Hawks Rumors

Hawks’ Okongwu Out For “Foreseeable Future”; Capela Back

Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu will be sidelined “for the foreseeable future” with a left big toe sprain, head coach Quin Snyder said on Thursday, per Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).

I don’t want to speak out of turn as far as a timeline goes, but he’s not going to be available for the foreseeable future,” Synder said (Twitter link via Brad Rowland of Locked On Hawks).

Okongwu had only missed one game this season prior to last Monday’s loss to Chicago, which is when he sustained the injury. Unfortunately, it sounds like he could miss a good deal of time.

The 23-year-old played one college season at USC before being selected sixth overall by Atlanta in 2020. Okongwu is a key reserve for the Hawks, averaging 10.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 1.1 BPG on .610/.338/.800 shooting in 53 games in 2023/24 (25.8 MPG).

Snyder also said starting center Clint Capela will be back in action on Friday vs. Toronto after dealing with a left adductor strain. However, the Swiss big man will be on a minutes restriction. Capela had missed the past six games with the injury, with Feb. 3 being his last appearance.

With Okongu out, the Hawks will likely continue to lean on Jalen Johnson and Bruno Fernando for minutes at the backup five spot.

The Hawks are currently 24-31, the No. 10 seed in the East.

Danuel House Jr. On Hawks' Radar?

  • Free agent Danuel House Jr. is weighing a number of options, including interest from the Hawks, according to the Pat Bev Pod (Twitter link). Considering the source is another current player like Patrick Beverley, who was teammates with House in Philadelphia up until the trade deadline, this info would appear to be very credible. House was traded, along with a second-round pick, by the 76ers to the Pistons, who quickly waived him.

Stein’s Latest: Thompson, Magic, Warriors, Caruso, Hawks, More

While he believes that Klay Thompson will ultimately remain in Golden State and eventually retire as a member of the Warriors, Marc Stein writes at Substack that the Magic have been “increasingly mentioned” as a potential suitor for the veteran sharpshooter, who is eligible to reach unrestricted free agency this summer.

Thompson is eligible to sign an extension with the Warriors at any time between now and June 30, but if the two sides don’t reach an agreement by then, he’ll become a free agent and would be able to sign with any team.

While it’s hard to imagine Thompson ending up with the Magic, they’re well positioned to put some pressure on the Warriors — with Markelle Fultz and Gary Harris on expiring contracts and Joe Ingles, Moritz Wagner, and Jonathan Isaac not on guaranteed contracts for 2024/25, Orlando could generate a significant amount of cap room in the offseason.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Despite a belief that Alex Caruso was essentially off-limits at this month’s trade deadline, the Bulls gave “real consideration” to the possibility of moving him before trade talks with the Warriors collapsed, Stein writes.
  • Stein also confirms that Chicago and Sixers had serious discussions about an Andre Drummond deal, but hears from one league source that the Bulls were only willing to move Drummond if they were able to line up another center to replace him. When no such opportunity materialized, they decided to hang onto Drummond.
  • There’s a sense that the Hawks will make a trade involving one of their starting guards – Trae Young and Dejounte Murray – sooner rather than later. “They know they have to trade one or the other,” one source told Stein.
  • While Mike Budenholzer‘s name has been mentioned in league circles as a possibility for the Nets‘ permanent head coaching job, Stein suggests that Budenholzer could very well be a top candidate for multiple jobs this spring, so he has reason to be patient to see how the head coaching market plays out.

Several Two-Way Players Nearing Active Game Limit

A player who signs a two-way contract with an NBA team is permitted to be active for up to 50 regular season games. That limit is prorated if the player signed his two-way deal after the regular season got underway — for instance, a player who finalized a two-way contract halfway through the season would be permitted to be active for up to 25 contests at the NBA level.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Two-Way Contract]

Several two-way players have been promoted to standard contracts recently, eliminating those games-played limits. GG Jackson (Grizzlies), Keon Ellis (Kings), Lindy Waters III (Thunder), Craig Porter Jr. (Cavaliers), Duop Reath (Trail Blazers), and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Pelicans) have all signed new deals since the trade deadline.

However, there are still a number of players on two-way contracts around the league who are at or near their active-game limit for the season. Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link) identifies Celtics big man Neemias Queta, Mavericks guard Brandon Williams, Grizzlies guard Jacob Gilyard, and Hornets teammates Leaky Black and Nathan Mensah as two-way players who have 10 or fewer active games left, while Hawks guard Trent Forrest has already reached his 50-game limit.

In some cases, promotions to the standard roster may be forthcoming. Queta, for instance, has been a semi-regular contributor off the bench for the Celtics, who have an open spot on their 15-man roster, so if Boston wants to make him playoff-eligible and ensure he’s able to be active for the rest of the regular season, a contract conversion would be pretty straightforward.

