Atlanta Hawks

Southeast Notes: Heat, Wittman, Hawks

The Heat are excited with what they have seen thus far in training camp from rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, Joe Beguiristain of writes. “It doesn’t happen too often, but I put the two young guys on the same team today and they’re very good defensively,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They got after it. They made the veterans work for it. They have a great versatility and energy between the two of them. I was very encouraged by what they brought today. [They were] very competitive in the defensive drills.

The rookies even managed to impress veteran shooting guard Dwyane Wade, Beguiristain notes, with Wade saying, “They enjoy playing defense. That’s half the battle. They’re both two different defenders. Justise is stronger [and] he’s hard to move. Josh is quick, he’s athletic, long. It’s good to see two young guys like that, with Tyler Johnson as well, they were all on the same team. You’ve got three guys who are like that, that like to be on the ball, ball hawk you [and] make it hard on you.

Here’s the latest out of the Southeast Division:

  • Having been criticized by former player Kevin Seraphin and current Wizards forward DeJuan Blair regarding how he doles out playing time, coach Randy Wittman defended his decisions, notes J. Michael of “You’ve got to maintain and be ready at all times, physically, mentally, attitude, all that. You’re not always going to be happy. Even the people you call stars, they aren’t always going to be happy but you got to be professional,” Wittman explained. “I’ve probably got a couple guys [expletive] at me today. … If you’re not happy with playing time you got to force playing time on me. Those kind of things.
  • The Magic are no longer going to use their roster’s relative youth as an excuse for not winning, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. “We’re never saying that ever again,” guard Victor Oladipo said. “It’s over with. At the end of the day, we’ve got to win. We’ve got to stop using that as an excuse. We want to win, and in order to win, you can have no excuses. We’re locked in on winning. The times around here for excuses are done. It’s time to get it done right now. It’s time to win.
  • The Hawks are hoping that newcomers Tiago Splitter and Edy Tavares will improve the team’s offense with their effectiveness in the pick and roll, KL Chouinard of relays. “I think we’re going to have just a little more pressure on the rim with both Tiago and Edy, and their ability to roll and collapse the defense and put pressure on the rim and play around the rim,” coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said.

Southeast Notes: Splitter, Neal, Batum, Ennis

Tiago Splitter admits that he was disappointed when he was traded to the Hawks in a move designed to clear salary cap room, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. The Spurs needed the cap space the trade provided to sign LaMarcus Aldridge, whom Splitter believes makes San Antonio the team to beat in the West, Greene adds. “It’s a great squad,” Splitter said of his former team. “On paper they are the favorites to win the title. They have David West. They have LaMarcus Aldridge. Of course, Tim Duncan. Just a great frontcourt over there. They are a very talented team. Of course you have to see how things work out for them on the practical side of the game, but on the interior they have a great team.

The big man said that his attitude regarding being dealt changed when he realized he’d be playing for coach Mike Budenholzer, a former assistant with the Spurs, Greene adds. “It’s nice to be in an environment where you already know the coach,” Splitter said. “I didn’t know the players before I got here but as soon as I got traded Bud told me that I was going to be in a great situation with great teammates. He gave me a lot of confidence that this team is going to be great once again. I don’t think a [learning curve] is going to be a problem. When I’ve talked to Bud so far I’ve seen that he has his own tricks and personality in the system, but it’s the same system we ran in San Antonio.

Here’s the latest out of the Southeast Division:

  • With the Wizards expected to utilize smaller lineups this season, Gary Neal‘s three-point shooting skills should play a big part in the team’s new offense, J. Michael of CSNMid-Atlantic writes. “The way the NBA is changing and evolving right now, how everybody is going to the four out, one in, the ball movement, not holding the ball, getting away from the isolation play, coach [Randy] Wittman is trying to teach that,” Neal said. “That offense is kind of new to him also. He went to a little bit of that against the Hawks in the playoffs and by playing Paul Pierce at the four he kind of liked that. So he was thinking about that throughout the whole summer. He’s teaching it to us. It’s new to us. Everybody’s learning. We should be alright.
  • Nicolas Batum will take on a much greater role with the Hornets than he had during his time in Portland, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. “Nic has always been third or fourth option,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “Now he’s going to be second or first option.
  • Heat forward James Ennis said that the tendinitis that he was experiencing in his knees led to his poor showing in summer league play this year, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. “I was down on myself because I expected more from me,” Ennis told Jackson. “I’m really hard on myself. But I looked at it and said, ‘You’re injured.’ I was playing at 65%. I did a lot of treatment. My knee is a lot better. You’ll see it in the preseason.” Ennis, who has a non-guaranteed salary, is fighting for a regular season roster spot.

