Hawks Rumors

Free Agent Stock Watch: Playoff Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. With the playoffs in full swing, we take a look at players on teams still alive in the postseason:

Lou Williams, Hawks, 34, PG/SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $24MM deal in 2018

When the Clippers and Hawks swapped veteran point guards at the trade deadline, the general consensus was that Los Angeles pulled off a coup landing Rajon Rondo. Doesn’t look that way right now. Rondo has only played nine minutes in the last four games against Utah, while Williams had 15 points, three assists and two steals in 23 minutes during Atlanta’s dramatic Game 5 comeback at Philadelphia on Wednesday. Williams may not possess Rondo’s leadership qualities but he’s been instant offense for many seasons wherever he’s played. Williams has been in the league since 2005 but he can stick around a few more seasons due to his offensive prowess.

Jeff Green, Nets, 34, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

It’s amazing to think that the Jazz had no use for Green midway through last season and put him on waivers. The Rockets scooped him up and he was highly productive. He’s doing the same thing for the Nets. After a solid regular season, Green battled a foot injury that sidelined him for six postseason games. Back in action, Green delivered a monster performance in Game 5 against Milwaukee, firing in 27 points while draining 7-of-8 3-point attempts. Green won’t have any trouble finding work as an unrestricted free agent this summer, whether he re-signs with Brooklyn or joins another contender.

Reggie Jackson, Clippers, 31, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.33MM deal in 2020

A TNT broadcaster called Jackson “Mr. June” as he made several clutch baskets in Game 5 at Utah on Wednesday. He’s not on the level of baseball’s “Mr. October” but this Reggie Jackson is proving to be a consistent playoff performer. He averaged 15.4 PPG against Dallas in the opening round, including a 25-point outing in Game 6. He scored 29 points in Game 2 and 22 in Game 5 against the Jazz. Jackson has also kept his turnovers down to a minimum. Jackson had to settle for the veteran’s minimum in free agency last year. He’s due for a substantial raise when he enters the market again this summer.

Mike Conley, Jazz, 33, PG (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $152.6MM deal in 2016

Conley finally got his first taste of the All-Star Game this season. He got off to an imposing start in these playoffs, scoring 20 or more points in the first three games against Memphis. The injury bug soon bit him as Utah closed out the series and he’s been sidelined with a hamstring strain throughout the second round. That’s the main concern with Conley as he enters unrestricted free agency – he’s had numerous leg injuries in recent seasons. That could limit the amount of years teams will be willing to offer him.

Southeast Notes: Hunter, Young, Dragic, Thornwell, Adebayo

Hawks‘ second-year forward De’Andre Hunter underwent surgery today for a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, according to a team press release. He is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the start of preseason.

Hunter had a breakout start to his second year in the NBA, but his season was derailed by knee injuries after just 18 games and several attempts at an early return went poorly. He looked to be rounding back into shape during the Hawks’ first-round series against the Knicks, but started experiencing swelling that caused him to miss the first two games of the team’s series against the Sixers before the injury was announced.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks guard Trae Young is being listed as probable for Game Five due to right shoulder soreness, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Young said that he injured the shoulder in Game Three but kept it to himself due to a desire to play in Game Four, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “I wasn’t gonna tell nobody anyways other than the training staff,” he said, which may explain why head coach Nate McMillan claimed to have not known about the injury prior to tip-off. Young finished the game with 25 points and 18 assists, tied for second-most in Hawks history, as he helped lead the team to a comeback victory to tie the series at two games apiece.
  • Heat guard Goran Dragiccoming off a magical Finals run, had a disappointing season by his own standards, much of which was due to a string of injuries that prevented him from getting any real rhythm. The Slovenian guard opened up about his struggles with injuries, as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “I think I opened the season pretty well. I played well,” Dragic said. “Then just nagging injuries, a couple of injuries, COVID protocols, players in and out of the lineup. Sometimes you’re starting, sometimes not. It’s tough to catch a rhythm like that when you play two or three games and then you’re out for nine.” He’s hoping that this offseason will give him time to get his body right and be ready for next season. Dragic has a $19.4MM team option this summer, which the Heat will have to make a decision on.
  • Sindarius Thornwell may not have had a huge impact on the Magic in his seven games with the team, but he proved himself a capable defender and physical player, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. But Orlando is going into the offseason with a roster filled with promising guards, and Thornwell is likely the odd man out. Parry writes that Thornwell could parlay his play with the Magic into a deal with another team.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines whether it could be worth it for the Heat to explore trading Bam Adebayo in a package for a star such as Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal, and what the ramifications of such a move could look like.

