Hawks Rumors

Fellow Rookies Pick Ayton, Sexton As RoY Favorites

For the 10th time in 12 years, John Schuhmann of NBA.com got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been particularly clairvoyant when it comes to their predictions — they haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Still, it’s an interesting exercise, and one that occasionally results in a dead-on prediction, like when last year’s rookie class named Donovan Mitchell the steal of the 2017 draft.

Here are a few of the most interesting responses from this year’s rookies about the 2018/19 class:

  • Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Collin Sexton (Cavaliers) are viewed as the co-favorites for the Rookie of the Year award this season, with each player earning 18% of the vote. No other rookie had more than a 9% share of the vote.
  • Opinions were a little more divided on which player would have the best long-term NBA career, with Wendell Carter Jr. (Bulls) narrowly earning that title by receiving 13% of the vote. Interestingly, reigning EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic (Mavericks) wasn’t picked by a single player for this question.
  • No. 48 overall pick Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) was named the steal of the 2018 NBA draft by his fellow rookies, edging out 14th overall pick Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) and 18th overall pick Lonnie Walker (Spurs).
  • Trae Young (Hawks) is widely considered the best shooter and play-maker in this year’s class. Jevon Carter (Grizzlies) earned the most votes for best rookie defender, while Zhaire Smith (Sixers) is viewed as the most athletic rookie.
  • Be sure to check out Schuhmann’s full piece for the rest of the rookie survey results.

Hawks Sign Daniel Hamilton

AUGUST 20: The Hawks have finally made it official with Hamilton, confirming his deal today in a press release. The team now has 14 players on guaranteed NBA contracts, with Carter poised to become the 15th when he officially signs.

JULY 25: The Hawks will sign forward Daniel Hamilton to a one-year contract, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, the deal will be guaranteed.

Hamilton, 22, spent last season on a two-way deal with the Thunder, appearing in six NBA games and averaging 2.0 points in 4.7 minutes per night. He was a 16.1 PPG scorer in the G League and pulled down 7.2 RPG in 45 games with the Oklahoma City Blue.

A second-round pick by the Nuggets in 2016, Hamilton was traded to OKC on draft night. Today’s agreements with Hamilton and Vince Carter gives the Hawks 18 players heading into camp, two short of the league maximum.

Hawks Sign Alex Poythress To Two-Way Contract

AUGUST 20: Nearly a month after agreeing to terms with him, the Hawks have officially signed Poythress, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 24: The Hawks have agreed to sign free agent forward Alex Poythress to a two-way contract, per Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Poythress, 24, played his college ball at Kentucky before going undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft. After initially playing for the Pacers’ G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, to begin his rookie season, Poythress was signed by the Sixers near the end of the 2016/17 season, where he played in six games for Philadelphia.

Poythress returned to Indiana for the 2017/18 season, signing a two-way contract with the Pacers in August 2017. He appeared in 25 games, averaging 1.0 points and 0.7 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game. He was waived by Indiana earlier this summer.

The Hawks already have Jaylen Adams under contract as one of their two-way players, so absent another move, he and Poythress will occupy Atlanta’s two-way contract slots for the upcoming season.

NBA Teams With Most, Fewest Guaranteed Salaries

At this point in the NBA offseason, most teams are carrying 14 and 15 players on guaranteed salaries. The clubs with 14 guaranteed contracts on their books will likely either enter the season with an open roster spot or allow camp invitees to compete for that 15th-man role. Teams with 15 players already on guaranteed deals have their regular-season rosters all but set already.

Still, several teams around the NBA have more than 15 or fewer than 14 fully guaranteed salaries on their cap for now. Using our roster counts tool, here’s a look at those teams, with details on what they might be thinking as the 2018/19 season nears:

Fewer than 14 guaranteed contracts:

  • Houston Rockets (11 guaranteed contracts): In addition to their 11 fully guaranteed contracts, the Rockets also figure to hang onto Michael Carter-Williams, who has a significant partial guarantee. Second-round pick De’Anthony Melton is a good bet to sign a guaranteed contract at some point too. That would increase the Rockets’ roster count to 13, with Zhou Qi the most likely candidate for the 14th spot.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (12): While they only have 12 guaranteed salaries on their books for now, the Cavaliers figure to increase that count by two once they officially sign David Nwaba and bring back Rodney Hood.
  • Miami Heat (12): The Heat continue to wait on Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem to make decisions on whether or not they’ll continue their respective careers. They’ll be penciled in to the 13th and 14th spots if they elect to return.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (12): Although he only has a partial guarantee, James Nunnally is a safe bet to make the Timberwolves’ roster as the 13th man. It’s not clear what the team intends to do with its last opening or two.
  • New Orleans Pelicans (12): Only 12 Pelicans have fully guaranteed salaries, but there are several legit NBA players – Emeka Okafor, DeAndre Liggins, Jahlil Okafor, and Troy Williams – vying for roster spots on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts. At least two of them figure to make the team.
  • Atlanta Hawks (13): The Hawks will increase their roster count to 15 guaranteed salaries once Vince Carter and Daniel Hamilton make their deals with Atlanta official.
  • Golden State Warriors (13): The Warriors plan to enter the season with 14 players under contract, leaving a spot open for flexibility. Their 14th man will likely be Patrick McCaw, who is still a restricted free agent for now.
  • Toronto Raptors (13): The Raptors may enter the season with a 14-man roster. Lorenzo Brown is currently the top candidate for that 14th spot, though Chris Boucher and others could provide competition.

