Travis Schlenk

Hawks Notes: Huerter, Hunter, Bogdanovic, Capela, Vaccinations

Extension talks are ongoing between the Hawks and Kevin Huerter, but president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk isn’t sure if anything will get signed, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic writes.

“As I’ve said all along, we’re hopeful to get something done with Kevin long-term, but if we don’t, that’s OK too,” Schlenk said. “As we saw last year with John (Collins), that certainly doesn’t mean that we’re not going to work hard next year in free agency to try to get Kevin wrapped up long-term. These things are kind of hard to predict how things will go. They’re kind of hard to do.”

If no agreement is reached, Huerter will be a restricted free agent next summer.

We have more on the Hawks:

  • De’Andre Hunter won’t be a full participant in camp, according to Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The teams expects him to be ready when the season begins. Hunter underwent right knee surgery in June. Huerter and Bogdan Bogdanovic, who also dealt with knee injuries last season, are also expected to a full go by the regular season. Clint Capela had a PRP injection in his Achilles tendon, and he’ll gradually ramp up activity during camp, Spencer adds.
  • The Hawks will be fully vaccinated by the start of the season, Spencer writes. One player still has to receive his second dose, but that will be done by opening night. All staff members have been vaccinated.
  • In case you missed it, Jahlil Okafor has signed a non-guaranteed contract with Atlanta. Get the details here.

GM Believes Hawks Have Become Free Agent Destination

President of basketball operations Travis Schlenk believes the Hawks are now a destination for top free agents and All-Star level players seeking a trade, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic writes.

“I think last year kind of put us back on the NBA map as far as a destination,” he said. “Those who want to get traded, they want to go somewhere they think they can win. And I think now that perception of us is out there, because we do have a young core that did show success in the playoffs. So the hope would be when a star player does ask to be traded, we’ll be one of the destinations he’ll be open to coming to.”

Acquiring a second star to pair with Trae Young could be somewhat difficult, though Schlenk sees it as a possibility.

“I still think when you look at the depth of our roster and the young talent that we have, we don’t have draft assets like we have in the past anymore, but we now have guys under contract that you could match some of the bigger salaries,” he said.

The Hawks have one spot open on the 15-man roster, but Schlenk doesn’t plan to fill it right away. The team is close to the luxury tax, so when a 15th player is added, it will likely be on a non-guaranteed deal.

However, if Atlanta is in title contention again, owner Tony Ressler won’t mind paying the tax, according to Schlenk.

“Certainly, Tony is willing to pay the tax if we are going to be a contender,” Schlenk said. “I’m probably more conscious of it than Tony is, to be honest with you. It’s my job to manage his money. He’s got a lot more of it than I do, so I worry about it more than he does.”

Another order of business that the Hawks would like to take care of before the start of next season is reaching an extension agreement with Kevin Huerter, according to Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He’s one of the NBA players eligible for a rookie scale extension.

The talks should heat up next week, Spencer adds.

Hawks Notes: Williams, Backup PG, Okongwu, Roster

Lou Williams had considered retiring after the trade that sent him from the Clippers to the Hawks, but after Atlanta’s miraculous Eastern Conference Finals run, he’s thinking about coming back, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Blessing in disguise. ATL, thank you,” Williams wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday. “I appreciate the warm welcome back. My teammates and staff was nothing less than amazing to me. Love. #6man #undergroundgoat #thinkimcomingback.

The three-time Sixth Man of the Year is entering unrestricted free agency this summer.

We have more news from the Hawks:

  • While the Hawks are open to bringing back Williams, Hawks president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk views the backup point guard spot as an area the team will try to upgrade this offseason, as Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “It’s no secret that we’ve always struggled to field a consistent role is at the backup point guard spot,” Schlenk said. “We’ve had a couple of different guys. I think that’ll be one area where we look to shore up this offseason.”
  • Schlenk expressed confidence in the team’s big men, including Clint Capela and John Collins, after Brook Lopez stepped up to provide a big offensive presence following the injury to Giannis Antetokounmpo. “When you get to the part of the season where we got to — the Eastern Conference finals — you’re playing against good teams and good players,” Schlenk said. “I have confidence in the big guys on our roster to be able to compete.”
  • On rookie center Onyeka Okongwu, Schlenk said: “I told ‘O’ yesterday I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player improve so much from the beginning of the playoffs to the end of the playoffs… Told him he should be extremely proud. But there’s a lot more there. And ‘O’ knows that and we feel like that. He’s only going to get better.”
  • Schlenk also touched on the roster-building challenges the team will face as a number of its current players get more expensive. “Obviously it’s a lot easier when you have guys on rookie-scale deals to build out your roster,” Schlenk said, “but once those deals come up, and those players start making bigger money, you really are limited on the ways to add to your team.”

Hawks Notes: McMillan, Offseason, Reddish, Collins, Young

Praising the job that interim head coach Nate McMillan has done since replacing Lloyd Pierce on the Hawks‘ sidelines, general manager Travis Schlenk said that McMillan has been especially adept at tweaking the team’s plays to fit specific players’ skills and has been “unbelievably consistent with his messaging,” writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While it seems like a given that McMillan will be offered Atlanta’s head coaching job on a permanent basis, Schlenk said he has yet to have that conversation with the veteran coach, as Spencer relays.

“Obviously he’s done a great job, I’ve said that publicly. I’ve told Nate that, but our stance is still the same,” Schlenk said. “We’re going to let the season play out and then once the season plays out, we’ll sit down and have conversations. But to this point, short of me telling him he’s doing a great job, we haven’t had any more in-depth conversations.

“That’s quite frankly the way Nate likes it and wants to do it as well. We’re obviously extremely pleased with the job he has done; I have no problem saying that… But we haven’t had any conversations.”