Olympic Notes: Lillard, Green, Canada, Serbia, Italy

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Warriors forward/center Draymond Green are among the first players to commit to Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, sources tell Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Team USA figures to bring more than a dozen players to its initial camp this summer before paring down the roster to 12 for Tokyo, so Lillard’s and Green’s commitments don’t guarantee that they’ll be part of the final Olympic roster. However, it seems safe to assume that spots on the 12-man squad will be reserved for the two stars as long as they remain healthy and committed.

Green won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, while Lillard has yet to play for Team USA in a major international tournament. Green and Lillard are two of the 57 names listed as part of USA Basketball’s initial player pool in March, though as we noted last week, many of the players on that list seem unlikely to participate for a variety of reasons, including injuries.

Here are a few more updates from around the international basketball world:

  • Team Canada’s preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifying tournament later this month included 14 current NBA players. However, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic and Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter links), at least three of those NBA players – Pacers forward Oshae Brissett, Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks, and Celtics center Tristan Thompson – now aren’t expected to participate.
  • The Serbian national team is preparing for the possibility of being without several key players for this month’s qualifying tournament, according to a MozzartSport report (hat tip to Sportando). Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic and reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets are among the players considered unlikely to be available for the OQT in Belgrade.
  • Longtime NBA shooting guard Marco Belinelli announced that he won’t be part of the Italian team attempting to earn an Olympic berth at this month’s qualifying tournament in Belgrade, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Belinelli, who is now playing for Virtus Bologna, wants to rest to make sure he’s 100% healthy for next season.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Bucks, Pacers, McMillan, Borrego

Of all the active head coaching searches around the NBA, the Magic‘s appears to be the most fluid, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Kenny Atkinson, identified last week as a candidate for the job, has been the named most frequently linked to Orlando’s vacancy, says Fischer, but the search is expected to be wide-ranging.

Lakers assistant Jason Kidd has been connected more and more to the Magic’s opening, per Fischer, who notes that Kidd has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond — the two worked in Milwaukee together from 2014-17 after Hammond hired Kidd as the Bucks’ head coach.

Former Warriors assistant Jarron Collins has talked to the Magic, sources tell Bleacher Report. Fischer says Nets assistant Ime Udoka is another candidate league sources have “strongly linked” the Orlando job, though there’s a sense Udoka may have more interest in the Celtics‘ job. Sixers assistant Sam Cassell may also be on the Magic’s radar, according to Fischer, who says Cassell would be popular among Orlando’s returning players.

Here are several more coaching-related notes and rumors from Fischer’s latest report:

  • With the Bucks tied at 2-2 in their second-round series, Mike Budenholzer is in a better position now than he was a few days ago, but if Milwaukee falls short of the Finals, there’s an expectation the team may make a change, per Fischer. In that scenario, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee could be candidates for a promotion, since the team may just want a change at the top rather than an overhaul of the entire coaching staff, Fischer notes.
  • If the Bucks make a change, Mike D’Antoni would likely have interest in the job, and Olimpia Milano coach Ettore Messina would be another name to keep an eye on, Fischer writes. Rick Carlisle could also receive interest from Milwaukee, Fischer adds, though Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said Carlisle’s not going anywhere.
  • Among the teams seeking a new coach, the Pacers appear to be the club most focused on hiring someone with previous head coaching experience, Fischer reports. Given how badly the hire of first-time head coach Nate Bjorkgren worked out, that’s not a huge surprise.
  • All indications are that Nate McMillan will sign a new contract with the Hawks to become the team’s permanent head coach, but until that happens, he’ll likely receive interest from other teams with coaching openings, including the Celtics, says Fischer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Hornets and head coach James Borrego are expected to work out a contract extension this offseason.

