The Hawks are among the teams pushing the NBA to come up with a plan to ensure that the eight clubs not invited to Orlando this summer get some sort of offseason alternative to keep their players active and at their facility. Speaking on Tuesday to reporters, including Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, general manager Travis Schlenk stressed that having those players around for practices, scrimmages, and possibly exhibition games is especially important for a young team like Atlanta.
“One of the most important things for our guys is to continue to play,” Schlenk said. “Just think about last year. De’Andre Hunter, in Summer League, only played about a game-and-a-half before he got hurt. Now he was able to get a ton of minutes, which was great, but Cam (Reddish) was on a minutes restriction for the first half of the season and didn’t play in Summer League. We all saw the growth he had when he was able to play.
“Now if we go another summer where those guys aren’t on the court and able to play — same with Bruno (Fernando) — he didn’t get the minutes those other guys had. Summer League obviously isn’t going to happen this year. All of those things are important to our young guys as they continue to get better.”
As Kirschner observes, even after the NBA determines what to do with its eight non-Orlando teams, the Hawks may not get the opportunity to take a closer look at certain players they’d like to evaluate. Skal Labissiere, for instance, was acquired at the trade deadline but didn’t suit up for Atlanta due to a knee injury. According to Kirschner, Schlenk said on Tuesday that Labissiere has ramped up his workouts and and probably would have been able to play if the Hawks had been part of a resumed season.
However, with the former first-round pick facing potential restricted free agency this offseason, it probably wouldn’t make sense for him – and other FAs-to-be – to risk injury by participating in offseason scrimmages before signing a new contract.
Here’s more on the Hawks:
- As relayed by Kirschner and Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link), Schlenk said the club’s top priority this offseason will be adding depth. Schlenk specifically cited the wing and power forward as positions the Hawks will look to fortify. Securing a reliable backup point guard will also be important, per Schlenk, who noted that Jeff Teague is one option for that spot.
- Schlenk provided a positive update on Clint Capela‘s health, according to Spencer (Twitter link): “His foot’s feeling fine. He’s got his strength back. If we’re able to have some sort of competition this summer, whether it’s official or unofficial scrimmages, it would be great to get him on the court with our guys and just start that process.” Capela was acquired in a four-team deadline deal, but has yet to make his debut as a Hawk.
- According to Schlenk (via Kirschner), the Hawks have yet to interview any potential top-10 picks in this year’s draft class, but have talked to some prospects projected to be late first-round selections or second-rounders.
- The Hawks will likely have the most cap room of any NBA team this offseason, and Schlenk has the green light to spend, but he wants to make sure the club does so responsibly. “I honestly believe the worst thing that teams can do is when they have the money and owners or people in my position feel the pressure to go out and spend it,” Schlenk said, per Kirschner. “You give out a long, big contract, and you guys have probably heard me say this, but those mistakes can really hamper your franchise. When you give out those long, big contracts, you need to make sure they’re the right guys.”