De'Andre Hunter

Kevin Huerter Talks Hawks’ Draft, 2019/20 Goals

Culture and locker-room fit were important considerations for the Hawks as they made roster moves this offseason, second-year shooting guard Kevin Huerter tells Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. As Huerter explains, head coach Lloyd Pierce talked on multiple occasions about not bringing in anyone who would be detrimental to the culture the team is trying to build in Atlanta.

“I think every player we brought in has some sort of relationship with one of our coaches or [executives], so they know that we’re bringing in really good guys,” Huerter said. “I think that was really important, first and foremost, especially with a team that could still go through a lot of ups and downs. You don’t want someone in the locker room who is making everyone miserable.”

While Huerter is optimistic about what Allen Crabbe, Jabari Parker, Evan Turner, and Chandler Parsons can contribute on the court, he views those incoming veterans as guys who will “contribute off the court as well,” as he tells Kennedy.

Huerter spoke to Kennedy about many more topics, including the Hawks’ draft, their future free agent outlook, and their expectations for the 2019/20 season. The Q&A is worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights from the former Maryland standout:

On the Hawks drafting De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Bruno Fernando:

“I thought our draft was great. There are very few teams that can come out of the draft saying they got exactly who they wanted, but those three guys are literally the exact players we wanted going into the draft. Anytime that happens, it’s an extremely successful draft.

“I think those guys bring a different dynamic to our team that we didn’t have. De’Andre is a 3/4 and he’s a really good defender, so he was a great pick for us. Cam just has so much potential on the offensive end and what his ceiling could be makes him great for us as well. Bruno is NBA-ready. I think it can be tough for some bigs as they enter the NBA because of how physical it is, but Bruno is physically NBA-ready. Again, I thought it was a really good draft for us.”

On whether free agents will seriously consider the Hawks as they continue to improve:

“Hopefully. Any team that wins becomes pretty attractive to free agents. You see that happen a lot. But for me, our core group of guys could – and should – be enough for us. That’s the way that winning teams are built, at least in the old days. When you want to want to build something that lasts, it’s homegrown guys. But, again, hopefully if we win, [players will want to sign here] and we can figure out which positions we need moving forward. Adding free agents down the line won’t be a bad thing, but first you need to win and then everything else comes with it.”

On whether the Hawks have discussed a goal of making the playoffs in 2019/20:

“Honestly, no. Playoffs, for us, isn’t really a word we talk about – all we talk about is winning more than 29 games. We know how honestly close we were last year – we weren’t too far off from that eighth seed – but we’re probably not going to talk about it for most of the year. It’s not something we talk about in the locker room, trying to sneak in [to the playoffs]. It’s literally just, ‘We’re going to win more than 29 games and continue to get better.’ Then whatever happens, happens.”

Hawks Notes: Jones, Roster, Parker, Minutes

Former first-round pick and newly-acquired Hawks big man Damian Jones is looking to show off his talent in a way he wasn’t able to on a loaded Warriors’ roster, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Jones, who says he is 100 percent recovered from last season’s injury, sees himself being able to provide Atlanta with rim protection, defense and a lob option around the basket.

“I haven’t really gotten a chance to show what I can do,” Jones said Friday at his introductory news conference. “… I still have more to prove.”

There’s more news out of Atlanta this afternoon from Vivlamore:

  • After waiving point guard Jaylen Adams, the Hawks now have a roster of 13 players and will look to sign another veteran to the roster and a second two-way player alongside Charlie Brown, per Vivlamore (link). Because Trae Young is now the lone point guard on the team, one of those signings will almost certainly be a point guard. As for the final standard roster spot, Atlanta plans to leave that vacant for the start of the season.
  • One of those 13 players is former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker. Parker, who saw his $20MM team option declined by the Wizards earlier this summer before signing with the Hawks on a two-year, $13MM deal earlier this week, says one the reasons he signed with Atlanta is because of the team’s medical staff and Parker’s confidence in them working with his twice surgically repaired left knee (Twitter link from Vivlamore).
  • As we relayed earlier this weekend, Young, big man John Collins , and rookie lottery selections De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish will all see “a lot” of playing time during the 2019/20 season, per general manager Travis Schlenk.

Hawks Officially Sign De’Andre Hunter, Bruno Fernando

The Hawks have officially signed two of their rookies to their first NBA contracts, announcing today in a pair of press releases (links here) that they’ve finalized contracts with lottery-selection De’Andre Hunter and second-rounder Bruno Fernando.

