Omari Spellman

Omari Spellman Revisits Failed Stint With Hawks

After being selected with the 30th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Omari Spellman lasted just a single season in Atlanta, having been sent to Golden State in a trade this past offseason. As Anthony Slater of The Athletic details, Spellman dealt with depression and weight issues during his failed stint with the Hawks, getting up to 315 pounds by the end of his stint with the team.

Having received a second chance with the Warriors, Spellman has enjoyed a more promising 2019/20 campaign so far, slimming down to about 260 pounds and earning a regular role for an injury-plagued Dubs squad.

Speaking to Slater, Spellman took a clear-eyed look back on his time with Atlanta, insisting that his problems as a rookie were more about self-sabotage rather than anything the Hawks did wrong.

If you have an Athletic subscription, the entire conversation is worth checking out, but here are a few highlights from the unusually forthcoming 22-year-old:

On how he missed the NCAA structure during his first season in the NBA:

“When you’re in college, they kind of — you got class, which blocks out parts of your day, practice, hot yoga, all these things I was doing. Team dinner. Then on the night of home games, we’re in a hotel anyway. … Then you get on your own and I equate it to what a normal teenager, when they first get to college, what that’s like. They have all this freedom, no structure and they kind of f–k up.

“I was f–king up, but the difference is, this time, when I f–ked up, no one was helping me. No one was saying nothing to me. It was just, I was living by myself, so can’t nobody really tell me nothing, at that time.”

On when he realized things were heading in the wrong direction with the Hawks:

“To be honest, man, I knew for a pretty long time. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I knew for a fact that, at some point, the relationship had gotten so toxic in Atlanta — organizational to player. They had tried a lot of stuff, they really did and I could never say they didn’t. They tried a lot of stuff to help me and I was just not in a place to accept that help yet.

“I could tell they were frustrated. I won’t say I knew I was going to get traded, but I knew something was going to happen. Either this year I was going to start in the G League or this season, I don’t touch the court. Or I knew I wasn’t going to be in Atlanta anymore.”

On why things have turned around with the Warriors:

“Well, one, getting traded as a first-round pick after your first season lets you know that you’re about to be out of the league. For certain people. Now, for Landry Shamet, totally different. But for me? The way it happened to me? Yo, bro, you’re on your way out. … So to me, it was like if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out putting my best foot forward. Because I know last year was not my best foot, at all.

On how his mentality has changed since last season:

“I was like: ‘I’m a slob. I’m f–king fat. I’m f–king useless in the league.’ Then you have to consciously decide that I’m going to shift that mentality. I’m none of those things. I work hard. I play hard. I leave it all out there. I’m a great teammate. You have to view yourself like that. It’s not a cocky thing. That’s who you are. To take that fight, take that challenge, I was proud of myself. Because I easily could’ve just gave up. Just said: ‘F–k it, man. It is what it is. I’m not supposed to be in the league.’ Some people stay in that mindset forever and it’s hard to escape it.”

Warriors Pick Up 2020/21 Options On Spellman, Evans

2:43pm: The Warriors have officially exercised their options on both Spellman and Evans, the team confirmed (via Twitter).

8:50am: The Warriors have exercised their 2020/21 rookie scale option on Omari Spellman, reports Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area (via Twitter). In addition to picking up Spellman’s third-year option, the team will do the same for Jacob Evans‘ third-year option, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Rookie Scale Option Decisions For 2020/21]

Spellman, 22, had a promising rookie season for Atlanta in 2018/19, averaging 5.9 PPG and 4.2 RPG with a .344 3PT% in 46 games (17.5 MPG). However, the Hawks determined he wasn’t in their long-term plans and sent him to Golden State in an offseason trade for Damian Jones and a future second-round pick.

Because Spellman was the No. 30 overall pick in the 2018 draft, his option for 2020/21 will have a cap charge of just $1,988,280, the lowest of any 2018 first-rounder. Evans, who was the No. 28 pick in the same draft, will count for $2,017,320 against the cap in ’20/21 with his option exercised.

