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Hansen Tells Us Why

Among all the offseason moves the Hawks have made this offseason, the one transaction that caught Hawks watchers off guard was the curious departure of second year guard Travis Hansen.

Hansen, frustrated by a lack of playing time, communication, and future opportunity, took an offer from the celebrated Tau Ceramica in Spain. Hansen, who will receive almost 1.5 million dollars for next season, will replace Andres Nocioni, who signed a 3 year, 11 million dollar deal with the Bulls this offseason.

Hansen contacted Hawks Front Office to let fans know why he was leaving the Hawks.

In the Beginning…

Last season was a difficult one for Hansen. After having good workouts before the 2003 draft, Hansen was taken with the 36th pick by the Hawks and Hawks GM Billy Knight, who was looking for athletic, versatile players. Hansen, according to Knight then, fit the bill with his above the rim abilities, his outside shot, and his tenacious defense.

Hansen suffered a series of injuries during his rookie year, one which Hansen described as “an adjustment.” Hansen played without the confidence he showed at BYU, likely due to his physical status and the transition to the pro game.

Hansen’s rookie contract called for a team option on the second year, one which was due to be picked up by August 15th for $680,000. In April, soon after the season ended, Knight advised Hansen that the Hawks would pick up the option, but nothing official was done at the time.

At that point, Hansen tells HFO that he and his agent are working on an extension to that deal, attempting to get another season from the Hawks. At this point, the Hawks aren’t interested in doing that, in fact, Knight began to tell reporters that the Hawks had five players under contract, a number which included Hansen.

Where’s the Beef?

Hansen says things changed around the draft time, when the Hawks made Josh Childress the 6th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. Hansen said the Hawks made no secret about the desire for Childress to play shooting guard, leaving Travis to wonder what that meant for his opportunity with the club.

Soon after the draft, Mike Woodson was brought in to coach. Hansen says that Woodson told him the team was looking for a “veteran two-guard”, but soon Coach Woody was telling Travis that Childress was going to play. Hansen says he was told that Childress was going to play because he was the 6th pick, and that suddenly he felt like the “odd man out.”

As the team headed out west for the Rocky Mountain Revue, Hansen was feeling like “just another guy” with the Hawks, like a non-roster player trying to make the team. While in Utah, Hansen caught the attention of many scouts when he played, but received limited playing time despite his experience and roster status with the team.

Hansen was seventh on the team in minutes per game during the summertime tourney, yet finished third in scoring with a shade under 10ppg. Hansen says he didn’t know why he didn’t play more, but he showed the confidence in his game that was missing last season. In the game we saw against Utah, Hansen displayed a good jump shot that came quick off of screens. He also showed his defensive tenacity and athleticism, likely why he got attention from other teams after the games were over.

Pondering a Move

None of that changed his “odd man out” feeling, however. In the time soon after the Rocky Mountain Revue ended, Hansen claims he never talked to Woodson about his role, and it was about this time that Hansen says the team began to shop his services to some of the teams that were interested including a deal to the Nuggets for Revue standout Nikoloz Tskitishvili.

Other teams were interested as well, including the Heat, Timberwolves, and Jazz, but things were not progressing well and it was looking like Hansen was going to be a Hawk again next season. Hansen says that the Hawks were certainly going to pick up his option, whether for insurance or for trade bait, but not likely for playing time.

“I couldn’t be on the Hawks bench again,” says Hansen. “I am 27 years old, and I need to start playing.”

Closing Time

With the Hawks unwilling to let Hansen out of the team option to play elsewhere, Hansen opted to sign the deal with Tau Ceramica in Spain. “I talked with Raja Bell and Carlos Arroyo,” explained Hansen. “And both those guys say they benefited greatly from the experience over there.”

Hansen says his goal is to play the year overseas, then come back to the NBA next season, preferably to a place where he can get regular minutes. Since Tau Ceramica usually has plenty of scouts attending the 50 games or so season, Hansen feels confident he will accomplish his goals. As a part of his deal, Hansen will also get housing and a car for his family, who will be joining him in Spain.

“It just came down to playing time,” said Hansen, who eagerly stated that he is grateful to the Hawks for drafting him and to the city of Atlanta, which he and his wife came to love. “There isn’t much basketball time left for me. I’m not a 23 year old who can continue to sit on the bench, biding my time waiting for an opportunity.”

“I have to play.”

Travis Hansen’s Summer Timeline:

April---Hansen is told his option will be picked up for next season by Hawks GM Billy Knight.

June---Hawks draft Josh Childress with the intention of playing him at shooting guard.

July----Knight hires Mike Woodson as coach
Woodson gets the team ready for summer league games in Utah
Hansen is told that they are going to play Childress more because he was the 6th pick in the draft.
Hansen plays limited minutes in Utah
The Hawks look to deal Hansen, with an alleged deal to the Nuggets for Nikoloz Tskitishvili being among the trade talks.
Hansen consults with Carlos Arroyo and Raja Bell about an offer he received from Spain to replace Andres Nocioni.

August---Knight is supposed to contact Hansen, according to Hansen’s agent, but doesn’t. Hansen believes the Hawks still intend to pick up Hansen’s option, potentially leaving him on the bench for the season.

Hansen signs with Tau Ceramica for approximately 1.5 million dollars.

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