Ex-Jag's NBA dream still alive

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Despite getting cut by the Atlanta Hawks in October, Garret Siler still has hope to play at the highest level.

In Thursday night's NBA Development League Draft, the former Augusta State All-American center was selected with the fifth pick in the first round by the Utah Flash. The team is a minor league affiliate of the Hawks and the Utah Jazz.

"I've been a lot around the U.S.," Siler said, "but I've never been to Utah."

Siler was the last player cut by Atlanta. He said coach Mike Woodson, who's kept contact with him, wanted him on the team. But the Hawks ownership wanted to keep the roster at 13 players and save money by keeping the remaining two roster spots open. By releasing Siler, the Hawks will not have to pay him the NBA rookie minimum salary of $457,588.

After getting cut, Siler and his agent discussed his options, which included playing in Europe. Instead, Siler decided to stay in the U.S., giving himself a better chance to make an NBA squad this year.

If another center gets injured, Siler can always get called up and sign a 10-day NBA contract with a team.

"If you get a 10-day contract and you play well," he said, "you can stay on that team all year."

Siler will report to the Flash's training camp Nov. 15. Utah opens its season at Tulsa on Nov. 27.

Woodson told Siler the main thing he needs to get right now is experience. Siler said he hopes his D-League training will pay off with a Hawks roster spot next year -- Atlanta centers Jason Collins, Randolph Morris and Joe Smith and forward Othello Hunter all are playing on one-year contracts.

Siler said he felt like he fit in during the Hawks' training camp. He said the main thing he has to improve is his running and stopping.

"After a while, it was just average Joes trying to get a job just like me. They just came from better places," Siler said. "I know I can play with the best."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.


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