- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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Josh Powell proved you can go home again.
The Atlanta Hawks officially signed Powell, who played his high school basketball in nearby Riverdale, Ga., on Monday. The five-year veteran agreed to a one-year, $1.1 million contract, his agent, Jamie Knox, confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com last week.
"[Knox] came to me with which teams had the best possibility of playing time and it was basically down to Cleveland and the Hawks and we made the decision," Powell said in a phone interview. "The biggest thing was, of course, being able to have a chance to play."
Powell was a popular teammate in the Los Angeles Lakers locker room last season, but averaged just 2.7 points and 1.8 rebounds in 9.2 minutes per game. He has started just 28 games in his career and never averaged more than 19.2 minutes per game on any of the five teams he's played for.
"I've definitely been blessed and fortunate to have been on a lot of good teams ... but now it's time for me to kind of come into my own [with] the Hawks," Powell said. "It's a place that has always been in the back of my mind because I tried to become a part of [the Atlanta] organization a couple years ago, but unfortunately some things didn't work out then. I'm very happy to be able to come to an organization like this and not only that, but to represent my hometown as well. It's the best of both worlds."
Powell gives Atlanta a much-needed additional big man on its bench without committing to the high cost or risk disrupting the team chemistry with the outsized personality that would come with Shaquille O'Neal.
The 6-9, 240-pound power forward/center left Los Angeles after winning two rings in two years with the Lakers to join a Hawks team that has increased its regular-season win total from the year before in each of the last five seasons, but has yet to make it out of the second-round of the playoffs.
"[My time with the Lakers] meant a lot," Powell said. "I was thinking that that was going to be a home for me, but I appreciate everything that I was able to get from the [Lakers] organization and how they treated me and the opportunities they gave me ... Every team has to make moves. They're doing what's best for them and I'm in a good situation, so, that part [of my career] is behind me. From this part forward, I'm just trying to be better and really show what I can do and the impact I can have on a team."
Powell, who wore No. 21 for the Lakers, is deciding on a new number to wear for the Hawks because No. 21 is retired in Atlanta in honor of Dominique Wilkins.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. http://twitter.com/mcten.
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