Other cases could be trickier. While the Hawks would presumably like to have Forrest available for the rest of the season, they have a full 15-man roster, so they’d have to waive someone to make room to promote him.

Atlanta at least has some viable release candidates on its roster — for instance, veterans Patty Mills and Wesley Matthews haven’t played much and aren’t owed guaranteed money beyond this season. But that’s not the case in Memphis, where Gilyard has made a strong case for a promotion from his two-way deal by averaging 4.7 points and 3.5 assists in 37 games (17.7 MPG), with a .425 3PT%.

The Grizzlies have already promoted Jackson and Vince Williams from two-way contracts and may not have any expendable players left on their 15-man roster who could be cut to make room for Gilyard. Luke Kennard ($14.8MM team option for 2024/25) and Lamar Stevens (unrestricted free agent this summer) are the only Grizzlies not owed any guaranteed money after this season, and both are playing rotation roles for the banged-up club.

“We’ll see what happens when the time comes,” Gilyard said of his uncertain situation, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “As a basketball player, it’s definitely on your mind. I try not to let it affect me. I think that’s probably the worst part about being a point guard is you start to understand things and start to grasp things like that.”

“It’s kind of a juggling act,” Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said of working within those active-game limits for his two-way players, including Gilyard and Scotty Pippen Jr. “It’s hard to make those decisions, trying to preserve those dates. (Pippen’s) understood it. I was very upfront with him when he came in, (general manager) Zach (Kleiman) and myself. I think when he came in, we were maybe on the 40-game mark, but he didn’t have 40 games available, so it’s very unfortunate.

“Maybe it’s something that we look into as a league because I think he’s earned the opportunity to play every single night. We just have to balance the games he actually has available to him.”

Besides those players who are approaching their games-played limits, there are a few others on two-way contracts around the league who look like candidates to be promoted to standard rosters before the end of the regular season. Nets forward Jalen Wilson and Warriors guard Lester Quinones are among those who were playing regularly for their respective clubs leading up to the All-Star break.

Promoting a player to a standard contract would open up a two-way slot for his team, allowing that club to reset its active-game counter for that slot — at least to some extent. Due to the prorated nature of those game limits, a player who signs a two-way contract today could only be active for up to 16 games the rest of the way, but that’s 16 more games than, say, Forrest is eligible to play for the Hawks as long as he remains on his current two-way deal.

Teams have until March 4 to sign players to two-way contracts, so I expect to see a good deal of roster activity related to two-way slots within the next couple weeks.

Southeast Notes: Young, Banchero, Hornets, Leonsis

Trade rumors are a reality of life for most NBA players, Hawks guard Trae Young told reporters following Sunday’s All-Star Game (video link). Speculation has been growing that Young could be on the move this summer, especially after Atlanta decided to hold onto his backcourt partner, Dejounte Murray, at the deadline.

“The best players in the game have all been traded,” Young said. “Some of the few lucky ones have been blessed to be drafted in situations where they can win championships and it will all be perfect for them. They can stay in that one situation forever. That’s what I wanted to do, and that’s what I want to do with Atlanta. But who knows? This is the type of league where things change, but obviously my mindset is staying in Atlanta right now. I don’t get caught up in all the rumors and stuff. My contract is locked in for a couple years. I don’t have very much say in it right now.”

As Young notes, he’s under contract for the next two seasons and has a nearly $49MM early termination option for 2026/27. His contract also includes a 15% trade kicker, which would factor into the price of any deal unless he chooses to waive it. Young is in his sixth year with the Hawks after being taken with the fifth pick in the 2018 draft, but the organization may be ready for massive changes following another disappointing season.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Now that his first All-Star Game is over, Paolo Banchero will return his focus to getting the Magic into the postseason, tweets Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Banchero said the playoff race was a topic of conversation among Eastern Conference players. “In the locker room, we were talking about the standings and stuff,” he said. “… How intense it’s going to be after the break.”
  • The new-look Hornets entered the All-Star break with three straight wins as the shakeup at the trade deadline has brought a new energy to the team, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The organization opted to part with veterans Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington while bringing more young talent onto the roster. “It feels good. Guys are happy, coaches are happy,” said Tre Mann, who was acquired in a deal with Oklahoma City. “We know it’s a lot more work to do. We can get better and it’s a small sample size. And we’ve got to build on it.”
  • The Washington Post (subscription required) takes an inside look at the secret negotiations that led to Ted Leonsis’ plan to move the Wizards and the NHL’s Capitals to Arlington, Virginia.

