Atlanta Hawks Rumors

Atlanta Hawks trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Southeast Notes: Skiles, Hawks, Jefferson

April 23 at 6:30pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Scott Skiles is still “very interested” in coaching again but isn’t pushing the issue, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders notes within his NBA AM piece. Skiles isn’t actively seeking or campaigning for a job with the Magic or any other team, nor would he insist on player personnel power or control if he were to become a team’s coach, league sources told Kyler, a reversal of the narratives from earlier.

Here’s the latest out of the Southwest Division:

  •  The second highest bid for the Hawks came in around $815MM, which includes the approximately $120MM worth of arena debt, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets. The franchise is awaiting the NBA Board of Governors to approve the sale of the team to the Ressler Group for approximately $850MM, which also includes the arena debt amount.
  • The Hornets are relieved that center Al Jefferson has decided not to opt out of his contract for next season and become a free agent, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. Charlotte did not want to have to commit to a deal for Jefferson beyond this season, even at a reduced cost, Deveney adds. The organization hopes that the big man can give the Hornets another solid year while the team figures out what its frontcourt is going to look like in the future, adds the Sporting News scribe.
  • Kemba Walker was glad to have had surgery during the season to repair a tear in his left knee, Matt Rochinski of NBA.com writes in his season recap for the Hornets‘ point guard. “[The surgery] was something that I had to do and I’m happy I got it done,” Walker said. “I’m feeling good. I won’t do anything different and will still have a pretty good summer [working out and getting stronger], so I’m looking forward to it.” Walker will be entering the second season of the four-year, $48MM extension he signed with the team last October.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Porzingis, Bjelica, Stevens

April 22 at 10:31pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Projected 2015 lottery pick Kristaps Porzingis indicated that he withdrew from last year’s draft because he felt he wasn’t yet ready to compete in the NBA, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype relays. “As soon as I declared for the draft, I knew that I wanted I to stay one more year in Spain to get better,” Porzingis said. “Now looking back I think we made the right decision. I had a bad start of the season – individually and as a team. I could have played much better, but I think I have improved my consistency and I have picked it up since the bad start of the season. This season has been tough, but I want to say thanks to coach [Scott] Roth for the work he did with me in Seville. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and I wish him the best.” The seven-footer also indicated that he no longer had doubts regarding entering the NBA, Sierra adds.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • According to Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter links), two assistant coaches who will be in play this offseason for available head coaching vacancies are the PacersDan Burke, and the HawksKenny Atkinson.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens has his team ahead of schedule in its rebuilding process, which is a testament to his abilities as a leader, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. Stevens stressing unselfishness and creating opportunities for teammates appeals to Boston’s players, Zillgitt adds. “All these guys are in the NBA for a reason, and they’re really, really good at something,” Stevens said. “If you can separate yourself at being one of the best at the things you do well, then you always have a spot where people are going to value you. It just makes sense to a be a superstar in your role.”
  • Former NBA GM and current coach of the Turkish club Eskişehir Basket Brad Greenberg has high praise for Wolves‘ draft-and-stash pick Nemanja Bjelica, David Pick of Basketball Insiders writes. While Greenberg believes Bjelica is ready to play in the NBA, he’s not sure if the big man will head to the U.S. to play in the near future, Pick adds. “Can Bjelica be on an NBA team? Sure. Will he? I don’t know,” Greenberg said. “Like all high-level Euroleague players who make a lot of money overseas, it has to be a situation that makes sense financially, and where he gets an opportunity to play. Europeans don’t want to give up something that is comfortable, good and financially rewarding for a ‘what if?’ situation. Bjelica is talented enough to be in an NBA gym and not look out of place. That’s for sure.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Zeller, Gordon

April 22 at 8:15pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Veteran guard Ben Gordon became the odd man out in the Magic‘s rotation once James Borrego took over as the team’s interim coach, Ken Hornack of FOX Sports Florida writes. Borrego preferred to see what the backcourt pairing of Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton could accomplish, which left Gordon on the outside looking in, Hornack notes. Gordon’s $4.5MM salary for 2015/16 is non-guaranteed. In 56 games this season Gordon averaged 6.2 points and 1.1 rebounds in 14.1 minutes per contest.

