Atlanta Hawks

Offseason In Review: Atlanta Hawks

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.



  • None


  • Acquired Washington’s 2015 first round pick (No. 19 overall) and Washington’s second round picks in 2016 and 2019 from the Wizards in exchange for the Hawks’ 2015 first round pick (No. 15 overall).
  • Acquired Tim Hardaway Jr. from the Knicks in exchange for Washington’s 2015 first round pick (No. 19 overall).
  • Acquired Tiago Splitter from the Spurs in exchange for the draft rights to Georgios Printezis and Atlanta’s 2017 second round pick (top 55 protected).

Waiver Claims

  • None

Draft Picks

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

The Hawks won a franchise-best 60 games in 2014/15, but the campaign ended with disappointment when the Cavaliers eliminated them in the Eastern Conference Finals. Injuries certainly played a role in Atlanta’s ouster, including the loss of swingman Thabo Sefolosha, who missed the entire 2014/15 playoffs after suffering a broken leg at the hands of police outside a New York City nightclub back in April. The franchise began its offseason with the free agent departure of a significant piece when DeMarre Carroll left for the Raptors and their four-year, $58MM offer, making a repeat of last season’s success an even more daunting task.

Atlanta was in a bit of a financial bind entering the summer, with Carroll and Paul Millsap both unrestricted free agents, and the team possessing only their Early Bird Rights, meaning the Hawks couldn’t exceed the salary cap to re-sign them. Coach/executive Mike Budenholzer had said before the 2014/15 season that the team wanted to keep Millsap, whose previous two-year, $19MM deal from 2013 turned out to be one of the most team-friendly arrangements in recent memory. Budenholzer held true to his word and Millsap re-joined the team to the tune of three years and $60.216MM.

It will certainly be difficult to replace the defense, energy and outside shooting of Carroll, but I believe Atlanta chose wisely in deciding to retain Millsap over him. The 30-year-old Millsap has been a remarkably consistent performer in the NBA for the last five seasons, and a three-year commitment to him isn’t a tremendous risk, though he has almost certainly reached his plateau as a player and is more than likely going to begin regressing toward the end of this pact. But with the salary cap set to see a significant increase next summer, his deal won’t cripple the franchise if he underperforms.

While I certainly like what Carroll brings to the hardwood as a player, he has only averaged double-figure scoring twice in his six-year NBA career, topping out with the 12.6 points per game he contributed last season. Carroll’s value does stretch beyond the box score, but a four-year deal with an average annual value of close to $15MM seems a bit risky for a late-blooming player who is on the threshold of his 30s. The Hawks’ offer to the small forward reportedly topped out at $50MM on a four-year arrangement, as Kevin Arnovitz of reported. That still would have been a risk, but a much more palatable one for the franchise from my perspective.

Atlanta also made a number of low-risk, low-reward signings over the summer, adding Justin Holiday, Edy Tavares, Lamar Patterson and Jason Richardson, though Richardson subsequently retired, and the team waived him. Out of the group, Tavares is the most intriguing given his height (7’3″) and youth (23 years old). He’s most definitely a project, and it could be years before he produces in the NBA, if ever.

The Hawks made three trades over the summer, acquiring Tiago Splitter from San Antonio for virtually nothing, swapping first-round picks with the Wizards, and flipping Washington’s pick to the Knicks for swingman Tim Hardaway Jr.. Landing Splitter was a solid move, especially given how little Atlanta gave up to acquire him. Given the similarities between the Hawks’ and Spurs’ systems, Splitter should fit right in and become a solid rotation player for Budenholzer. The only negative is that he’s not on an expiring contract and will earn $8.55MM in 2016/17. That’s hardly a king’s ransom, but it’s a significant amount for a team that, with Splitter taken into account, has about $52.7MM in guaranteed salary committed for 2016/17. That amount doesn’t include center Al Horford, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent after this season is done.

The most questionable move of the Hawks’ offseason was the acquisition of Hardaway, a one-dimensional player who regressed during his second season with the Knicks, and who doesn’t fit a clear need for the team. I firmly believe that Atlanta would have been better served to hold onto its original pick, which the Wizards used to select Kelly Oubre. Oubre has a much higher upside than Hardaway, and he also has the capability of developing into a legitimate two-way threat in the NBA. I would even go as far as to say that the team would have been better served to stand pat after its first pick swap and nab Jerian Grant at No. 19 instead of letting him go to the Knicks. Hardaway has yet to log a single regular season minute for the team as of this writing, making the trade even more of a head-scratcher from my perspective.

