The AJC's Chris Vivlamore reports that the Hawks have released forward/center Keith Benson and guard Isma'il Muhammad to trim the training camp roster to 17 players. Last night I argued that Benson should make this Hawks team, based on his clear superiority to Johan Petro in every aspect of the game of basketball.
Unfortunately for Benson, it's sometimes not as simple as having the talent to qualify as an NBA reserve. In this case, waiving Petro and his $3.5m expiring salary might compromise Danny Ferry's ability to pull off a trade. Once you waive him, there's no way to take his salary off Atlanta's books before it expires at the end of the season. By keeping him on the roster, Ferry retains the flexibility to include Petro as outgoing salary in a trade to make the numbers work.
The Hawks could also waive Petro once the trade deadline has passed and including him in a trade is no longer possible. Meanwhile, I have every confidence that Benson will make an NBA roster eventually, possibly after paying more dues in Europe or the D-League. His athleticism, defense, shot blocking instincts and good touch around the basket and from mid-range make him an attractive asset who is every bit of 6-10. The fact that Petro makes $3.5m with zero feel for the game tells me there is a market for Benson.
In an unrelated note, congratulations to Hoopsworld blogger Eric Pincus, who has accepted a position with the L.A. Times to blog about the Lakers. Pincus took the time this summer to help me better understand the Hawks' cap situation, which was much appreciated.