Hawks Rumors

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Sheppard, Hornets, Magic

Following a disappointing 4-1 first-round playoff loss to the Heat, the Hawks could undergo significant roster overhaul, predicts Chris Kirshner of The Athletic. In a new piece, Kirshner assesses who among Atlanta’s current personnel may not return for the 2022/23 NBA season.

“Yes, I think we should have tried to get better rather than bring back what we had,” team owner Tony Ressler acknowledged about the Hawks’ 2021 offseason team building. “That won’t happen again. It was a mistake, in my opinion at least.”

Among the priciest players, Kirshner considers forwards John Collins and De’Andre Hunter, plus unrestricted free agents Danilo Gallinari, Gorgui Dieng, and Lou Williams, unlikely to return to the Hawks next year.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard had plenty of thoughts regarding the lottery-bound team’s preparation for the 2022 NBA draft, including the NBA Combine in Chicago this month, writes Jackson Filyo of Wizards.com. Washington will have the No. 10 pick this year. “The combine is a continuation of the work we have already done,” Sheppard said. “We have been evaluating some of these players since they were 14 or 15 years old… At the combine, you want to see their character, you want to see how they react, how they respond to coaching. You want to see how they respond to different environments.”
  • Now that the Hornets know they will be drafting near the end of the 2022 lottery with the No. 13 pick, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer takes stock of four candidates worth considering: Duke center Mark Williams, Wisconsin small forward Johnny Davis, Memphis center Jalen Duren, and LSU forward Tari Eason. Boone adds that the Hornets will also have the No. 15 pick in the draft as a result of their sign-and-trade deal that landed Devonte’ Graham with the Pelicans. Boone notes that one or both of those selections could be bundled into a trade for a veteran.
  • The Magic have landed the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft for the first time since 2004, and the fourth time in the franchise’s history. Orlando has an opportunity to add one of the top young prospects entering the draft this season, per Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m so happy for our fans tonight,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said. “They really stuck with us and nights like this help when you can show the fruits of why you go through these phases and cycles. Hopefully, they’re really excited by this. We’re going to add another good young player to our talent base.”

Southeast Notes: Young, Bol, Isaac, Unseld Jr.

Hawks guard Trae Young has adopted a new offseason routine this year, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Instead of taking his usual month off, Young was back in the gym a week after Atlanta’s loss to Miami in its first-round series. He’s undertaking a workout regimen that he plans to continue through the NBA Finals, explaining, “because that’s where I want to play.”

“I think it’s gotta be,” Young said. “It’s happened for a lot of the guys who’ve won championships and all the big-time players that’s come before me, throughout this whole league. Everybody has to go through something to push through, to get to that next step. I think this could be that thing.”

The Heat were able to rattle Young by attacking him with multiple defenders, leading to subpar numbers throughout the series. He averaged 15.4 points and 6.2 turnovers in the five games while shooting 31.9% from the field and 18.4% from three-point range.

“I think this is just a learning experience in the early chapter stage of my career that I needed to go through,” Young said. “The Heat did a great job, their defensive schemes, placement, where their guys were, switching it up, making it difficult. Just looking back at some of the mistakes I had, I know I’m going to learn from them, and it’s only going to make me better, and I think that’s a scary thing, if I’m young and I still have a lot to grow from. I think it’s a good thing that I can learn from it.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic big man Bol Bol is continuing rehab work on his injured right foot that required surgery in January, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Bol wasn’t able to play for Orlando after being acquired in a February deal, and he’ll be a free agent this summer. The Magic can make him restricted by extending a $2.7MM qualifying offer, and it sounds like the team still believes in his future. “Bol’s working very hard,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said. “He’s working diligently. He’s working every day. He continues to ramp up. He’s just doing individual work right now. We’re going to be careful with him as we are with everyone to make sure he doesn’t skip steps in his rehabilitation.”
  • Speaking as part of the ReAwaken America Tour, Magic forward Jonathan Isaac explained his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, per Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops“Viewing it, it seemed forced. It seemed that there was so much pressure in doing it,” Isaac said. “I don’t see the wisdom in putting something into my body that’s not going to stop me from getting the virus or transmitting it. That is why I decided to be the only player on my team to not get vaccinated.”
  • First-year coach Wes Unseld Jr. has been selected to represent the Wizards at Tuesday’s draft lottery, the team tweeted this week. Washington has a 3% chance of landing the first pick and a 13.9% chance of moving into the top four.

Fischer’s Latest: Jazz, Conley, Snyder, Popovich, Graham

Speculation about the potential breakup of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appears to be fueled more by people outside of the Jazz organization than those within it, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says sources from the team and around the NBA believe that CAA has been responsible for many of the whispers involving Mitchell’s future.

