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Hawks sign veteran McGrady to 1-year deal

Posted Dec 9 2011 7:07PM - Updated Dec 10 2011 2:30AM

ATLANTA (AP) -- Tracy McGrady says he is ready to surprise skeptics who believe he no longer can perform as an elite NBA player.

After his first workout with the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, McGrady, 32, said he feels much better than in recent years when he was slowed by back, shoulder and knee problems.

McGrady signed a one-year deal Friday for the veteran minimum after he averaged 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 72 games last season for the Detroit Pistons, his third team in the past two years.

"Last year I was still trying to find my way and just feel may way back to being healthy," McGrady said. "I think with this offseason being so long, it gave me an opportunity to get healthy. My body feels great. I feel better than I did last season."

The 6-foot-8 McGrady is expected to provide depth at shooting guard and small forward. His signing has added to speculation the team will not be able to re-sign high-scoring sixth man Jamal Crawford.

Coach Larry Drew said McGrady also can play as a point forward, running the offense when projected starting point guard Jeff Teague is not on the floor.

Bring it on, McGrady said.

"My game, it's no comparison to where I am now and where I was at this point last season," said McGrady, who is wearing No. 1. "So I'm going to bring a lot to the table, regardless of what a lot of people think of what they saw last year. It definitely will be a new player that takes to the basketball court."

McGrady, a seven-time All-Star, won back-to-back scoring titles with the Orlando Magic, including his career-best average of 32.1 points in 2002-03. He averaged more than 20 points per game in eight straight seasons and has a career average of 20.4 in 14 seasons.

"I'm real excited," said forward Josh Smith after his first practice with McGrady. "He definitely brings some veteran leadership. He's a guy who has been in this league for a long time and has done some outstanding and amazing things.

"With his knowledge and his wisdom of the game, I think he can bring that to our game. I think he's definitely going to create some mismatch problems offensively. He's a great post-up guy."

Smith, who said he has lost about 30 points, looked noticeably thinner. He said he lost weight because he played both forward positions last season instead of only at power forward. He said center Al Horford wants to spend more time at power forward.

Another veteran, Jerry Stackhouse, is in camp without a guaranteed contract. Drew said he planned to "really give Stackhouse a close look."

Center Jason Collins has re-signed with the team and was the only player on the roster not in camp on Friday. Drew said Collins is expected to join the team on Saturday.

The Hawks also announced signing rookie center Keith Benson, a second-round pick from Oakland University.

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