Atlanta Hawks Rumors

Southeast Notes: Curry, Hornets, Heat, Hawks

November 28 at 11:58am CST By Chuck Myron

Three Southeast Division teams have winning records, the most of any Eastern Conference division, but there are no powerhouses, allowing Western Conference heavies like the Warriors to record two wins of 15 points or more in consecutive nights on the road in Florida. Golden State heads to Charlotte tonight after turning the Florida double play earlier this week, and there’s a heavy Warriors influence on the latest news out of the Southeast:

  • Charlotte native Stephen Curry spoke this past summer about the idea of someday playing for the Hornets, but this week he sought to downplay the notion, even though he admits he’s always thought about it, as Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group details. “That’s hard to get out of your head, but obviously, it has no bearing on decisions that I make down the road,” Curry said. “It’s just a fun thought to have. The Hornets name does mean a lot to my family, and obviously I’m starting a new thing with the Warriors. I definitely feel right at home here [with Golden State].”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr is confident that Heat first-round pick Shabazz Napier will become a starting-level NBA point guard, and fellow Heat rookie James Ennis is drawing widespread praise as well, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
  • The Hawks have officially assigned Adreian Payne and John Jenkins to the D-League, the team announced via press release. Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday that the team intended to make the moves.

Eastern Notes: Price, Stephenson, Raptors

November 27 at 12:00pm CST By Chuck Myron

A.J. Price has probably played his last game with the Pacers, since the 10-day window of Indiana’s second hardship provision for a 16th roster spot has expired and the team’s injured players are on their way back, observes Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star.

“I’m optimistic it’ll work out, if not here then somewhere else,” Price said. “Everything’s an option at this point. You can’t rule anything out at this point. If I’m not able to get a job here in the NBA, then overseas is definitely an option.”

Of course, the Pacers don’t have to waive Price, whom they picked up when the league granted the extra roster spot, just as the Thunder decided to keep their hardship addition, Ish Smith, and waive Sebastian Telfair instead. While we wait to see how it shakes out in Indiana, here’s the latest from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford has been reluctant to give Lance Stephenson crunch-time minutes in part because he doesn’t think the shooting guard has developed into a marquee player yet, despite the three-year, $27.405MM contract the shooting guard signed this summer. Michael Wallace of ESPN.com has the details. “To be fair, one of the things that’s made it more difficult for him is that he came here and people proclaimed him as the next superstar,” Clifford said. “He’s not a star. He’s a guy that has talent to become a star. To be a star in this league, you have to do it over years.”
  • This summer’s trade for Lou Williams was a win for the Raptors, as they snatched a player who has proven valuable on both ends of the floor so far in Toronto and whose departure has left the Hawks with an underwhelming bench, writes Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.
  • The Hawks plan to send John Jenkins and Adreian Payne to the D-League on Friday, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It’ll be the second trip to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants for Payne, as our log of D-League assignments and recalls shows, and the first of the season for Jenkins, though he went on assignment in each of the past two seasons.

Latest On Danny Ferry, Hawks

November 24 at 3:31pm CST By Chuck Myron

Hawks GM Danny Ferry doesn’t believe it’s possible that he’d return to his job under new ownership, sources tell TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Ferry has been on an indefinite leave of absence since September, shortly after controlling owner Bruce Levenson announced plans to sell the team that stemmed from a racially insensitive email that he wrote in 2012. The scandal enveloped Ferry when the racially charged remarks he read about Luol Deng during a conference call in June became public.

Completion of a sale is still several months away, Aldridge writes, and that jibes with a report from a month ago that indicated that the sale process was slow-going, with the size of the portion of the team up for sale still unclear. Regardless of who owns the franchise, the chance that Ferry returns at any point to his job is “microscopic,” Aldridge writes, echoing similar verbiage from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

Ferry has nonetheless picked up widespread support around the league, with Al Horford the latest to defend the executive’s character, as Aldridge details. Aldridge also heard from Kyle Korver, who reiterated his faith in the Hawks and Ferry. Still, the public pressure is on, and the Rev. Markel Hutchins, an Atlanta civil rights leader who served as the spokesman for a dozen civil rights groups that met with the Hawks earlier this year in the wake of the incident, told Aldridge that he’d be “extremely disappointed” if Ferry returned.

Coach Mike Budenholzer has been serving in a dual role as acting GM since Ferry took his leave, with help, as Aldridge points out, from assistant GM Wes Wilcox and senior adviser Rick Sund, who preceded Ferry as Hawks GM.

Southeast Notes: Payne, Hornets, Harris

November 23 at 3:27pm CST By Zach Links

Heat rookie Shabazz Napier never had any doubt that he belongs in the NBA, writes Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel. “Even though Chris Paul is a guy I looked up to growing up, I just thought this was a chance for me to have a good opportunity to play against him and try my best,” Napier said after scoring 17 points against Paul in Thursday’s loss to the  Clippers. “I’m never in awe of anybody. I don’t let the moment get to me at all.” Napier entered the league with a reputation for confidence after leading Connecticut to the NCAA title last season.  Here’s more from the Southeast..

  • The Hawks have recalled Adreian Payne from the D-League, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter).  Payne was went down to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, an affiliate that they share with a dozen other teams, late last week.  The Michigan State product averaged 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds with 42.3% accuracy from behind the three-point line as a senior.
  • Even though they haven’t saved the Hornets from a disappointing start, coach Steve Clifford told Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer that he likes what he sees in the team’s three key offseason signees. Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams and Brian Roberts joined the Hornets in the offseason in hopes of helping the team improve on last year’s No. 7 playoff seed. Charlotte has stumbled to a 4-9 start, but Clifford said his three newcomers need time to adjust to his system. “I think they’re all getting acclimated,” Clifford said. “All three of them I like. All three do things that can help us play better and win.”
  • The Magic’s Tobias Harris could always score, but he has responded to a challenge from the Orlando front office and coaching staff to expand his game, as John Denton of Magic.com details. Harris, a fourth-year player who will become a restricted free agent next summer, is doing his best to make a positive impression on the team. After getting 24 points, five steals, five rebounds and four assists in Monday’s win over the Pistons, he emphasized the victory over his individual accomplishments. “I’ve told all of the guys on the team, ‘You look better individually when we win as a team,’” Harris said. “So it really is all about winning.’’

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: LeBron, Brand, George

November 22 at 10:41am CST By Eddie Scarito

Despite the Cavs‘ early struggles LeBron James insists that he isn’t losing patience, and while he doesn’t like losing, he is happy with the effort the team is giving, something Cleveland fans took as signaling this was a rebuilding year for the Cavs, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. James acknowledged that in a way, the franchise was rebuilding, notes Haynes.

We put a lot of pieces together that weren’t here last year,” James said. “I don’t want to say rebuilding. I think when people think of rebuilding, they think of starting from the ground up. We are a team that wasn’t together last year so [we] have the same struggles as the 76ers or teams like the Miami Heat right now. And us, we have some of the same qualities as far as putting new guys together. Obviously the talent is a little bit different on every team, but coming together and going through a new system [is the same]. We have a new coach, we have a new staff, and we have new players.”

Here’s more from the east:

  • Though he’s only made two appearances thus far for Atlanta this season, Elton Brand is happy that he chose to re-sign with the Hawks this past summer, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “It’s kind of what I expected coming here,” Brand said. “I look at the teams that I could have been with. Some are doing well. Dallas said ‘What do you want to do? Do you want to come back?’ Some other teams I could have played a lot of minutes with are doing really bad. So, would I want to be there? I believe in our talent, what we have and I’m glad I’m here.”
  • Paul George still believes that he can recover from the broken leg he suffered while playing for Team USA this summer in time to return to the Pacers by April, Michael Marot of The Associated Press writes. “It’s a goal, for sure, to have an opportunity to play this year,” George said. “We have a good team and one of my goals is to come back and try and help this team out any way I can.”
  • But Indiana’s head coach Frank Vogel continued to preach caution regarding his star, Marot adds. “It’s up to the doctors to see where he’s at,” Vogel said. “He [George] really hasn’t done much activity other than walking around and shooting around. It’s still very unlikely he’ll play this season.”

