Jack is back.
The Hawks agreed to a one-year contract at the veteran minimum of $1.6 million with Jarrett Jack this week. The veteran point guard will return to Atlanta where he starred at Georgia Tech and was a part of the Yellow Jackets’ runner-up finish in the 2004 NCAA Championship.
Jack suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in January that ended his season with the Nets. He was waived by the team last month in a move to save his $6.3 million salary and became an unrestricted free agent.
When it was reported that the Nets would part ways with Jack, I posted a blog with a poll asking fans whether the Hawks should pursue the point guard. The poll results were overwhelmingly in favor of the move.
The Hawks balked at first. According to a person familiar with the situation the team initially was not interested in pursuing Jack. The Hawks needed another point guard to back up Dennis Schroder and several available veteran players were discussed.
Things changed rapidly.
Here are three reasons for the change and why the organization believes the signing of Jack will be beneficial:
1. The Hawks were not interested in trading for Jack when he was on the block due to his $6.3 million salary. Once he was waived and would agree to the veteran minimum then the signing made sense from a salary cap standpoint. The available space would allow the Hawks to sign the front-court player they also wanted. That turned out to be Kris Humphries, who Monday night agreed to a return on a one-year, $4 million deal.
2. Jack will be another veteran leader in the Hawks locker room, one that will now miss Al Horford. Jack has played in the NBA for 11 seasons and been a productive player. He played and started in 32 games for the Nets before the injury last season and posted averages of 12.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and a team-high 7.4 assists per game. The Hawks committed to Schroder to start at point guard. Jack provides a stable veteran behind Schroder who can be a mentor, take over if necessary and make sure the youngster stays on track.
3. The Hawks can and will bring Jack along slowly as he recovers from his knee injury. The rehabilitation is said to be going “very well.” However, Jack may not be fully ready to return at the start of the regular season. Remember when Lou Williams returned from his torn ACL. He missed the first five games of the season and really wasn’t near 100 percent for several months. With the Hawks showing a propensity to be patient with players returning from injury, it will give the team a chance to play Malcolm Delaney behind Schroder. The Hawks will sign the guard, who spent his entire four-year career playing overseas, to a two-year, $2.5 million deal. They need to know if he can play at the NBA level. They believe he can. He will get a chance to prove it right away.