Hawks Rumors

Hawks Notes: Murray, Young, J. Johnson, McMillan

The Hawks are committed to fixing the defensive issues that held them back last season, and trading for Dejounte Murray is an important part of that effort, writes Aaron Wilson of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta paid a high price for Murray, sending three first-round picks and a future pick swap to the Spurs, but it landed a 26-year-old All-Star guard with a team-friendly contract.

Murray excelled at both ends of the court in San Antonio, averaging 21.1 points per game and leading the NBA in steals with 2.0 per night. He seems like an ideal backcourt partner for Trae Young and said he’s ready to set the defensive tone for his new teammates.

“Defense is about showing effort,” Murray said. “I will bring what I learned both as a leader and vocally as everyone buys in. Everyone has to buy in and push each other and seeing everyone showing up was good. Ready to go compete and earn my team’s trust in training camp.”

There’s more from Atlanta:

  • Young was a strong advocate for acquiring Murray and he believes they can succeed together, per Lauren Williams of The Journal-Constitution. In four NBA seasons, Young has never played alongside another guard with Murray’s defensive skills. “It’s hard to point out what he’s great at, but he’s good at everything — like defense, scoring, passing, rebounding,” Young said. “I mean, he’s really good at everything. So just having somebody who’s going to be just as dependent as I am in the backcourt, which is going to be the fun, I can’t wait to get started.”
  • Jalen Johnson looks forward to carving out a larger role after an offseason procedure to deal with tendinitis in his left knee, Williams adds in a separate story. The 20-year-old forward averaged just 5.5 minutes in 22 games as a rookie, and playing time may be even harder to come by with the offseason additions of Maurice Harkless and Frank Kaminsky. “He’s got to earn that opportunity,” coach Nate McMillan said. “He’s been here since August, and he’s working on doing that. He’s been playing and looking good. I thought last year, his play in the G League, he’s showing maturity and he’s showing some confidence and he’s looking forward to the challenge.”
  • McMillan visited Young’s Oklahoma City home in June to talk about improving their communication for the upcoming season, according to Paul Newberry of The Associated Press. McMillan wants to see Young become more of a team leader on and off the court. “He’s the face of the franchise and it’s something that he has just inherited,” McMillan said. “He will have to work at it and become better.”

Hawks Rumors: Collins, Hunter, Injuries, Murray

The Hawks kicked off the NBA’s Media Day season this morning, with general manager Landry Fields telling reporters that John Collins is “still here for a reason” after a summer of trade speculation, tweets Atlanta reporter Brad Rowland.

Trade talk is nothing new for Collins, who has seemingly been on the block since signing a five-year, $125MM deal last offseason. There were numerous rumors involving Collins leading up to this year’s draft, and he was reportedly part of the package the Hawks offered to Brooklyn in an attempt to acquire Kevin Durant.

Fields said Collins understands the situation and has remained professional (Twitter link). The GM added that Collins has expressed his opinion on the constant trade talks, but he understands what the team is doing (Twitter link).

There’s more from the team’s media session:

  • Fields said negotiations are continuing with De’Andre Hunter and the team hopes to have an rookie scale extension in place before the October 17 deadline, tweets Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to head coach Nate McMillan, Hunter has been able to go through normal workouts this summer, which he couldn’t do last offseason because of a medical procedure (Twitter link).
  • Fields also provided health updates on a few players, saying Bogdan Bogdanovic is “not going to be 100% for training camp” after having surgery on his right knee in May (Twitter link). The team is focused on getting Bogdanovic back to full health at some point during the season, Fields added. He also said first-round pick AJ Griffin has been “full go” for a few weeks following a foot injury that prevented him from playing in Summer League (Twitter link), and second-year power forward Jalen Johnson will also be ready for camp after a non-surgical procedure on his left knee (Twitter link).
  • McMillan was in constant contact with Trae Young as the Hawks worked out a trade with the Spurs for Dejounte Murray, Williams tweets. The coach added that Young is looking forward to having a chance to play off the ball this season. Fields admitted having two traditional ball-handlers in the backcourt might be “a little clunky at first,” but he expressed confidence that Young and Murray will figure out their roles (Twitter link).
  • Fields plans to keep the 15th roster spot open due to luxury tax concerns, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. The Hawks are about $1MM over the tax line, and Fields indicated the team’s performance will determine whether he tries to get back under the threshold. “It’s going to be a day-to-day thing,” he said.