D-League Moves: Hawks, Wizards, Mavs

November 20 at 3:00pm CST By Chuck Myron

Wednesday was the 23rd day of the NBA season, and teams had already made 31 D-League assignments or recalls by the time the day was through. We’ve been keeping track of all the comings and goings, and we’ll continue to log them throughout the season on the post linked here. The movement continues, as we detail:

  • The Hawks sent Adreian Payne to the D-League today, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who adds that the team plans to keep him with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants through this weekend’s games, at least. The Hawks are without a one-to-one affiliate, as they share the Mad Ants with a dozen other teams.
  • One of those teams is the Wizards, who sent Glen Rice Jr. to the Mad Ants today, the team announced. Payne and Rice are the only two players so far this season who’ve gone on NBA assignment to the Mad Ants, who can only carry as many as four NBA assignees at once. The NBA and the D-League have established a protocol to help NBA parent clubs of the Mad Ants find a place for their D-League-bound players if the openings in Fort Wayne are full, as we detailed earlier.
  • The Mavs have assigned Ricky Ledo to the their one-to-one D-League affiliate, the team announced. Ledo played in more than three times as many D-League games as he did NBA games last season, and he’s yet to appear in a game for the big club this year.

Western Notes: Bazemore, McCollum, Jerrett

November 18 at 7:24pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Job security trumped Kent Bazemore‘s fondness for the Lakers when he decided where to sign as a free agent this past summer, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. The two-year, $4MM deal Bazemore signed with the Hawks this past offseason marks the first time in his career that he has had a fully guaranteed contract, notes Medina. “Having a non-guaranteed contract is the most stressful thing in the world, especially when January rolls around and that deadline comes up,” Bazemore said. “You start losing sleep. Being guaranteed is great. Now it’s just about working and trying to earn your stripes.”

Here’s more from out west:

  • Bazemore also noted that his decision to depart for Atlanta had nothing to do with Los Angeles ending last season at 25-57, its worst mark in franchise history, Medina adds. “The Lakers are the Lakers, they’ll be back I’m sure. Mitch Kupchak and the Buss family are probably cooking some stuff right now to get their guys back out there,” Bazemore said. “They won a lot of championships and it’s a pedigree that doesn’t die. They’re always around. They’ll always be in the news, whether it’s good or bad. They’ll still get a bunch of TV games. They’re not going anywhere.”
  • Second-year guard CJ McCollum will be sidelined for a minimum of four weeks with a fractured right index finger, the Blazers announced. McCollum is averaging 5.0 points, 1.1 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 13.1 minutes of action in 11 appearances this season.
  • The Thunder have assigned Grant Jerrett to their D-League affiliate the Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced. This is Jerrett’s second assignment to the D-League this season, though his first trip was for a mere three hours so he could log some practice time. Jerrett has yet to appear for the Thunder in a regular season contest.

And-Ones: Leonard, Millsap, Mekel, Sixers

November 11 at 1:00pm CST By Chuck Myron

Kawhi Leonard says he was “never upset” that the Spurs passed on a rookie-scale extension for him before last month’s deadline, as he tells USA Today’s Sam Amick.

“I don’t think I’m going anywhere,” Leonard said. “I mean they love me here. I like the organization, and if it was up to me, I want to finish out with one team like a lot of great players have done, to stay with one organization their whole career and just be loyal to that. You never know. We’ll see what happens next summer, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be in a Spurs jersey for my whole life.”

The Spurs reportedly passed on Leonard’s request for a max extension because they prefer maintain maximum cap flexibility for next summer, even though they’ve indicated that they’ll match any offer another team might make for the player Gregg Popovich calls a “coach’s dream.” Here’s more from around the NBA:

  • Paul Millsap acknowledged Monday that he’ll look around when he hits free agency in the summer, but he made it clear that the Hawks are the front-runners to re-sign him, as Marc Berman of the New York Post chronicles. “Anywhere could be an option,” Millsap said. “But my loyalty right now is in Atlanta. Free agency is free agency. When it happens, I’ll weigh my options and see where I’m at. But I’m happy in Atlanta right now.’’
  • A report late last month indicated that the Thunder had interest in Gal Mekel before they were beset by injuries, but with Ish Smith having joined the team as a 16th player and some of the wounded recovering, Mekel and OKC aren’t in active talks, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
  • Details are scarce about the contract that Drew Gordon signed Monday with the Sixers, but it is a multiyear arrangement, according to the RealGM transactions log.
  • The Timberwolves lost a star when Kevin Love forced a trade this summer, and Flip Saunders recognizes the importance of creating an environment that will help prevent a repeat in the future with Andrew Wiggins, as Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick examines.

Eastern Notes: Waiters, Bazemore, Cavs

November 8 at 10:45am CST By Eddie Scarito

Despite their win in Denver last night the Cavs are off to a bit of a rough start to the new season. Dion Waiters, one of the players struggling to adjust to his new role, isn’t likely to remain on Cleveland’s roster for the long haul, Steven Ruiz of USA Today writes. The 22-year-old guard isn’t in a rush to win yet, and isn’t quite ready to sacrifice his numbers and potential earning power for the good of the team, Ruiz opines. Waiters could potentially be trade bait to acquire a defensive stopper, something the Cavs sorely need, adds the USA Today scribe.

Here’s more from the east:

  • This past offseason Kent Bazemore inked a two year, $4MM deal with the Hawks. In an interview with Paul Garcia of Project Spurs, Bazemore discussed why he chose Atlanta, saying, “It was a good mix, an up-and-coming team, myself, I’m an up-and-coming player. The system is good, how the ball moves, a lot of pick-and-rolls stuff, those play to my strengths; how they play defensively, how active they are defensively and I was in talks with them a lot. They were one of the more persistent teams, that’s what you look for in those type of situations – signs of loyalty, and they were around the entire time, and they worked very diligent with my agent to get a deal done, so what other better place?
  • Bazemore also confirmed that the Spurs were interested in signing him this past summer, Garcia adds. “Yeah,” said Bazemore, “they [San Antonio] reached out to my agent, showed some interest, but I came here [Atlanta], so the second best thing obviously – same system.” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer is a former Spurs assistant, and Atlanta runs a similar offensive system to San Antonio’s.
  • Both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving threw cold water on the reports that there were chemistry issues between the two Cavs stars, Pat Graham of the Associated Press writes. “We’re two dynamic players and it’s coming along well, I believe,” James said. “It’s going to continue to get better and better. It’s just four games. It’s our first time playing together. Every game is going to be a learned experience for both of us. It’s not just me and Kyrie. It’s myself and the rest of the guys, and Kyrie and the rest of the guys as well.

Offseason In Review: Atlanta Hawks

November 6 at 8:59am CST By Chuck Myron

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.

Signings

Extensions

  • None

Trades

  • Acquired 2014 pick No. 48 from the Bucks in exchange for a 2015 second-round pick.
  • Acquired John Salmons and Toronto’s 2015 second-round pick from the Raptors in exchange for Lou Williams and the rights to Lucas Nogueira. Salmons was subsequently waived.
  • Acquired Thabo Sefolosha, the rights to Giorgos Printezis, and cash from the Thunder in exchange for the rights to Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Sefolosha was signed-and-traded for three years, $12MM.

Waiver Claims

  • None

Draft Picks

  • Adreian Payne (Round 1, 15th overall). Signed via rookie scale exception to rookie scale contract.
  • Edy Tavares (Round 2, 43rd overall). Playing in Spain.
  • Lamar Patterson (Round 2, 48th overall). Playing in Turkey.

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

The Hawks returned 12 players from the end of last season, more than all but two NBA teams, but turmoil defined Atlanta’s offseason. Controlling owner Bruce Levenson’s September announcement, well-timed to coincide with the first Sunday of the National Football League season, that regret over a 2012 email with racial overtones had prompted him to sell the team touched off a full-blown scandal. It soon enveloped GM Danny Ferry, who took an indefinite leave of absence amid pressure after it was revealed that he read a racially charged scouting report during a conference call with the team’s owners in June, and at least one report has suggested that Ferry is unlikely to return to his position.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Miami HeatFortunately for the team and coach Mike Budenholzer, who’s acting as GM in Ferry’s stead, the business of the offseason was largely over by the time the imbroglio began. The Hawks arguably made their most noteworthy moves even before free agency began in July. They consummated a trade in the final hours of June that sent the rights to Lucas Nogueira, who was the 16th overall pick in 2013, along Lou Williams to Toronto for John Salmons. Ferry and his staff promptly waived Salmons, turning his $7MM partially guaranteed salary into just a $1MM vestige on Atlanta’s books. It was a naked attempt to clear even more cap room by a team that had the ability to open roughly $15MM in cap flexibility before the move. The trade brought the team’s flexibility into the $18MM neighborhood, which wasn’t quite enough to legitimately chase LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony but was suitable for a run at a pair of second-tier free agents.

One such target was Luol Deng, whom Ferry was in favor of signing in spite of the racist scouting report impugning Deng that Ferry verbalized in the fateful conference call. The Hawks offered Deng a package similar to the one he wound up with from the Heat, and his acquisition would have addressed what’s been an area of weakness for the team over the past few seasons. Instead, the Hawks made a much less flashier move for a wing player, agreeing to terms with Thabo Sefolosha for average salaries of $4MM over the next three seasons. Ferry did the Thunder and fellow former Spurs front office hand Sam Presti a favor when he structured the move as a sign-and-trade that involved the swap of two draft-and-stash prospects who’ll probably never play in the NBA. The Hawks took Sefolosha into their cap space while the Thunder created a trade exception. Budenholzer simply must hope that Sefolosha regains his shooting touch and that he doesn’t regress too drastically on defense over the life of the contract, which runs through his age-32 season.

That Sefolosha is likely the team’s most significant offseason addition, outside of 15th overall pick Adreian Payne, is a significant disappointment for a franchise that clearly signaled its intention for a more significant upgrade with the cap-clearing Williams trade. The Hawks have tried to wedge their way into the mix for Anthony, Dwight Howard and other splashy names over the past two summers, but they’re not gaining any traction. They failed to land a meeting with ‘Melo after doing so with Howard in 2013, and they were also unable to pull off a deal with a Plan B free agent analogous to 2013’s Paul Millsap signing. The Hawks possess the skeleton of a championship-caliber team, with Al Horford and Kyle Korver standing out as players who’d play key roles on a contributor, but without a true star, Atlanta faces long odds to avoid its annual first- or second-round playoff exit.

No one will mistake Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack for stars, but the Hawks welcomed back both of their restricted free agents with similar three-year deals that help solidify the team’s second unit. Injuries helped force Scott into action last season, and the power forward showed he was capable of handling NBA minutes even in the postseason, so he proved worth the investment of the 43rd overall pick in 2012. His new contract pays him like a rotation-caliber player, and it shouldn’t be difficult to trade if the Hawks want to swap some of their depth in a deal for a star, which might be the franchise’s easiest path to acquiring a marquee player given the failure to attract one via free agency.

The same is true of Mack’s deal, though it signals a lack of confidence in Dennis Schröder, the 17th overall pick from 2013. Schröder saw just seven minutes total in the playoffs and his performance when he did see time during the regular season made it plain that he’s still a ways off from making a meaningful contribution. Atlanta’s investment in Mack as the team’s backup point guard isn’t a hefty one, but it nonetheless signals that the team isn’t going to hesitate to move on from Schröder if he doesn’t show he’s capable of performing at the NBA level before too long.

A similar dynamic is at play between offseason signee Kent Bazemore and John Jenkins, whom Atlanta drafted 23rd overall in 2012. The Hawks picked up Bazemore after he averaged 13.1 points in 28.0 minutes per game across a 23-game stretch with the Lakers at the end of last season. It’s a relatively small $2MM-a-year gamble that his performance wasn’t simply a product of a small sample size, playing in Mike D’Antoni‘s up-tempo attack, or both. It’s also a move that seemingly made it easier for the Hawks to decline their fourth-year option on the rookie scale contract of Jenkins. Unlike Schröder, it’s not as if Jenkins hadn’t shown he could produce, since he canned 38.4% of his three-point attempts as a rookie. Jenkins missed most of last season with a back injury, and with Bazemore in tow, the Hawks have a chance to evaluate the health of Jenkins this season without having a guaranteed $2.228MM for him on their 2015/16 books.

Of course, whether Ferry had it in mind to decline the Jenkins option when he signed Bazemore is unknown, since the Jenkins decision came after Budenholzer assumed control of the team’s basketball operations. That, along with the decision to bring back Elton Brand for another season, were the only major moves that the coach has made since assuming his dual role, but he’ll probably have to make more. Hawks executive Dominique Wilkins, fellow former players Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber, attorney Doug Davis and former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien have expressed interest in buying the team, but it’s still unclear how much of the team is up for sale, and until the existing ownership group determines that, the sale process can’t begin in earnest. It seems there’s a decent chance, if not a strong one, that Budenholzer will still be in charge of Atlanta’s decision-making come the trade deadline. Ferry left him plenty of flexibility, but with as the team’s difficultly in attracting free agents became only more profound this past summer, the deadline stands a a crucial pivot point for the club’s future.

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