Danilo Gallinari

Hawks’ GM Schlenk Talks McMillan, Trade Market, Collins

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk, who spoke today to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic and Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, acknowledged that a number of the team’s free agent additions “haven’t performed as well as they wanted to.”

However, Schlenk said that veterans like Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo have had an impact on the team off the court and expressed confidence that they can turn things around on the court. He also reiterated that the Hawks’ goal is still to have a winning season and to make the playoffs.

New head coach Nate McMillan will be tasked with getting the squad – which currently has a 16-20 record, back into the postseason mix. And while leading the team to a second-half surge might improve McMillan’s chances of getting his interim tag removed at season’s end, Schlenk insists that the veteran head coach has nothing to prove and is already assured of receiving consideration for the permanent job.

“He’s certainly going to have the opportunity to be the permanent head coach,” Schlenk said, per Kirschner. “No doubt about it. You can certainly argue that he’s got the best chance because he’s here right now, and we’ll have the ability to work with him for the next three months. He’s going to have the opportunity to coach games. I don’t know that there’s necessarily anything that I need to see. He’s got a proven track record. He doesn’t need to prove to me that he can coach NBA basketball. I know that.”

Schlenk also addressed a handful of other topics today, confirming that the Hawks hope Kris Dunn can make his debut with the team at some point later this month and discussing Atlanta’s approach to the trade deadline. Here, via Kirschner and Spencer, are a few of the highlights from the Hawks’ GM:

On whether the Hawks are actively exploring trade scenarios:

“Right now, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything on the horizon, but that can change. You rarely get teams’ best offers. Nobody gets real serious until you get down to the last week or two. It’s hard to gauge. We certainly will look to do anything we can to do anything we can that feels like, is going to make us a better team in the short-term and the long-term. Those sometimes don’t go hand-in-hand, but we’ll look at any situation we think that will help us.”

On the team’s plan for John Collins:

“John’s a big part of our team… He’s made the decision this fall to go to restricted free agency, and that was his choice and obviously we respect it. But we’re going to have the opportunity to match any offer he gets. We’ll certainly make him an offer in free agency as well, and he’ll have the ability to see if he can get an offer from another team. But at the end of the day, we view him as part of our team, and I don’t see a restricted free agency situation where we would just let him walk for nothing.”

On whether Collins could be moved before the trade deadline:

“We listen about all our guys, that’s our job, to see what the value of all our guys are. John is a good young player, and teams have interest in him, no question about it. But we listen on all our guys, I guess is the short answer.”

Hawks Notes: Pierce, McMillan, Schlenk, Bogdanovic

Addressing reporters on Monday night following the announcement of Lloyd Pierce‘s dismissal, general manager Travis Schlenk didn’t offer a ton of specific details for why the Hawks made a head coaching change, simply stating that the team was underachieving relative to its expectations, as Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution writes.

“As we said at the beginning of the season, our goal was to have progress this year, to move forward,” Schlenk said. “And we just felt like that wasn’t happening as quickly as we wanted it to. … We felt like for the organization, it was the best thing for us to do moving forward.”

Hawks owner Tony Ressler has admitted to pressing for the team’s big spending spree during 2020’s free agency period and badly wants to get back to the postseason. However, Schlenk said that he and his basketball operations staff made the decision to move on from Pierce, with Ressler’s approval.

“Certainly Tony signs off on all major moves we make on the basketball side or on the business side, as far as that goes, but this wasn’t a decision that Tony made,” Schlenk said, according to Spencer. “… I don’t think it’s any secret that Tony is very passionate and wants the organization to be successful. He’s willing to give us all the resources that we need to be able to do that. Up to this point in my tenure here, he’s been extremely supportive of any decision I feel like we needed to make, and this was the same situation here.”

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • Nate McMillan will be the Hawks’ interim head coach and is the first candidate named by Chris Kirschner of The Athletic in his list of possible permanent coaching options for Atlanta. Schlenk was noncommittal on Monday when asked about the possibility of McMillan holding the job permanently, stating that the Hawks will cross that bridge when they get there, per Spencer.
  • Pierce’s firing raises some bigger questions about the Hawks’ decision-making, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who suggests the clock has begun ticking on Schlenk and the front office, especially if the team’s 2020 free agent additions don’t start providing more value soon. While injuries to Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kris Dunn, and De’Andre Hunter this season have been unlucky, the signings of Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo look like “clear failures,” Hollinger contends.
  • Schlenk shared some good news during his Tuesday morning appearance on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, announcing that Bogdanovic will play on Tuesday on a minutes restriction (Twitter link via Mike Conti). Bogdanovic has been out since January 9 due to a knee injury.
  • A pair of veteran NBA coaches – Rick Carlisle and Gregg Popovich – expressed disappointment in the Hawks’ decision to fire Pierce, as Dwain Price of Mavs.com and Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press relay.