Danny Green Out 2-3 Weeks Due To Calf Strain

The right calf strain that Sixers starting swingman Danny Green suffered in the first half of Philadelphia’s Game 3 victory over the Hawks will keep him sidelined for 2-3 weeks, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Sixers, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, will thus be without Green’s services for the rest of their series against the scrappy Hawks.

Should the Sixers advance, Green may be available at some point during the Eastern Conference Finals. The 76ers are ahead of the Hawks 2-1 in their best-of-seven second-round series. The Nets currently lead the Bucks 2-1 on the other side of the bracket.

Shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz started the second half of Game 3 Friday, and appears to be the choice of Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers to start in Green’s stead while the two-time reigning champ (with the Lakers in 2020 and the Raptors in 2019) recuperates.

Green averaged 4.5 PPG, 6.0 APG, 2.5 RPG and 2.0 SPG during the first two games of the series, for which he was fully healthy. He was available for just 3:45 of Game 3 action in Atlanta before leaving for the team’s locker room with the injury.

Silver On Young's Ascent, Atlanta All-Star Game

  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke with Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the rising Hawks and their best player, point guard Trae Young. “It’s part and parcel of professional sports that there’s invariably a passing of the torch,” Silver said of Young’s ascent. “Trae, I’ve said, is one of them, and it’s an incredible opportunity for this new generation of stars to perform on the biggest stage and in front of an enormous global audience.” Silver also mentioned that, in light of the 2021 All-Star game transpiring in Atlanta mid-pandemic, the league was keeping Atlanta in mind as a destination for a more normal future contest. “The answer is a resounding yes, that was always part of the understanding with [owners Antony Ressler and Steven Price] that the league was very appreciative that they came through for us on relative short notice and agreed to host that All-Star game, and now of course talking to you after the fact, it was even, frankly, more successful than we thought it would have been.”

Atlantic Notes: D. Green, Siakam, Harden, J. Green, Mobley

Sixers‘ shooting guard Danny Green is unlikely to play in Monday’s Game Four against the Hawks, writes Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. Green left Game Three less than four minutes into the game, limping to the locker room with an apparent calf strain and returning later in a walking boot. Green is set to receive an MRI today, but head coach Doc Rivers isn’t optimistic about his chances of being ready for Game Four.

I’m not ruling Danny out, but I’m pretty much ruling him out,” Rivers said. “I doubt if he plays the next game.”

The 76ers currently hold a 2-1 lead against the Hawks going into Game Four. Furkan Korkmaz took a majority of Green’s minutes in Game Three, but Rivers has yet to make a decision about what Green’s absence will mean to the rotation on Monday.

Just the next guy has to step up, not sure who that’s going to be yet. We’ll go back, watch film, and decide who that will be.”

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors had hoped that forward Pascal Siakam‘s shoulder surgery last week could be avoided, tweets TSN Sports’ Josh Lewenberg, but ultimately decided that the risk of re-injury was too high. The five-month timetable for recovery points to a November return to action, meaning Siakam will miss not only the start of the 2021/22 season but also a crucial development offseason following a let-down season for the Raptors’ star and the team as a whole. Siakam had been planning on using his longest off-season in five years to lock himself in the gym and work on expanding his game, writes Lewenberg, but this development means most of his time will be spent rehabbing and watching film.
  • The Nets missed James Harden‘s leadership in Game Three’s loss, writes New York Post’s Brian Lewis. With the offense bogging down against the Bucks rejuvenated defense, the Nets weren’t able to execute in the same ways they had been able to earlier in the series, and missed Harden’s ability to organize the offense. “I thought our execution could have been better throughout,” said head coach Steve Nash. “Great experience for our guys, like we said a new group, they’re still learning, they’re still figuring things out together and so it’s a great experience for us even if it was a painful one.”
  • Jeff Green is making progress in his rehab from plantar fasciitis and hasn’t been ruled out for Game Four, writes Brian Lewis in the same article. Though Green was still experiencing some discomfort while walking earlier in the week, the Nets forward said he’s hopeful that he’ll be able to return for Sunday’s game. The deciding factor will be how much progress he’s able to make in his ability to cut and change direction, reports New York Post’s Zach Braziller.
  • The Athletic’s Blake Murphy details why projected top-three pick Evan Mobley would be the perfect fit for the Raptors if they land the second pick. As a hyper-skilled seven-foot center with an intriguing blend of shooting, ball-handling and dominant defensive tools, Mobley’s fit with Siakam would be nearly seamless.

