RealGM is reporting that the Atlanta Hawks have signed free agent Arsalan Kazemi today, just prior to the team opening up the first day of training camp. The news of the signing was first reported by Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Hawks are working on a deal to sign Arsalan Kazemi to training camp deal. Was property of 76ers. Story to come.
— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) September 29, 2015
The signing would give the Hawks 20 players when the team opens training camp at Stegeman Training Facility on the University of Georgia campus. The Hawks will be using the Bulldogs’ men’s basketball facility for three days (September 29-October 1).
Kazemi, who was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Washington Wizards, was previously property of the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers had tendered the 25-year-old Iranian their required one-year offer by the September 10 deadline, according to SB Nation, but relinguished his rights because they already had 20 players signed for camp and would have had to release one of the players in order to sign Kazemi.
Kazemi played for the Sixers’ Las Vegas summer league team, averaging 3.2 points and 7.6 rebounds along with 1.8 steals in 27.4 minutes of action. The 6-foot-7 forward played professionally in Iran in 2013-14 and in China last season for the Chongquing Soaring Dragons, where he averaged 15.0 points in 38.9 minutes of action. Philadelphia acquired the rights to the former Oregon Duck along with Nate Wolters on draft night for Glen Rice Jr.
Kazemi’s deal will likely be a one-year deal with little or no guaranteed money. So, the question becomes will he make the team out of training camp?
Kazemi appears to be a long-shot to make the Hawks opening day roster, as the team has 14 players virtually guaranteed a roster spot, with 13 of those players holding guaranteed contracts, per Basketball Insiders. Power forward-center Mike Muscala is the only player without a fully-guaranteed contract that is assured a roster spot.
That leaves Kazemi in a fight with Edgar Sosa, Lamar Patterson, Terran Petteway, DeQuan Jones, and Earl Barron for the Hawks last spot.
Kazemi is a hustler who will hit the boards hard — Kazemi averaged one rebound every four minutes during the summer league campaign and averaged one carom every three minutes in college. However, Kazemi doesn’t really have any other discernible skill, as he is not a real accurate shooter and hasn’t shown any indication of having three-point range.
Sosa is a quick point guard who has developed into a very good three-point shooter. He does turn the ball over a little too much, but had an outstanding 2015 FIBA Americas campaign, as he averaged 15.1 points and shot 54 percent from the field, along with 45.5 percent from three-point range, in eight contests. Sosa went undrafted out of Louisville in 2010 and spent last season in Italy with Dinamo Sassari.
Patterson: The 6-foot-5 guard/forward had an excellent Las Vegas summer league campaign for the Atlanta Hawks, posting team-highs with 13.1 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.6 steals. The University of Pittsburgh product scored in double figures in six of the seven contests and grabbed 5.1 boards while shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Patterson was selected with the No. 48 overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014. He played in Turkey last year.
Petteway also had a good summer league campaign, averaging 10.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. The 6-foot-6 forward struggled with his shot during the summer league, as he made only 39.0 percent from the floor and 28.2 percent from the three-point line, but did reach double-figures three times, including posting 19 points against Dallas on July 18.
Petteway is a good athlete who has the ability to score multiple ways. He possesses a good jumper but needs to improve his handles and passing. The University of Nebraska product can play both the 2 and 3 positions. However, he may struggle against quicker 2s.
Jones spent last year in Italy. The 6-foot-8, 25-year-old does have NBA experience with the Orlando Magic in 2012, where he averaged 3.7 points and 1.7 rebounds in 67 appearances.
Jones possesses the size, strength, and athleticism to defend well, but Dan Feldman of NBC Sports says he must actually play defense in training camp to have a chance to make the Hawks roster.
Barron, 34, is a veteran of eight NBA seasons but has only appeared in 140 career games. The 7-footer appeared in 16 games with the Phoenix Suns last year, averaging 2.0 points and 1.8 boards in 7.8 minutes of action. He also spent time in the D-League with the Bakersfield Jam.
Barron is a decent defender who will rebound and block an occasional shot. He has also played for Miami, New York, Milwaukee, Portland, Golden State, and Washington.
Petteway and Patterson appear to have the best chance of securing the final roster spot, as the Hawks are looking for depth on the wing. Sosa is another possibility if Shelvin Mack demonstrates that he is versatile enough to play the wing. Barron and Kazemi will likely have to be very impressive during camp or have one of the Hawks other six frontcourt players suffer an injury for them to make the roster.
The Hawks will open up preseason action in Cincinnati against the Cleveland Cavaliers on October 7, and then travel to Jacksonville, Florida, for a contest against New Orleans on October 9. The Hawks also will play San Antonio, Dallas, Miami, Memphis, and Detroit during the preseason.
Atlanta went 60-22 last season and reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. The Hawks lost starting small forward DeMarre Carroll and reserve power forward Pero Antic, but added Tim Hardaway Jr., Justin Holiday and Tiago Splitter this offseason.
[Photo by Streeter Lecka / Getty Images]