Hunter, the No. 4 overall section in last month’s draft, was traded to Atlanta from New Orleans after being part of the trade that sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers. Locked in to the NBA’s rookie scale, Hunter will make just under $7.07MM in his rookie season. Should he play out his full four-year rookie contract he’ll earn approximately $32.1MM.

The 21-year-old forward was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and All-ACC First Team en route to leading Virginia to the NCAA Championship last season. He averaged 15.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 32.5 minutes per game while shooting an impressive 43.8% from three-point range.

As for Fernando, the terms of his new contract are unclear. The Hawks still have a two-way contract slot open after coming to terms with fellow rookie Charlie Brown Jr.; however, it’s likely Fernando’s signing would have been reported as a two-way contract if he was taking the other spot beside Brown.

It’s more likely that the Hawks will use some of their substantial remaining cap space (about $14MM) to accommodate a three to four-year contract with the Maryland big man. A three-year pact at the minimum would see Fernando earn nearly $4.2MM. I anticipate the deal to be in that vicinity, with perhaps a higher first-year salary somewhere between $1MM to 1.5MM.

Hawks, Pelicans Finalize De’Andre Hunter Trade

JULY 7: The Pelicans and Hawks have officially finalized their trade, which was initially agreed upon on draft night. The deal looks like this:

  • Hawks acquire Solomon Hill, the draft rights to De’Andre Hunter (No. 4 pick), the draft rights to Jordan Bone (No. 57 pick), and a conditional 2023 second-round pick.
  • Pelicans acquire the draft rights to Jaxson Hayes (No. 8 pick), the draft rights to Nickeil Alexander-Walker (No. 17 pick), the draft rights to Marcos Louzada Silva (No. 35 pick), and the Cavaliers’ 2020 first-round pick (top-10 protected).
    • Note: The Cavaliers’ protected 2020 first-rounder will become two second-round picks (2021 and 2022) if it’s not conveyed in 2020.

JUNE 20: The Pelicans have reached an agreement with the Hawks on a trade that will send the No. 4 overall pick to Atlanta, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) first reported that the two teams were close to a deal.

According to Wojnarowski, New Orleans is receiving the Nos. 8, 17, and 35 picks in tonight’s draft in exchange for Nos. 4 and 57, along with Solomon Hill‘s expiring contract and a future second-round pick. The Pelicans will also acquire Cleveland’s heavily protected 2020 first-rounder from the Hawks, Woj adds (via Twitter).

League sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link) that the Hawks are focused on drafting Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter with the fourth overall pick. A report earlier this week indicated that Atlanta was “very high” on Hunter, who reportedly didn’t work out for any teams besides besides the Hawks.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that Hunter and Duke forward Cam Reddish are the two players Atlanta has targeted at No. 4, adding that the team is leaning toward Hunter. According to Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link), Reddish’s camp has believed that the Hawks would keep No. 10 in a trade-up scenario, potentially to draft the Duke prospect with that selection.

Atlanta will indeed keep No. 10 in this deal with New Orleans. Having initially held six picks in the top 44, the Hawks have now traded away five of those picks (and taken on Hill’s unwanted $12.76MM salary for next season), but still hold Nos. 4, 10, and 57. They’re in position to draft a pair of top-10 prospects, including one they were willing to move up four spots for.

As for the Pelicans, new head of basketball operations David Griffin continues to stockpile assets — the team now holds five of the top 39 selections in this draft, including Nos. 1, 8, and 17. New Orleans also got out from under the final year of Hill’s contract, creating additional cap flexibility for free agency.

Technically, the Pelicans haven’t yet officially acquired the No. 4 pick from the Lakers, since the Anthony Davis blockbuster will have to be finalized in July. The same is true of the No. 17 pick, which the Hawks are acquiring in the not-yet-completed Allen Crabbe deal. Those trades will be officially finalized once the new league year begins, then this deal between New Orleans and Atlanta can be formally completed.

The Cavaliers’ pick headed to New Orleans in this swap is currently top-10 protected for 2020 and will become two second-rounders (in 2021 and 2022) if it doesn’t convey next season. It’s not clear if the Hawks added any additional protections, but given Cleveland’s outlook, it looks like that pick probably won’t end up being a real first-rounder.

Speaking of the Cavaliers, they’re receiving a ton of interest for the No. 5 pick, according to Jake Fischer of SI.com, who points out (via Twitter) that that could be the spot for Darius Garland now. The Vanderbilt point guard was previously considered the favorite to be the No. 4 pick.

Central Notes: Garland, Bulls, GRIII, Cavs

The Bulls‘ reported interest in Darius Garland may be a smokescreen, one source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. That source believes Chicago is more focused on forwards like De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, or Sekou Doumbouya.