Here’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets big man Cody Zeller had successful surgery today to repair damage to his right shoulder, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer reports (Twitter link). The 22-year-old appeared in 62 contests for Charlotte this season, averaging 7.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 24.0 minutes per game. Zeller is expected to resume basketball activities in three months.
  • Grant Hill‘s presence as part of the Hawks‘ new ownership group could aid GM Danny Ferry in retaining his position within the organization, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post opines (Twitter link). Ferry and Hill have ties through Duke University, which both men attended, Bontemps notes.
  • Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press tweeted that Hill’s involvement with the Ressler group should provide a good indicator of how Kevin Garnett could function as part of the Wolves’ ownership when he retires. Garnett has acknowledged an interest in buying the Wolves at some point, and owner Glen Taylor said that his return as a player enhanced his chances of becoming a part-owner.
  • Heat rookie point guard Shabazz Napier showed promise during his rookie season, but needs to be a more consistent player moving forward, Surya Fernandez of FOX Sports Florida writes in his profile of the player.

Tony Ressler Finalizes Deal To Buy Hawks

April 22 at 7:04pm CDT By Chuck Myron

7:04pm: The Hawks announced in a press release that a definitive agreement has been signed for the purchase of the team by the group fronted by Ressler. “We are honored and thrilled to have been chosen to become the new stewards of the Hawks,” said Ressler. “We respect the NBA’s approval process and, accordingly, can say no more other than we are incredibly excited by the Hawks’ success and wish them luck in the playoffs.” The sale, which also includes operation of Philips Arena, requires the approval of the NBA Board of Governors before it can be finalized.

The statement lists Hill, Itzler, and private equity investor Rick Schnall as members of the group, as well as clothing entrepreneur Sara Blakely, who is married to Itzler. Starker and Frankel aren’t listed.

2:50pm: Michael Gearon Jr., who currently owns a minority share of the team, will keep a small percentage of the Hawks, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gearon reportedly pressed for Ferry’s dismissal this past June.

2:14pm: Shelburne, Soshnick and Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com all indicate that the Ressler group will assume debt as part of the deal (All Twitter links). Soshnick refers to it as about $120MM worth of arena debt, and Arnovitz says the total price, debt included, will come to approximately $850MM. So that seems to back up Soshnick’s original $730MM figure, which appears to represent the cost of the team itself.

1:35pm: The price will be somewhere between $750MM and $900MM, according to Wojnarowski, who writes in a full story.

1:32pm: A sale price of more than $800MM will be announced soon, as Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link). The new owners plan to keep CEO Steve Koonin and coach/acting GM Mike Budenholzer aboard, Shelburne adds. The disparity between the figures may be related to $112MM worth of bonds left over from the construction of Philips Arena, a point Mike Ozanian of Forbes.com made earlier when there was about $100MM difference between reported amounts of the preliminary bidding figures.

1:20pm: The Ressler group is paying $730MM for the team, reports Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg.com (Twitter link). That’s somewhat lower than the roughly $800MM figure previously reported for preliminary bids.

12:56pm: Private equity mogul Tony Ressler is finalizing a deal with Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson to buy the team for a price of less than $1 billion, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links). Ressler’s bidding group reportedly includes Grant Hill. Brokerage firm founder Steven Starker and rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jesse Itzler have also been a part of the bid, as has Tampa Bay Rays part owner Randy Frankel. Ressler recently replaced investor and Lionsgate Entertainment chairman Mark Rachesky as the leader of the group that was pitted against a bid that involved baseball legend Hank Aaron as well as former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and current Grizzlies minority owner Steve Kaplan.

Ressler was a late comer to the Hawks bidding, but he and Hill were part of a group that made a strong impression on the league when they put in a $1.2 billion bid for the Clippers, as TNT’s David Aldridge wrote in September, speculating then that Ressler and Hill could end up going after the Hawks. Hill reportedly left another group that included former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, former player Junior Bridgeman and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz to join the Ressler bid.

