New Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon underwent a non-surgical procedure to address pain in his right elbow today, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic relays (via Twitter). Atlanta has ruled out Dedmon for its next three games, but he’ll be re-evaluated on Monday, with his status updated at that point, Kirschner adds.
Clint Capela has shown progress with running and movement, but there’s still not a definite plan for his Hawks debut, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal Consitution. Capela, who was acquired from the Rockets at the trade deadline, is dealing with plantar fasciitis and a right calcaneus contusion. He will be re-evaluated on March 4. “He felt he came back too soon, and re-injured it, now he’s being cautious,” coach Lloyd Pierce said. “He thought it was a setback when he re-injured it as opposed to just coming back and taking his time and letting it completely heal.”
The Eastern Conference playoff picture hasn’t been entirely set yet, but at this point, it seems unlikely that a team outside of the top eight will crash the party. The 25-32 Magic, who currently hold the No. 8 seed, are far from untouchable, but they still hold a 4.5-game lead on any of the conference’s also-rans.
That means the Wizards, Bulls, Hornets, Pistons, Knicks, Hawks, and Cavaliers will likely finish the year in the lottery. Our Community Shootaround discussion today centers on which of these clubs is best positioned going forward.
Of those teams, only the Pistons weren’t also in the lottery a year ago. But much has changed since then. Longtime cornerstones Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond are gone, and Detroit only has a 2023 second-round pick to show for it. Blake Griffin, who had one of the best years of his career in 2018/19, has barely played this season due to health issues. The Pistons are headed for a full-fledged rebuild, and while there are some promising young players in the mix, including Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, it will likely be a long process.
The Wizards, like the Pistons, still have an injured veteran star (John Wall) occupying a major chunk of their cap. Unlike Detroit though, Washington is potentially in position to get back into the playoff mix when that star returns next season. Bradley Beal has taken his game to another level in recent years, and the Wizards have unearthed some productive role players like Thomas Bryant and Moritz Wagner to go along with prospects such as Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown. The team also wants to re-sign Davis Bertans this summer.
The Bulls and Hawks entered the season as popular sleeper picks to challenge for the postseason in the East. That hasn’t happened though. While Zach LaVine has looked better than ever in Chicago, the Bulls haven’t gotten the production they expected out of recent lottery picks like Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., who has once again dealt with injuries.
Atlanta, meanwhile, saw its season derailed early by John Collins‘ 25-game PED suspension. Trae Young has become one of the league’s best offensive players, but the young supporting cast still isn’t ready to contend. Both the Bulls and Hawks have some cap flexibility going forward, but they’ll need more from their young building blocks in order to take a real step forward.
The Knicks and Hornets have been plagued by cap mismanagement in recent years and have lacked a true superstar. Both teams should have some flexibility this summer and beyond, and young players like Devonte’ Graham, PJ Washington, RJ Barrett, and Mitchell Robinson have promise. But it would definitely be premature to pencil in any of those players as perennial All-Stars — the management groups in New York and Charlotte will need to keep looking for potential high-end talent.
As for the Cavaliers, you could make the case that their 2019/20 season has been the worst of any of these teams. Newly-hired head coach John Beilein lasted just 54 games, veteran players like Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson have been disgruntled, and neither Collin Sexton nor Darius Garland looks like a lock for stardom. Kevin Porter Jr. has exceeded expectations and the Cavs will have some contracts coming off the books this offseason, but Love’s massive deal and the decision to acquire Drummond complicates their cap outlook going forward.
What do you think? Which combination of core players, front office personnel, and future cap flexibility would give you the most confidence if you had to pick one of these seven Eastern Conference teams? Which one do you think has the brightest outlook beyond this season?
Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will almost certainly face some form of discipline for criticizing referees on social media and to reporters following his team’s loss in Atlanta on Saturday. However, the NBA isn’t expected to announce a penalty for Cuban until after commissioner Adam Silver has ruled on the Mavs’ protest of Saturday’s loss, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon.
“We’re going to review the matter in its totality,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told ESPN.
As we detailed on Sunday, the Mavs filed a protest of Saturday’s loss, arguing that officials misapplied rules on a play in the final minute of the game. The play a question saw Mavs forward Dorian Finney-Smith block a Trae Young layup attempt, with Hawks big man John Collins scoring on a putback. Initially, goaltending was called on Young’s shot, but when a replay showed the block was clean, referees allowed the follow-up basket, citing an inadvertent whistle and saying Collins was in a shooting motion before the whistle blew.
In his postgame comments, Cuban blasted not only that end-of-game call, but the NBA’s entire referee development program. As the league weighs potential discipline for Cuban, it will take into account that the Mavs owner has already been fined approximately $2MM over the years for similar comments on officiating. Silver is also expected to consider the fact that Cuban came onto the court twice during dead-ball situations near the end of Saturday’s game, per Wojnarowski and MacMahon.