Southeast Notes: Bogdanovic, Gallinari, Len, Dragic

Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic has progressed his rehabilitation to include one-on-one play with contact, the team tweets. Bogdanovic hasn’t played since January 9 due to an avulsion fracture in his right knee. His next step will be reintegration into team practice. Bogdanovic was one of the premier acquisitions of the offseason, signing a four-year, $72MM offer sheet that the Kings declined to match.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Another of the Hawks’ high-level acquisitions, Danilo Gallinari, is showing signs that he’s prepared to make a bigger impact. Gallinari’s 38-point eruption against Boston on Wednesday is more of what the team expected when Gallinari arrived in a sign-and-trade with the Thunder, as coach Lloyd Pierce told The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner“That’s Gallo. We know he’s capable. We know he can give us some more. We want him to give us more,” Pierce said.
  • Wizards center Alex Len has a strong bond with the team’s player development coach David Adkins and assistant Ryan Richman going back to his college days at Maryland. That was the biggest reason he signed with Washington after getting released by Toronto, Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. “I’m kind of like the brother and D.A. is kind of like the uncle/father type of guy in the relationship, I would say,” Richman said.
  • Goran Dragic has shown he can remain a rotation player beyond this season, so the Heat might be inclined to retain the veteran point guard this offseason at the right price, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel speculates. Miami holds a $19.44MM option on Dragic’s contract for next season, which it will almost certainly decline. However, the front office could ask him to return for one of its smaller exceptions.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Gallinari, Ball, Heat, Oladipo

The NBA still doesn’t know how the Wizards‘ COVID-19 outbreak started, with six players testing positive and four games recently being postponed, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports writes.

The outbreak, which is considered to be the worst of the season to date, has left the Wizards unable to produce the league-required eight players needed to play. As Hughes notes, the team is still unsure of how it started despite an extensive contract tracing process.

“We have players that are out on the floor unmasked during the games,” general manager Tommy Sheppard said. “That’s an obvious thing. They have exposure to each other. Sometimes on the bench, players will pull their masks down and talk to each other, things like that. The contact tracing is very necessary, but it’s also difficult because it could have been anywhere at any time. The fact it hasn’t jumped the wall and it hasn’t extended past players kind of makes you, at least common sense-wise, would make you believe it’s happening in contact out on the court.”

The Wizards’ games against the Cavaliers on Sunday and Monday have also been postponed because of the virus.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks are listing Danilo Gallinari as doubtful to play in Monday’s game against the Wolves, with the veteran forward last seeing action on Dec. 30 due to a right ankle sprain. Gallinari has progressed to half-court individual activities and is now being re-introduced to contact activity, the team announced (Twitter link).
  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer examines how much the Hornets truly trust LaMelo Ball and what the team is currently missing. Ball, drafted third overall by the team in the fall, is currently averaging 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game off the bench.
  • Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel explores whether the Rockets could still entice the Heat with a potential trade, only this time with Victor Oladipo. Oladipo and Miami have long been linked to one another, with the 28-year-old set to enter unrestricted free agency at season’s end.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Vincent, Monk, Pierce

Earlier this week, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk updated Mike Conti of Sports Radio 92.9 The Game (Twitter link) on the health and availability status of a handful of Atlanta players. Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo and center Onyeka Okongwu could be available later this week. Sharpshooting forward Danilo Gallinari, a pricey offseason acquisition, will not be traveling with the club on the road this week but is nearing his own return.

Hawks shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, however, will miss “several weeks” as he continues to rehabilitate from the avulsion fracture in his right knee. JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets that later examinations did not reveal further ligament damage.

Meanwhile, after requiring a walking boot following a December 29 right ankle surgery, Hawks reserve guard Kris Dunn had the boot removed today, Sarah K. Spence of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link). He’ll be reevaluated in two weeks.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • With the Heat lineup limited by coronavirus health and safety protocols and injuries, sharpshooting guard Gabe Vincent showcased his ability to perform at the NBA level, scoring a career-best 24 points in a 137-134 Tuesday overtime defeat to the Sixers. Vincent, signed to a two-way contract this season, could warrant a look even when all of Miami’s players return, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. “He is a very good basketball player,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That extends far beyond spot-up shooting … Can guard multiple positions, competes, good team defender. Rebounds at his position. Offensively, you can play him like we did last night as our point guard.”
  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer posits that shooting guard Malik Monk might be just what the doctor ordered as the Hornets struggle on offense. Monk not been a part of the Charlotte rotation yet this season. The 22-year-old has appeared in just two games for Charlotte this season, averaging 5.5 MPG. Across his four-year career, he is averaging 8.5 PPG, 1.9 APG and 1.7 APG.
  • In a roundtable of NBA writers for The Athletic, Chris Kirschner opines that Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce will be on the figurative “hot seat” this season. After a blistering 4-1 start, the Hawks went 1-4 in their subsequent five games. Several of those defeats came at the hands of the Knicks, Cavaliers, and Hornets, hardly Eastern Conference powerhouses. The Hawks are currently hanging onto the No. 8 seed in the East, having lavished significant offseason money on veteran depth.