Reddish Still Out; Hunter's Defense Would Have Made Difference Vs. Sixers

Hawks guard Brandon Goodwin and forward Cam Reddish won’t play in Game 3 against Philadelphia on Friday, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets. Goodwin is dealing with a minor respiratory condition, while Reddish is still working his way back from right Achilles soreness. Reddish has played 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 in practices, but hasn’t progressed to 5-on-5 yet, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. He hasn’t appeared in a game since February 21.

  • The Hawks have missed De’Andre Hunter‘s defensive versatility against the Sixers, Kirschner writes. Hunter, who is out for the season due to a knee injury, has the ability to guard four positions. Hunter would have been a major upgrade over Solomon Hill, who can’t defend as well and also doesn’t offer as much offensively as Hunter.

Hawks’ Hunter Out For Playoffs With Torn Lateral Meniscus

Hawks second-year wing De’Andre Hunter missed the first two games of the team’s round two series with the 76ers with right knee swelling. After an MRI, the initial review revealed a small tear of the lateral meniscus, according to a team press release. Hunter is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles for surgery on Tuesday. He will miss the remainder of the postseason.

This will be the second surgery on Hunter’s right knee this season, and marks the end of an injury-ravaged sophomore year in the NBA. Hunter had started the year playing the best basketball of his young career, but was injured just 19 games into the season. He finished the year having only played 23 games.

After a promising return during the Hawks’ first round series against the Knicks, Hunter was once again on the injury report, due to knee swelling. This diagnosis puts to rest any hope of Hunter returning during the playoffs.

With fellow second-year wing Cam Reddish still recovering from an injured Achilles, the Hawks will have to rely on more minutes from veteran wings Danilo Gallinari, Solomon Hill and Tony Snell.

Hawks Notes: Roster, Hunter, Bogdanovic, McMillan

The Hawks‘ decision to load up on players who excel at dribbling, passing and shooting has helped them turn into an instant contender, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Appearing in the playoffs for the first time since 2017, Atlanta had too much offense for the Knicks to handle in their first-round matchup, then surprised the Sixers in Game 1 of the conference semifinals.

The Hawks began their turnaround by drafting Trae Young in 2018. They have steadily built the offense around him, with deadly shooters like Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic among their offseason additions. Atlanta set a franchise record by making 20 three-pointers in Sunday’s win at Philadelphia.

“That’s something we do. We have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball,” Kevin Huerter said. “When we get the ball moving side-to-side and not take the first shot on possessions, we’re a team that is capable of hitting 20 a game. I hope we don’t need to hit 20 moving forward in the series, but anytime you shoot like that, you give yourself a really good chance to win.”

There’s more from Atlanta:

  • One of the impressive things about Sunday’s victory is that it came without De’Andre Hunter, the team’s best perimeter defender, Kirschner adds. Hunter was ruled out after experiencing pain in his right knee, which was operated on in February to fix a partially torn meniscus. Hunter has felt on-and-off soreness in the knee since the surgery. He was able to do some shooting Monday and is considered a game-time decision for Game 2, Kirschner tweets.
  • After three seasons in Sacramento, Bogdanovic is thrilled to finally be in the NBA playoff spotlight, notes Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer. Bogdanovic earned a reputation as a big-game player in Europe before coming to the United States. “Here, he had to perform under pressure all the time,” said Maurizio Gherardini, general manager of Bogdanovic’s former Fenerbahce team. “But he likes that sort of pressure. … He was not afraid of that kind of responsibility on his shoulders.”
  • Young said in a recent radio interview that he expects Nate McMillan to be installed as the team’s permanent head coach, but isn’t surprised an announcement hasn’t been made yet, relays Tim Daniels of Bleacher Report. Counting the playoffs, McMillan is 32-12 since becoming interim coach. “It’s just the timing. We’re in the playoffs, it’s the end of the season,” Young said. “I don’t think it’s something they want to take away from the team right now. I mean, obviously, he’s done a great job with helping us turn this around, so I’d be surprised if he’s not with us next year.”