- The Hawks seriously explored a Millsap trade in July, but those talks came to an end after the team lost Al Horford. Sources tell Kyler that Millsap has been assured he won’t be dealt anytime soon, though the veteran’s potential 2017 free agency looms as a possible concern if Atlanta struggles out of the gate.
Atlanta’s roster underwent some major changes this offseason, with longtime Hawks Al Horford and Jeff Teague departing and Dwight Howard among the incoming additions. However, the team managed to re-sign Kent Bazemore, and may end up undergoing even more roster turnover in 2017 — only five of the Hawks’ 17 current players have guaranteed salaries for the ’17/18 season.
One of those players who enters this season on an expiring contract is Thabo Sefolosha, who spoke to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a handful of topics, including the club’s outlook for the coming year, and some of his new teammates. He also addressed his contract, though he’s trying to avoid thinking about 2017 free agency at this point.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t in the back of my mind,” Sefolosha said. “Once it is basketball season, I believe that if you take care of what you have to the rest will take care of itself. I’m going to focus on what I can control, play my game and take it from there.”
Sefolosha acknowledged that it will probably take the Hawks a little time to get used to the roster changes, including Horford’s and Teague’s departures. He also pointed out that the addition of Howard will alter the team’s style of play, particularly on the offensive end, since D12 doesn’t have the same shooting range that Horford does.
“On the offensive end, we have a style of play that we move the ball so much,” Sefolosha said. “I think what Al was doing – catching the ball up top and swinging and going to the pick-and-pop – now it’s going to give us some different options by rolling to the basket a lot more, bringing some force to the basket, maybe giving guys open shots on the outside. It’s going to be interesting.“
Finally, Sefolosha praised the Hawks’ rookie additions, suggesting that first-round pick Taurean Prince should be able to “provide some minutes fairly quickly,” while calling the signing of veteran rookie Malcolm Delaney “a big plus.”
What do you expect for the Hawks this season? Will the team take a step back, or is this still a solid playoff team in the East? Will this be Sefolosha’s last season in Atlanta? Weigh in below in the comment section.
- Tiago Splitter believes the Hawks will be a much better defensive team with Dwight Howard replacing Al Horford at center, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He also cited an improvement in defense at point guard, where Dennis Schroder is taking over for the traded Jeff Teague. “[Howard] is a little bit more of a defensive player than Al, more rebounds, more physical presence on the court,” Splitter said. “That is going to change our team. … Dennis, he is also a great defender. He’s a better defender than Jeff. He will pressure the point guard the whole court.” Splitter, who had hip surgery in February and was limited to 36 games last season, also figures to improve the defense with his return to the lineup.
- The Hawks hired Richard Midgley as their west coast scout, Vivlamore writes in a separate story. Midgley has been a coach at Modesto Christian High School in California for the past two seasons.
The Hawks may have competition if they’re interested in bringing Bryce Cotton to training camp, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Anadolu Efes in Turkey and Khimki in Russia both have interest in the free agent point guard, who had brief stints with the Suns and Grizzlies last season. Atlanta is three players below the league limit, and Cotton was recently mentioned as a potential training camp signee by Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 24-year-old played for Atlanta’s summer league team and impressed team officials by averaging 12.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in five games.
Here’s more news out of Atlanta:
- Tiago Splitter plans to be ready for training camp after offseason hip surgery, Vivlamore tweets. The Hawks were hoping Splitter would be a valuable backup big man after acquiring him in a trade with the Spurs last summer, but repeated problems with his right hip forced him to opt for surgery in mid-February. Splitter managed just 36 games with the Hawks, averaging 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in a little more than 16 minutes per night. The 31-year-old is entering the final year of his contract.
- Former NBA star Grant Hill is seeing the game from a new perspective as a partial owner of the Hawks, writes A.J. Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today. Hill is part of the ownership group led by Tony Ressler that purchased the team in April of 2015. Hill serves as vice chair of the board and says he wants to do “something amazing” for Atlanta. “Ownership and the idea of ownership is something that I’ve thought about for quite some time, going back to my early days and my early years in the NBA playing in Detroit,” Hill said. “Just understanding from when I was young … how powerful sports can be, and how it can inspire people, how it can bring people together. It can really galvanize a community, a city, and that’s a huge responsibility.“
Arthur Hill contributed to this post.