More than 15 guaranteed contracts:

  • Sacramento Kings (16): When the Kings took advantage of their leftover cap room to sign Nemanja Bjelica and Yogi Ferrell, it created a roster crunch. If the club doesn’t trade a player before the season begins, Iman Shumpert, Kosta Koufos, Ben McLemore, and Deyonta Davis are among the release candidates on the roster — all four are on expiring contracts.
  • Los Angeles Clippers (15 + Patrick Beverley): The Clippers technically only have 15 players on guaranteed salaries, but Beverley, who is on a non-guaranteed deal, will probably make the team. Assuming he does, that will mean trading or releasing another player, perhaps Wesley Johnson or Jawun Evans.
  • Memphis Grizzlies (15 + Andrew Harrison): Like Beverley in L.A., Harrison is on a non-guaranteed salary, but may not be expendable. If he remains on Memphis’ roster, the Grizzlies may end up releasing Dakari Johnson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Young Aware Of Team's Commitment To Him

  • Rookie Trae Young realizes the commitment the Hawks made to him by trading starting point guard Dennis Schroder to the Thunder, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. While Young was non-committal about whether he or Jeremy Lin should start, Young knows he’ll get ample playing time. “Obviously when they move the point guard they’ve had for a while, their starting point guard, it definitely opened my eyes,” Young told Vivlamore. “It shows how much they are committed to me. Bringing Jeremy in as well is a good fit for us. I know there is a lot on my plate.”

Remaining Offseason Questions: Southeast Division

NBA teams have now completed the brunt of their offseason work, with the draft and free agency practically distant memories. Still, with training camps more than a month away, most clubs around the league have at least one or two outstanding issues they’ve yet to address.

We’re in the midst of looking at all 30 NBA teams, separating them by division and checking in on the key outstanding question that each club still needs to answer before the 2018/19 regular season begins.

After focusing on the Atlantic on Monday and the Central on Tuesday, we’re moving on to the Southeast today…

Atlanta Hawks
Will Kent Bazemore still be a Hawk when the 2018/19 season begins?

As we noted this morning, Bazemore is the longest-tenured Hawks player now that Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala are on new teams. But after trading Schroder and Muscala last month, Atlanta may ultimately deal Bazemore too.

Trade rumors continue to swirl around Bazemore, with the Rockets, Bucks, and Pelicans among the teams linked to the veteran swingman. In a hypothetical trade with each of those teams, the Hawks would have to take on an unwanted contract, which would mean acquiring Ryan Anderson, John Henson, or Solomon Hill. So it will come down to what sort of additional assets those clubs are willing to attach to their bad contracts to sweeten the pot for Atlanta.

If the Hawks don’t feel like any offers for Bazemore are worth pulling the trigger on at this point, there’s no rush to make a deal — he’ll still have value at the trade deadline, especially if he has a strong first half.

Charlotte Hornets
Will the Hornets make a trade involving a wing before the season begins?

Many of those same teams with reported interest in Bazemore have likely checked in with the Hornets as well. In Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Jeremy Lamb, Charlotte has several wings who could be trade candidates.

While all of those players are solid – but unspectacular – on the court, there’s a significant range in their trade value due to their respective contracts. Lamb’s $7.5MM expiring deal, for instance, would be much more palatable for potential trade partners than Batum’s contract, which still has three years and $76.7MM left on it. Williams and Kidd-Gilchrist fall somewhere in the middle — they each have two years left on their deals and are earning between $13-15MM annually.

The Hornets likely won’t push to make a trade before the season starts, and if they do make a move, they’ll have to be wary of their luxury tax situation, as they only sit about $3.5MM below the tax threshold. Still they’ve shown a willingness to deal since Mitch Kupchak took over as head of basketball operations in the spring. Charlotte has made five trades since the 2017/18 season ended.

Miami Heat
Will Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem return for another season?

Despite rumors that Wade is set to return for another year, nothing has been confirmed yet. In fact, Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype reported this week (via Twitter) that retirement remains a “serious consideration” for the future Hall-of-Famer.

Still, if Wade does continue his playing career, it’ll be with the Heat, and rumblings that Haslem is leaning toward another year in South Beach may bode well for the possibility of Wade’s return. While the two veterans aren’t necessarily making their decisions together, there was a sense that if one of them retired, the other would be more likely to follow suit.

