Pero Antic found his next challenge. Welcome to the NBA.
The power forward/center signed with the Hawks on Thursday after 14 professional seasons in Europe. The 6-foot-11, 260-pounder played the past two seasons for Olympiacos in the Greek Basketball League and the Euroleague. After he helped the team to consecutive Euroleague titles it was time to move on.
“After the two Euroleague championships, I needed a new challenge,” Antic told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday. “When Coach Mike (Budenholzer) called I didn’t even think about the bigger opportunities I had in Europe. I just immediately told him it would be an honor to be here and I will do my best.
“I’m not saying that I will come and we’ll win a championship but I’m going to do my best that I can — score, rebound, play defense, whatever — just to be a part of the team and help the team win so everybody will be happy.”
Antic (pronounced an-titch), a native of present-day Macedonia, has played professionally in his home country, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Russia. He said he had an opportunity to sign with the Magic in 2008, but couldn’t pass up the financial offer of a team from Russia. Now, he wants a chance to prove himself against the best.
“This time, for myself, I don’t want to say that I had a chance but didn’t go (to the NBA),” Antic said. “This is for myself, for a bigger challenge, and this is the biggest challenge you can get.”
Antic said he sees himself as a power forward who can spread the floor with his ability to shoot and who will get rebounds. He added that he will play center if that is what the Hawks need him to do.
“Pero is a skilled and versatile big man who will add depth to our frontcourt,” general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement. “He will fit in well with what we’re building and we’re excited to add him to the team.”
Last season, the 30-year-old Antic averaged 6.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.2 minutes.
Antic’s agent announced Wednesday that the player had reached a two-year agreement, which includes a second-year option. Antic needed to pass a physical and work out final details before making the signing official.
The captain of the Macedonia National team will return overseas for the European Championships, EuroBasket 2013, in Slovenia from Sept. 4-22. He intends to fly to Atlanta immediately following the tournament.
“The more time I have with the (Hawks) the better the adjustment,” Antic said.
Etc.: The Hawks have watched unrestricted-free-agent center Greg Oden work out, as have several other NBA teams recently. Oden, 25, hasn’t played an NBA game since December 2009. The former No. 1 overall pick has been plagued by injury. He has played in only 82 games after having undergone multiple microfracture knee surgeries. Other teams with reported interest in Oden are the Kings, Heat, Pelicans, Spurs and Mavericks. … Al Horford has decided to not play for the Dominican Republic National team in the upcoming FIBA Americas Tournament. The center told the AJC earlier this month that he was “pretty certain” he would skip the tournament in favor of a trip to South Africa with Basketball without Borders. Horford announced his final decision Wednesday on Twitter.