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • Asked about the possibility of bringing back largely the same roster for next season, Schlenk said he wouldn’t be opposed to that, though he acknowledged that a few changes could be coming, according to Spencer. “Every free agency, draft, we’ll add players through the draft, we have two picks this year. And then free agency and the trade season,” Schlenk said. “But listen, if this same group came back, it wouldn’t bother me at all. But we’ll have to see how the draft and free agency play out.”
  • Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness) is able to conduct unrestricted individual workouts and is participating in team practices on a limited basis, according to the Hawks, who said the swingman will be reassessed in 10-14 days. Reddish isn’t expected to have a real role even if he’s able to return before the Hawks’ playoff run ends, but Schlenk said the plan is to have him play for Atlanta’s Summer League squad in August, as Spencer details.
  • Asked about the Hawks’ top offseason priorities, Schlenk identified John Collins‘ restricted free agency and the team’s two draft picks as the most important matters to sort out, according to Spencer. The Hawks’ GM also mentioned Lou Williams‘ unrestricted free agency and Kris Dunn‘s player option decision as issues to address.
  • Trae Young will likely receive a new deal from the Hawks this summer, but Schlenk was noncommittal when asked about the players who are eligible for rookie scale extensions. “To be honest, I haven’t even really talked with any of (Young’s) people yet about any of that stuff,” Schlenk said, per Spencer. Kevin (Huerter) and Trae are eligible. We’ll certainly look to talk to their groups at the appropriate time.”

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.”

Southeast Notes: Nunn, McMillan, Butler, Hornets

Kendrick Nunn has reestablished himself as a starter and that’s a big reason for the Heat‘s resurgence, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. During the Heat’s 10-3 stretch, Nunn has averaged 17.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.2 APG and 1.3 SPG. Nunn will be headed to restricted free agency after the season.

“Defensively, he has really helped us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This has been a year and a half process of really learning our system, being held accountable to that, growing comfortable and being able to defend different ways.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Nate McMillan, who was named interim head coach of the Hawks on Monday, confirmed that Lloyd Pierce talked him into being his replacement, according to Charles Odum of The Associated Press. McMillan initially rebuffed GM Travis Schlenk’s offer to take the reins. “We had a conversation about the team and the move … and he just felt he didn’t think this would happen but he felt I could step in and do a good job with the team,” McMillan said. “He basically felt I should take this opportunity.”
  • Heat swingman Jimmy Butler will miss his second straight game on Tuesday due to right knee inflammation, Chiang tweets. Miami has one more game remaining prior to the All-Star break — a road matchup with the Pelicans on Thursday.
  • The Hornets are the latest team to receive approval to have fans in the stands. According to a team press release, they will host crowds at 15% capacity, or approximately 3,000 fans, beginning on March 13.

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: 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: Schlenk, Wizards, Collins, Bogdanovic

In a revealing media conversation on Wednesday, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk suggested that he does not intend to add any more players to Atlanta’s roster ahead of training camp, according to Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The team currently has 17 players on its roster, including its two-way players.

Although Schlenk does not anticipating trading the club’s new depth yet, he does think that the Hawks have enough players to package in a deal if needed.

“One of the things I really like about where we are is with the veteran guys, with the young guys we have, we have a lot of guys on our roster that other teams value,” Schlenk said of the Hawks’ new-look squad. “So we always try to keep ourselves in a position, if there is a star player that becomes available, we’re in a position to try to go acquire those.”

There’s more out of the league’s Southeast Division:

  • Fred Katz of The Athletic recaps an interesting offseason for the Wizards, including the re-signing of $80MM man Davis Bertans, the addition of backup center Robin Lopez, and the drafting of forward Deni Avdija and his positional fit on the roster. Additionally, Katz reports that forward Anthony Gill, another new addition, received “significant offers” to return to the EuroLeague for the 2020/21 season. The 28-year-old sharpshooter connected on 44 percent of his long-range looks for Khimki in Russia during the 2019/20 season.
  • Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk indicated that Atlanta would like to work out a contract extension with power forward John Collins, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets. Though the club added forward Danilo Gallinari to the tune of a lucrative three-year, $60MM contract in free agency this offseason, Collins is expected to remain the starting four.
  • New Hawks shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic is among the top offseason additions who seem primed to push the Hawks into the playoff mix, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic opines.

Hawks GM Talks Draft Prep, Finishing The Season

The NBA handed out revised guidelines for teams during the pre-draft process last month, as they are unable to meet with prospects in person. Clubs are allowed to meet with potential draftees for up to two hours in any meeting and a maximum of four hours per week with any one player. GM Travis Schlenk explains to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic how the Hawks have navigated those waters.

“I feel like we’ve talked to every player in college basketball,” Schlenk said. “Our (meetings) usually last between 30 to 45 minutes. We haven’t interviewed any player twice up until this point. We have set up as many interviews as we can. We probably do 12 a week or so. Usually, we do four days a week. So about 16 guys, but we probably average around 12 or 13.”

Atlanta has averaged 18 executives on each of the Zoom calls, according to Schlenk. While it may seem like a lot of people for a video conference, it allows the Hawks to get various opinions on each prospect as they determine rankings.

Schlenk also touched on the NBA returning this year. He said the Hawks are preparing as if the 2019/20 season will resume at some point — and as if they’ll be part of it.

“My message has been that it feels like we’re gaining positive momentum,” Schlenk said. “So it’s time to start changing our mental mindset from hiatus status to we’re coming back and to also start ramping up our workouts because we don’t want to be in a situation where we come back and we have a bunch of soft-tissue injuries because guys are out of shape.

“… We would play our guys,” Schlenk added when asked how the Hawks would handle a return. “The more time we can play our guys together, the better it is for us. To be able to see guys we made trades for play with our guys — those would be valuable minutes for us.”