Hawks Rumors

Southeast Notes: Collins, Magic, Westbrook, Monk

Hawks star John Collins returned from an ankle injury on Sunday to help give his team a boost in a 129-117 victory over the Pacers, Sarah Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.

Collins, who missed the team’s last nine games, finished with eight points and two rebounds in 20 minutes of action. Atlanta remains without Danilo Gallinari, De’Andre Hunter, Tony Snell, Cam Reddish and Kris Dunn due to injuries, but getting back the 23-year-old Collins will certainly help.

“I felt great,” Collins said postgame. “I feel like I’m back to 100%. Obviously, trying to get the wind back to where it was before I got hurt, but be that as it may, I felt great out there. Just great to be back out with my teammates and happy, happy, happy we got that W tonight, so trying to stay here and continue to progress.”

There’s more from the Southeast today:

  • The Magic‘s veterans are looking to keep the team focused as the regular season starts to wind down, Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel writes. Orlando currently holds an 18-38 record, the second-worst mark in the East, placing five games behind the No. 10 Bulls. “I feel like myself, T-Ross (Terrence Ross), MCW (Michael Carter-Williams), Bac’ (Dwayne Bacon), Gary (Harris), we can help them — all the young guys — have the right approach every game,” James Ennis said. “I know it’s kind of tough playing these last games. I don’t know if we can make the playoffs or not, but it’s just our jobs to keep everybody engaged and just staying focused on the goals for our team and ourselves.”
  • The Wizards have taken on Russell Westbrook‘s personality this season, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington explores. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double on the season — 21.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and 10.8 assists per game — but his primary focus remains helping Washington make the playoffs. “He’s just full of energy, ready to go, always a winning mentality,” teammate Bradley Beal said. “He’s going to play extremely hard every single time he touches the floor. It’s so surreal to be able to see a guy that plays as hard as he does still have that type of energy, still getting himself up and ready to go.”
  • Hornets guard Malik Monk isn’t close to returning from injury, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Monk has done “very little activity” since suffering a sprained ankle, coach James Borrego said. The 23-year-old is currently enjoying the best season of his young career.

Most Hawks Players Receive Second COVID-19 Vaccine

Cam Reddish Progressing In Recovery

Hawks swingman Cam Reddish has recovered from his right Achilles soreness enough to incorporate on-court spot shooting and straight line running this week, per an official team press release.

The Hawks noted in the release that they will reevaluate Reddish’s progress in two weeks. The second-year wing out of Duke has appeared in 26 games for Atlanta this season, averaging 11.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.3 APG.

Southeast Notes: McMillan, Hornets, Dragic, Capela

Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan has been a major success with Atlanta since taking over for Lloyd Pierce earlier this season, prompting Chris Kirschner of The Athletic to wonder if McMillan could get the club’s permanent head coaching gig.

Atlanta, playing against the Raptors tonight, is 15-5 since Pierce was fired on March 1. The team boasts a plus-16.2 net rating in the fourth quarter in its 20 games with McMillan at the helm, the second-best mark in the league. The Hawks had a minus-8.2 net rating in the fourth quarter during Pierce’s stewardship this season.

Kirschner notes that McMillan has thrived during his head coaching stint despite having to deal with injury issues. Rotation players Cam Reddish, Kris Dunn, De’Andre Hunter and John Collins have each missed seven or more games for Atlanta during McMillan’s tenure. At 29-25, the Hawks are currently the No. 4 seed in the East.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • After losing four starters and roughly 80 points of offense per game to injury, the Hornets have had to get creative to find scoring, details Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Starting center P.J. Washington, starting guards LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, and starting small forward Gordon Hayward are all currently absent with various maladies, as is core bench player Malik Monk. Washington and Rozier are expected back soon, though the timelines for the other three are murkier. “There are going to be a number of guys who get opportunities tonight who may not have expected it,” head coach James Borrego conceded. “At the start of the week, we never anticipated this type of rotation. But this is where we’re at.”
  • Veteran Heat reserve point guard Goran Dragic has struggled through an injury-plagued 2020/21 season thus far. He’s not thinking about the possibility of returning to his role as as a starter come playoff time, as he did for the Heat’s 2020 Finals run, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes.
  • Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution details how Hawks starting center Clint Capela could be inching his way into the 2020/21 Defensive Player of the Year mix after helping vastly improve the club’s defense. Capela acknowledged that he would like to be considered as a DPOY and All-Defensive Team candidate this season. “I’m a guy who definitely thinks about that, because this is what I do and this is how I help my team win,” Capela said. “And this is how I also get to have a huge impact on the game, that’s defensively, and I think I’m definitely one of the best at doing it. … I feel that I’m playing the best defense of my career this season, yes, simply because I feel the guys give me the confidence to do so.”