Hawks Sign Armoni Brooks To Exhibit 10 Deal

The Hawks have signed free agent guard Armoni Brooks, the team announced in a press release. According to Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link), Brooks will receive an Exhibit 10 contract.

The 24-year-old spent last season with the Rockets and Raptors, averaging 5.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in 54 games (15.4 minutes per contest). He was waived by Toronto at the end of July before his $50K partial guarantee for 2022/23 increased to $250K.

Known as a long-range marksman, Brooks struggled with his shot in ’21/22, posting a .339/.297/.857 slash line. He fared much better as a rookie in ’20/21 when he signed a two-way deal with the Rockets, averaging 11.2 points and 3.5 rebounds while converting 38.2% of his three-point attempts on high volume (7.9) in 20 games (26.0 minutes).

After going undrafted in 2019 after three years at the University of Houston, Brooks signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Hawks, so he has experience with the organization, having spent the majority of his first professional season with the College Park Skyhawks, the team’s G League affiliate.

Brooks reportedly had recent workouts with the Cavaliers and Lakers, but was unable to find a roster spot on either team. Instead he’ll return to Atlanta with the hope of making the regular season roster.

The Hawks now have a full 20-man roster for training camp. With only 13 players signed to fully guaranteed contracts and second-rounder Tyrese Martin with a $450K partial guarantee, Atlanta might have a camp battle to determine who makes the final spot on the standard 15-man roster, assuming the team carries 15 players.

Brooks’ Exhibit 10 deal, which is non-guaranteed, ensures that he’ll receive a bonus of up to $50K if he’s waived before the season starts and spends at least 60 days with the Skyhawks.

Add Ashton Gibbs As Assitant For Hawks And Skyhawks

  • Ashton Gibbs is joining the Hawks as an assistant coach, George Michalowski of Pittsburgh Sports Now reports. Gibbs told Michalowski that he’ll work with Atlanta and the College Park Skyhawks, the team’s G League affiliate. Gibbs played four years at Pitt from 2008-12, averaging 15.6 PPG over his final three seasons. He also made several international stops during his pro career, which ended in 2019, per Michalowski.

Malik Ellison Joins Hawks On Exhibit 10 Contract

SEPTEMBER 16: The Hawks have officially announced the signing of Ellison, confirming the move in a press release.

SEPTEMBER 15: Malik Ellison will sign an Exhibit 10 contract with the Hawks, Ellison’s agent Jerry Dianis informs Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

The 6’6″ shooting guard out of Hartford joined Atlanta’s NBAGL club, the College Park Skyhawks, to start the 2021/22 season. In December, the Hawks signed Ellison to a 10-day deal, though he did not appear in a single game for Atlanta. Instead, he returned to College Park to close out the year.

Across 26 regular season contests with the Skyhawks, he averaged 6.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.6 SPG, and 0.6 BPG, with a shooting line of .443/.316/.833. Ellison is coming off an August run with USA Basketball, where he helped Team USA qualify for the 2023 World Cup.

Ellison is on track to join fellow Exhibit 10 signings Tyson Etienne and Chris Silva when Atlanta’s training camp opens later this month. The team has 13 players inked to guaranteed deals on its standard 15-man roster, plus a 14th, Tyrese Martin, on a partially guaranteed deal. Both of the Hawks’ two-way slots are occupied. It is more likely than not that Ellison will return to the Skyhawks to open the season.

Jarrett Culver Signs Two-Way Deal With Hawks

The Hawks have signed Jarrett Culver to a two-way contract, the team announced in a press release.

The 23-year-old shooting guard spent last season with the Grizzlies, appearing in 37 games and averaging 3.5 points and 1.3 rebounds in 9.1 minutes per night. Memphis acquired him in a trade with the Timberwolves last summer.

Culver was the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft, but he wasn’t able to establish himself in a regular role with either the Grizzlies or Wolves. The Hawks are taking a low-risk gamble on his youth and potential.

Culver was a star at Texas Tech, where he averaged 14.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 75 games. He led the Red Raiders to the first NCAA Championship Game in school history and earned a spot on the 2019 Final Four All-Tournament Team.