Evans struggled in his rookie year, averaging just 1.3 PPG on 34.0% shooting in 30 games (6.8 MPG). His option was hardly a lock to be picked up, but the 22-year-old looked a little better in the early going this season, scoring 18 points in 43 total minutes and making 4-of-8 three-pointers. He’s currently sidelined with a left adductor strain and isn’t due to be re-evaluated for about three more weeks, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Warriors Notes: Green, Russell, Spellman, Curry

Warriors forward Draymond Green is glad he didn’t have to deal with all the speculation regarding free agency in what would have been his walk year, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Green, who could have been one of the top free agents in a diluted market next summer, averted that issue by signing a four-year extension worth nearly $100MM in August. “I didn’t myself want to come into the season with all that,” he said. “Kind of becomes a headache.”

We have more on the Warriors:

  • The D’Angelo RussellKevin Durant sign-and-trade was nerve-wracking and challenging due to time constraints, GM Bob Myers said in a radio interview with 95.7 The Game (hat tip to Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area). “So for that to happen, obviously one thing, Kevin has to leave,” Myers said. “Two, you got to get Brooklyn to cooperate and Kevin to cooperate in a four-hour window of time. You need D’Angelo to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll come.” He had other offers. A lot of times that’s like a three-team trade, they just don’t happen.”
  • Forward Omari Spellman wasn’t immediately thrilled at the prospect of moving from the Hawks to the Warriors, Slater adds in another tweet. “That was extremely tough for me,” he said. “But on the flip side, an organization that has been, let’s be honest, the best team in the league for like the last four, five years decided to take a chance on me.” Golden State traded center Damian Jones and a second-round pick to acquire Spellman.
  • Stephen Curry isn’t interested in any load management plans, Logan Murdock of NBCS Authentic tweets. Concerning his workload, Curry quipped, “48 minutes a game for all 82.”

Warriors Trade Jones, Second-Rounder To Hawks For Spellman

3:36pm: The trade is now official, according to press releases issued by both teams. The second-round pick going to Atlanta in the deal is the Warriors’ 2026 second-rounder.

1:49pm: The Warriors and Hawks have agreed to a trade that will send big man Omari Spellman to Golden State, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links). According to Charania, Atlanta will receive center Damian Jones and a second-round pick in the swap.

Spellman, who will turn 22 later this month, was the 30th overall pick in the 2018 draft. He appeared in 46 games during his rookie season in Atlanta, averaging 5.9 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 46 games (17.5 MPG). The former Villanova standout also showed an ability to hit outside shots, making 1.0 three-pointer per game at a 34.4% rate.

As for Jones, he was the 30th overall pick two years earlier, in 2016, so he’ll be up for restricted free agency next summer. The 24-year-old opened the 2018/19 campaign as Golden State’s starting center, averaging 5.4 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 24 games (17.1 MPG), before a torn pectoral muscle sidelined him for the rest of the regular season.

The financial aspect of the deal is important for the Warriors, who are facing a $138.9MM hard cap. Spellman will earn about $1.9MM this season, while Jones is set to make $2.31MM. That difference may appear modest, but Golden State doesn’t have a whole lot of wiggle room, so the added flexibility will help the team fill out its roster.

Lakers Rumors: Magic, Pelinka, R. Paul, L. Rambis, More

Shortly after Magic Johnson abruptly resigned as the Lakers‘ president of basketball operations in April, Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote about the “ESPN elephant in the room,” suggesting that there had been rumblings for much of the year that ESPN was working on a story that would be “extremely unflattering” for Johnson and would focus on his mistreatment of employees.

Johnson denied at the time that such a report had anything to do with his decision, admitting to reporters that he could be demanding, but insisting that he “never disrespected” anyone.

More than a month and a half after Johnson stepped down, it seems that ESPN report has finally surfaced. Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com published a fascinating, in-depth look at the Lakers today, citing team employees who said that Magic used “intimidation and bullying as a way of showing authority” during his two years as the head of basketball operations in L.A.

“He comes off to the fan base with the big love and the smile,” an ex-Lakers athletic training official told Holmes. “But he’s not — he’s a fear monger.”

Holmes’ many sources – which include several current and former Lakers staffers – described Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka as leaders who made major roster decisions unilaterally, berated staffers, and created a culture that marginalized many employees and generated fear among staffers — at least two employees suffered panic attacks, per Holmes.

“It’s f—-ng crazy over there,” one former Lakers star told confidants, according to Holmes.

