Atlanta Hawks Rumors

Dexter Pittman To Play In Puerto Rico

April 18 at 5:52pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Puerto Rican team Caciques de Humacao announced the signing of Dexter Pittman, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Terms and length of the deal for the 26-year-old center haven’t been released. He was recently let go by the Rockets to make room for them to sign Josh Powell after only being with the team for five days. He didn’t see any action while with Houston.

Pittman appeared in two games for the Hawks this season and averaged 1.5 RPG, but didn’t score a point.  He was released by the team on February 27th. Pittman also played seven games in China with Foshan averaging 12.7 PPG.

In 27 games this season in the NBA D-League with the Austin Toros the big man averaged 11.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG.

Koonin Approved As New Hawks CEO

April 13 at 9:23pm CDT By Cray Allred

Steve Koonin will become the new Hawks CEO, per Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The team has confirmed the news on its website. NBA owners have approved Koonin for the position. Atlanta sold a minority share of the team in March, which increased the team’s stakeholders to 12. Bruce Levenson will remain the primary owner for the team.

Koonin, who had been serving as president of Turner Entertainment Networks, will own a minority share of the team, as The Associated Press details. He’s spent the past 14 years at Turner, and was previously a marketing executive for Coca-Cola for more than a decade.

Koonin will oversee all business operations for the Hawks, according to the AP. It’s not clear whether he’ll have any say over the team’s basketball side, but it seems as though GM Danny Ferry will maintain autonomy over that department.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Spurs Sign Damion James For Rest Of Season

April 13 at 12:33pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Spurs have signed forward Damion James for the remainder of the season, the team announced via press release. James was originally signed by the team to a 10-day contract on April 3rd. He has appeared in three games for the Spurs and is averaging 1.0 RPG in 3.3 minutes a night.

Prior to joining the team, James played in the NBA D-League for the Texas Legends and Bakersfield Jam. In 85 career D-League contests, James averaged 16.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.04 BPG in 31.8 minutes per game.

James was originally drafted 24th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Hawks. He was then sent to the Nets in a draft-night trade. In three seasons with the Nets, in 34 games James averaged 4.2 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 16.9 minutes a night.

And-Ones: Knicks, Wolves, Draft

April 11 at 10:27pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Knicks won tonight but their playoff chances took a hit when the Hawks also were victorious, reducing their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to one. New York has had its share of issues this season, but the one that sunk the team the most was the trade for Andrea Bargnani, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Besides acquiring his large and difficult to trade contract, the team could have potentially used the 2016 first rounder they gave up for Bargnani in a deal for the Raptors Kyle Lowry, writes Berman.

More from around the league:

  • The Timberwolves plan to trade for help this offseason, but according to owner Glen Taylor, it won’t be a “big trade”, tweets Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • The crew at Basketball Insiders take at look at what steps are needed to fix the Wolves.
  • The NBA Players Association has formed a brand new search committee to ensure they have a new executive director in place by the start of the 2014/15 season, writes Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.
  • Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports believes that the 2014 freshman class might be better than this year’s highly touted group.
  • The next international draft sensation from Switzerland could be Clint Capela, writes Spears. DraftExpress.com has Capela ranked as the 14th-best prospect in this year’s draft. He’s projected as a first-round prospect in the 20-30 range, but he could improve his standing at the Hoop Summit, opines Spears.
  • Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Video) breaks down draft prospect Dante Exum.
  • Xavier Henry‘s surgeries on his left wrist and right knee were successful the Lakers announced. Henry is a free agent after the season ends.

Poll: Experienced Coach Or First-Timer?

April 11 at 8:01pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

As we approach the end of the NBA regular season, it’s the time of year when the annual coaching carousel begins to spin and a slew of faces will end up in brand new places. Heading into the 2013/14 season there were a total of 13 coaching changes, which if you’re keeping score at home, is the most ever in a single offseason.

We won’t know for sure just how many teams will be making a change on their bench until the playoffs are over. Normally you would think a playoff spot would ensure job security, but Lionel Hollins, Vinny Del Negro, and Larry Drew all weren’t retained after reaching the playoffs last year. So the exact number of vacancies are up in the air, but we know there will be some.

