UPDATE: The Hawks have officially waived Aldrich.
Even with four players unavailable due to injury, the Atlanta Hawks had 16 players in uniform for the team’s preseason opener on Monday evening and 15 of those players were featured on the floor. The one that did not see action was veteran big man Cole Aldrich and, on Tuesday morning, Jeff Goodman of Stadium reported that the 29-year-old is expected to spend the 2018-2019 season in China.
Cole Aldrich expected to play in China this season, source told @WatchStadium— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) October 2, 2018
It comes as no surprise that Aldrich would land elsewhere, particularly given the roster dynamics with the Hawks. In some ways, the former Kansas standout is overqualified for a training camp invite, as Aldrich is an NBA-quality big man coming off a lucrative, multi-year contract that expired at the end of the 2017-2018 campaign. On the other hand, Aldrich seemingly didn’t have many options before signing with the Hawks, leading him to join a situation with an Atlanta team that already had 17 players under contract and two additional non-roster invitees.
The writing was already firmly on the wall that Aldrich wasn’t likely to be a member of the Hawks when the regular season began but his DNP in the preseason opener further cemented that reality. It wouldn’t be stunning to see Aldrich return from China later in the season (as many players have) but, at the moment, all signs point to Atlanta’s roster being trimmed to 19 in the near future before ultimately landing at 17 (including two-way participants) by opening night.