Holmes’ story is packed with so many interesting details that it would be impossible to pass them all along without approaching his 6,000+ word count ourselves, so we recommend checking out the piece in full. Here are several of the highlights:

On Lakers’ roster moves:

  • Members of the basketball operations department and coaching staff told Holmes that Johnson and Pelinka completed many of last summer’s free agent signings after having sought little to no input from them. Some members of the organization learned about the moves through media reports.
  • “We all had the same reaction that the basketball world did, like what the f— are we doing?” one Lakers coaching staff member said, referring to a series of signings that included Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, and JaVale McGee. “Not only are we not getting shooting, but we’re also getting every basket-case left on the market.”
  • During the 2018 draft, the Lakers set up two “war rooms,” with Johnson and Pelinka in one and other front office executives and scouts in the second. Staff members in the second war room were anticipating the team would use its No. 25 pick on Villanova’s Omari Spellman, the top player left on their board. Instead, the club drafted Moritz Wagner, shocking scouts and other staff members, per Holmes.
  • Pelinka later told staffers that he had heard negatives about Spellman and spoke to Lakers player Josh Hart about them before deciding to pass on the Villanova forward. Some members of the organization told Holmes that the pick represented the kind of unilateral decision that the Lakers’ top executives made without looping in key figures who would typically be involved. “For him to covertly go to a player and go behind everybody’s else’s back, that’s the problem,” a coaching staff member said.

On Luke Walton and the head coaching search:

  • After being told by Johnson prior to the 2018/19 season not to worry if the Lakers got off to a slow start, Luke Walton was admonished by Magic two weeks into the season when the club had a 3-5 record. The Lakers’ head coach was confused about why the team had suddenly changed its message, but members of the staff later came to believe that LeBron James‘ agent Rich Paul played a role, as Holmes explains.
  • In November, Paul approached NBA commissioner Adam Silver at a lunch and complained about Walton, telling him that he believed Tyronn Lue – not Walton – was the right coach for the Lakers, sources tell Holmes. Paul also let it be known via back channels that he wasn’t pleased with Walton’s inconsistent lineups and his allotment of minutes, says Holmes.
  • After the Lakers moved on from Walton, they missed out on their top two head coaching targets – Lue and Monty Williams – before hiring Frank Vogel. Multiple staffers who spoke to Holmes said the process left the team in a state of “shock” and “confusion.”

On the Lakers’ handling of players:

  • Members of the organization had problems with the Lakers allowing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to continue playing during the 2017/18 season while he was serving a 25-day jail sentence for violating the terms of his DUI probation. The judge’s work-release rules allowed KCP to practice and play in-state games with the team, but staffers weren’t impressed with the decision, which they viewed as the Lakers trying to curry favor with agent Rich Paul, according to Holmes.
  • “Anybody [else] would have put him on personal leave or suspended him,” one coaching staff member said of the KCP decision, per Holmes. A front office executive added: “I had a major problem with that.”
  • Sources close to some specific Lakers players tell Holmes that those players’ trust in management had “all but evaporated” after the details of the team’s Anthony Davis proposals repeatedly leaked to reporters prior to the trade deadline. “Guys know there’s no trust there,” a Lakers coaching staff member told ESPN before the end of the season. “Guys know the new [administration] has completely bent over to the agent world and were overly sensitive to having these one-sided relationships with these guys where they kind of control our every move because we’re ‘big-game hunting.'”
  • Some players felt that LeBron was complicit in the handling of the Davis situation, given his connection to the Pelicans star through Paul, sources tell Holmes.

On Rob Pelinka:

  • Pelinka would often sit in on pregame and halftime coaches’ meetings, which is unusual for a GM, writes Holmes. “It’s weird from the player’s standpoint,” a coaching staff member told ESPN. “The players are not able to open up and speak freely, because you’ve got the guy in the room who supposedly controls your future, so why would you open up and be honest and confrontational when that might be what is required for that moment?”
  • Current and former staff members expressed serious concerns about Pelinka’s credibility and the flow of information in the franchise, says Holmes. “We think, more often than not, he’s not being truthful,” a coaching staff member said. “That goes throughout the organization.”
  • Despite the concerns about Pelinka, he has a strong backer in Linda Rambis, who has long been a major supporter and ally of the GM, according to Holmes. Rambis, a close friend of owner Jeanie Buss, has been referred to as the Lakers’ “shadow owner,” and one front office staffer says Rambis “loves” that role.