Southeast Notes: Scott, Fournier, Williams

Hawks forward Mike Scott spoke publicly Monday for the first time since his arrest this summer on felony drug charges. The veteran would not discuss details of the case, but did note that the gym has been a sanctuary during the past few months, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution relays. “I just come in every day and compete,” Scott said at Hawks media day. “Joke around and laugh with my teammates. This is kind of been my sanctuary for the summer. I come into the gym and work hard and put everything behind me. Then when in I get back to the locker room I’ll look at my phone and I’ll be ‘Oh, right. I forgot.’ Coming into the gym every day, working out with my teammates, is something that has been great for me.”

Scott did acknowledge that his situation has embarrassed the Hawks’ organization, Vivlamore adds. “I don’t like to make other people look bad,” Scott said. “I don’t like to embarrass people. I don’t want to feel embarrassed. I thought it made us look bad a little bit. I take full responsibility for that. Moving on.

Here’s the latest out of the Southeast Division:

  • Evan Fournier is eligible to sign a contract extension with the Magic prior to this year’s deadline, and he’d welcome a new deal if the parameters made sense, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. “It would be awesome,” Fournier said when asked about a possible extension. “But, to be honest, I don’t even think about it because that’s not in my power. That’s not in my hands. Right now I’m focused on getting healthy and just being back on the court. But, yeah, it would be awesome, man.
  • John Wall would be happy to assist the Wizards in recruiting Kevin Durant, who is set to become a restricted free agent next summer, Royce Young of relays. “There’s gonna be an opportunity to throw a pitch at him to try to get him to come back home,” Wall told “But I know one thing of just knowing him, he’s going to be very focused on taking care of Oklahoma City this season, and I’m going to be focused on taking care of the Washington Wizards. But when the time is right and he can get away from all that, yeah, we’ll probably have some conversation and throw a pitch.
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford doesn’t expect the role of Marvin Williams will be diminished despite the offseason additions of Frank Kaminsky, Tyler Hansbrough, and Spencer Hawes, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. “He’ll play the majority of his minutes at [power forward], but he could play [small forward] some nights depending on matchups,” Clifford said of Williams. “He’ll space the floor and be a very good defender. He adds versatility because he can switch [defensively] with some of the perimeter guys. Really the way the NBA is going he’s becoming the prototypical [power forward] now 6’8″ or 6’9″, can make 3s and guard different guys.
  • Mario Chalmers, who was the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason, leaned on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade for support to get through the uncertainty surrounding his future with the Heat, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “LeBron and D-Wade are my two closest people when I’ve got things going on in my mind,” Chalmers said. “I talked to those two in the summer and it really helped ease my mind. Bron, big brother, he told me, ‘Don’t worry — it’s a business.’”

Southeast Notes: Bazemore, Heat, Wizards

Hawks guard Kent Bazemore is entering the final season of his current deal, but there is mutual interest between the team and the 26-year-old in reaching an agreement on a new contract next offseason, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. Speaking about his feelings for Atlanta, Bazemore said, “I’ve come to love Atlanta. Of the whole summer, I was probably only gone two weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time here. I just moved into a new house. I’m renting it. Maybe I can buy it next year.” Bazemore and the Hawks will have to wait until next summer to work out a new deal since his current deal was signed for less than four years, meaning Bazemore is ineligible to sign an extension during the season, Vivlamore adds.

Here’s the latest from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat assistant Dan Craig was officially named as head coach of the franchise’s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the team announced. The news of Craig’s hiring was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
  • Jaron Johnson‘s one-year deal with the Wizards is non-guaranteed and for the league minimum, while Jaleel Robertsagreement is also for the minimum, but his includes a partial guarantee of $10K, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (Twitter links).
  • The Heat‘s deals with John Lucas III and Tre Kelley are one-year pacts for the league minimum and do not include any guaranteed salary, Pincus tweets.
  • Hawks coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said that it may make more sense for the team to carry the regular season maximum of 15 players rather than keeping a slot open, Vivlamore tweets. Atlanta currently has 13 players inked to fully guaranteed deals.
  • The Hornets are hoping that Jeremy Lamb will get off to a fresh start in Charlotte after not seeing much playing time during his three seasons with the Thunder, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. Lamb was acquired back in June in exchange for for Luke Ridnour and a 2016 second-round pick.
  • Greg Stiemsma‘s and Nnanna Egwu‘s one-year, minimum salary deals with the Magic are non-guaranteed, while Keith Appling and Jordan Sibert‘s minimum salary arrangements include partial guarantees of $100K, Pincus relays in a series of tweets.
  • The presence of Goran Dragic, who re-signed with the Heat this offseason, was a big draw for Amar’e Stoudemire to join Miami as a free agent, Surya Fernandez of SB Nation tweets. Of Dragic, Stoudemire said, “If he would have stayed in Phoenix, I would have thought about going back to Phoenix.

