Hawks Rumors

Hawks Sign Keaton WallaceTo Two-Way Deal

JULY 15: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

JULY 13: The Hawks are signing free agent guard Keaton Wallace to a two-way contract, agents Max Lipsett and Marcus Monk tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Wallace, 25, spent four years at the University of Texas at San Antonio prior to going undrafted in 2021. He has spent the past three seasons playing in the NBA G League for the Clippers’ and Hawks’ affiliate teams, briefly spending time on a two-way contract with the Clips in 2022/23.

Wallace has yet to make his NBA regular season debut. He is currently playing for Atlanta’s Summer League squad in Las Vegas. In the team’s first game on Friday, a six-point loss to the Wizards, Wallace put up 10 points (on 4-of-8 shooting), four rebounds, six assists (one turnover), two steals and one block in 23 minutes.

In 16 Showcase Cup games with the College Park Skyhawks last season, the 6’4″ Wallace averaged 12.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.1 APG and 1.6 SPG on .438/.370/.789 shooting (30.0 MPG). He had an assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 3-to-1, a solid mark for a guard.

If he stays on a two-way deal for the entire ’24/25 season, Wallace will earn a little under $579K. He will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2025, assuming his contract is for one year and he isn’t released before then.

As our two-way contract tracker shows, the Hawks had a pair of two-way openings before Wallace’s addition was reported, so they will soon have just one vacancy. Atlanta has a roster crunch for players on standard contracts, with 15 players on guaranteed deals plus the non-guaranteed salary of Bruno Fernando.

Hawks Second-Rounder Djurisic Sustains Left Foot Fracture

Serbian guard Nikola Djurisic sustained a left foot fracture in the first quarter of Sunday’s Summer League game vs. San Antonio, the Hawks announced in a press release (Twitter link). It’s unclear how much time he will miss, but certainly his Summer League is over.

The 43rd overall pick of June’s draft, Djurisic’s rights were acquired by Atlanta as part of a three-team deal that sent former first-rounder AJ Griffin to Houston. A 6’7″ guard, Djurisic record seven points, two rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes in his Hawks debut on Saturday, a six-point loss to Washington.

While those numbers don’t jump off the page, he did have the highlight of the game — a poster dunk over two big men, including second overall pick Alex Sarr. Djurisic also displayed an ability to create for himself and others off the dribble, going to the line seven times, though he made just three of those attempts.

Djurisic has played professionally for Mega Basket over the past four seasons and that was true again in 2023/24. He appeared in 26 games (30.7 MPG) for the Serbian club, averaging 14.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.0 steal on .454/.330/.739 shooting.

Djurisic’s injury is unfortunate on multiple fronts. On a personal level, he is one of 10 second-round picks in 2024 who have yet to sign an NBA contract. Atlanta has 15 players on guaranteed standard contracts, plus the non-guaranteed salary of Bruno Fernando, making a standard deal for Djurisic seemingly unlikely (barring trades). The Hawks do have a two-way vacancy, however, assuming that would appeal to both sides.

It’s also unfortunate for Atlanta, which already lost second-year guard Kobe Bufkin for the rest of Summer League due to a shoulder injury. Now, the Hawks will have to figure out what to do with Djurisic’s contract situation while he recovers from the injury.

Hawks Notes: Risacher, Gueye, Djurisic, Krejci

As he adjusts to life in the NBA, French forward Zaccharie Risacher will carry the target that comes with being the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. He got his first taste of that experience in Friday’s Summer League debut as the Wizards’ Justin Champagnie, his primary defender, “chirped” at him throughout the game, writes Lauren Williams of The Journal-Constitution. Risacher was able to overcome that distraction, putting up 18 points, five rebounds and two assists while shooting 7-of-16 from the floor and going 3-of-9 from three-point range.

“I try to play the way we want me to play,” he said. “So, like I said before, during the draft process, I’m ready to do whatever the coaches want me to do. So, if coach wants me to take threes, I’m gonna take threes. And if he wants me to be aggressive, I’m gonna be aggressive and that’s just a part of the player that I am and express myself on every side of every little thing.”

Williams observed that Risacher seemed comfortable with the faster pace and the greater spacing in the NBA game, even though his outside shot wasn’t falling. He expressed disappointment with his performance on defense, which he hopes to improve when the Hawks face San Antonio on Sunday.