Southeast Notes: Bryant, Zeller, Monk, Gallinari

Wizards center Thomas Bryant has learned to play more under control and that has him poised for a career year, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post.

“It’s fun to coach him, because he’s emotional. Last year it was not to our advantage. This year, he’s controlling it,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “… His growth in that area, it’s going to help us win a lot of games this year.”

Bryant is averaging 17.9 PPG and 6.7 RPG, enhancing his future value. He’s under contract with the Wizards through the 2021/22 season, then becomes an unrestricted free agent.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets big man Cody Zeller said he can’t speed up the healing process after breaking the ring finger on his left hand, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. He has been relegated to working out — mostly on a stationary bike — to retain conditioning. He had a timetable of 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on Christmas Eve. “It’s not like a muscle or something else, where you can kind of work through it. You really have to give it time to heal,” Zeller said. “My rehab has been trying to get some of the swelling out.”
  • Hornets coach James Borrego will make some rotation changes to spark the offense and attempt to end the team’s three-game skid, Bonnell writes in a separate story“There are lineup tweaks that will be made for tomorrow. Not necessarily in the starting lineup. But along the way, trying to find some different combinations of guys as we move throughout a game to give us more offense,” Borrego said. Malik Monk could see his playing time expand at Cody Martin‘s expense, Bonnell speculates.
  • Danilo Gallinari was acquired by the Hawks in a sign-and-trade with the Thunder and made a three-year commitment. However, he’s already thinking about his long-term future, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. In an interview by La Repubblica, Gallinari said he’d like to eventually finish his career by returning to Italy’s Olimpia Milano. “Playing with Olimpia, in a team as strong and ambitious as this season, is a dream for me,” he said.

Danilo Gallinari Will Miss At Least Two Weeks

Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari has a sprained right ankle that will keep him out of action for at least two weeks, the team announced on Twitter. His condition was confirmed this morning by an MRI.

Gallinari suffered the injury in Wednesday’s game with the Nets, leaving after just three minutes. He has played just two games for Atlanta due to the effects of a left foot contusion he received in the season opener.

Injuries have been a frequent concern for Gallinari, who hasn’t played 70 games in a season since 2012/13. The Hawks acquired him in November from the Thunder in exchange for cash and a 2025 second-round pick.

Health Updates: Leonard, Trent, Okoro, Claxton, Gallinari

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard will return to the lineup tonight, five days after being struck in the face by an accidental elbow from teammate Serge Ibaka, tweets Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Coach Tyronn Lue made the announcement in a pre-game session with the media.

Leonard missed two games with the injury, which caused him to bleed profusely from his mouth and required eight stitches. L.A. split the games, defeating the Timberwolves Tuesday night and losing by 51 points to the Mavericks on Sunday.

A second-team All-NBA selection last season, Leonard is off to another strong start, averaging 23.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals in his first two games.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • The Trail Blazers will face the Clippers tonight without guard Gary Trent Jr., Portland coach Terry Stotts told reporters (Twitter link from Vardon). Trent suffered a strained calf in Monday’s game with the Lakers.
  • Rookie swingman Isaac Okoro didn’t travel with the Cavaliers as they start a six-game road trip, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The fifth pick in this year’s draft suffered a sprained left foot in Saturday’s game and was recently placed into the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol. The league announced today that there have been no new positive tests since December 24, so Fedor believes Okoro likely came in contact with someone who tested positive, which limits his ability to travel. The Cavs hope he can join them before the trip ends January 9.
  • Nets coach Steve Nash said Nicolas Claxton is “steadily improving,” but remains “weeks away” from playing, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. The second-year center is dealing with tendinopathy in his right knee and hasn’t played yet this season.
  • Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari had to leave tonight’s game with a sprained ankle, according to Andrews (Twitter link). It was his first game since suffering a contusion in his left foot in last week’s season opener.

Hawks Notes: Bogdanovic, Rondo, Collins, Gallinari

It has been a rough few years in Atlanta, where the Hawks have failed to crack the 30-win mark since the 2016/17 season. However, given the flurry of roster moves the team made to upgrade its roster in recent weeks, Bogdan Bogdanovic is confident that the Hawks are prepared to put those days of losing behind them.