Drafting Grant would have also had an important secondary benefit for the club, as it would have provided the flexibility to explore potential trades for point guard Dennis Schröder. The team currently has no plans to part ways with the young German point guard, but he is stuck behind Jeff Teague on the depth chart, something that has reportedly displeased Schröder, with the player telling Sport Bild magazine in his native Germany that he would “explore other possibilities” if the Hawks don’t give him a chance to start. However, Schröder did make it clear that he likes playing in Atlanta. The 22-year-old is under contract through 2016/17, after which he is eligible to become a restricted free agent, so there is no pressure on the Hawks to deal him quite yet, though he is one of their most valuable trade assets, and he could bring back a significant return if they trade him. Atlanta exercised both his and Hardaway’s fourth-year rookie scale options prior to the deadline this month.

The franchise will have a major decision to make this coming offseason regarding Horford. He will almost assuredly command a maximum salary, or close to it. If Horford were to depart, the franchise would be hard-pressed to find a player who could replace him, though he is another player about to enter his 30s, and big men don’t tend to age well in the league.

Atlanta is unlikely to duplicate its magic from 2014/15, and the franchise was more than likely headed back toward the pack in the East prior to losing Carroll in free agency anyway. While a playoff berth is certainly attainable, it would be a surprise if the team reached the Eastern Conference Finals for a second straight campaign. The offseason was a mixed bag for the team, with retaining Millsap a success while the draft day trade for Hardaway tarnishes it somewhat. Regardless of anyone’s opinion of the trade, it’s difficult to argue that Atlanta didn’t regress from last season talent-wise. With numerous other Eastern Conference teams improving themselves over the summer, the Hawks and their fans may be left wondering what might have been during the 2014/15 postseason if the team had remained healthy.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Hawks Notes: Budenholzer, Patterson, Sefolosha

Hawks coach/executive Mike Budenholzer, who was absent from Friday’s game, is back coaching the Hawks Sunday, as Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution details. Budenholzer had stayed with his family in Atlanta following his wife’s undisclosed medical emergency. “The support from the staff and the players and everybody has been great,” Budenholzer said, per Vivlamore. “I’m just appreciative of that.”  Assistant coach Kenny Atkinson took Budenholzer’s place for the Hawks against the Celtics Friday.

Here’s more news out of Atlanta:

  • The Hawks recalled Edy Tavares and Lamar Patterson from the D-League Sunday, the team announced in a press release. Patterson, a 2014 second-round draft pick, has appeared in seven of the Hawks’ 11 games. He has averaged 2.4 points, 1.3 assists and 1.0 rebounds in about 13 minutes per contest. Tavares has played only one minute this season for Atlanta.
  • Hawks shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha, a 2017 free agent, said he is getting close to being fully healthy and understands all the attention he received stemming from an incident outside a New York nightclub in April, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes. Sefolosha, 31, is filing a civil suit after suffering a broken leg and ankle ligament damage in an encounter with police. The experience also made Sefolosha more conscious of his realistic timetable left as a player in the league, Washburn adds. “To this day I’m still battling with that in a way, because I don’t know how I’m going to feel two months from now, or I think I’m taking the proper steps [to get better],” Sefolosha said. “I think I was focusing on getting back so much that I didn’t have time to focus on what if. It’s a process every day.” Sefolosha has played in eight games so far this season and is averaging 6.8 points per game. He has averaged 5.8 points per game for his career.

Spurs, Hawks Have Fewest Ex-Lottery Picks In NBA

So much of a team’s fate in the NBA is tied to its ability to land superstar talent. So much superstar talent comes through the top end of the draft that many organizations base their rebuilding philosophy around the draft lottery. The success of the Spurs and Hawks largely stands in defiance of that idea.

