soreness from the shot is beginning to subside.

Drew said Pachulia and Harris moved well in practice.

“Me personally, I thought this was a very …

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