If your team is making a head coaching change, which would you prefer in your new hire? Do you want a veteran coach with years of experience to lead your team? One who has a proven track record, but also could be carrying baggage and bad habits picked up throughout the years. Or, would you prefer the energy and new ideas a first-time coach can provide? A new coach has more to prove, and might be more in touch with the pulse and culture of his players, but has no experience to rely on, and no track record to predict future performance.

Let’s look at how this year’s crop of new coaches fared as an example. First up, the ones with prior experience:

  1. Doc Rivers (Clippers): The team is 55-24, first in the Pacific Division, and the third seed in the playoffs. Last year’s team went 56-26 under Vinny Del Negro, before Del Negro wasn’t retained and the team traded for Rivers.
  2. Maurice Cheeks (Pistons): He was fired 50 games into the year with a record of 20-29. Detroit was 29-53 in 2012/13 under Lawrence Frank. After the team signed Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in the off season, owner Tom Gores expected a much better record and for the team to make the playoffs.
  3. Mike Brown (Cavaliers): The team sits at 32-47, which is good for tenth in the eastern conference. Last year under Byron Scott the team had a record of 24-58 and ended up with the first overall selection in the draft.
  4. Larry Drew (Bucks): The Bucks sit at 14-64. which is good for the worst record in the league. In 2012/13 under Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan the team went 38-44.

Now for how the first-time coaches performed:

  1. Jason Kidd (Nets): The Nets are at 43-35, which is good for the fifth overall playoff seed. Kidd replaced interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, whose team finished 2012/13 with a record of 49-33.
  2. Brad Stevens (Celtics): Stevens, taking over for Doc Rivers, has gone 23-55, but has the re-building team heading in a positive direction. Last year’s team went 41-40.
  3. Mike Budenholzer (Hawks): The Hawks have gone 35-43 and currently hold the final playoff spot in the east. Last year’s Larry Drew led squad went 44-38.
  4. Steve Clifford (Bobcats): Clifford has led the Bobcats to a 40-38 record and the sixth seed in the east. Under Mike Dunlap the team went 21-61 during last year’s campaign.
  5. Brian Shaw (Nuggets): The Nuggets have been hampered by injuries all season, and sit at 35-44. Shaw replaced coach of the year winner George Karl, who led the team to a record of 57-25.
  6. David Joerger (Grizzlies): Joerger replaced Lionel Hollins and has guided the team to a record of 46-32, and has the team is one game out of the final playoff spot. Last year the team went 56-26.
  7. Brett Brown (Sixers): Under Brown the Sixers have the second worst record in the league at 17-61, including a record-tying 26 game losing streak. Last season under Doug Collins, the team went 34-48.
  8. Jeff Hornacek (Suns): The Suns are one of the most improved teams in the league with a record of 47-31, and hold the seventh seed in the western conference. Last year under Lindsey Hunter and Alvin Gentry the team went 25-57.
  9. Mike Malone (Kings): Under Malone the Kings have gone 27-52. During the 2012/13 season under Keith Smart the team ended up 28-54.

This means that in their first seasons with their new teams, experienced coaches went 121-164 (.424), and the first-timers went 313-391 (.444). There are many different factors outside a coach’s control that contribute to the team’s final record, but the nature of the NBA is that the coach is the first one to take the heat.

Now it’s time to vote. If your team makes a coaching change this off season, do you want an experienced person hired, or would you prefer the team brings in a brand new face? Cast your vote below and feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section below.

Sixers Won’t Re-Sign Nunnally

April 6 at 1:08pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

With his second 10-day contract having expired, the Sixers won’t sign wing James Nunnally for the remainder of the season, reports Shams Charania of RealGM.com. The Sixers have used the end of their roster for auditioning players for the future, and Nunnally averaged three points and shot 33.3 percent from three-point range in nine games.

Nunnally said he had enjoyed his time with the Sixers, and now his agent, Bill Neff, will try to find a team with a more structured offensive system to better utilize his client, writes Charania. Nunnally had also earned two 10-day deals with the Hawks back in January.

Undrafted in 2012, Nunnally excelled in Summer League a season ago and has used the NBA Development League to earn two call-ups. He has averaged 18.1 PPG and 4.5 RPG in 35 games this season with the Texas Legends and Bakersfield Jam.