The Hawks opened up a two-way slot on Sunday by waiving Chaundee Brown. The team’s other two-way contract belongs to guard Trent Forrest.

The addition of Culver brings Atlanta’s roster back to 18 players, two below the offseason limit, with the start of training camp 15 days away.

Hawks Waive Chaundee Brown

The Hawks have waived two-way swingman Chaundee Brown, Atlanta announced today in a press statement.

As Lauren L. Williams of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes (Twitter link), the team will now have an available two-way player slot, with training camp set to commence in just a couple weeks.

Brown, 23, went undrafted out of Michigan in 2021. Though he was briefly on two-way deals with the Lakers and Hawks for parts of last season, he got the most run as an affiliate player with the Lakers’ NBAGL club, the South Bay Lakers.

Across five games with the Lakers and Hawks last year, the 6’5″ wing averaged 6.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 20.8 minutes a night. In 30 games with the South Bay Lakers last year, Brown averaged 15.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.6 APG and 0.6 SPG, on .447/.328/.833 shooting.

With Brown gone, point guard Trent Forrest is now the Hawks’ lone remaining two-way player under contract. Guard Tyson Etienne and power forward Chris Silva, both signed to training camp deals with the club, could compete for the newly available second two-way opening.

Extension Candidate: De’Andre Hunter

This is the fourth installment in our series examining players who are prime candidates for contract extensions. This series will explore the player’s strengths and weaknesses, and will evaluate what a fair deal between the player and his team might look like. We’re continuing today with a look at an oft-injured wing with tantalizing two-way potential.


The No. 4 overall pick of the 2019 draft after two college seasons at Virginia, De’Andre Hunter had a prominent role as a rookie for the Hawks, but his results were a little uneven, which is normal for first-year players. In 63 games (32.0 MPG) in 2019/20, he averaged 12.3 PPG and 4.5 RPG on .410/.355/.764 shooting (.521 true shooting percentage).

Hunter clearly worked hard on his game entering year two, as he got off to a great start, averaging 17.9 PPG and 5.6 RPG on a stellar .517/.375/.877 (.646 true) shooting line in 17 games (33.3 MPG). Unfortunately, things went downhill from there, as right knee discomfort and swelling ultimately led to arthroscopic surgery and multiple setbacks, causing Hunter to miss all but five games the rest of the regular season.

He did appear in all five games of Atlanta’s first-round playoff victory over the Knicks, but didn’t look like the same player. Hunter underwent surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in the same knee shortly thereafter.

Last season, Hunter had a slow start, not quite looking like himself after the meniscus tear. On November 8, he sustained a tendon injury on his right wrist, which required surgery and caused him to miss eight weeks of action (26 games).

Overall, he averaged 13.4 PPG and 3.3 RPG on .442/.379/.765 shooting (.547 true) in 53 games (29.8 MPG). The Hawks were very banged up at the end of the year, causing them to be overmatched in their first-round playoff loss to the Heat, but Hunter was the team’s best performer – he averaged 21.2 PPG and 3.8 RPG on .557/.462/.800 shooting (.674 true).


During that 17-game stretch to start ’20/21, Hunter legitimately looked like he could be a future All-Star, using his length and athleticism to aggressively drive to the hoop. Even though the Hawks lost the game, he had a memorable performance against the eventual champion Bucks, scoring a career-high 33 points on 13-of-21 shooting while fearlessly attacking Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Hunter has plus size for a forward at 6’8″ and 225 pounds with a 7’2″ wingspan, and he’s versatile on both ends of the court. He’s often tasked with guarding the opposing teams’ best perimeter scorers, as Atlanta has lacked reliable wing defenders.

The 24-year-old was a high draft choice in large part due to his defensive upside, and while he shows flashes of being a plus defender, he lacks the consistency necessary to be a true defensive force. The talent is definitely there though, and that’s something you can’t teach.

Hunter gets to the free throw line at a good rate, can score in a variety of ways, and was an above-average three-point shooter in ‘21/22 (37.9%). Nearly all of his attempts from long distance came via catch-and-shoot, and he converted a career-best 40.5% from the corners.

Improvement Areas:

Consistency is the name of the game for Hunter. He has shown flashes of high-level two-way potential, but he hasn’t been able to string it together consistently for any sustained period of time.