“I think I didn’t show like my full ability on defense, and I’m kind of mad at that because that’s not the player that I am,” Risacher said. “And the defensive part is really important in basketball, and I feel like my team needs that too from me, so that’s gonna be the main thing for me to deal with and improve on right away.”

There’s more on the Hawks:

  • Second-year big man Mouhamed Gueye exchanged trash talk with Washington’s Alex Sarr in both English and French during their intense battle Friday night, Williams states in a separate story. After appearing in just six NBA games as a rookie, Gueye is hoping to prove that he’s ready for a larger role. “Mo’s been in the gym all summer working and all that,” Hawks Summer League coach Ronald Nored said. “And I thought he did a good job with it. He took the challenge defensively. I thought that fueled him offensively. The running, the cutting, the movement of the ball, we need that for Mo and I think he took the challenge.”
  • Summer League is an opportunity for Serbian guard Nikola Djurisic to prove that he’s worthy of a roster spot, Williams adds in another piece. The Hawks traded up to take Djurisic with the 43rd pick, but they haven’t indicated whether he’s in their plans for this season. They have a pair of two-way contract slots still open.
  • Vit Krejci‘s new four-year, $10.19MM (minimum-salary) contract includes $3.66MM in guaranteed money, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Krejci’s $2.16MM salary for the upcoming season is fully guaranteed, followed by a $1.5MM guarantee on his $2.4MM salary for 2025/26, a non-guaranteed $2.7MM salary for the third year and a $3MM team option on the final season.

Veteran Big Man Mike Muscala Retiring

Veteran big man Mike Muscala is ending his playing career, telling Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman that he plans to retire.

Muscala’s father, Bob, informed Lorenzi that Mike plans to pursue a graduate degree in sports management, with an eye on continuing his basketball career in coaching and/or management.

The No. 44 overall pick of the 2013 draft, Muscala has spent the past 11 NBA seasons playing for the Hawks, Sixers, Lakers, Thunder, Celtics, Wizards and Pistons. He finished last season in Oklahoma City, returning to the Thunder in March after playing for them from 2019-23.

Muscala, 33, spent the first five seasons of his career with Atlanta. He was traded multiple times during the 2018/19 season before finding a home in Oklahoma City for a few years. He spent the past year-plus playing for four different teams — OKC, Boston, Washington, Detroit and finally OKC again. According to Lorenzi, Muscala said relocating so many times in a short period of time took its toll on him, but he was grateful to finish his career with the Thunder.

It means a lot,” Muscala said of his time with the Thunder back in May. “I went through a lot in my life when I was here, just the city, the fans, the way that they support the team, what the team means to the community, those are things that I feel like I can relate to.

“I’ll always be a Thunder fan no matter what happens in my life.”

In 548 regular season contests, including 45 starts, the former Bucknell star averaged 5.9 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 15.0 MPG. The 6’10” center/forward was known mostly for his outside shooting ability (37.3% career from three-point range) and for being a positive locker-room presence.

Groups Revealed For 2024 NBA Cup

The NBA has announced the five-team groups for this year’s in-season tournament, now renamed the Emirates NBA Cup, the league announced in a release on Friday (Twitter link).

Like last year, there are six groups — three each from the Western Conference and Eastern Conference — and each conference was split into five groups based on last year’s standings. One team was selected at random from each group to determine the group round matchups.

The results are:

  • West Group A: Timberwolves, Clippers, Kings, Rockets and Trail Blazers
  • West Group B: Thunder, Suns, Lakers, Jazz and Spurs
  • West Group C: Nuggets, Mavericks, Pelicans, Warriors and Grizzlies
  • East Group A: Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Nets and Hornets
  • East Group B: Bucks, Pacers, Heat, Raptors and Pistons
  • East Group C: Celtics, Cavaliers, Bulls, Hawks and Wizards

The NBA Cup begins with group play, which runs from Nov. 12 to Dec. 3. Each team plays one game against each of the four opponents in its group. The NBA released a matchup matrix to help fans follow along (Twitter link).

Just like last season, the winner of each group advances to a knockout round alongside the team with the best record in each conference that didn’t win a group. The semifinals and finals will again be played in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Last year, the Lakers won the inaugural in-season tournament over the Pacers. LeBron James was named the tournament MVP after dropping 24 points in the title game.

The full game and broadcast schedule for group play will be announced next month.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Fields, Murray, Hawks, Magic

Australian swingman Josh Green told Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer that he was asleep when his agents phoned him around 3:00 am to inform him he was being traded to the Hornets.

