The Hawks had to wait a long time for their first glimpse of new center Clint Capela, but he seems ready to provide what they’re expecting, writes Sarah K. Spencer of the Journal-Constitution. Capela was acquired all the way back at the trade deadline in February, but he wasn’t able to play because of a heel injury that lingered into the summer. In Friday’s preseason opener, he showed he can still be a force on the boards, grabbing 14 rebounds in 20 minutes.

“That’s one of those things that you know is an area of concern. … And that’s going to be big for us,” said coach Lloyd Price, whose team ranked near the bottom of the league in rebounding last season. “That’s going to be really big for us because we can teach him some of our thoughts on what we like to do when we get offensive rebounds, to create extra possessions and extra opportunities, it’s going to be huge.”

Capela is a welcome sight for teammate John Collins, who can spend more time at his natural position of power forward after being used in the middle frequently last year. Collins likes playing beside a shot blocker who can anchor the defense.

“As soon as he steps on the court, he adds a defensive presence,” Collins said. “His rebounding, his experience. Clint’s not a quiet guy on the court, he’s trying to direct traffic and lead and let guys know where they are, so I feel like that’s very valuable in the long term.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Rajon Rondo‘s decision to join the rebuilding Hawks makes him the oldest player on his team for the first time in his career, notes Kevin L. Chouinard of NBA.com. Two months removed from helping the Lakers win an NBA title, Rondo steps into a new role of being a veteran leader on a young squad. “Trae Young, John (Collins), Kevin Huerter, the young guys have an extreme amount of upside,” he said. “To me, honestly, I didn’t think the East was very tough this year as far as the talent. I think it was kind of up for grabs as far as which team would prevail to the top. As you’ve seen, anything can happen in the playoffs.”
  • Bradley Beal isn’t concerned about how new backcourt partner Russell Westbrook meshed with his previous star teammates, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. He said their relationship has been “smooth sailing” since the trade that brought Westbrook to the Wizards last week. “I’m easy to adapt to,” Beal said. “I’m not going to come in and say I need this shot, I need the ball here or there. Doesn’t matter. As long as we are all incorporated within offense and everybody’s eating, we’re good.”
  • Magic forward Aaron Gordon is starting the preseason on a minutes limit as he recovers from a hamstring injury he suffered during the restart, writes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Gordon played 16 minutes in Friday’s opener, all in the first half.

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