Southeast Rumors: Haslem, Brand, Magic

April 4 at 4:01pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Hawks can go a long way toward the playoffs if they win at home tonight against the Cavs, while a loss puts Atlanta in trouble. The Southeast Division could have as many as four teams in the playoffs, with the Heat leading the way, as usual. Here’s the latest on the Heat and their division rivals:

  • A source tells Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick that the Heat fielded offers for Udonis Haslem before the deadline this year, and Mario Chalmers and others in the locker room are glad the team didn’t deal away Haslem and mess with its chemistry.
  • Elton Brand still hasn’t made up his mind about returning for a 16th NBA season next year, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Hawks center will be a free agent at the end of the season.
  • The players the Magic acquire in the offseason could determine whether the team continues its experiment with rookie Victor Oladipo at point guard, coach Jacque Vaughn told reporters, including Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel.

Team Options And Restricted Free Agency

April 3 at 3:32pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Every rookie scale contract in the league, by rule, includes a pair of team options. Otherwise, team options are rare. NBA clubs prefer the flexibility of non-guaranteed seasons instead, since they allow the team to cut ties with the player at any point before the leaguewide guarantee date of January 7th. Team options must either be exercised or declined before the NBA’s calendar flips over on July 1st. (Rookie scale options must be exercised or declined on October 31st the year before the option season would begin.) Players, too, can benefit from the greater flexibility of a non-guaranteed contract, since they can earn a portion of their salary if they remain on the roster for a partial season.

Still, a growing number of free agents are signing contracts with team options. Of the 13 existing NBA contracts that include team options for future seasons and aren’t rookie scale deals, 11 have been signed since this past July. A handful of those contracts last four seasons, and there’s a compelling reason for teams to structure deals that way for second-round picks and undrafted players.

Chandler Parsons is Exhibit A. The Rockets haven’t informed Parsons about whether they intend to decline his option, worth about $965K, for next season, as Parsons tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Under most circumstances, Houston’s decision would be a no-brainer. Parsons has far outperformed his deal, signed after the Rockets took him in the second round of the 2011 draft, and having him for an additional season at a cost of less than $1MM would give the team one of the league’s best bargains. What makes his case so intriguing is that undrafted players and second-round picks, like Parsons, can be restricted free agents if their contracts end before their fourth seasons. So, the Rockets could decline their option and have the right to match other teams’ offers for their small forward. Houston wouldn’t have that right in 2015 if the team exercised its option on Parsons, who’d become an unrestricted free agent when his contract ends after 2014/15.

The team option gives Houston a choice that a non-guaranteed season wouldn’t. If 2014/15 were a non-guaranteed year for Parsons, rather than an option year, the Rockets could only make him a free agent this summer if they waived him, and he’d be an unrestricted free agent, and not a restricted one, if he cleared waivers.

Three other teams did deals this year that mimic the Parsons contract, and it’s not surprising that the Sixers are one of them. GM Sam Hinkie was the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Rockets when they signed Parsons. Philadelphia signed two undrafted rookies this season to four-year contracts with a team option in the fourth year. The contracts for Brandon Davies and Hollis Thompson, just like the one for Parsons, aren’t fully guaranteed in the seasons leading up to the option. Davies signed his deal without any guarantee at all, while Thompson received a tiny partial guarantee of $35K for this season.

Neither Davies nor Thompson has guaranteed salary on his respective option year. That means that the Sixers could pick up their options and still cut ties with them before opening night without owing them any money that year, just as with a regular non-guaranteed season. Parsons has a partial guarantee on his salary next season. If the Rockets and Sixers exercise their options, those contracts will become just like any other deal that isn’t fully guaranteed. The only difference will be that their teams will have had a chance to make them restricted free agents, a valuable resource in case the player, as Parsons did, blossoms into a sought-after commodity.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey and his disciple aren’t the only ones who’ve caught on. Former Cavs GM Chris Grant signed Carrick Felix, the 33rd overall pick in the 2013 draft, to a four-year deal with a team option in the final season. In Felix’s case, the only non-guaranteed money is in the third year, and the fourth year is fully guaranteed providing the Cavs exercise their option. Hawks GM Danny Ferry, Grant’s former boss in Cleveland, produced the latest iteration of this trend when he pried 2013 second-rounder Mike Muscala from his Spanish league contract in February to bring him stateside. Muscala’s four-year deal is 50% guaranteed next season but henceforth completely non-guaranteed, and that includes the fourth-year option season.