Saddiq Bey Meets Starter Criteria, Increasing QO

Hawks forward Saddiq Bey met the “starter criteria” for potential restricted free agents earlier this week by making his 41st start of the season.

An RFA-to-be meets the criteria – which dictates the value of his qualifying offer – when he starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes in the final season of his contract, or when he averages 41 starts (or 2,000 minutes) in his last two seasons before free agency.

As a result of meeting the starter criteria, Bey will see the value of his qualifying offer increase by approximately $2MM. The No. 19 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Bey had been on track for a QO worth $6,498,258, but that figure will be bumped to $8,486,620, which is the equivalent of what the No. 9 pick in his draft class would receive.

It remains to be seen whether or not that modest bump will have a tangible impact on Bey’s free agency. If the Hawks issue the qualifying offer and the 24-year-old signs a multiyear contract, the QO will essentially just function as a placeholder until his new deal is completed. But he has been inconsistent this season, shooting a career-worst 31.6% from the three-point line, so it’s not as if he’s a lock for a massive payday, despite his promising skill set.

Perhaps the increase from $6.5MM to $8.5MM will give the Hawks – who have over $158MM in guaranteed money committed to 10 players in 2024/25 – some pause as they consider whether to issue that qualifying offer. And if Bey does receive a QO and doesn’t find an appealing multiyear deal right away, that extra $2MM could make accepting the one-year deal a more intriguing option.

Bey is the third potential restricted free agent to meet the starter criteria this season, joining Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey and Bulls forward Patrick Williams. Former Pistons guard Killian Hayes actually met it as well, but he was subsequently waived by Detroit, eliminating the possibility of restricted free agency this summer.

And-Ones: 2024 Offseason, Vegas, Mudiay, Forbes, More

The NBA had a busy trade deadline, but there were no blockbuster deals completed last week, with role players like Buddy Hield, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Gordon Hayward among the biggest names who were on the move. However, according to Howard Beck of The Ringer, executives around the league are expecting more fireworks during the 2024 offseason.

“There will be a lot of parts moved this offseason,” one Eastern Conference executive told Beck. “There’s going to be some options, some high-level guys that ask to get moved.”

As Beck writes, this spring’s playoff results could have a significant impact on what the trade market looks like this offseason. If a team with expectations of a deep playoff run gets bounced early, rival executives will be watching closely to see if that team’s stars have a wandering eye. The Lakers (LeBron James), Suns (Kevin Durant), and Cavaliers (Donovan Mitchell) are among the examples Beck provides, with one exec predicting that “there’s no doubt” Mitchell leaves Cleveland at the end of his current contract in 2025.

There will also be franchises with increasingly expensive rosters who may begin to feel pressure to make a move to generate more financial flexibility or to avoid committing to a pricey luxury tax bill, Beck notes, identifying the Celtics, Timberwolves, and Pelicans as some of the teams that rivals will be monitoring.

Beck is also the latest reporter to say that executives around the NBA believe Trae Young‘s name will pop up in trade rumors this offseason. One Western Conference exec told Beck, “I think they would love to trade Trae,” while another said the Hawks discussed a potential Young deal with the Spurs prior to last Thursday’s deadline.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Appearing on ESPN on Wednesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver once again stated that Las Vegas is “definitely on our list” of markets that will receive consideration for the next round of expansion, according to The Associated Press. “We want to figure out what our media relationships are going to look like but then we will turn to expansion,” Silver said.
  • Former NBA lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay has signed with Piratas de Quebradillas, according to an Instagram post from the Puerto Rican team. Mudiay, who also played in Puerto Rico’s BSN league last season for Cangrejeros de Santurce, was the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft and has appeared in over 300 NBA games, most recently with Sacramento in 2021/22.
  • Former NBA sharpshooter Bryn Forbes has been arrested on a family violence charge, per an Associated Press report. Forbes, who was also arrested last February following a domestic incident, was jailed on Tuesday in San Antonio on a charge of assaulting a family member by choking/strangulation, which is considered a third-degree felony. The 30-year-old hasn’t been in the NBA since he was waived by Minnesota a year ago.
  • With G League Ignite prospect Ron Holland unable to participate in All-Star weekend due to a thumb injury, the NBA has announced that Cavaliers two-way forward Emoni Bates will replace him in the Rising Stars game (press release) and that Bulls two-way center Adama Sanogo will take his place in the G League Up Next game (Twitter link).

Lakers Rumors: LeBron, Knicks, Bronny, Murray, LaVine, More

At the end of last month, Lakers forward LeBron James sent out an hourglass emoji on social media that led to plenty of speculation — and eventually an unsuccessful trade pursuit by the Warriors. Later that week in New York, James made some not-so-subtle comments about his love for playing in Madison Square Garden and said he considered signing with the Knicks as a free agent in 2010.

