The Hawks have been among the NBA’s best stories this year, but Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders warns that salary considerations might tear the team apart this summer. Atlanta set the groundwork for its current success in the summer of 2013 when it signed Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Pero Antic to two-year contracts. All three will expire this summer, and because they are only two-year deals, the Hawks will have Early Bird Rights — not full Bird Rights — on each player. That means Atlanta can only offer four-year deals at most, instead of five years. Also, Duncan notes the offers will be limited to the higher of 175% of their current salaries or the Estimated Average Player Salary, which he expects to be around $5.7MM next season.
There’s more news from the Southeast Division:
- Gregg Popovich downplays the notion that the Hawks are the “Spurs of the East” and tells Shaun Powell of NBA.com that former San Antonio assistant Mike Budenholzer has built a winner in Atlanta through intelligence and desire. “It’s not like he’s going to institute something new,” Popovich said. “Like, this is a new pick and roll defense that nobody has ever seen before. That’s not what wins and loses games. What wins is consistency and competitiveness. He understands all of that.”
- The Magic should pursue Billy Donovan as their next coach, argues Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel. The University of Florida coach was hired by Orlando in 2007 before changing his mind and electing to stay in the college ranks. Bianchi contends the Magic should let bygones be bygones, and cites statements from Donovan indicating he would be willing to leave Gainesville. Bianchi writes that any move should wait until after the season to see if high-profile coaches like the Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau become available.
- As the Heat’s Hassan Whiteside continues his string of double-doubles, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra tells Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune that “open-mindedness” brought the big man to Miami. The Heat signed Whiteside in November, four days after he was released by the Grizzlies. “We were open-minded to him, and he was open-minded to us and our culture,” Spoelstra said. “It was good timing for both sides: We needed a big body and he needed a place that values what he does.”