It’s a spot near the end of the Hawks’ bench — but it’s a coveted spot nonetheless.
Royal Ivey and Shelvin Mack are in a training-camp battle for the third point-guard position. It just might come down to the deadline.
Ivey is the veteran of nine seasons of NBA experience. He is bigger and an established defender.
Mack is the youngster who has played sparingly over two seasons. He is the better shooter.
“It’s a battle,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “That’s the great part of this training camp and the group that we’ve brought in. There is a lot of competition. Both guys have done well. We are continuing to look at the entire roster and not just the third point guard. Things can change or we can do different things to give us versatility. They’ve both been great, and we’ll continue to watch that.”
A final decision on the spot behind starter Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder must be made by 5 p.m. Oct. 28, the league deadline for opening-day rosters to be set.
Ivey (6-foot-4) has played 45 minutes over two exhibition games. He has 11 points, seven assists, six rebounds and one turnover. The former Hawks draft pick is a non-roster training-camp invitee.
Ivey has career averages of 3.3 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 12.6 minutes over 490 games with the Hawks, Bucks, 76ers and Thunder.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Ivey said when asked if his lengthy career is an advantage. “Who knows? I’ve been around. I’m seasoned. I’ve played. I haven’t played. I know the situation coming in as a 14, 15 guy. You have to be a hard worker. You have to be a good teammate. You have to be a good locker-room guy.
“It’s the intangibles. You always have to stay ready, and I’ve done that throughout my career. It’s nothing new. I’ve been in this situation before, and I look at it as a challenge.”
Mack (6-3) has played 42 minutes in three exhibition games. He has 12 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and six turnovers. He is under a non-guaranteed contract after playing 20 games with the Hawks.
Mack has career averages of 4.6 points, 2.2 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 13.4 minutes in 95 career games with the Hawks, Wizards and 76ers.
“I would say shooting,” Mack said of his best attribute. “I was shooting the ball pretty well at the end of last year for the games I was here. Also, I’ve played in a lot of games in college, USA (Basketball). I understand what it takes to win. I’m a winner. I’m a great teammate.
“That’s one of the things they are looking for, and I bring that to the team.”
The players are not strangers. They played together last season in Philadelphia. Ivey was on the roster when Mack signed two 10-day contracts.
The battle for the roster spot may well be determined on the practice court. As the Hawks play their final three exhibition games, including Sunday’s home matchup against the Grizzlies, Budenholzer is increasing the minutes for the regulars. There are precious few game opportunities to make an impression. Ivey and Mack each said he will take whatever playing time comes his way and make the best of it.
There will be no animosity once a final decision is made.
“This is the nature of the business,” Ivey said. “We are competing for a spot. The best guy is going to win the spot. There are no hard feelings.”
Etc.: Budenholzer will wait until Sunday to make a final decision on the playing status of Schroder, who is suffering from bruised knee. … While he continues to play 3-on-3, there is no timetable on the return of Lou Williams from a torn ACL. … The Hawks played an inter-team softball game at Turner Field on Friday before departing for community appearances. Budenholzer declined to speak of the event although several players posted pictures on Twitter and Instagram. … Budenholzer said a decision on team captains is “down the line.”