According to Fischer, team owner Ryan Smith is willing to spend big on a contender, and Utah has no plans to rebuild. Smith also likes the idea of having multiple players in the 2023 All-Star Game, which the Jazz will host.

Although some rival executives believe a Gobert trade is a possibility and view the Mavericks, Hawks, and Raptors as potential destinations, Fischer says the Jazz are focused on upgrading their defense, so moving a three-time Defensive Player of the Year seems counterintuitive. On the other hand, complementary players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and perhaps even Mike Conley are considered more realistic trade candidates.

Fischer wonders if the Clippers or the Knicks might have interest in Conley, another CAA client. With the Jazz seeking help on the wing, Evan Fournier could theoretically headline a Knicks offer for Conley if they miss out on Jalen Brunson, says Fischer, though he notes that some staffers in New York would prefer to stay in-house and give Immanuel Quickley an expanded role.

As for the Clippers, Fischer is skeptical that a Conley trade offer centered around sharpshooter Luke Kennard would appeal to a Utah team looking to improve its defense and suggests that a more realistic point guard target for L.A. would be John Wall, assuming he and the Rockets work out a buyout. Wall has also been linked to the Heat, but Fischer’s sources believe Miami’s interest predated last year’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • There’s “little expectation” among people close to the situation that Quin Snyder will leave the Jazz before his contract expires in 2023, says Fischer. Snyder also holds an option for the 2023/24 season.
  • Jazz CEO Danny Ainge doesn’t appear inclined to shake up the team’s basketball operations department. According to Fischer, major changes would likely only occur if former head of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey gets a top front office job elsewhere and wants to bring some Utah executives with him.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who is traveling and considering his coaching future, plans to visit Belgrade for the EuroLeague Final Four later this month, a source tells Fischer. The general sense is that Popovich seems interested in coaching San Antonio for at least one more season, Fischer adds.
  • The Pelicans are among the teams believed to be considering a possible point guard upgrade this offseason, reports Fischer. Devonte’ Graham saw his role reduced significantly in the playoffs and some people around the league think he could end up on the trade block this offseason, but sources tell Fischer the Pels aren’t motivated to move on from Graham like they were with Eric Bledsoe a year ago.

Hawks Notes: Simmons, Gobert, Hunter, Workouts

The Hawks will be in the mix to acquire a second star if one becomes available this offseason, Chris Kirschner writes in a mailbag for The Athletic. While Atlanta won’t have the cap flexibility to pursue top free agents, Kirschner expects the team to do its homework on a handful of possible trade candidates.

Several people within the Hawks’ organization wanted to acquire Ben Simmons prior to this year’s trade deadline, according to Kirschner, who suggests Simmons could be a player worth monitoring this summer. Given the way the 25-year-old’s season played out and the fact that he’ll be returning from back surgery, his price would presumably be even lower than it was at the deadline. However, there’s no indication at this point that the Nets are looking to move on from the three-time All-Star.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

Bucks, Hawks To Play Preseason Games In Abu Dhabi

The NBA will head to the Middle East later this year, announcing today in a press release that the Bucks and Hawks will play a pair of preseason games in Abu Dhabi on October 6 and October 8, 2022.

The games will be the league’s first in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in the Arabian Gulf.

The NBA’s foray into international markets for preseason games has been on hold during the last couple years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it appears it will resume this fall.

In 2019, the league played preseason games in India, Japan, and China. Since ’19, regular season games have also been played in England, France, and Mexico. The Spurs reportedly hope to play more regular season home games in Mexico during the next couple seasons.

As Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details, commissioner Adam Silver was asked last month about playing in the UAE despite the country’s human rights record, and acknowledged it was a “fair question.”

“We look at many different factors in terms of how we travel, bring our games,” Silver said. “But our ultimate goal is to bring our games to everywhere around the world. There are lines we draw, but we’re an American company and usually we allow those lines to be drawn by our government. Whoever happens to be our administration gives us direction on where they think it’s appropriate for us to operate and not operate.”

Hawks Host Six Draft Prospects

Hawks Should Seek Wing Defender This Offseason

  • The Hawks should be seeking a player this offseason that resembles Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith, a source told The Athletic’s David Aldridge. Atlanta was one of the worst defensive teams in the league this season. Acquiring a defensive-minded forward would help when playing Eastern Conference contenders such as Milwaukee, Miami, Boston and Philadelphia.

Hawks Owner Ressler Promises Roster Changes

The Hawks plan to shake things up this offseason after standing relatively pat last summer. That’s what owner Tony Ressler told the media, including The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner, on Thursday.

