It turns out there are parts of the world where news doesn't travel at the speed of Twitter.

During much of the Hawks' busy offseason, Al Horford trained with the Dominican Republic National team. The center was in South America for a three-week stint – during which the Hawks traded six-time All-Star Joe Johnson and former first-round pick Marvin Williams in separate deals. Horford was without the internet and had to rely on phone calls from his father, Tito, for one shocking update after another.

In addition, Horford's name was often mentioned in rumors as the Hawks were one team interested in trading for Dwight Howard.

"For me it was a good time to be away from everything," Horford said.

A healthy Horford is back with his new-look team after being limited to 11 regular-season and three playoff games with a torn left pectoral muscle last season. He will be counted on heavily for his production and leadership during the transition of roster and offensive style.

The two-time All-Star will again start at center, according to coach Larry Drew. However, the coach maintains, there will be times when Zaza Pachulia will start at center and Horford will move to power forward and Josh Smith to small forward. Such a lineup adjustment would help a now-smaller unit after the losses of Johnson and Williams.

"I want to allow myself that type of flexibility again," Drew said.

Horford said he and Smith are "drooling" over the prospects of playing the more up-tempo offense Drew has in mind with Jeff Teague being joined by Devin Harris and Lou Williams at point guard. The key to the season will be how long it takes all the new players, of which Horford is one of just five returners, to mesh as a unit.