Garland is expected to be selected with the No. 4 overall pick in tonight’s draft, so the Bulls would need to put together a package that entices the Pelicans in order to land him, assuming their interest is real. Even if Chicago managed to add Garland, the team would look to bring in a veteran point guard, a source tells Cowley.

Patrick Beverley could be an addition this offseason, as there are reports of mutual interest between him and the Bulls. Chicago wants to add depth, so the club could sign multiple players in free agency. Cowley names Ish Smith and Cory Joseph as potential targets in addition to Beverley.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons will likely decline Glenn Robinson III‘s team option for the 2019/20 season, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free press tweets. A source also told James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link) that the option is unlikely to be picked up. The Michigan product would have earned slightly below $4.3MM next season if the option was exercised.
  • Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is out of the hospital and will undergo “intensive” rehab, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays on Twitter. Gilbert suffered a stroke late last month.
  • The Cavaliers have hired Jazz assistant Antonio Lang as an assistant coach on John Beilein‘s new staff, per the team’s website. Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link) first reported that Cleveland was prying Lang from Utah.

Draft Notes: Blazers, Hawks, Hunter, Samanic, Kings, Warriors

The Trail Blazers, who hold just one pick – No. 25 overall – in this year’s draft, brought in a total of 24 prospects for workouts, according to Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com.

In addition to the 12 prospects whose names we previously relayed, the Trail Blazers also brought in David Crisp (Washington), Matur Maker (Slovenia), KZ Okpala (Stanford), Samir Sehic (Tulane), Jaylin Walker (Kent State), Cameron Young (Quinnipiac), Vic Law (Northwestern), Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Louis King (Oregon), Admiral Schofield (Tennessee), Rayjon Tucker (Little Rock) over the last week.

Not all of those players are candidates to be selected 25th overall, so the Trail Blazers were also doing their homework on potential undrafted free agent signings — or possibly even second-round picks, if Portland opts to trade back into the draft.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and rumors worth rounding up:

  • The Hawks are “very high” on Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link). Sources tell Givony that Atlanta is the only team Hunter has worked out for, though if the Hawks want to secure him, they may have to trade up from No. 8. The Hawks are also said to like Jarrett Culver.
  • Croatian forward Luka Samanic isn’t interested in becoming a draft-and-stash player, sources tell Givony. That might cause his stock to fall a little, since he’s still “raw and inexperienced,” Givony writes. Some teams may be reluctant to guarantee him a roster spot until he’s a little more NBA-ready.
  • The Kings worked out Kyle Guy (Virginia), Jaylen Hands (UCLA), Rayjon Tucker (Little Rock), Miye Oni (Yale), Daulton Hommes (Point Loma), and Kenny Wooten (Oregon) on Monday, per James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets are among the teams that brought in Purdue Fort Wayne’s John Konchar for a pre-draft workout, tweets ESPN’s Jordan Schultz.
  • Jordan Poole (Michigan) and Jarrell Brantley (Charleston) auditioned for the Warriors today, per Gery Woelfel and Adam Zagoria, respectively (Twitter links).

Cavaliers Notes: Garland, Sexton, Culver, Smith

The Cavaliers were well represented at Darius Garland‘s private workout Friday night in Los Angeles, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Cleveland officials had been hoping for a close-up look at the Vanderbilt point guard, whose Klutch Sports representatives limited his availability early in the pre-draft process.

There’s no guarantee Garland will still be on the board when the Cavs pick at No. 5, as the Pelicans now hold the fourth pick and are reportedly receiving strong interest from teams looking to move up. There are questions surrounding Garland’s durability after he played just four games in college before suffering a meniscus injury, but many teams view him as a potential All-Star because of his exceptional shooting and ball-handling, along with the ability to take charge of an offense.

The No. 4 pick may be more unpredictable now that the Lakers are sending it to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade, Fedor adds. The Suns and Bulls might trade up for Garland if they believe he’s significantly better than Coby White, while the Hawks, who own the eighth and 10th picks, may decide to move up for Jarrett Culver.

The Cavs wouldn’t be afraid to team Garland with last year’s No. 1 pick, Collin Sexton, even though that would be an undersized backcourt with a pair of 6’2″ guards. Fedor notes that the organization is early enough in the rebuilding process that draft decisions will be based more on talent than fit.

There’s more from Cleveland, all courtesy of Fedor:

  • Even though the Cavaliers were hoping for a top three pick, they’re confident they can add a contributor at No. 5. De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are on their radar as well as Garland and Culver.