Losing time to injuries is out of his control, but it has certainly had an effect on his performance the past couple of years. In order to land a big pay day, he needs to prove that he can stay healthy.

Hunter is a below-average rebounder, and there’s no reason he can’t be better at his size. An average of 3.3 boards per game is unacceptably low for a forward. Even though he’s a versatile scorer, he only shot 55% at the rim last season — 23rd percentile of all players, per DunksAndThrees.com.

He’s also a poor play-maker, recording more turnovers (69) than assists (68) in ‘21/22. Hunter’s 6% assist percentage was only in the 12th percentile. There’s a lot of room for improvement there.


Out of all the players eligible for rookie scale extensions in 2022, Hunter’s market value is one of the most difficult to gauge due to his injury history and inconsistent play. He definitely has a lot to prove in the upcoming season, both for his own future and to the Hawks.

They’re very different players, but maybe someone like Thunder wing Luguentz Dort works as a point of comparison for Hunter – Dort signed a five-year, $82.5MM deal with a fifth-year team option as a restricted free agent this offseason. Dort is a better defender, but Hunter has more offensive upside.

Since he isn’t getting a maximum-salary deal, Atlanta can only offer Hunter four years in an extension. Dort got $64.78MM guaranteed over four years, with an additional $1MM in annual unlikely incentives.

Sources told Jake Fisher of Bleacher Report in July that the Hawks and Hunter’s agents were approximately $20MM apart in their extension discussions. Making an educated guess, I would wager Atlanta was offering around $60MM – perhaps with additional incentives tied to games played – and Hunter was looking for around $80MM.

Hunter could easily outplay a $15MM-per-year contract, but he hasn’t shown he’s worth even that much yet. Analytics are really low on Hunter’s game – I’m more bullish on his potential, assuming he can stay healthy.

I don’t see any reason for the Hawks to budge in what they’re willing to offer, and given his injury history, there are valid reasons for Hunter to consider signing a relatively team-friendly deal. If he turns down an extension and has a breakout fourth season, that’s a good problem to have for Atlanta, because he’d be providing excess value on the final year of his rookie deal and would make it an easier decision to invest in him long term.

Southeast Notes: Okongwu, Wagner, Wizards

Hawks reserve center Onyeka Okongwu took a big leap during his second NBA season in 2021/22, though Atlanta as a team took a significant step back in the playoffs. Okongwu is taking pains to put in the work during the offseason to improve his skill set, per Lauren Williams of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 48 games last year, the 6’8″ big man out of USC averaged 8.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 1.1 APG, while shooting an excellent 69% from the floor.

The 21-year-old big man is striving to improve his jump shooting. “People are going to have expectations for me,” Okongwu said. “You know, I got to this point for a reason. I got drafted by this team for a reason. So, I definitely make sure I do what I do, but adding on something every year, every year, just add a little something.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Magic small forward Franz Wagner has played somewhat erratically in EuroBasket competition, but has managed to be a big contributor for the German national team when firing on all cylinders, per Ethan Fuller of Basketball News. Fuller writes that Wagner appears to have improved his pull-up three-point shooting and his play around the rim during this international run.
  • The Wizards currently boast a plethora of solid wing players, to the point that Josh Robbins of The Athletic addresses whether or not Washington may look to make a move to address that logjam by making a consolidation trade. Elsewhere in his mailbag, Robbins projects where the club could finish in a loaded Eastern Conference this season after missing the playoffs last year, as well as contextualizing the Summer League struggles of rookie lottery pick Johnny Davis.
  • In case you missed it, our Rory Maher recently took a look at extension-eligible Heat guard Tyler Herro, and assessed the reigning Sixth Man of the Year’s candidacy for a lucrative new contract.

2022/23 NBA Over/Unders: Southeast Division

The 2022/23 NBA regular season will tip off next month, so it’s time to start getting serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign and to resume an annual Hoops Rumors tradition.

With the help of the lines from a handful of sports betting sites – including Bovada, BetOnline, and Betway – we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. In a series of team-by-team polls, you’ll get the chance to weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.

In 2021/22, our voters went 16-14 on their over/under picks. Can you top that in ’22/23?

We’ll begin our series today with the Southeast division…

Miami Heat

Atlanta Hawks

Charlotte Hornets

Washington Wizards

Orlando Magic