Before being hired by the Knicks in the spring of 2018, David Fizdale was a highly sought-after head coaching candidate, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, who suggest that Fizdale had offers from the Hawks and Suns and was the leading candidate for the Hornets‘ opening as well. However, Fizdale was focused on New York and turned down other offers even before he received any assurances from the Knicks.
- There has been frustration within the Hawks‘ organization about the team’s struggles this season, with Trae Young having reportedly expressed those frustrations in an “emotional” locker room scene recently, per Charania. Multiple sources tell The Athletic that a high-ranking Hawks official was recently seen telling Young that the club would be getting him some help on the roster soon.
Hawks guard Trae Young is expressing frustration over the 2019/20 season despite putting up remarkable numbers on a consistent basis, Sarah Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.
Naturally, Young isn’t satisfied with the campaign due to his team’s poor start at 6-17. Young has raised his scoring average from 19.1 last season to 28.7 this season, also averaging 8.4 assists per game while shooting 46% from the floor and 39% from 3-point territory.
“Even back at Oklahoma, I led the country in points and assists, and I was frustrated, almost after every game, whenever we’d lose,” Young said, as relayed by Spencer. “I had (48) at Oklahoma State and I couldn’t enjoy it because we lost. Those losses, when I play good, stick with me. Because I hate that feeling when I play good individually, numbers-wise, but we don’t win. Because you can’t enjoy it, especially if you’re a competitor like me.”
The Hawks had lost 11 of 12 games leading up to Sunday’s contest against Charlotte. Although Atlanta won that game, the team’s 6-17 record is the third-worst mark in the Eastern Conference and tied for the fourth-worst in the NBA.
“You can do a lot more,” Young said. “It’s crazy to say, it’s crazy to hear, but that’s just the realness. I think I can do a lot more. And whether it’s sliding over and taking charges on big men while they’re rolling, doing something. I can do more. I’ve just got to figure it out and find a way. I’ve got to figure it out and our team has to do a better job of figuring it out, too. We’ll get it right.”
There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:
- The Heat are in a comfort zone and likely won’t be going anywhere in terms of where they stand in the Eastern Conference, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Miami will have a 17-6 record entering Tuesday’s game against Atlanta, where they’ll look to extend their home record to 11-0. The team is in the midst of a four-game homestand, which is followed by a three-game road trip that begins on December 14 and another four-game homestand that starts on December 20. “We certainly have been on the road often,” Meyers Leonard said. “Simple things such as sleeping in your own bed and being in your own bed and being in your home arena, being in your own locker room, those kinds of things matter.” To date, 13 of the team’s 23 games have come on the road.
- Wizards forward Davis Bertans is on track for a historic season shooting the ball from 3-point range, Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. Bertans has connected on 78 threes through 21 games, making a remarkable 45% of his attempts. Katz also examines the possibility of Bertans being traded before the February deadline, with the team looking to prep for the future and the UFA-to-be looking like a potentially valuable trade chip.
- Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe examines the journey of Heat forward Duncan Robinson, who started in New Hampshire and has continued his path to become an NBA starter with Miami. Robinson has started in 18 of 23 games with Miami this season, scoring 11 points per contest on 43% shooting from downtown.
Taurean Prince was happy to deliver one of his best games of the year against the Hawks, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Prince had 23 points, seven rebounds and hit 5 of 7 shots from beyond the arc Wednesday as the short-handed Nets defeated his former team.
“I was 100 percent motivated, especially being the team that traded me away. That was part of it,” Prince said. “… There’s just a lot more trust given to me, a lot more situations I’m put in to be great. Just credit to the Brooklyn Nets for allowing me to be myself.”
The Nets acquired Prince in a summer trade, sending Allen Crabbe to Atlanta in a salary dump. Coach Kenny Atkinson served as an assistant with the Hawks until just before they drafted Prince and thought he would fit in well. Brooklyn quickly rewarded Prince with a two-year extension worth $29MM.
“I loved his toughness, I loved his shooting,” Atkinson said. “[General manager] Sean [Marks] and I were on the same page, and the staff was on the same page in terms of, ‘Man, we got a good player.’ And obviously re-signing him to the deal we did we’re ecstatic we got that done.”
There’s more from Brooklyn:
- Atkinson is in his fourth season with the Nets, but he’s already the longest-tenured active coach in New York professional sports, Lewis notes in a separate story. Atkinson inherited that title Tuesday when the NHL’s New Jersey Devils fired John Hynes. “I think it shows coaching is a tough business,” Atkinson said. “I really don’t know what to say. I don’t know if it makes me proud or sad for the other guys. I know this is a tough business, tough to survive in, especially in New York.”
