ATLANTA -- Jason Terry started the last 27 games of his rookie season at point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, long enough to realize his team needed a lot of work to get better.
He did something about it over the summer, getting together with some of his teammates to work out four times a week so they would be ready when training camp began.
The time has come. Training camp opens Tuesday at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, and Terry is anxious to get started.
"There's a whole different attitude," Terry said Monday during the Hawks annual media day on the eve of camp. "A lot of the guys worked hard all summer. We're a hungry team."
The Hawks missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years last season when they had a 28-54 record -- the worst since the team moved to Atlanta in 1968. The disappointment prompted Lenny Wilkens to resign as coach after seven years.
The college ranks provided his successor, Lon Kruger, who had a 318-233 record during 18 years as a college coach at four schools -- Pan American, Kansas State, Florida and Illinois. He took nine of his teams to the NCAA tournament and two others to the National Invitation Tournament.
"Lenny was used to being around a lot of veteran players," Terry said. "Kruger knows how to deal with young talent."
Only three players on the 18-man training camp roster have been in the NBA for more than five years, and two of those will be among the mainstays of this year's team -- shooting guard Jim Jackson, an 8-year veteran, and center Dikembe Mutombo, who is entering his 10th season.
The other, nine-year veteran Pete Chilcutt, was added for camp this week. He has played with Sacramento, Detroit, Houston, Vancouver, Cleveland, the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah.
Terry sees the race for the playoffs from the Eastern Conference as wide open.
"That's why a team like us is dangerous," he said.
Terry averaged 8.1 points and 4.3 assists per game his rookie season, but as a starter over the last quarter of the season he averaged 10.6 points and 7 assists.
Jackson is expected to be the leading scorer, having averaged 17.4 points during his career. He had a 16.7 scoring average last year, fighting through tendinitis in his knee and missing only three games because of it.
"I'm about 90 to 95 percent now," Jackson said of his recovery. "With tendinitis, it's always going to be there. But I'm definitely stronger. I spent the summer doing push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups. I think that's better than lifting weights."
Jackson said he expects the team to be much improved this year.
"If everybody stays in their role, we'll be fine," he said. "Last year we never got into a rhythm offensively or defensively."
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