Kings Notes: Haliburton, Fox, Golden 1 Center

After coming off the bench in 31 of his first 33 games this season, rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton was moved into the Kings‘ starting lineup on March 17 and remained there for the team’s next 12 games. However, he has once again been a reserve for the last two, with head coach Luke Walton explaining that he likes having Haliburton lead the second unit. The 21-year-old is taking that decision in stride, as he tells Sam Amick of The Athletic.

“I’m not tripping off that,” Haliburton said. “At the end of the day, I’m a basketball player. I’m not just saying this because it’s a media answer. Like, Buddy (Hield) yelled at me yesterday because I told him this and he was like, ‘Oh, don’t give me the media answer.’ But it’s the truth. I’m a basketball player at the end of the day, so I’m coming out here to compete every night. If you put me off the bench or start me or however many minutes, I’m going to value those minutes and compete.”

Haliburton spoke to Amick about a handful of other topics, including how he ended up falling to No. 12 in last November’s draft. The rookie guard said he thought briefly that he’d be picked by the Wizards at No. 9, but they opted for Deni Avdija instead.

Addressing a rumor that he had a hand in orchestrating his draft-day slide because he was focused on playing for the Kings, Haliburton acknowledged that he liked the idea of playing in Sacramento and that he didn’t see a fit with the Hawks, who had the sixth pick. However, he dismissed the idea that he discouraged the top 11 teams from selecting him.

“There’s all these stupid rumors going around that I told everybody not to pick me because I wanted to go to Sac at 12. Like, come on now, are you crazy? I would never,” Haliburton said. “These teams just didn’t pick me, you know? It is what it is.”

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • De’Aaron Fox has been hit by the NBA with a $20K fine for his public criticism of the officiating, the league announced in a press release. Fox’s comments came after Sacramento’s 128-112 loss to Utah on Saturday, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee details.
  • The Kings will welcome fans back to the Golden 1 Center for the first time this season beginning on April 20, per a team release. Approximately 1,600 frontline workers will attend that first game — subsequent games will be open to more fans, with the capacity gradually increasing.
  • Sacramento is one of many teams around the NBA with a player currently on a 10-day contract. Damian Jones will be eligible to sign a second 10-day deal with the Kings when his current contract expires on Friday night. If one side or the other wants to end the relationship, Sacramento will open up a spot on its 15-man roster.

Tony Snell Suffers Ankle Sprain, Bone Bruise

Heat center Dewayne Dedmon is ready to help his new team in any way he can as Miami looks to establish playoff positioning in the coming weeks, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes.

Dedmon, 31, signed a rest-of-season contract with the Heat earlier this month and is available to make his season debut on Sunday against Portland. He’s expected to provide depth for a Miami team that also has Trevor Ariza, Bam Adebayo, Andre Iguodala, Nemanja Bjelica and Precious Achiuwa in the frontcourt.

“I feel like I fit on the defensive end, helping with the rim protection, helping rebound, getting more opportunities for these shooters we’ve got here,” Dedmon said of his fit with the club.

“So I come in, block a couple of shots, get a couple more offensive boards, provide a little more offense for the guards. I feel like that will help a lot. … I’m not Bam. I’m not looking to come in here and do what Bam does. I come in here and try to fill a defensive void that I feel like they need.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Magic and forward Otto Porter Jr. didn’t hold any buyout discussions prior to Friday’s playoff eligibility waiver deadline, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports (via Twitter). Orlando acquired Porter in a deal with Chicago featuring Nikola Vucevic last month. The 27-year-old – who also didn’t have any buyout talks with the Bulls, per Stein – has appeared in three games with the team so far and is set to become a free agent this summer.
  • Hawks guard Tony Snell has suffered a right ankle sprain and bone bruise, the team announced (Twitter link). In addition to Sunday’s game against Charlotte, Snell will also miss Tuesday’s game against Toronto and will be re-evaluated when the club returns to Atlanta.
  • The Wizards were encouraged with the return of center Daniel Gafford against the Suns on Saturday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Gafford had missed the last six games with a sprained ankle. He finished with nine points, five rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes against Phoenix, playing off the bench. “It felt great,” Gafford said. “With the limited time that I was out there, it felt natural and it felt good to be out there after this six-game stretch where I’ve been missing. It was kind of sore at the end, but other than that I just felt good being able to get up and down the floor.”

John Collins Out At Least Another Week

Hawks big man John Collins will remain sidelined with a sprained left ankle for at least another week, according to a team press release. The injury has kept him unavailable for Atlanta since March 30.

The Hawks note that Collins has progressed in his recovery to “dynamic foot contacts, lateral shuffling and individual court work.” The club intends to reassess the 6’9″ forward/center in seven-to-10 days.

A restricted free agent this summer, the 23-year-old out of Wake Forest is averaging 18.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 1.4 APG for Atlanta in 47 contests. He is shooting a stellar .545/.380/.838.

Collins will join De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Kris Dunn on the sidelines for the Hawks. Meanwhile, his frontcourt comrades Clint Capela and Danilo Gallinari remain questionable to play for the Hawks tomorrow.

Free Agency Notes: Cap Room, Kawhi, DeRozan, Paul

In an early look at the NBA’s 2021 free agent period, Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic write that three NBA teams – the Knicks, Thunder, and Spurs – project to have more than enough cap room for a maximum-salary contract this offseason, even if they were to win the draft lottery.

Besides those clubs, the Mavericks and Hornets should be among the clubs with the most space, according to Amick and Hollinger. The Athletic’s duo projects Dallas to be about $35MM below the cap if Josh Richardson opts out, while Charlotte will have about $26MM of room.

Other teams could create cap room, but that will hinge on one or two major roster decisions. For instance, the Raptors could get up to about $25MM in space, but not if they intend to re-sign Kyle Lowry. The Suns (Chris Paul) are in a similar position, with the Heat, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Hawks, Cavaliers, Bulls, and Pistons among the other teams whose cap space – or lack thereof – will depend on what happens with certain free agents.

Here’s more from Amick and Hollinger on 2021 free agency:

  • Although Kawhi Leonard projects to be the top free agent on the market this summer, team sources and rival executives widely expect him to re-sign with the Clippers, per The Athletic. It’s possible that could change if Los Angeles exits the postseason early, but there’s no indication at this point that Leonard’s free agency will be as dramatic as it was in 2019.
  • A source with knowledge of DeMar DeRozan‘s outlook tells The Athletic he’ll take a “wide open” approach to free agency. That doesn’t necessarily rule out a new deal with the Spurs, though a March report suggested DeRozan has interest in playing elsewhere next season and perhaps returning to the Eastern Conference.
  • Amick and Hollinger believe both DeRozan and Paul will keep Jrue Holiday‘s new four-year deal ($135MM guaranteed, $25MM in incentives) very much in mind when they negotiate their next contracts. However, it’s not a perfect comparable for either player, since Paul is five years older than Holiday and DeRozan isn’t the defender that Holiday is.

Hawks’ De’Andre Hunter Undergoes Non-Surgical Procedure

Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter underwent a non-surgical procedure at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex earlier today and will return to activity following three days of “unloading,” the team announced today in a press release.

Atlanta’s announcement is light on specifics, but it’s safe to assume the procedure relates to Hunter’s right knee. He underwent meniscus surgery in February and was experiencing some swelling and soreness upon his return. A PRP injection is a logical possibility, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, though it’s worth noting that’s just informed speculation.

While the Hawks and Hunter certainly would’ve preferred to be able to avoid a follow-up procedure altogether, it doesn’t sound like this one was too serious. As Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets, head coach Nate McMillan said today that the procedure “absolutely” won’t keep Hunter sidelined for the rest of the season. We’ll have to wait for more details on his recovery timeline, but it could be a relatively short-term absence for the former lottery pick.

In 20 games so far this season (31.3 MPG), Hunter has averaged 16.0 PPG and 5.1 RPG on .502/.356/.867 shooting. Until he returns, the Hawks figure to lean more heavily on wings like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, Tony Snell, and Lou Williams.

Bogdan Bogdanovic Discusses Role, Nate McMillan, More

  • Chris Kirschner of The Athletic recently published a Q&A with Hawks wing Bogdan Bogdanovic, who discussed his role with the team, changes under Nate McMillan, and more. Bogdanovic has poured in 76 points over his last three games, shooting 29-for-52 (56%) from the floor. “I’m just being more aggressive and I feel like we’ve started to build chemistry between us,” Bogdanovic said. “When you really look into it, we’ve only played a couple of games together. It hasn’t been many. Since I got hurt, having the restriction minutes off and now that I’ve been off of it, it’s been fun.”