Every team in the league has at least three former lottery picks on its roster, aside from San Antonio and Atlanta. It’s undeniable that one of those lottery picks on the Spurs, Tim Duncan, is a generational talent and foundational player who helped mold the franchise into what it is today. But Duncan is 39, and while still productive, he’s no longer capable of carrying a team by himself. Offseason free agent signee LaMarcus Aldridge is the other former lottery pick on the Spurs, but the team has compiled its 7-2 record — second best in the Western Conference heading into today — without anyone else with a lottery pedigree.

The Hawks are the same way, thanks in large measure to coach/president of basketball operations Mike Budenholzer and former GM Danny Ferry, both of whom have strong ties to the Spurs. Al Horford has been a mainstay, but while Thabo Sefolosha has been a key part of the team’s success, no one would mistake him for a superstar. Those are the only two former lottery picks on the Hawks, and yet they’re 8-3, and began today in second place in the Eastern Conference, the same position in which the Spurs find themselves in the West.

The assortment of teams with a league-high eight former lottery picks demonstrates the capriciousness of the draft. Three of them make sense, as the Clippers, Thunder and Warriors are all expected to contend, and Golden State is threatening to run away with the regular season’s best record for the second year in a row. The Hornets and Trail Blazers are sub-.500 teams with little expectation of winning this year, especially now that Charlotte has lost former No. 2 overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to injury.

Indeed, not all former lottery picks are created equal. Injuries keep some from helping their teams, while age hampers others. No. 1 picks have a greater chance of success than No. 14 picks do. Still, it’s telling that two of the most successful organizations in the NBA can rise to that level almost entirely without players from the lottery.

Here’s a look at the former lottery picks on every team, categorized by the volume of them on each roster:

Eight lottery picks

Seven lottery picks

Six lottery picks

Five lottery picks

Four lottery picks

Three lottery picks

Two lottery picks

And Ones: Gasol, Nuggets, Drummond, Hawks

The BullsPau Gasol could miss out on a major payday if he doesn’t opt out of his current deal next summer, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Gasol has a player option on the final season of a three-year, $22.3MM contract that brought him to Chicago in 2014. He is owed a little less than $7.77MM for 2016/17, when increased TV revenues are expected to greatly raise the salary cap. Two unidentified executives from rival teams told Johnson that even at age 36, Gasol could land two more years of guaranteed money if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. “I’ll wait to make that decision,” Gasol said. “All I’m focused on now is trying to play the best I can so that if I do opt out and explore, I have options. If I have the best season possible and work on my body and stay healthy and help this team accomplish its goals, I’ll go from there.”

There’s more from around the world of basketball:

  • The league has taken steps to reduce the unique home-court advantage the Nuggets possess because of Denver’s location and altitude, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Denver is at least a two-hour flight from nearly all NBA cities, which gives the home team a decided advantage against an opponent playing back-to-back games, especially when the thin mountain air is factored in. “I didn’t like it when I had to come here,” said Michael Malone, who is in his first season as Nuggets coach. “But I love it now.” Dempsey reports that the NBA has tried to cut into that edge by making Denver the first stop for teams traveling from the east and building an off day into the schedule for teams coming from the west.
  • The PistonsAndre Drummond tops a list of six players exceeding expectations compiled by Jonathan Concool of Basketball Insiders. Drummond was averaging 20.3 points and 20.3 rebounds per game heading into Saturday’s action. Rounding out the list are the BlazersC.J. McCollum, the Pistons’ Marcus Morris, the Bucks‘ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Magic’s Evan Fournier and the LakersJordan Clarkson.
  • The Hawks will recall Edy Tavares and Lamar Patterson from the D-League Sunday, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both are expected to be in Atlanta in time for the game with the Jazz.