The Heat continue to hold roster spots for both players, and Pat Riley suggested last month that he expected clarity around mid-August. If the duo decides to keep playing, Haslem will almost certainly receive a minimum contract. Wade’s situation is a little more complicated, as he may seek some or all of Miami’s taxpayer mid-level exception, which could pay him up to $5.3MM instead of just $2.4MM.

Orlando Magic
Is Isaiah Briscoe penciled in as the Magic’s 15th man?

The Magic have 14 players on fully guaranteed contracts at the moment, and none of them seem likely to be waived before opening night. That leaves one spot open on the regular season roster, and Briscoe looks like the current frontrunner.

Briscoe, who played well overseas last season after going undrafted out of Kentucky in 2017, didn’t get a full guarantee from the Magic, but he did get a generous $500K partial guarantee on his first-year salary. His three-year contract is also structured as if Orlando hopes to keep him around for the next few seasons. Throw in the fact that D.J. Augustin and Jerian Grant are the only other point guards on the NBA roster and Briscoe looks like a safe bet to break camp with the team.

Still, without that full guarantee, Briscoe isn’t a lock for the 15-man squad quite yet. A poor preseason could put his roster spot in jeopardy, particularly with Troy Caupain in the mix on a two-way contract as an insurance policy at the point guard spot. The Magic still have a couple openings on their 20-man offseason roster, so it will be interesting to see if they use either of those slots on a player that could push Briscoe for a place on the regular season roster.

Washington Wizards
Will the Wizards sign Kelly Oubre Jr. to a rookie scale extension?

Oubre enjoyed his best NBA season in 2017/18, establishing new career highs in PPG (11.8), RPG (4.5), 3PT% (.341), and many other categories. However, his production was somewhat up and down, and he struggled to make an impact in the postseason, when he shot just .375/.211/.889.

Entering his fourth year, Oubre is now eligible for a rookie scale extension, and he and the Wizards will have until October 15 to work out a new deal that would go into effect in 2019/20. If the two sides don’t reach an agreement, the 22-year-old would be eligible for restricted free agency next summer.

If they expect Oubre to take another big step forward this season, the Wizards would be wise to see if they can lock him up now at a team-friendly rate. However, with big-money multiyear contracts for John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter already on the books, the club may be reluctant to invest heavily in another contributor whose skill set overlaps with that of its highest-paid players.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hawks Announce Front Office Changes

As they enter their second year under the leadership of general manager Travis Schlenk, the Hawks have made some changes to their front office, announcing a series of additions and promotions in a press release. Here are some of the notable announcements from the franchise:

  • Veteran NBA executive Rod Higgins, formerly the general manager in Golden State and Charlotte, has been named the Hawks’ vice president of basketball operations. He served as a college scout for the team last season.
  • Former Warriors GM Larry Riley, who has also worked for the Mavericks, Grizzlies, and Bucks during his extensive NBA career, has been hired by the Hawks as a senior advisor. Like Higgins, Riley worked in the Warriors’ front office when Schlenk was in Golden State.
  • Daniel Starkman, who joined the Hawks in 2015 and served as the club’s manager of basketball information and scouting coordinator in 2017/18, has been named Atlanta’s manager of basketball operations.
  • Former Timberwolves basketball operations analyst Dwight Lutz has joined the Hawks as the team’s director of basketball strategy & analytics.

For more details on the Hawks’ front office changes, plus new additions to Atlanta’s athletic department and medical staff, be sure to check out the full press release from the club.

Trade Rumors: Rockets, Bazemore, Hawks, Heat, Bucks

The Rockets reportedly remain in the market for at least one more wing player, even after reaching a deal with Carmelo Anthony, but Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) hears that the team isn’t actively pursuing Hawks swingman Kent Bazemore.

According to Amick, Bazemore isn’t a major part of the Rockets’ discussions at this point. Amick suggests (via Twitter) that the Houston front office would have more interest in sending Ryan Anderson to the Heat in a deal that brings back a player like James Johnson or Tyler Johnson.

Of course, any Rockets offer would need to include additional compensation, such as a draft pick and/or a young player, to entice the Heat. Even then, it’s not clear if Miami would be interested in such a trade.

One team with apparent interest in dealing with the Rockets is Atlanta, according to Kelly Iko of RocketsWire (Twitter link). While Houston’s interest in Bazemore seems limited, Iko reports that the Hawks would be open to a trade if they could get a draft pick and a young player such as De’Anthony Melton in addition to Anderson. That asking price may be one reason why the Rockets’ interest in a Bazemore trade appears to have dissipated.

According to Iko (via Twitter), the Bucks have also contacted the Hawks about the possibility of acquiring Bazemore. New Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer was in Atlanta with Bazemore, and Iko indicates the young wing would be open to reuniting with his former coach on a contender. Initial trade discussions between the Bucks and Hawks didn’t get far though, Iko notes.

Contract Details For Alex Len

  • The Hawks used nearly their entire room exception ($4.449MM) on Alex Len‘s two-year contract, which starts at $4.35MM. Len will earn a little less in year two, for a total value of $8.51MM (link).