Hawks Sign Arsalan Kazemi

The Hawks have signed former Sixers draft-and-stash prospect Arsalan Kazemi, the team announced (hat tip to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Vivlamore reported late Monday that the sides were working toward a deal after Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer revealed the Sixers had relinquished his rights so he could try out for the Hawks. The 25-year-old power forward goes into the roster spot vacated when Atlanta waived Jason Richardson, who’s retiring, bringing Atlanta to the 20-man preseason roster limit.

Kazemi, a native of Iran, played last season for ChongQing AoLong of China in his second year as a pro after he became the 54th overall pick of the 2013 draft. He spent most of his college career at Rice before transferring to Oregon for his senior season, one in which averaged 9.4 points and 10.0 rebounds in 29.0 minutes per game. The 6’8″ Kazemi again showed a knack for rebounding for the Sixers summer league team in July, notching 3.2 PPG and 7.6 RPG in 27.4 MPG, though it would be a stretch to say he looked particularly strong against a level of competition much weaker than he’ll see in standard NBA action.

He’s with the Hawks for the start of camp today, Vivlamore notes (Twitter link), though he’ll face a stiff challenge to remain with the team beyond the next month. Atlanta has 13 fully guaranteed contracts, and Vivlamore has referred to Mike Muscala, who possesses a partially guaranteed deal, as a “lock” to make the regular season roster. That means Kazemi would have to overcome Lamar Patterson, Terran Petteway, Earl Barron, DeQuan Jones and Edgar Sosa to win a spot on the regular season roster, assuming the Hawks even carry a 15th man on opening night.

Hawks Close To Signing Arsalan Kazemi

8:45pm: The Hawks are negotiating with Kazemi on a training camp deal, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter links). The deal is likely to be finalized Tuesday, giving the Hawks 20 players on their camp roster.

4:40pm: Philly let go of Kazemi’s rights so he can try out for the Hawks in training camp, Pompey says in another tweet, so it appears that audition is still to come. The Hawks have one open space on their roster if they decide to add Kazemi.

4:30pm: The Sixers have forfeited their draft rights to Iranian power forward Arsalan Kazemi so that the 54th pick from the 2013 draft can audition for the Hawks, tweets Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirier. The team made its required tender by the September 10th deadline to do so, which allowed the team to retain his rights, but it appears as though Philadelphia has backtracked on that. It’s unclear whether Kazemi has already tried out for the Hawks or if that audition is still to come. Atlanta is one shy of the preseason roster maximum.

Philly originally wound up with the rights to Kazemi the same night that the Wizards drafted him, sending the rights to Glen Rice Jr. to Washington in return. The Sixers also received the rights to Nate Wolters in the deal, flipping them soon after to the Bucks. Kazemi, who played collegiately at Rice and Oregon, has appeared in summer league for the Sixers each of the past three years, but he’s otherwise remained out of the NBA. Last year he averaged 15.0 points in 38.9 minutes per game for ChongQing AoLong of China.

The Sixers have a full preseason roster of their own, with 20 players, so the team had no room for Kazemi. He could have signed the tender, but Philadelphia would have had the right to simply waive him if he did that.

Hawks Waive Jason Richardson

The Hawks have waived the retiring Jason Richardson, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). The move took place Friday, according to Pincus, though the team made no formal announcement. Atlanta signed the 34-year-old swingman last month, so even though he walked away before the start of training camp, the release still had to take place. He was on a one-year contract for the minimum salary without any guaranteed money, so the Hawks aren’t on the hook for any money.

Richardson said in December that “retirement is three or four years away from now,” but knee trouble and an aversion to making simply a token appearance on a roster evidently led to a change of heart. The fifth overall pick in the 2001 draft was much more than roster filler for much of his career, but that wasn’t the case for the majority of his tenure with the Sixers, who acquired him in 2012 as part of the Dwight Howard trade. He made his return to the court last season after missing more than two years because of injuries and appeared in 19 games, averaging career lows in points and minutes per game as well as field goal percentage.

It was in stark contrast to the high-flying scoring force he was for much of his career. Richardson topped 20 points per game three times, including his best scoring average of 23.2 PPG in 2005/06 with the Warriors, his original team. He went on to play with the Bobcats, Suns and Magic before finishing up in Philadelphia. Thanks to the more than $6.6MM he made this past season, the Jim Tanner client topped $100MM in career earnings across his 14 seasons in the league, totaling about $105.356MM, according to Basketball-Reference. His Hawks salary would have been the lowest of his career.