Eastern Notes: Gortat, Budenholzer, Zeller, Hoiberg

The WizardsMarcin Gortat is upset about being singled out by coach Randy Wittman following Tuesday’s 24-point loss to the Thunder, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. Wittman angrily said that even he could get one defensive rebound in 27 minutes, as Gortat did in the blowout. “I don’t think it was necessary to call me out in the media like that,” Gortat said. “But it happened. I heard a different story in training camp, that stuff like that won’t happen. But it happened. So I disagree with what he did.” Gortat still has four seasons left on a five-year, $60MM deal he signed in 2014.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Hawks released a statement this evening from coach/executive Mike Budenholzer explaining his absence from Friday’s game. On Friday morning, I returned to Atlanta from Boston to be with my family due to an emergency medical situation involving my wife,” Budenholzer wrote. “We are encouraged by her progress to this point and remain cautiously optimistic.” He promised to return to the team “as soon as possible.” Assistant Kenny Atkinson will continue to coach the team until Budenholzer returns, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • The CelticsTyler Zeller, who was passed over for an extension earlier this month, is dealing with severely reduced playing time, according to Chris Forsberg of Zeller has become the odd man out in Boston’s crowded frontcourt, getting just 14 minutes of court time over five games before his role was expanded in Friday’s victory over Atlanta. “Tyler’s a really good player. We just have a lot of bigs,” said coach Brad Stevens. “I don’t know how else to say it. We haven’t shot it great, so you want to play some guys that can stretch the floor and be guarded when the floor is stretched. And that leaves at least one person out.”
  • Despite a couple of disappointing losses to the Hornets and Wolves, Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf tells K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune he is completely happy with the performance of new coach Fred Hoiberg. “Fred connects with the players,” Reinsdorf said. “He connects with everyone he talks to because of his experience as a player, executive and coach at the college level.” This is Hoiberg’s first NBA coaching job after spending five years at Iowa State.

D-League Notes: Harris, Dekker, Patterson

The Raptors‘ D-League affiliate has added swingman Nick Wiggins and power forward Ronald Roberts to its roster, Josh Lewenberg of relays (via Twitter). Wiggins, a native Canadian, was waived by the Wolves during the preseason, and later by the Idaho Stampede, Utah’s affiliate. Roberts was among the final cuts made by Toronto this year. Both players will still remain free to sign with any interested NBA team.

Here’s more news from out of the D-League:

  • The Cavaliers assigned Joe Harris to the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be the first D-League assignment of the season for both the player and the team. Harris’ assignment was first reported by Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link).
  • Rookie combo forward Sam Dekker has been assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets‘ affiliate, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle tweets. This is Dekker’s first D-League assignment of the young season.
  • The Hawks have assigned Lamar Patterson to the D-League, and he will report to the Austin Spurs as part of the flexible assignment process, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution relays. This will be Patterson’s first jaunt to the D-League this season.
  • The Raptors have assigned Lucas Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo to the Raptors 905, their D-League affiliate, the team announced.
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford said that the team is open to sending Aaron Harrison to the D-League at some point this season, but added that Harrison was currently needed with the main squad for Charlotte’s practice sessions, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer tweets.
  • You can keep track off all the D-League assignments and recalls made throughout the season here.

Southeast Notes: Riley, Anderson, Patterson

Heat team president Pat Riley tried to convince LaMarcus Aldridge to take Miami’s mid-level exception on a one-year deal this summer with the idea of re-signing him for the maximum salary using cap space in 2016, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel (Twitter links). That conflicts with an earlier report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, who heard that Riley was selling Aldridge on the idea of signing a one-year deal with the Trail Blazers so that he could be available in 2016. The mid-level plan would have been a tough sell, especially since the Heat are limited to just the $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level instead of the full $5.464MM. Aldridge ultimately wound up signing with the Spurs on a max deal that pays him $19.689MM this season. Next year’s maximum salary for Aldridge would be a projected $29.3MM, thanks to the rising salary cap and the fact that Aldridge would be a 10-year veteran and eligible for the highest maximum-salary bracket. Still, he ultimately decided against trying to recoup the losses of a financial sacrifice this season with a more lucrative max deal in 2016. See more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards have struggled on defense, ranking just 24th in defensive efficiency according to, but coach Randy Wittman thinks the team’s newcomers are better defenders than those they replaced, notes J. Michael of Alan Anderson, one of the team’s offseason signees and a key part of the team’s defensive upgrade, is out until December, though John Wall credits him for his voice in the locker room that’s helped keep the team from panicking amid its disappointing 3-4 start, as Michael details.
  • The physicality of the NBA caught Hawks rookie Lamar Patterson by surprise, but he’s already had his moments, as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders examines. Patterson has been in and out of the rotation already this season for Atlanta, though he hasn’t played in the past three games. The Hawks inked the 2014 No. 48 overall pick this past summer as a draft-and-stash signee.
  • Hawks coach/executive Mike Budenholzer won’t be coaching tonight in the team’s game against the Celtics in Boston, since he’s returned to Atlanta to attend to a family matter, the team announced via press release. It’s unclear how long he’ll be away. Assistant coach Kenny Atkinson will be in charge for tonight’s game, the team says.