Ressler felt the team’s brass may have read too much into the surprising run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, which is why the roster looked much the same this season.

“I think we should have tried to get better rather than bring back what we had,” Ressler said. “That won’t happen again. It was a mistake, in my opinion at least.”

President of basketball operations Travis Schlenk made similar comments during a radio interview earlier this week.

Here are few more notable points from Ressler’s press conference:

  • The Hawks’ roster moves will be made with an eye toward finding more creators on offense and better defenders, particularly on the perimeter. “Getting more folks who could handle the ball, create and more defensive-oriented players — or both — that’s an obvious answer,” Ressler said. “When I talk to Travis and (assistant GM) Landry (Fields) about this very subject, which you could imagine happens frequently, I think their view is the league is complicated. You have to use the free-agent view, you have to use the draft, you have to use the development of the players — and, frankly, the availability of what’s out there will determine the decisions we make.”
  • Ressler is willing to make the Hawks a taxpaying team, as long as it makes sense to spend for a perennial contender. Ressler has told Schlenk he’s willing to go over the luxury tax threshold as early as next season. “We’re going to pay what we have to pay,” he said. “Sometimes owners set a tone — and I’m trying to set a very clear tone — sometimes we say some things one season that may not pertain to the next. Going into the tax doesn’t scare us. … Our job is to go into the tax when it’s good business, to position ourselves for greatness.”
  • Ressler isn’t thinking about a coaching or front office change. “Between Travis, Landry and Nate (McMillan), we have a hell of a team in our front office and coaching staff,” Ressler said. “I have enormous confidence in all of those folks.” However, he felt complacency seeped in throughout the roster and organization. “That’s what this season told me,” he said. “The idea that you have complacency before you win a championship — maybe after we win a championship, I’ll take a breath. We’re not going to have complacency again at any level.”

Hawks Notes: Offseason Priorities, Draft Workouts, More

Appearing on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, Hawks president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk said, unprompted, that the front office is committed this offseason to making roster changes in an attempt to improve the team after standing relatively pat a year ago.

“We made the decision last year to kind of run the same group back and we probably should’ve tried to upgrade as opposed to stay status quo,” Schlenk said. “This year, the way the season ended and played out, we’re certainly going to try to upgrade the roster moving forward into next season.”

Asked specifically about how much turnover the Hawks’ roster could experience, Schlenk suggested the club won’t be looking to re-sign all of its free agents.

“We have some guys that are free agents, we have some guys that have contract situations. We’ve got a guy eligible for a contract extension,” Schlenk said. “All that stuff plays into it. Every year, the only thing that’s really consistent in this league is change, so we anticipate that there will be some change, certainly with some of our free agents as we look to upgrade our roster.”

Delon Wright, Lou Williams, Gorgui Dieng, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Kevin Knox, and Skylar Mays will be free agents this offseason, while Danilo Gallinari has a small partial guarantee on his salary for 2022/23 and De’Andre Hunter will be eligible for a rookie scale extension.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • Schlenk said during his appearance on 92.9 The Game that the Hawks’ defense was a “big letdown” in 2021/22 and will be an area the club looks to address in the offseason. Schlenk added that having another reliable secondary ball-handler and shot creator to relieve the pressure on Trae Young will be a priority.
  • The Hawks announced in a press release that they’ve brought in 12 prospects this week, hosting six for a group workout on Monday and another half-dozen on Wednesday. Justin Bean (Utah State), Darius Days (LSU), Michael Devoe (Georgia Tech), Gaige Prim (Missouri State), Will Richardson (Oregon), and Cole Swider (Syracuse) were in earlier this week, while Keve Aluma (Virginia Tech), Garrison Brooks (Mississippi State), Jamal Cain (Oakland), Keon Ellis (Alabama), Allen Flanigan (Auburn), and Jaden Shackelford (Alabama) were part of today’s pre-draft workout.
  • Chris Kirschner of The Athletic examines 10 offseason questions facing the Hawks, including whether team owner Tony Ressler is willing to go into luxury-tax territory, whether the team can attract a second star, and what level of pressure head coach Nate McMillan is under.

Delon Wright Would Like To Stay

  • Center Clint Capela felt soreness in his knee as the Hawks were eliminated by the Heat on Wednesday, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets. Capela, who didn’t return in the fourth quarter, said he won’t require offseason surgery on the aching joint.
  • Veteran guard Delon Wright said he’d like to stay with Hawks but was noncommittal regarding free agency this summer, Kirchner tweets. Forward De’Andre Hunter echoed similar sentiments regarding a potential extension, Kirschner relays in another tweet“I don’t necessarily have a number I’m looking for, but we’ll see,” Hunter said.