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Atlanta Hawks have 'open mind' in regards to 5th starter

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Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer admitted that he has a plan heading into training camp but indicated that he and the coaching staff have an "open mind" when it comes to naming a fifth starter.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks head into training camp on Tuesday with the knowing that they will have to replace DeMarre Carroll in the team's starting lineup. Carroll was a fixture at the small forward position for the team over the last two seasons, but he signed a big money deal with the Toronto Raptors over the summer.

Atlanta has several different options including holdovers Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore as well as newcomers like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Justin Holliday as potential options to start at small forward.

Budenholzer declined to tell reporters which way he was leaning at Monday's Media Day saying that the team will go into camp with an open mind about who the fifth starter will be.

"I think that is one of the great things about training camp and this team is that we will go into camp and we will try and figure out who our best group starting is," Budenholzer said.  "I think it could be any of those guys. Stranger things have happened, a young player could come out of camp and show that he fits with that group. So I think we are pretty open minded about who the fifth starter could be."

Sefolosha seems the favorite to end up in the starting lineup and that case was certainly strengthened with the news that he had been cleared for 5-on-5 work with the hope of being ready for opening night. Still, Budenholzer reiterated that he sees it as a competition for the final starting spot.

"Obviously Thabo has a lot of experience starting on a lot of very good teams including in the playoffs," said Budenholzer. "Kent Bazemore's emergence over kind of the second half and the playoffs. Tim Hardaway Jr is somebody we are very excited about having so its great. I think we feel like we have several options and one the course of the next month we will figure out what looks best."

One reason for Budenholzer's hesitance may be that the team plans to bring Sefolosha along slowly in camp. While he is shooting for opening night and is ahead of schedule, there are no guarantees at this point. Bazemore seems like a safe fall back option and we will have to see how Budenholzer elects to use Hardaway and Holliday who both are rangy but slightly built as defenders.