D-League Notes: Bulls, Hawks, Celtics, Sixers

GM Gar Forman said the Bulls haven’t used the D-League that frequently because they wanted the players “in our culture,” K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune passes along via Twitter. Earlier today, the Bulls formally announced that they will have their own D-League team starting in the 2016/17 season, so that concern will no longer be an issue.

Here’s more D-League news to pass along:

  • Edy Tavares is headed to the D-League affiliate of the Spurs, the Hawks announced today, confirming Tuesday’s report from Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Atlanta was sending the rookie on assignment. The Hawks don’t have a D-League affiliate, so it wasn’t initially clear where he’d end up, though it’s no surprise to see him head to the Austin Spurs, given the ties between the Atlanta and San Antonio organizations.
  • The Sixers sent point guards Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten to their D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, the team announced via press release. The duo aren’t expected to play in any D-League games, but they will work out with the team as they recover from their respective injuries, per John Finger of These are the first D-League assignments of the season for Philadelphia.
  • The Celtics assigned James Young to the Maine Red Claws, their D-League affiliate, and later recalled both him and Jordan Mickey, the team announced (Twitter links). Both players were sent to Maine to log more practice time. It was the third D-League assignment of the season for Young, and the second for Mickey, as our assignment and recall tracker shows.
  • The Rockets have assigned swingman K.J. McDaniels to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This is the first D-League assignment of the 2015/16 season for both the player and team.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post

And-Ones: Tavares, King, Chalmers

The Nets, who are off to an 0-7 start to the 2015/16 campaign, are interested in reworking the roster through the trade market, though GM Billy King doesn’t anticipate anything drastic occurring, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post relays. With Brooklyn set to have in the neighborhood of $40MM in available cap space next summer, the team doesn’t want to make a short-sighted move, Bontemps adds. “We can trade now and eat all that space up, get to 30-something wins and make the playoffs in the eighth spot,” King said. “[But] then, where’s the future now? So it’s about adding the right pieces and being patient. We didn’t get here overnight, and we are not going to get out of it overnight. That’s reality. There is not something where it’s, ‘OK, this is the magic wand and we are going to do this and it’s going to change overnight. We knew that going in, we knew that when we made those decisions and it didn’t work, and so now we’ve got to gradually, systematically dig yourself out of it.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Hawks have assigned center Edy Tavares to the D-League, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Since Atlanta is without its own affiliate, Tavares will be subject to the league’s flexible assignment process to determine the team he’ll report to, Vivlamore adds. This is the first D-League assignment of the year for Atlanta.
  • The Euroleague’s new alignment and format opens the door to the possibility of a future partnership with the NBA, and a possible “Euro Conference,” international journalist David Pick tweets. Euroleague Basketball A-Licence Clubs and IMG have agreed to a 10 year partnership wherein the two parties will oversee the commercial operation and the management of all global rights covering both media and marketing, according to the official release.
  • The Heat created a trade exception worth approximately $2.1MM as a result of dealing Mario Chalmers to the Grizzlies earlier today, Ethan J. Skolnick of The Miami Herald notes (via Twitter). The precise figure is $2,129,535, the difference between the salaries of Chalmers and Beno Udrih.

Southeast Notes: Durant, Wittman, Dedmon, Payne

Kevin Durant didn’t give the media much to go on as he spoke this morning in Washington, where the Thunder will play the Wizards tonight, but he elaborated on the remark in which he called the attention he received the last time he played in Washington “disrespectful,” as The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater relays. The Wizards showed a photo of Durant edited to depict him in a Wizards jersey on their scoreboard when the Thunder visited Washington last season, but Durant doesn’t pin any blame on the adulation from Washington fans.

“Nah, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with what the fans do,” Durant said. “Me, I’m just thinking as a player on the other side. Fans gonna do what they gonna do. I appreciate all the support going our way. But I’m just looking at it as an opposing player and if I was on that team and they came in here and did that, I wouldn’t like it. But the fans, hey, they support us. Throughout the whole league, they make it what it is.”

See more on the Wizards and other news from the Southeast Division:

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