“I know they went through the rebuilding, but as far as I know right now, this is the reason why they brought me here,” Bogdanovic said, per Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are all about winning right now. That’s why they’re all in this year, and they brought other players next to me that are really experienced in the league. We know why we are here, you know? It’s time to win, really.”

Of all the players signed by Atlanta this offseason, Bogdanovic received the most significant long-term commitment, a four-year, $72MM deal that includes a trade kicker and a fourth-year player option. Despite being aggressive on the terms of Bogdanovic’s offer sheet, the Hawks weren’t certain the Kings wouldn’t match, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

As Amick explains, before the Hawks signed Bogdanovic to that offer sheet, they explored some possible sign-and-trade scenarios with the Kings that would’ve allowed them to acquire the RFA swingman outright. Sources tell Amick that Atlanta offered Oklahoma City’s lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick as part of a potential sign-and-trade, but was rebuffed by Sacramento.

That pick isn’t especially valuable – the Thunder will probably be a lottery team in ’22, in which case it would turn into two second-round picks instead of a first – but it’s still surprising that the Kings would turn down the opportunity to acquire an asset if they were prepared to let Bogdanovic walk. It’s possible that Atlanta’s full offer didn’t appeal to Sacramento for another reason, but for now, there’s no clarity on why the Kings didn’t work to complete a sign-and-trade with the Hawks, says Amick.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • New Hawks point guard Rajon Rondo – who will be the oldest player on the roster – said that he’s looking to forward to “mentoring these young guys,” as Paul Newberry of The Associated Press writes. “I’m not coming here to be the starter. I’m not coming here to play 30 minutes a night. The biggest role for me is to lead,” said Rondo, who also spoke about the possibility of transitioning into a coaching or front office role with an NBA team once his playing days are over.
  • Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce believes the team “hit a home run” in free agency and doesn’t feel as if Atlanta skipped any steps in its rebuild, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.
  • Within that same story, Kirschner relays John Collins‘ comments when asked if he’ll insist on a maximum-salary contract in extension talks: “I’m not really too sure, but I just feel like with my relationship with the organization, I feel like we have nothing but positive things or nothing but positive areas to grow with, so I’m just leaning on that. I’m hoping we can come to an agreement before the season starts.”
  • Although Danilo Gallinari will be earning more than $20MM per year on his new deal with the Hawks, the team plans for him to come off the bench behind Collins. Gallinari confirmed as much when he spoke to reporters this week and indicated that he has no problem with that role, as Sarah K. Spencer writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Southeast Notes: Bradley, Adebayo, Gallinari, Pasecniks, MCW

Introduced on Tuesday as a newly-signed member of the Heat, guard Avery Bradley cited the oft-lauded “Heat culture” as one of the key reasons why he wanted to join the team, as Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald write.

“I always felt like if I ever got an an opportunity to play here, I would fit in perfect,” Bradley said. “Once the opportunity presented itself, I knew I would take advantage of it. I’m excited because I do feel like I’m a perfect fit. We all know what it means to be a Miami Heat player — the passion, the dedication it takes to be a part of this culture. I think our team is going to be really good. I’m excited to be part of Miami and part of a great culture like this. I felt wanted.”

Maurice Harkless, who also officially signed with Miami this week, said talking to former Portland teammate Meyers Leonard helped convince him to join the Heat.

“The big thing that Meyers said and he talked about all the time was just the people in the organization and how everyone carried themselves and how everyone came to work every day,” Harkless said. “It’s just what everybody else talks about, the culture. He really embraced it and he spoke highly of everything that goes on in this organization. Hearing that from him, it made my decision a lot easier.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • After reaching an agreement with the Heat on a maximum-salary extension on Tuesday, Bam Adebayo told reporters – including Chiang and Jackson – that he never really had a conversation with the team about waiting until next year to sign his new deal. “Me and (Heat president Pat Riley) met one on one, and we kind of talked through it,” Adebayo said. “We both thought it was the right decision.”
  • The third year on Danilo Gallinari‘s new $61.5MM contract with the Hawks will only be partially guaranteed, according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, who tweets that the forward will be assured of $5MM of his $21.4MM salary in that final year (2022/23).
  • The Wizards and big man Anzejs Pasecniks have agreed to push back his salary guarantee deadline from this week to February 1, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Pasecniks, who currently has a $350K guarantee on his $1.5MM salary, may have been waived if Washington had been forced to make an immediate decision.
  • Michael Carter-Williams‘ new two-year deal with the Magic features two fully guaranteed seasons worth $3.3MM apiece, according to Marks (Twitter link).