- With Dwight Howard and Tiago Splitter on the Hawks‘ roster, Mike Muscala is focusing on improving his versatility and outside shooting in an effort to earn more minutes, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I feel like I do have good perimeter skills for a big guy, but just getting more comfortable doing it in a game and really hammering it home and being ready to shoot the ball,” Muscala told Vivlamore. “You are going to have off-shooting days, but you have to be ready to shoot because that’s what the offense needs. It’s getting the right mindset for it, too, and being a gunslinger, being ready to shoot. That doesn’t mean shooting all the time, but having that mindset that if you miss a shot be ready for the next one. Don’t force anything. Don’t overshoot. Play with the pass. But be ready for it. That’s a big thing I’ve been working on.”
The Hawks currently have 17 players on their roster, which is three below the preseason maximum, and Atlanta is likely to add to that total prior to the start of training camp, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. The team would like to add another point guard and possibly more frontcourt depth, notes Vivlamore. One possibility, as far as backcourt help goes, is unrestricted free agent Bryce Cotton, adds the scribe. Cotton played well on the Hawks’ Las Vegas Summer League squad, appearing in five games and averaging 12.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 19.6 minutes.
- The general consensus among members of the Hawks is that free agent signee Dwight Howard will make the team better than it was a season ago, writes KL Chouinard of NBA.com. “Offensively we have a consistent roll guy, a guy who can put pressure on the basket every time you set a pick-and-roll,” forward Paul Millsap said of Howard.
- Paul Millsap was the subject of trade rumors this summer, but speaking to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks big man said that dealing with that talk is just part of the business. “It is what it is,” Millsap said. “I don’t dislike anybody in this organization. I still think they are stand-up people. I still think they are terrific people. Our relationship is going to be our relationship. We are still on good terms.”
Over the next several days, we’ll be breaking down 2016 NBA free agent spending by division, examining which teams – and divisions – were the most active this July.
These divisional breakdowns won’t present a full picture of teams’ offseason spending. Some notable free agents, including LeBron James, remain unsigned, so there’s still money out there to be spent. Our lists also don’t include money spent on this year’s first- and second-round picks or draft-and-stash signings. There are a few free agent names missing in some instances as well, since those deals aren’t yet official or terms haven’t been reported.
Still, these closer looks at divisional spending should generally reveal how teams invested their money in free agency this summer, identifying which clubs went all-out and which ones played it safe.
- Total money committed: $239,223,166
- Guaranteed money committed (including player options): $234,026,744
- Largest expenditure: Bradley Beal (five years, $127,171,313)
- Other notable signings:
- Marcus Thornton will earn $1,315,448 on a minimum-salary contract, but the Wizards will only pay $980,431 of that salary, with the NBA footing the rest of the bill.
- Total money committed: $197,549,753
- Guaranteed money committed (including player options): $187,517,567
- Largest expenditure: Nicolas Batum (five years, $120,000,000)
- Other notable signings:
- Brian Roberts will earn $1,050,961 on a minimum-salary contract, but the Hornets will only pay $980,431 of that salary, with the NBA footing the rest of the bill.
- Sessions’ deal contributes significantly to the gap between the Hornets’ total money and guaranteed money committed, since his second year ($6.27MM) is a team option.
- Total money committed: $197,000,000
- Guaranteed money committed (including player options): $197,000,000
- Largest expenditure: Evan Fournier (five years, $85,000,000)
- Other notable signings:
- The Magic have yet to add any camp invitees or players on partially-guaranteed deals, so the four players listed above make up the team’s entire free agent haul so far.
4. Miami Heat
- Total money committed: $186,713,810
- Guaranteed money committed (including player options): $175,347,388
- Largest expenditure: Hassan Whiteside (four years, $98,419,537)
- Other notable signings:
- Like Sessions for the Hornets, Ellington’s second-year salary of $6.27MM is not guaranteed, which contributes to the gap between the Heat’s total money and guaranteed money committed.
- Total money committed: $151,929,151
- Guaranteed money committed (including player options): $150,530,431
- Largest expenditure: Dwight Howard (three years, $70,500,000)
- Other notable signings:
- Jarrett Jack will earn $1,551,659 on a minimum-salary contract, but the Hawks will only pay $980,431 of that salary, with the NBA footing the rest of the bill.