Ryan Kelly’s 2017 season could be best described as a winding path that had him ending up right back where he started.
Kelly was a late addition to Atlanta’s training camp roster and he appeared in six preseason games with the Hawks averaging 4.8 points on 45 percent shooting. There wasn’t any room on Atlanta’s roster initially and Kelly was cut and appeared to be headed to the D-League.
However, lingering injuries to Mike Scott created an opportunity. To make room on the roster, the Hawks parted ways with second-round pick Edy Tavares and brought back Kelly on a non-guaranteed deal as depth for the power forward position.
Atlanta waived Kelly in early January before his contract became guaranteed and to clear a roster spot so that they could complete the Kyle Korver trade with Cleveland. Kelly then made his way to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League where he appeared in eight games averaging 22.8 points while shooting 51 percent from the field.
However, Kelly’s story with the Hawks didn’t end there. Atlanta cleared two roster spots at the trade deadline and used one to bring back Kelly for the remainder of the season.
On the surface, Kelly is the type of player that the Hawks have long sought after. He is a good shooter with a high basketball IQ and will make the correct play. A good teammate and a good guy to have in the locker room. He only appeared in 16 games total with Atlanta in 2017 which is a bit odd given that under Mike Budenholzer, every player on the roster typically gets a shot at the rotation at some time or another.
When Kelly returned to the Hawks in February, he signed a two-year contract that is non-guaranteed for next season. That means that he is likely to go to training camp in the fall and will again compete for one of the final roster spots.