While James may have been attempting to put pressure on L.A.’s front office by using New York as leverage, the Knicks haven’t had any internal discussions about pursuing him this summer, a league source tells Sam Amick, Anthony Slater and Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

As The Athletic’s authors explain, the Knicks won’t have cap room in free agency to make a run at James if he declines his $51.4MM player option, and shedding salaries would mean parting with important rotation players. The Knicks view that possibility as a “serious setback to their long-term plan.”

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has no desire to trade James, and wants him to retire a Laker, multiple team sources tell The Athletic. For his part, James recently informed the team’s brass he wants to stay, per The Athletic’s report.

Here’s more on the Lakers, all from Amick, Slater and Buha:

  • Rival executives have become “increasingly convinced” that the 39-year-old superstar may want out of L.A., and view drafting his son Bronny James as something of a starting point to pursuing LeBron, according to The Athletic’s trio. James has spoken many times over the years about his desire to play in the NBA with his son. The Lakers are also open to the possibility of adding Bronny to keep LeBron happy, as that’s a priority for the organization, a high-ranking team source tells the authors.
  • According to The Athletic, James has long been in favor of adding a star-level ball-handler in the backcourt — hence 2021 trade for Russell Westbrook, which obviously worked out poorly. James pushed the front office to pursue Kyrie Irving over multiple transaction windows in the past, and supported the idea of trading for Dejounte Murray (Hawks) or Zach LaVine (Bulls) — two fellow Klutch clients — prior to this season’s deadline, sources tell Amick, Slater and Buha.
  • The Lakers will have three first-round picks available to trade this summer after standing pat at the deadline — either 2024 or 2025 (New Orleans can acquire this year’s pick or defer it to next year), plus 2029 and 2031. As Buha previously reported, L.A. would ideally like to use those draft assets for Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers), Trae Young (Hawks) or Irving (Mavericks), though it’s unclear how many of those players – if any – will actually be available on the trade market this offseason. For what it’s worth, rival teams have been speculating that Atlanta might be willing to part with Young after holding onto Murray at the deadline.

Trae Young Fined $35K By NBA

The NBA has fined Hawks guard Trae Young $35K for making an “inappropriate and unprofessional” gesture toward a referee in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss to Chicago, the league announced today in a press release (Twitter link).

With 3:58 left in the game, Young missed a three-pointer and fell to the court after bumping into Bulls forward Torrey Craig. He was called for a flopping violation and subsequently objected to the call by rubbing his fingers together in a “money” gesture, an implication the league obviously objected to (Twitter video links).

The Hawks, who were down 120-111 at the time of the incident, lost the game by a score of 136-126.

It’s not the first time this season that Young’s behavior toward a game official has cost him some money. He was fined $25K in December for “confronting and directing inappropriate language toward a game official” while arguing a last-second non-foul call.

Of course, that $60K in fine money represents a minuscule portion of Young’s full-season salary. He has a $40,064,220 cap hit in 2023/24 and is owed nearly $138MM over the next three seasons after this one.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Langdon, Brand, Heat, Capela, Okongwu

With Mitch Kupchak shifting to an advisory role, the Hornets are seeking a lead executive with previous experience, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports. Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon and Sixers GM Elton Brand are considered the early frontrunners to replace Kupchak, Boone adds.

Charlotte is likely to hire both a president of basketball operations and a GM, according to Boone, who also lists Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton, Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson and Knicks assistant GM Frank Zanin as potential candidates for the lead executive job.

Bulls GM Marc Eversley is another name under consideration, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat have won four of their last six games, following a seven-game losing streak. A team meeting in late January helped to turn their fortunes, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Numerous players spoke up, as well as coach Erik Spoelstra. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Heat swingman Duncan Robinson said of the team’s improved play. “If there’s anything I’ve learned during my time in the NBA, it’s that a big part of playing well is not necessarily about Xs and Os, but putting your own whatever sort of things you’re going through aside and just giving into the team. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”
  • The Hawks’ top two centers are banged up heading into the All-Star break, according to a team press release. Clint Capela is showing progress in his rehab from a left adductor strain but he’ll be listed as out for Wednesday’s game at Charlotte. He’s expected to return to practice following the All-Star break. Onyeka Okongwu left Monday’s game against Chicago late in the fourth quarter with a left big toe injury. Okongwu underwent an MRI on Tuesday and has been diagnosed with a left big toe sprain. He’ll be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days.
  • In case you missed it, there’s an update on Miles Bridges‘ latest legal situation.