Levenson announced in September that he would sell his share of the team as he self-reported racially insensitive emails that he had sent in 2012. The rest of the owners later agreed to put 100% of the franchise on the block. GM Danny Ferry‘s fate also seems tied to the sale, as he’s been on indefinite leave of absence since his own racially charged remarks about Luol Deng surfaced.

Greg Monroe: Pistons Have ‘Upper Hand’

April 21 at 3:52pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Greg Monroe gave his strongest indication yet that the Pistons are in the mix to re-sign him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July, telling Terry Foster of The Detroit News that the Pistons have the “upper hand.” Monroe said before the season and after that he wouldn’t rule out re-signing with Detroit, and agent David Falk said shortly after the All-Star break that Monroe would “absolutely” consider staying in the Motor City.

“I have ties here; I have been here my whole [adult] life,” Monroe said to Foster. “[The Pistons] drafted me, so of course I am going to listen to them with the same ear as I listen to everybody else. They have the upper hand.”

It’s not at all uncommon for soon-to-be free agents to profess their desire to remain with their incumbent teams, but Monroe went out of his way to avoid a commitment to the Pistons in restricted free agency last summer, signing a qualifying offer that gave him slightly less than $5.48MM. That’s a sharply discounted rate for the productive 24-year-old big man, but Monroe and Falk reportedly discouraged teams from presenting more lucrative offer sheets that would have given the Pistons the chance to match and tie him up long-term.

Falk denied a recent report from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that Monroe’s departure for the Knicks this summer was “about as close to a done deal as you can get.” Monroe later expressed praise for Knicks president Phil Jackson while cautioning that he could see himself re-signing with the Pistons. The Lakers reportedly asked the Pistons about trading for Monroe before the deadline, and they and the Knicks figure to be among the many teams in pursuit. The Hawks were also reportedly planning to go after him as of early this season.

Monroe, No. 7 in our latest Free Agent Power Rankings, produced at a high rate once the Pistons waived Josh Smith in late December, as I examined when I looked in depth at Monroe’s free agent stock. The Pistons have a financial advantage, since they can offer five years and 7.5% raises instead of the four-year deal with 4.5% raises that other teams are limited to, but Monroe has already shown a willingness to make a financial sacrifice.

Mike Budenholzer Wins Coach Of The Year

April 21 at 9:04am CDT By Chuck Myron

Mike Budenholzer has won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award, the league announced. The Hawks bench boss edged first-year Warriors head man Steve Kerr for the honor. Bucks coach Jason Kidd finished a distant third.

Budenholzer took an injury-hit club that finished 38-44 in the regular season to a seventh game against the top-seeded Pacers last season, a playoff performance that foreshadowed what was to come in 2014/15. The Hawks zoomed to the top of the Eastern Conference with a 17-0 January, and they won 19 games in a row, the fifth-longest single-season winning streak in NBA history. Atlanta accomplished those feats and won 60 games without a player widely considered a superstar, and only Al Horford, who makes $12MM, earning as much as $10MM this season.

The success that Budenholzer had on the bench was even more impressive considering the turmoil surrounding the franchise. Controlling owner Bruce Levenson self-reported a racially-charged email and decided to sell the team, and GM Danny Ferry has been on a leave of absence in the wake of his own racially insensitive remarks, leaving Budenholzer as the acting GM in his place. Budenholzer is up for Executive of the Year honors as well, though Hoops Rumors learned that it’s displeased some other executives around the league who wanted the chance to vote for Ferry.

Still, there’s no denying Budenholzer’s qualifications for Coach of the Year in just his second season as an NBA head man. None of the top four finishers, including fourth-place vote-getter Brad Stevens, have more than two years of NBA coaching experience. Fifth on the list is the long-tenured Gregg Popovich, under whom Budenholzer served as an assistant before taking the Hawks job. Budenholzer, Kerr, Kidd, Popovich and Tom Thibodeau were the coaches who received first-place votes. Media members cast the ballots, and the full results are here.

Eastern Notes: Ferry, Smith, Knicks, Noel

April 19 at 11:56am CDT By Arthur Hill

Danny Ferry may be on a leave of absence as Hawks GM, but he hasn’t been forgotten, writes Scott Cacciola of The New York Times. Coach Mike Budenholzer said Ferry deserves a lot of credit for building Atlanta into the top seed in the East. The coach added that he talks to Ferry frequently. “I think it’s probably important to both of us that those conversations are somewhat private,” Budenholzer said. “It’s safe to say that we talk about everything.” Ferry has been on indefinite leave since racially insensitive comments about Luol Deng‘s African heritage surfaced in September. Budenholzer declined to suggest a resolution to Ferry’s situation.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • J.R. Smith probably would have picked up his $6.4MM player option if he had remained with the Knicks, according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Despite the team’s awful season, Smith’s love of New York and his friendship with Carmelo Anthony would have influenced his decision. “I think I would have opted in,” he said. “I would have stayed. I wanted to be part of the building process to be one of those teams that ‘this is the team we got and we’re going to give a shot at it.’ I wanted to be a part of it.” A January 5th deal sent Smith to a Cavaliers team that is among the favorites for the NBA title.
  • Rival executives don’t expect a quick fix in New York, Iannazzone writes in a separate piece. The Knicks will have a top five draft pick and are expected to have about $30MM to spend in free agency, but that doesn’t guarantee a huge jump in wins. “They don’t really have any trade assets,” said an unidentified Western Conference executive. “It’s going to be hard to get off the deck. They have a long road up the hill. They got to go one block at a time. One piece at a time and have some patience.”
  • Sixers rookie Nerlens Noel told Tom Moore of Calkins Media that he would like to see the team improve its outside shooting through the draft. Philadelphia finished third in Hoops Rumors’ Reverse Standings and will find out its draft position at the May 19th lottery. “I think we’re pretty good with the frontcourt,” Noel said. “I think we definitely need to add shooting, whether it’s with the first pick we have or [possible] second pick.”

 

And-Ones: Salary Cap, Draft, Sefolosha

April 17 at 9:30pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

At this week’s NBA Board of Governors meetings, teams were advised ‎that the league’s salary cap could rise past the $100MM mark as soon as the 2017/18 season, Marc Stein of ESPN.com writes. Stein’s sources informed him that, based on current projections, league officials expect the salary cap to increase from its current $63.1MM figure to $67.1MM next season, $89MM in 2016/17, and $108MM in 2017/18. The league has been careful to stress to its teams that these projections are contingent on the NBA and its players avoiding a work stoppage after the 2016/17 season when the league and the NBPA can opt out of the current CBA, Stein adds.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Alpha Kaba, a 6’10” forward playing for the French team Espoirs Pau-Orthez, will enter the 2015 NBA draft, Pedja Materic of BeoBasket.net tweets. The 19-year-old is not currently projected to be selected in June.
  • The league also discussed playoff reform during its Board of Governors meetings, and while no immediate changes are coming, the league is mulling a number of options, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report relays (Twitter links). One of the options being discussed according to commissioner Adam Silver is the addition of a play-in tournament, Beck notes.
  • The NBA also discussed potential draft lottery reform, but the league concluded that it wasn’t ready to make a change yet, Beck tweets.
  • Thabo Sefolosha underwent successful surgery today to repair a fractured fibula and ligament damage in his right leg, the Hawks announced. Sefolosha will have an expected recovery period of about six months, and Atlanta hopes that he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.

Latest On Sale Of The Hawks

April 17 at 7:45pm CDT By Chuck Myron

APRIL 17TH, 7:45pm: The league’s owners are pleased with a potential sale amount in the $900MM range, though prospective buyers aren’t offering that amount yet, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets. The group fronted by Kaplan are the current favorites to purchase the team, Zillgitt adds. The Bridgeman group is not out of the running yet, Zillgitt notes in a second tweet.

APRIL 15TH,8:15pm: Ressler and Hill have replaced Rachesky in the group that includes Starker and Itzler, with Ressler now the leader of that bid, as Soshnick explains in a full piece.

APRIL 14TH: Ares Capital’s Tony Ressler, who is fronting a group that includes Hill, is making a bid to purchase the Hawks, Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg News tweets. Mark Rachesky is also no longer involved with bidding for the team, Soshnick adds.