The 23-year-old, who is on the Australian national team that will compete in the Paris Olympics, was sent to Charlotte from Dallas in the six-team mega-deal that saw Klay Thompson land with the Mavs. He says he’s “super excited” for a fresh start.

It’s such a young team and they play at a fast pace,” Green said, “and I think I’m able to thrive in transition, being able to pick up the ball and play defense and just continue to grow my game. I’m still a young guy and it gets fun to be around older guys in Dallas and learn from them, and take that to Charlotte and just come in with a winning mindset, and, yeah, be ready to go.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Boone also recently spoke to the Hornets‘ 2024 draft picks, Tidjane Salaun (No. 6 overall) and KJ Simpson (No. 42). French forward Salaun, who doesn’t turn 19 until next month, says he didn’t watch the NBA growing up as he didn’t think he’d make it to the league. He says being a lottery pick is a surreal experience. “Yeah, it’s weird. Yes.” Salaun told Boone. “For sure because before I became a professional I was in (France) with my teammates, some guys we go to school every day without crowds. And now I have some fans … just all of this is crazy. Just to have a practice facility … I have a practice facility that’s different than the arena. Everything, everything. The weight room. They have many things to be the best possible and in shape.” Simpson, meanwhile is nursing a hamstring strain that will sideline him for all of Las Vegas Summer League, but he’s still actively involved on the sidelines, encouraging teammates and analyzing film. The 6’0″ guard, who is on a two-way contract, says he wants to hone his decision-making and defensive skills, according to Boone.
  • Hawks GM Landry Fields says it was a tough choice to trade Dejounte Murray, but ultimately it was a necessary one, per Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was a hard decision,” Fields said. “It was challenging. We knew that where we ultimately want to be was gonna require some challenging decisions. Just not being at that point, currently, where we felt like we can continue on with what we have. So wanted to reshape some things and this is an unfortunate part of the of the business. Dejounte is a fantastic player. … But we’re also very excited about the guys that we got back, got a few assets with it, too, which are going to be helpful for us to continue to build, so I wish him nothing but the best. He and his family have been great with us.” Fields also acknowledged Atlanta is facing a “roster crunch” after acquiring four players for one in the deal. The Hawks have 15 players on guaranteed standard contracts now that Vit Krejci‘s four-year deal is official, plus Bruno Fernando on a non-guaranteed contract with a early guarantee date of August 1.
  • In a subscriber-only story for The Orlando Sentinel, Jason Beede lists five things to watch for the Magic heading into Las Vegas Summer League, including second-year guard Anthony Black‘s growth as a leader. As Beede writes, Orlando’s Summer League squad features recent first-rounders in Black, Jett Howard, and Tristan Da Silva, plus a handful of former NBA veterans trying to make it back in the league (such as Jarrett Culver and Theo Maledon).

Hawks Sign Vit Krejci To Four-Year Contract

July 12: Krejci’s four-year deal is official, the Hawks announced in a press release.

July 10: The Hawks are re-signing Vit Krejci on a four-year, $10MM contract, agents Alex Saratsis and Phillip Parun tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Atlanta issued Krejci a qualifying offer last month, making him a restricted free agent. The 24-year-old, who hails from Czechia, was the 37th overall pick of the 2020 draft.

There was speculation late last season that Atlanta might promote Krejci from his two-way contract to a standard deal in order to make him eligible for the postseason. That did not occur, but Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported at the time that the Hawks hoped to re-sign Krejci on a four-year deal, which is now about to come to fruition.

A 6’8″ combo guard, Krejci spent his first post-draft season rehabbing a torn ACL. He signed a multiyear contract with the Thunder prior to the 2021/22 season, playing 30 games for the club as a rookie.

Oklahoma City traded Krejci to Atlanta in a September 2022 move that was mostly about finances for the Hawks. He appeared in 29 games for Atlanta in ’22/23, averaging a modest 5.3 MPG.

The Hawks waived Krejci last August when he was on a non-guaranteed deal and the team was facing a roster crunch. He later signed an Exhibit 10 training camp deal with Minnesota, but was cut before the ’23/24 season began.

Krejci returned to the Hawks on a two-way contract in December. In part due to injuries, he became a rotation regular down the stretch last season, averaging 6.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists on .490/.412/.833 shooting in 22 games, including 14 starts (24.6 minutes per contest).