What stands out to you about Richardson’s career? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Mike Budenholzer on Horford, Scott, Personnel

President of basketball operations/coach Mike Budenholzer recently sat down with Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to discuss the state of the Hawks.

The entire piece is worth a read, but we’ll pass along a few highlights here:

On Al Horford not wanting to negotiate during season, so his impending free agency doesn’t become a distraction to the team:

“Al is the kind of player that we value, very much respect and want to continue to keep him and build with him. We respect how he’€™s handled these questions so far. As the season goes on, he’s such a professional and wants to put the team first and keep the focus there. That’s part of the reason he’s somebody you want to keep going forward.”

On Mike Scott, who faces up to 25 years in prison on a pair of felony drug charges:

“Mike has been in the gym every day working unbelievably hard. His focus and diligence has been great. He and I have had a lot of good conversations. It’s a legal process, so I can’€™t comment on any of that, but his mental focus and preparedness for the season is in a really good place.”

On the changes to the basketball operations department:

“We feel great about the group that we’€™ve added. It’s like we always said, everything is done in a collaborative way, a collaborative fashion. To bring in guys with different skills and different backgrounds and different perspectives, and all of them incredibly intelligent and all good people. They understand the kind of players we want to have and the kind of people we want to have in the organization and the culture we are building. I think it was a really, really good summer. Going forward, we are better staffed, better prepared, to operate in a more efficient, more eyes on people, more good people with good ideas. The more of that you have, the better chance you have of making good decisions on players, on all the different things that happen during the season or even during a day.”

Hawks Officially Sign Three For Camp

The Hawks have officially signed Earl Barron, DeQuan Jones and Edgar Sosa, the team announced via a press release. All three moves were expected, and though only Sosa’s pact was reported to be non-guaranteed, neither Jones’ or Barron‘s deals are likely to include any guaranteed salary, though that is merely my speculation. Atlanta now has the preseason maximum of 19 players on its roster. This number doesn’t include swingman Jason Richardson, who announced his retirement on Thursday.

The 34-year-old Barron hadn’t drawn much interest in free agency this summer, as our rumors page for him indicates, but he’s shown a knack for making his way onto NBA rosters despite limited playing time. Last season’s 16 games with the Suns were the most Barron had played in an NBA season since 2010/11, when he totaled 21 appearances split among three teams. The center’s best season was 2007/08, when he appeared in 46 contests, and 15 of them as a member of the starting lineup, for the Heat.

Jones, 25, went undrafted out of Miami back in 2012. He then secured a training camp invite from the Magic which he parlayed into a regular season roster spot for the 2012/13 campaign. Jones made 63 appearances for Orlando that season, including 17 starts, and averaged 3.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.3 assists to go along with a slash line of .436/.257/.667. The forward spent the 2014/15 season with Pallacanestro Cantù of the Lega Basket Serie A.

Sosa, 27, went undrafted out of Louisville back in 2010 after posting career NCAA numbers of 9.7 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. He joined the Pistons summer league entry that season, but he ended up signing overseas with the Italian club Angelico Biella. The point guard spent the 2014/15 campaign playing for Dinamo Sassari in Italy. Sosa’s numbers last season were 10.7 PPG, 1.5 RPG, and 3.5 APG to accompany a slash line of .387/.320/.789.

Hawks To Sign Earl Barron For Camp

The Hawks will sign Earl Barron to a training camp deal to replace the retiring Jason Richardson, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The nine-year veteran finished last season with the Suns. He’s the 20th player with whom the Hawks have either a signed contract or a verbal agreement, putting them at the preseason roster limit, though they’ll ostensibly release Richardson soon.

The 34-year-old Barron hadn’t drawn much interest in free agency this summer, as our rumors page for him indicates, but he’s shown a knack for making his way onto NBA rosters despite limited playing time. Last season’s 16 games with the Suns were the most Barron had played in an NBA season since 2010/11, when he totaled 21 appearances split among three teams. The center’s best season was 2007/08, when he appeared in 46 contests, and 15 of them as a member of the starting lineup, for the Heat.

Atlanta offers him a decent chance at a regular season roster spot, since the team only has 13 fully guaranteed contracts. Mike Muscala has half of his two-year veteran’s minimum salary guaranteed, ostensibly giving him the inside track on spot No. 14. The four players aside from Barron who are in the mix for the 15th spot, assuming the Hawks carry that many guys on opening night, have a combined one year of NBA experience, so Barron is by far the best option if coach/executive Mike Budenholzer prefers a veteran.

Do you think Barron could help the Hawks this season? Leave a comment to weigh in.

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