APRIL 7TH: The group that included Hill has given up its pursuit of the team, two sources tell USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt. Presumably, that’s the group Vivlamore referred to that believed it was out of the running. Zillgitt identified Hill and Bridgeman as the leaders of the now defunct bid, of which Bryan Colangelo and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz were also reportedly a part. Zillgitt also refers to Kaplan and Rachesky as the leaders of their respective bidding groups.

APRIL 3RD: A bidding group that involves baseball legend Hank Aaron as well as former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and current Grizzlies minority owner Steve Kaplan is one of two that have become favorites to win control of the Hawks, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Investor and Lionsgate Entertainment chairman Mark Rachesky, brokerage firm founder Steven Starker and rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jesse Itzler are principles in the other, as Vivlamore details. There’s a deadline of April 10th for final bids, according to Vivlamore, though that date is flexible, and Vivlamore suggests there’s a distinct possibility that the process drags on into June.

Tampa Bay Rays part-owner Randy Frankel is also reportedly a member of the Rachesky-Starker-Itzler group, while Indonesian sports and media moguls Erick Thohir and Handy Poernomo Soetedjo are in the Aaron-Levien-Kaplan partnership. A long list of other names have been connected to the sale since controlling owner Bruce Levenson announced in September that he would sell the team after he self-reported racially charged emails that he had sent. The team’s other ownership groups eventually agreed to sell their stakes, too, putting 100% of the franchise on the market. Preliminary offers have reportedly ranged as high as about $800MM.

One group of bidders believes its out of the running after a long gap in communication with the search firms that are facilitating the sale on behalf of the existing owners, according to Vivlamore. Another group has expressed displeasure with Philips Arena, as Vivlamore details.

Former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, former players Grant Hill and junior Bridgeman and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz are reportedly teaming for a bid. Dominique Wilkins has been expected to be a prominent part of one of the groups. Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber have also reportedly held interest. Kelly Loeffler and Mary Brock, who own Atlanta’s WNBA team, were also reportedly interested in bidding for the Hawks, along with their husbands, Jeffrey Sprecher and John Brock. Attorney Doug Davis is apparently in the mix, too. Investors Thomas Tull and Chris Hansen were seemingly poised to mount separate longshot bids to buy the Hawks and move them to Seattle, though commissioner Adam Silver has insisted the team will stay put. The Chinese investment conglomerate Fosun has also reportedly bid for the team.

Eastern Notes: Sefolosha, Faverani, Pierce

April 15 at 9:27pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Thabo Sefolosha said his right leg hurt following his arrest last week outside a New York nightclub, but he refused immediate treatment, a New York City Police Department spokesperson told Greg Hanlon of SI.com. Sefolosha’s attorney told Hanlon that he advised his client not to appear before a judge before he went to the hospital. The Hawks swingman suffered a season-ending broken fibula in the incident.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Former Celtics big man Vitor Faverani intends to use the NBA summer league to try and work himself into playing shape as he recovers from a knee injury, David Alarcón of HoopsHype.com relayed via Twitter (translation). If Faverani is unable to land an NBA deal he intends to play in Europe next season, Alarcón adds. Boston has been in contact with Faverani to check on the status of his balky knee, Alarcón notes.
  • Paul Pierce backtracked a bit on the negative comments he made yesterday regarding his time with the Nets, Rachel Nichols of CNN.com relays (Twitter links). Pierce said that he regretted using the word “horrible” to describe his 2013/14 season in Brooklyn, but he did relay that the Wizards have more of a “family feel,” and that there is a distinct culture difference between the two organizations, Nichols notes.
  • Goran Dragic said that the Heat missing the playoffs this season would not affect his opinion of the organization in regards to his pending free agency, Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald tweets.
  • The 28-year-old guard also indicated that he is more than open to re-signing with Miami this summer and that it might not be necessary to speak with other teams prior to inking a new deal, Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post writes. “Of course,” Dragic said. “If you’re gonna find the same language, then it’s easy for everybody. It’s hard to talk about that right now. We’ll see. I need to sit down with my family and explore the options and see what option is the best, but the last two months that I was here [in Miami] was beautiful for me.