Southeast Notes: Briscoe, Magic, Wizards, Hawks

An MRI on Isaiah Briscoe‘s injured right knee revealed a small meniscus tear, the Magic announced today (via Twitter). According to the club, Briscoe has been ruled out for tonight’s game against Dallas and treatment options are being evaluated.

It’s a tough break for the Magic, as Briscoe had recently taken the reins from Jerian Grant as the club’s backup point guard behind D.J. Augustin. Depending on how the Magic and Briscoe decide to treat his meniscus tear, he could miss significant time, which would put pressure on Grant to re-assume a key role during Orlando’s playoff push.

If the Magic decide to look outside of the organization for veteran help at the point guard position, there are plenty of options available, including Tim Frazier and Jarrett Jack. For now though, Grant appears set to become Augustin’s primary backup once more.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In an extensive Q&A with Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman discusses Markelle Fultz‘s rehab process, what it would mean to the franchise to make the playoffs, and 2019’s free agent period, particularly as it relates to Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross. Weltman was extremely noncommittal when asked about a recovery timetable for Fultz, whom head coach Steve Clifford is not expecting back this season.
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic explores what could be a logjam at center for the Wizards in 2019/20. While the club would like to retain restricted free agents Bobby Portis and Thomas Bryant, Ian Mahinmi remains under contract and Dwight Howard appears increasingly likely to exercise his player option.
  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution provides injury updates on a trio of Hawks bigs, most notably tweeting that Omari Spellman looks like a long shot to return before the ennd of the 2018/19 season. Vivlamore also tweets that Alex Poythress is in a walking boot and will be out for “a while” after spraining his ankle, and adds (via Twitter) that Miles Plumlee has begun to take contact in his one-on-one work.

Omari Spellman To Miss At Least Four Weeks

A left ankle injury will sideline the HawksOmari Spellman for at least four weeks, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The rookie forward had an MRI on Saturday that revealed a low grade high ankle sprain with associated soft tissue injury, the Hawks announced. He suffered the injury in Friday’s game against the Bulls.

The team plans to re-evaluate Spellman’s condition in four weeks, which would force him to miss 14 of Atlanta’s remaining 19 games. If he requires additional recovery time, there’s a chance we won’t see him again this season.

Spellman is averaging 5.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 46 games this season.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/6/19

Here are Sunday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Hawks recalled rookie big man Omari Spellman ahead of their Sunday night stint against the Miami Heat, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). Spellman has appeared in 23 games for the Hawks this season, averaging 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/30/18

Here are Sunday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Injury Updates: Porzingis, Booker, Cousins, Neto

Kristaps Porzingis offered an update on his condition at the Knicks‘ Media Day, but there’s still no timetable for him to start playing again, relays the Associated Press.

Porzingis has been doing some light running, but not sprinting, as he continues to recover from a torn ACL he suffered in February. The Knicks are being cautious with the rehab process and don’t want him to return to action until they are sure he is fully ready.

Porzingis adds that he isn’t concerned about getting a contract extension done quickly. He will have to wait until next summer for an extension if a deal isn’t reached before the start of the season.

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Devin Booker got sutures removed from his right hand last week and is using a splint during workouts, Suns GM Ryan McDonough said today, per Gina Mizell of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team is still hoping Booker can be ready for opening night.
  • The Warriors plan to re-evaluate free agent addition DeMarcus Cousins again in four weeks, tweets Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. Team president Bob Myers is happy with the progress Cousins has made, saying, “We won’t rush him. But we also won’t hold him back.”
  • Jazz guard Raul Neto has been diagnosed with a right hamstring injury and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, according to a tweet from the team.
  • Hawks guard Justin Anderson is still recovering from surgery in late June to address recurring tibial stress syndrome in his left leg and won’t be ready for the start of training camp, the team announced on its website. Dewayne Dedmon will also be held out as he recovers from an avulsion fracture in his left ankle. He is in his second week of weight-bearing rehab work. Daniel Hamilton is taking a non-surgical approach to a torn rotator cuff and his progress will be reviewed in a week. Jeremy Lin has recovered from the ruptured patella tendon that caused him to miss nearly all of last season and will start camp with limited restrictions. Rookie Omari Spellman has soft tissue inflammation in his left shin and will be held out for the next seven to 10 days.