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Friday, February 19, 2016

Hinrich headed to Hawks

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— The Atlanta Hawks let the trade deadline pass without making any major deals.

All-Star center Al Horford and point guard Jeff Teague were the focus of much speculation heading into Thursday’s deadline, but both stayed put. Coach Mike Budenholzer said the team never came close to dealing away one of its top players.

“We feel strongly and have a ton of confidence and a ton of belief in our group,” he said.

Instead, the Hawks fine-tuned their roster with a minor, three-team deal, trading a pair of little-used players, guards Shelvin Mack and Justin Holiday, and acquiring veteran guard Kirk Hinrich from Chicago.

Mack went to the Utah Jazz and Holiday was shipped to Chicago. The Jazz also sent a second-round pick to the Bulls.

Hinrich, a Kansas University product, returns to the team he played with over 1 1-2 seasons in 2011 and ’12. He played in 35 games with the Bulls this season, including seven starts, and averaged 3.8 points. Hinrich shot 41.1 percent from three-point range this season. He is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Keeping their core intact, the Hawks are focused on turning things around over the final 27 games of the regular season. Top seed in the East a year ago with a 60-22 record, Atlanta has been a bit of a disappointment at 31-24 through the All-Star break.

Budenholzer, who oversees Atlanta’s basketball operations in addition to his coaching duties, is confident the Hawks can become a factor in the Eastern Conference race with the guys they already have.

“We very much like our group,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have really good players and a good team. I think continuity is something we value through the summer and through the season. We’d like to be better. We’d like to be more consistent. We’d like to play better. At the end of the day, we feel continuity is something that can help you achieve those things.”

The 35-year-old Hinrich essentially replaces Mack on the bench, giving the Hawks an experienced player who can work at either the point or shooting guard, though he isn’t likely to get a lot of minutes.

By also dealing Holiday, Atlanta gains a roster spot that it will likely use to seek out a player who can add depth in the front court now that backup center Tiago Splitter is out for the season. He announced this week that a lingering hip injury will require surgery and an eight-month rehab.

Guard Kent Bazemore said it would have been difficult to cope with a major move at this point in the season.

“When you bring in new guys, there’s an awkward period trying to get them acclimated to the system,” he said.

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