Based on the reported terms, Krejci almost certainly received a minimum-salary contract. Since he has three years of NBA experience, Kreji’s four-year deal will technically pay him $10,185,213, though we’ll have to wait and see how much of it is guaranteed.

Stein’s Latest: Ingram, Lakers, Fournier, Hawks

Pelicans star forward Brandon Ingram has been one of the most frequently-floated names in trade discussions this summer.

According to Marc Stein at Substack, Ingram’s performance in the 2024 playoffs against the Thunder is among the factors that have given New Orleans’ potential trade partners pause. Stein also indicates that Ingram is seeking a four-year, $208MM contract extension on his current expiring deal.

League sources tell Stein that Ingram’s management is striving to help the Pelicans find a willing trade partner. As Stein writes, having the former All-Star play out his current expiring contract with the Pelicans and become an unrestricted free agent next summer likely isn’t the preferred outcome for either the player or team.

Here are more rumors from Stein:

  • The Lakers are looking to create some additional cap flexibility in order to make use of their $5.2MM taxpayer mid-level exception. The team is currently right at the second tax apron, prohibiting L.A. from signing an outside free agent for more than the minimum. If the Lakers can shed some salary, free agent sharpshooter Gary Trent Jr. could be among the targets that make sense, Stein notes. The club currently has a full 15-man roster, so any cost-cutting move intended to make room for a free agent would also need to open up a roster spot.
  • Sources inform Stein that the rebuilding Wizards have registered interest in free agent wing Evan Fournier, who could be a mentor to recent lottery picks and fellow Frenchmen Alex Sarr and Bilal Coulibaly.
  • While starting center Clint Capela has been on the trade block for more than a year, new Hawks big man Larry Nance Jr. – added via the Dejounte Murray trade earlier this summer – is drawing more trade interest from rival teams, Stein writes. According to Stein, multiple clubs in need of more size have expressed interest in Nance.

Hawks’ Bufkin To Miss Summer League With Shoulder Injury

Hawks guard Kobe Bufkin sustained a right shoulder injury during practice on Tuesday and he will not participate in the Las Vegas Summer League, the team announced in a press release (via Twitter).

Bufkin underwent an MRI which revealed “findings consistent with a right shoulder subluxation.” He is expected to make a full recovery ahead of training camp this fall, per the team.

It’s another unfortunate setback for the 20-year-old, who missed extended time during his 2023/24 rookie campaign due to a fractured left thumb and a sprained toe. The 15th overall pick of the 2023 draft, Bufkin appeared in just 17 games for the Hawks last season, averaging 4.8 PPG, 1.9 RPG and 1.6 APG in 11.5 MPG.

Bufkin, who is left-handed, also appeared in 14 regular season games for Atlanta’s G League affiliate (the College Park Skyhawks) last season, averaging 23.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.9 APG and 1.4 SPG on .444/.356/.829 shooting (32.0 MPG).

The former Michigan guard will be among a group of players vying for backcourt minutes in ’24/25 after the Hawks traded Dejounte Murray to the Pelicans.

Hawks, Bruno Fernando Agree To Push Back Guarantee Date

For the second time this summer, the Hawks and Bruno Fernando have reached an agreement to push back his salary guarantee date, reports Brad Rowland of Locked on Hawks (via Twitter).

The two sides originally postponed Fernando’s guarantee date from June 29 to July 10. According to Rowland, the new guarantee date is August 1.

Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported earlier on Wednesday that the Hawks and Fernando were discussing postponing the deadline again.

Fernando has some incentive to give Atlanta more time with the decision if it increases his odds of remaining on the roster and earning his full $2.72MM salary for 2024/25. In 2023, Atlanta moved Fernando’s salary guarantee deadline from June 29 to July 10, then ultimately kept him on the roster, guaranteeing his full $2.58MM salary for ’23/24.

The 34th pick of the 2019 draft after two college seasons at Maryland, Fernando has appeared in 203 regular season games over the course of his five-year NBA career, having suited up for Atlanta, Boston and Houston. Most of those appearances (142) have come with the Hawks.

A 6’9″ center from Angola who possesses a 7’3″ wingspan, Fernando didn’t play much at all in the first half of last season, appearing in just 13 of Atlanta’s first 49 games for an average of 6.5 minutes per contest. However, he was thrust into a larger role down the stretch due to a series of frontcourt injuries, averaging 7.6 PPG and 5.2 RPG while shooting 59.4% from the floor and 70.1% from the line over his final 32 games (18.7 MPG).