Presumably, if Dallas’ protest is upheld, the NBA will be a little more lenient on Cuban. However, even though it was a tough break for the Mavs, it appeared that the rules were applied properly and it’s unlikely to meet the high bar required for the league to rule that part of a game should be replayed, in the view of John Hollinger of The Athletic.
“You’ve got better odds of seeing Boban Marjanovic on a mount in the Kentucky Derby than you do of seeing the Mavs’ protest upheld,” Hollinger wrote.
Once a protest is filed, the two teams involved have five days to submit relevant evidence to the NBA. After that five-day window, Silver has another five days to make a final ruling. Typically the process moves a little quicker than that though — when the Rockets protested a loss to the Spurs in December, the NBA denied the protest just four days later. In other words, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Mavs’ protest and Cuban’s punishment are both resolved by the end of the week.
The Mavericks have filed a protest with the league office to contest their loss against the Hawks on Saturday, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link).
Dallas is citing a “misapplication of the rules,” according to Stein, and the team hopes to convince commissioner Adam Silver that the final 9.7 seconds of the game be replayed with Atlanta holding a two-point lead in a jump-ball scenario.
The play of question saw Hawks guard Trae Young attempt a layup that was blocked by Mavs forward Dorian Finney-Smith. Officials stopped the play, calling Finney-Smith’s block a goaltend. While that happened, Hawks forward John Collins grabbed the ball and converted a putback.
The officiating staff reviewed the play and determined that a goaltend shouldn’t have been called, but the crew decided to count Collins’ basket. Atlanta went on to win 111-107.
“One of the refs told one of the players it was an inadvertent whistle that came after the putback – but everybody who was watching it said it came before the putback,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said, as relayed by Mark Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “That’s neither here nor there because if it’s a goaltend and then it’s an inadvertent whistle, you stop play. But then they went and reviewed it. And they reviewed it for a goaltend. So either you can’t review it because it’s an inadvertent whistle, or you review it and it’s a goaltend, the play stops right there, unless there’s something I don’t know, and that’s always possible, but I’ve never seen anything like that.”
This is the league’s second protest of the season, with the Rockets unsuccessfully contesting a double-overtime game against San Antonio in December. Atlanta was led by Collins’ 35 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks on Saturday, winning its second straight outing.
Regardless of the league’s decision on the game, Cuban will likely receive a fine for publicly criticizing the officiating. He’s received several fines during his time with the team and is widely known as one of the league’s most outspoken owners.
“It would be one thing if we were making positive progress. But we’re not,” Cuban said. “Out of the 70 refs, give or take, I think I counted 17 that have five years or less experience. That’s a lot. And you can’t expect new refs to be any good. And that’s because we do such a horrific job of training in the G League. Not a poor job. Not a marginal job. We apply literally no resources. The Joey Crawfords and Bennett Salvatores, I’m so glad I can call those guys out, because they’re awful at their jobs.”
February 23rd, 2020 at 4:01pm CST by Alex Kirschenbaum
All-Star Hawks point guard Trae Young has practically doubled his free-throw output from his rookie season, as Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution relays. Young concedes that this is in due in part to growing respect from league referees now that he is no longer a rookie. But it can also be attributed to conscious adjustments in approach from Young. He is now second in the NBA in made free throws per game at 8.0, behind just James Harden‘s 10.5 made free throws per night.
3:59pm: The Hawks have announced in a press release that both Capela and Labissiere will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
1:53pm: A pair of centers acquired by the Hawks at the trade deadline won’t be making their debuts for the team anytime soon, according to head coach Lloyd Pierce, who said today that Clint Capela and Skal Labissiere are still “weeks” away from playing, per Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitterlinks).
Capela missed the last seven games before the All-Star break – three with Houston and four with Atlanta – due to plantar fasciitis in his right heel. After being acquired by the Hawks in a four-team trade at the deadline, the 25-year-old said he was aiming to get back on the court later this month, but based on Pierce’s update today, it sounds like that won’t happen.
As for Labissiere, he has been on the shelf since December 28 due to a left knee injury. The Trail Blazers’ last update, issued on January 8, suggested he’d be re-evaluated in four weeks. Instead, he was traded to Atlanta around that four-week mark and we haven’t gotten a concrete update on his timeline since then.
The 15-41 Hawks are much closer to the top spot in the draft lottery than they are to the No. 8 seed in the East, so the club won’t rush its injured players back onto the court. Still, Atlanta would presumably like to see how Capela and Labissiere look alongside the team’s young core before the end of the season.
Labissiere will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer. Capela is on a long-term contract, but the Hawks will want to see if he meshes with big man John Collins, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2020 offseason.
February 13th, 2020 at 11:00pm CST by Alex Kirschenbaum
The Trae Young-led Hawks enjoyed an exciting 2018/19 season, and their returning players were confronted with big developmental questions, according to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner. Kirschner revisits an earlier column from before the Hawks’ season kicked off with answers to those questions.
Young’s All-Star performance this season has proved that he has the goods on offense, but many of his teammates have underwhelmed thus far this year as the Hawks have stumbled to a 15-41 record heading into the All-Star break.