- With just 10 days before Wilson Chandler returns from suspension, Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News examines who might be waived to make room. Brooklyn became eligible to carry a 16th player once Chandler served the first five games, and signed Iman Shumpert, who has been a valuable contributor. Winfield speculates Rodions Kurucs, who has only played in three of the past 13 games, could be released. The Nets may also cut one of their two-way players, Henry Ellenson or Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and then waive either Theo Pinson or Dzanan Musa and hope to re-sign them to a two-way deal.
- Kyrie Irving gave the Nets a valuable piece of advice when he urged them to sign veteran free agent Garrett Temple, relays Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily. Temple’s signing was barely noticed because it came on the same day that Brooklyn landed Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan, but he has been an important addition.
- Luka Doncic and Trae Young were essentially traded for each other on draft night 2018 but the Hawks guard doesn’t mind the comparisons, he said in an ESPN interview. “We’re going to be compared throughout our whole careers,” Young said. “That’s fine, that’s what it’s going to be — it happened on draft night, and I don’t think it’ll stop until we’re both retired.”
Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:
- The Bucks assigned power forward Dragan Bender to the Wisconsin Herd, the team’s PR department tweets. The fourth overall pick of the 2016 draft has averaged 21 PPG and 10 RPG in five starts with the Herd.
- The Knicks assigned rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis to the Westchester Knicks, the team’s PR department tweets. He’s appeared in six games with the NBA Knicks, averaging 7.0 MPG in those outings.
- The Cavaliers assigned rookie swingman Dylan Windler to the Canton Charge, the team’s PR department tweets. He has yet to make his NBA debut. The first-rounder is working his way back into basketball shape after recovering from a leg injury.
- The Pacers recalled Victor Oladipo and Edmond Sumner from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team tweets. They practiced with the Mad Ants as part of their injury rehabs. There is no timetable for their return, the team adds.
- The Clippers assigned center Mfiondu Kabengele to the Agua Caliente Clippers, the team tweets. The rookie first-rounder out of Florida State has appeared in six NBA games, averaging 3.8 MPG in those outings.
- The Hawks recalled rookie forward Bruno Fernando and guard Tyrone Wallace from the College Park Skyhawks, the team tweets. Fernando, a second-round pick, is averaging 4.5 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 12.7 MPG while playing 21 games with the NBA team. Wallace has averaged 3.1 PPG in 12.0 MPG in 13 games with Atlanta.
- The Thunder recalled center Justin Patton from the Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. In eight games with the Blue, Patton is averaging 10.3 PPG and 7.5 RPG in 26.2 MPG.
- The Hornets recalled Cody Martin from the Greensboro Swarm, according to a team press release. The rookie guard appeared in three games with the Swarm, where he averaged 14.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 5.3 APG in 34.3 MPG.
- Hawks wing Allen Crabbe underwent a non-surgical procedure on his right knee today, according to the team. The club didn’t provide a timeline for Crabbe’s recovery beyond saying he’ll miss Wednesday’s game vs. Brooklyn, but this is the same knee that gave him trouble earlier in the year.
After being selected with the 30th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Omari Spellman lasted just a single season in Atlanta, having been sent to Golden State in a trade this past offseason. As Anthony Slater of The Athletic details, Spellman dealt with depression and weight issues during his failed stint with the Hawks, getting up to 315 pounds by the end of his stint with the team.
Having received a second chance with the Warriors, Spellman has enjoyed a more promising 2019/20 campaign so far, slimming down to about 260 pounds and earning a regular role for an injury-plagued Dubs squad.
Speaking to Slater, Spellman took a clear-eyed look back on his time with Atlanta, insisting that his problems as a rookie were more about self-sabotage rather than anything the Hawks did wrong.
If you have an Athletic subscription, the entire conversation is worth checking out, but here are a few highlights from the unusually forthcoming 22-year-old:
On how he missed the NCAA structure during his first season in the NBA:
“When you’re in college, they kind of — you got class, which blocks out parts of your day, practice, hot yoga, all these things I was doing. Team dinner. Then on the night of home games, we’re in a hotel anyway. … Then you get on your own and I equate it to what a normal teenager, when they first get to college, what that’s like. They have all this freedom, no structure and they kind of f–k up.
“I was f–king up, but the difference is, this time, when I f–ked up, no one was helping me. No one was saying nothing to me. It was just, I was living by myself, so can’t nobody really tell me nothing, at that time.”
On when he realized things were heading in the wrong direction with the Hawks:
“To be honest, man, I knew for a pretty long time. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I knew for a fact that, at some point, the relationship had gotten so toxic in Atlanta — organizational to player. They had tried a lot of stuff, they really did and I could never say they didn’t. They tried a lot of stuff to help me and I was just not in a place to accept that help yet.
“I could tell they were frustrated. I won’t say I knew I was going to get traded, but I knew something was going to happen. Either this year I was going to start in the G League or this season, I don’t touch the court. Or I knew I wasn’t going to be in Atlanta anymore.”
On why things have turned around with the Warriors:
“Well, one, getting traded as a first-round pick after your first season lets you know that you’re about to be out of the league. For certain people. Now, for Landry Shamet, totally different. But for me? The way it happened to me? Yo, bro, you’re on your way out. … So to me, it was like if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out putting my best foot forward. Because I know last year was not my best foot, at all.
On how his mentality has changed since last season:
“I was like: ‘I’m a slob. I’m f–king fat. I’m f–king useless in the league.’ Then you have to consciously decide that I’m going to shift that mentality. I’m none of those things. I work hard. I play hard. I leave it all out there. I’m a great teammate. You have to view yourself like that. It’s not a cocky thing. That’s who you are. To take that fight, take that challenge, I was proud of myself. Because I easily could’ve just gave up. Just said: ‘F–k it, man. It is what it is. I’m not supposed to be in the league.’ Some people stay in that mindset forever and it’s hard to escape it.”
Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.
We’re still more than two weeks away from December 15, the date when most of this past offseason’s free agent signees become trade-eligible, so the NBA’s 2019/20 trade season hasn’t really begun yet. But with the regular season nearing the one-quarter mark, we’re getting a better sense of which teams might be buyers and which non-contenders will end up being sellers.
Having gone through all six divisions once as we examine potential trade candidates, we’re starting our second go-round today. Here are three more possible trade candidates from out of the Southeast:
Davis Bertans, PF
$7MM cap hit; UFA in 2020
Bertans, who would likely still be a Spur if Marcus Morris had never agreed to sign with San Antonio over the summer, has played a crucial role in helping the Wizards post some of the NBA’s best offensive numbers. One of the most dangerous frontcourt shooters in the league, Bertans is making a career-high 44.3% of his three-pointers on 7.6 attempts per game and has increased his scoring average off the bench to 13.3 PPG.
The Wizards might try to lock up Bertans long-term, but the 27-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, giving the club little leverage in contract talks. If Washington falls out of the playoff hunt in the East, Bertans will be one of the team’s best trade chips, based on his affordable cap hit ($7MM), his expiring contract, and his ability to provide instant offense.
One scout who spoke to ESPN’s Bobby Marks earlier this month suggested that it wouldn’t be a surprise if there’s a team willing to surrender a late first-round pick for Bertans at the trade deadline.
Jabari Parker, PF
$6.5MM cap hit; $6.5MM player option for 2020/21
Like the Wizards, the Hawks probably won’t shift into selling mode until their playoff hopes are all but extinguished. And it may take a while for that to happen in an Eastern Conference where the 8-12 Hornets currently hold onto the No. 8 seed.
Still, at 4-15, the Hawks are already 3.5 games out of the postseason picture, so unless they start winning some games soon, they’ll have to consider shopping some veteran players. Although Parker is only 24, the sixth-year forward qualifies as one such veteran.
With 17.8 PPG on 51.8% shooting through 18 games (28.1 MPG), Parker has been the Hawks’ best scorer not named Trae Young this season. And it’s not as if he’s been putting up numbers against second-stringers — he has been a starter since John Collins was hit with a 25-game suspension early in the season.
With a $6.5MM player option for the 2020/21 season, Parker could be a one-and-done in Atlanta, so if a team in need of frontcourt scoring wants to make a play for him before the deadline, the Hawks would be wise to listen.
Aaron Gordon, F
$19.9MM cap hit; descending guaranteed salaries through 2021/22
By all accounts, Gordon isn’t a trade candidate right now. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported two weeks ago that teams were monitoring the former No. 4 overall pick in case he becomes available, but said that Orlando has shown no interest in such a move.
Still, the Magic (7-11) have been disappointing so far and their offense has been disastrous. Jonathan Isaac, not exactly a dynamic scorer himself, nonetheless looks like a franchise cornerstone due to his versatility, defensive ability, and upside, and Sean Deveney of Forbes recently suggested there may be some concern within the organization about the long-term fit of an Isaac/Gordon frontcourt.
Gordon is just 24 years old and still has intriguing potential, despite his lack of improvement so far this season. He also has a contract that declines in value each year, eventually dipping to $16.4MM in 2021/22. That makes him a valuable trade chip.
I think the Magic front office will be patient in giving the current group every opportunity to make things work, and a trade for scoring help wouldn’t necessarily have to include Gordon. But moving the young forward is a possibility the team should at least consider if its struggles continue.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.