Not every team has the flexibility to make four-year offers. Teams need either cap space or a portion of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception to sign rookies for four years. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more contracts like these in the future, especially if the Rockets use their team option on Parsons this summer and other teams hesitate to give him an offer. Teams may become more hesistant to use their full mid-level on veteran free agents so they can leave room to sign one or two intriguing young players to four-year deals.

It’s unlikely that Thompson, Davies, Felix or Muscala will ever become as valuable as Parsons is, and there’s a decent chance that their teams will waive them long before the option year comes around. Still, the Rockets, Sixers, Cavs and Hawks had nothing to lose, and neither would any team that does a similar deal. It’s a smart play that can look even smarter over time.

ShamSports and Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ were used in the creation of this post.

Eastern Rumors: Jerebko, Hawks, Young

April 1 at 3:27pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Jonas Jerebko has seen an uptick in minutes under Pistons interim coach John Loyer, notes Brendan Savage of MLive, who suggests that the identity of the team’s coach for 2014/15 will weigh heavily as Jerebko decides whether to opt in. He has a $4.5MM player option for next season, but I’d be surprised if he turned that money down regardless of who’s coaching. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

Contract Details: Butler, World Peace, Suns

March 31 at 9:38am CDT By Chuck Myron

Mark Deeks has updated his salary databases at ShamSports, and, as usual, he’s revealed several nuances about the latest contracts signed around the NBA. We’ll pass along the details we hadn’t previously heard about here:

  • Caron Butler gave up $1MM in his buyout deal with the Bucks. He signed for that same amount for the remainder of this season with the Thunder, who dipped into their mid-level exception to accommodate Butler’s $1MM salary.
  • Metta World Peace gave up $305,166 of this season’s $1.59MM salary in his buyout deal with the Knicks. All contracts with player options include a clause indicating whether or not the player receives the money for his option year in the event that he’s waived before deciding on the option. It looks as if the clause in World Peace’s deal stated that he would not receive the option-year pay, since Deeks doesn’t list any of World Peace’s $1,931,550 salary for 2014/15 on New York’s books.
  • Shavlik Randolph‘s contract with the Suns includes a non-guaranteed year for 2014/15, rather than a team option, as we suspected.
  • If the Hawks exercise their team option on the fourth season of Mike Muscala‘s deal, the contract will nonetheless remain non-guaranteed until the leaguewide guarantee date. It’s similar to the structure of the contracts a handful of Sixers have, including recent signee Jarvis Varnado.
  • Chris Johnson also has such a deal with the Celtics, although there are a pair of guarantee dates attached to the third and fourth seasons. The third year becomes fully guaranteed providing he’s not waived on or before September 1st, 2015, and the fourth year becomes fully guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before September 1st, 2016.
  • The Celtics also arranged for a couple of guarantee dates on Phil Pressey‘s three-year contract. Next season is non-guaranteed if he’s waived on or before July 15th, but if the Celtics keep him beyond that date, it’s fully guaranteed. The same happens for the third year of the deal on July 15, 2015.
  • The Rockets have a team option on Troy Daniels worth the minimum salary for next season.
  • Luke Babbitt‘s two-year deal with the Pelicans is for the minimum salary. Next season isn’t guaranteed, but it becomes partially guaranteed for $100K if he isn’t waived on or before July 22nd.
  • The Magic used cap room to sign Dewayne Dedmon to a three-year contract that gives him $300K for the rest of this season, slightly more than what he would have made on a prorated minimum-salary deal. Dedmon is set to make the minimum salary in the other two seasons covered in the pact. Next season is non-guaranteed if he’s waived on or before opening night, when it becomes partially guaranteed for $250K. The final season is non-guaranteed if he’s waived on or before August 1st, 2015, when it becomes fully guaranteed.