Eastern Draft Notes: Culver, Wizards, King, Sixers

According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the Cavaliers, who hold the No. 5 overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft, conducted a private workout with top prospect Jarrett Culver on Monday before hosting him for dinner with general manager Koby Altman, assistant GM Mike Gansey, head coach John Beilein, and assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

As Fedor details, the Cavaliers have been keeping tabs on Culver throughout the entire season, watching him in person multiple times. In addition, both Altman and Gansey were  in attendance for Culver’s 22-point game against Michigan in the Sweet 16. Beilein, of course, coached the Wolverines in that game.

The Cavaliers are still hoping to conduct a workout with De’Andre Hunter as well, but it reportedly hasn’t happened yet. Culver is currently the No. 6 ranked prospect in ESPN’s top 100, while Hunter is No. 5, so both are obviously in consideration for the fifth pick.

The No. 7 overall prospect, forward Cam Reddish, won’t work out with the Cavaliers due to recent surgery on a core muscle, but the Cavs would like to meet with him in person again prior to draft night.

There’s more draft notes tonight from around the Eastern Conference.

Lakers Notes: Butler, Vogel, Draft, Moser

Sixers forward Jimmy Butler wouldn’t hesitate to join the Lakers if they made a max offer, tweets Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times. Butler likes the idea of playing in L.A., and LeBron James has reportedly already reached out to gauge his interest.

Because Philadelphia owns Butler’s Bird rights, the Sixers can offer the 29-year-old a longer contract and larger annual raises than anyone else. However, Philadelphia has two other free agent starters to address in Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick, and there are durability concerns for Butler, who has topped 67 games in a season just once in the past six years. He played a combined 65 games this season for the Timberwolves and Sixers.

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • New coach Frank Vogel offers his first public comments on several players in a video tweeted by the team. Vogel calls Lonzo Ball “one of the most unique players I’ve ever studied” and said he wants Ball’s passing to serve as a blueprint for the whole team. He says “the sky’s the limit” for Brandon Ingram because of what he has accomplished at a young age. Vogel also shares his thoughts on James, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.
  • The Lakers are believed to have strong interest in Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter and Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland with the No. 4 pick in next month’s draft, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The fourth choice is believed to be the first spot of uncertainty in the draft after Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett are off the board.
  • Assistant coach Clay Moser has left the Lakers’ staff to take a job at Arkansas, according to Pete Roulier of HawgSports. Moser, who was with L.A. for seven and a half years, will be an assistant to long-time cohort Eric Musselman“Clay and I have worked together in the NBA, with the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, and in the NBA Development League with the Reno Bighorns and Los Angeles Defenders,” Musselman said. “We also worked together with the Dominican National Team. Clay is an incredible ‘X and O’ coach and he has been at the forefront of basketball analytics. He loves player development and brings the NBA experience that our players look for and will soak up.”

Draft Notes: Combine, Langford, Horton-Tucker, Acquaah

The competition to be the No. 4 pick remains unsettled after this week’s draft combine, according to Scott Gleeson of USA Today. Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Duke’s Cam Reddish and North Carolina’s Coby White all improved their standing through measurements and drills, Gleeson states, but Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter may have helped themselves just as much by skipping the combine.

Duke’s Zion Williamson, Murray State’s Ja Morant and Duke’s R.J. Barrett are believed to have the top three spots locked up, leaving a difficult decision at the fourth pick for the Lakers or whomever they deal the selection to.

Gleeson identifies several players who stock either rose or fell at the combine. Among the winners are UCF’s Tacko Fall, Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, Tennessee’s Jordan Bone, North Carolina’s Nassir Little, Croatian Luka Samanic and Virginia’s Kyle Guy. Gleeson’s list of players who failed to help themselves includes Oregon’s Bol Bol, Kentucky’s Tyler Herro, former Syracuse signee Darius Bazley and St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated also chimes in with a list of draft risers and fallers based on their performance at the combine. He believes Georgia’s Nicolas Claxton improved his chances of being selected in the first round with an impressive defensive performance, while LSU guard Tremont Waters helped ease worries about his size and Miami’s Dewan Hernandez showed off his athleticism after sitting out the season because of connections to the FBI investigation.
  • Indiana’s Romeo Langford says he has fully recovered from the back problems that bothered him in college, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. Langford met with 13 teams at the combine, including the Pacers, Celtics (Twitter link) and Pistons (Twitter link).
  • Iowa State’s Talen Horton-Tucker is committed to staying in the draft as he hopes to become the Cyclones’ first player taken in the first round since 2012, relays Travis Hines of The Ames Tribune. A top 50 recruit coming out of high school, Horton-Tucker has already interviewed with 14 teams.
  • Milan Acquaah of Cal Baptist has taken his name out of the draft, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium.