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Spurs Interested in Ayon

Buddy Grizzard —  August 30, 2014 — 1 Comment

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting that the reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs are interested in former Hawk Gustavo Ayon “as both a potential [Aron] Baynes replacement or a possible addition to the roster.”

Gigantes del Basket previously reported (hat tip @HoopsHype) that Ayon had declined multiple offers because of his preference to wait until after the FIBA World Cup, which is underway as of this morning, to make a decision. This would seem to be a smart move since NBA.com reports that a record 45 current NBA players will be competing in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. In addition, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann tweeted that there are 23 additional players with NBA experience that are not on current NBA rosters, as well as 17 NBA draftees that have yet to make an NBA roster.

Ayon is joined in the tournament by fellow unrestricted free agents Andray Blatche and Leandro Barbosa (reportedly committed to sign with the Warriors). Spurs restricted free agent Baynes has played well for Australia in the build up to the tournament and is another player worth keeping an eye on.

Every two years at the major international tournaments (the Olympics and FIBA World Cup, formerly the FIBA World Championship), international players that the American audience is unfamiliar with emerge as potential NBA talent. The record amount of talent in this competition presents a huge opportunity for unknown talent to emerge. Games will be broadcast and archived on Watch ESPN.

Sadly, my pick for the breakout star of this tournament, 6-5 Lithuanian point guard Mantas Kalnietis, suffered a separated collar bone and has been ruled out. Australia is my team to watch. The Boomers feature four current NBA players (Cameron Bairstow, Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum and Baynes). Only Spain and the United States have more current NBA players than Australia, which also features Joe Ingles, a 6-8 small forward with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Ingles played Summer League stints with Golden State in 2009 and 2010 and could emerge in this tournament as a future NBA prospect.

Sam Amick and David Aldridge have confirmed a report by RealGM’s Shams Charania that the Atlanta Hawks have inked former member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls, Thabo Sefolosha. The contract is a reported $12 million over three years, or $4 million a season.

Sefolosha has been a key cog in Oklahoma City’s dominance for five straight seasons, starting in every game he’s played in since the 2009-10 season. His meal ticket? Defense. Sefolosha would regularly guard the Thunder’s best opposing player on a nightly basis, and did it well. Offensively, Sefolosha didn’t bring much to the table, but for a couple of seasons was knocking down the three-point shot at an over 40% rate.

So why did the Thunder bench this fitting role player during the 2014 Playoffs? His efficiency sunk, possibly because of the calf troubles that caused him to miss a chunk of games in the latter part of the year. Sefolosha was suddenly a liability on the offensive end, unable to make defenses pay for helping off him. Thabo is now 30 years old, so he won’t be developing any new skills on the offensive end that can offset his shaky jumper, and it won’t be long before his defense begins sliding.

However, for the interim, Sefolosha is a solid get for the Hawks. He’s still very much there defensively, and if the Hawks can get him to connect on an average rate from downtown in their system, he’ll be a big plus. As for where he fits in, I’d imagine he’ll be a reliever for DeMarre Carroll who had to chase around the league’s best for Atlanta all season long. The Hawks needed depth at the wing spot and now they have it.

It’s been a couple of days since free agency began, and the Hawks have signed their first new player. Welcome to Atlanta, Thabo.

With the 43rd overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks have picked Walter Tavares, one of the more intriguing second round prospects of this class.

The Cape Verde import stands at 7’3″ with an even greater wingspan, garnering lots of attention from alma mater of Mike Budenholzer and Danny Ferry, the San Antonio Spurs. Tavares is primarily a rebounder and shot-blocker right now, with everything else very much raw. The good news is he is open to play abroad to develop before coming to the NBA.

Although the Hawks are now stacked in the frontcourt, Tavares is a safe draft-and-stash pick whose rights can, in all likelihood, be dealt for another second round pick if need be.

You can read his full DraftExpress profile here.

The Hawks also traded a future second round pick for Lamar Patterson, the 48th overall pick that originally belonged to the Milwaukee Bucks. Patterson is a 22 year old shooting guard out of Pittsburgh who was named to the all-ACC second team. With Atlanta currently sporting Kyle Korver, Lou Williams and John Jenkins at the two, Patterson could be stashed overseas for the time being.

You can check out his DraftExpress profile here.

With the 2014 NBA Draft just a couple of days away, mock drafts have predicted the Hawks to go in several different directions with their 15th overall pick. Chad Ford‘s latest work has Atlanta selecting Shabazz Napier as a replacement for Jeff Teague, while Yahoo! Sports expects the Hawks to take Jusuf Nurkic so they can “move Al Horford to his more natural power forward position.” Though nothing can be said for certain as to who the Hawks will be drafting on Thursday night, there’s plenty to sort out as far as what they don’t need, what they might and what they do need.

Don’t Need:

  • A center to “move Al Horford to his more natural power forward position.” Why is this still being said? Al Horford was on his way to having the best season of his career at the five. The NBA is progressively getting smaller so Atlanta wants a 6’10” unproven three-point shooter at the four? What happens to Paul Millsap? Is any center available at this point going to even turn out to be anything more than a decent starter? This is silly.
  • Continue Reading…

FINAL
Series tied, 2-2

IND(2-2) 91 – 88 (2-2) ATL

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 29 pts, 7 reb, 3 blk
P. George (IND): 24 Pts, 10 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

A win today would have been gigantic for the Hawks. Going up 3-1, winning both games at home, and sending Indiana back home in an even bigger mental mess than they’re already in would have given Atlanta a lot of momentum going into Game 5. However, that wasn’t the case.

The Pacers they played a lot more like themselves. The body language issues that appeared to be plaguing them the entire series were for the most part non existent. The defense returned to form, minus a poor performance in the 2nd quarter, and of course, since they were playing an Atlanta sports team, something that made no sense had to happen. That something was a David West clutch three pointer. Then just as the Hawks thought they had hope with a chance to tie the game at the end, they couldn’t convert. The Pacers missed free throws to ice the game, giving the Hawks one last shot. The Pacers played excellent defense, blew up any semblance of a play, and left the Hawks with a Pero Antic contested 3 that didn’t go in.

Despite the Hawks loss, this series is far from over. The Hawks showed in Game 1 they can win in Indiana. Game 5 is a huge game however. With today’s win, the Pacers have won 3 games in Atlanta since 2006. Winning game 5 would give the Hawks an advantage and put history on their side. Should they lose however, they have to win two straight games. Something they haven’t shown the ability to do.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: While Teague never had any consistency scoring, shooting 5-for-15 for 14 points, he more than made up for it in the rest of his game. 7 assists, 6 rebounds and a solid defensive effort. However, he did have 4 turnovers. Not his best game in the world but very far from bad as there were moments he looked completely unstoppable. 7/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap was a monster. 10-for-18 from the field for 29 points, 7 rebounds, and he even swatted himself 3 blocks. Millsap again stretched the floor for the Hawks in a big way hitting three of his six three point attempts. When Millsap wasn’t stretching the floor he was dominating everywhere else. Post ups, face ups, spot ups, pull ups, isolations it didn’t matter. Millsap was scoring. On defense he made Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinimi, and David West’s lives a living hell constantly harassing them. Millsap was the main reason the Hawks had a chance to win at the end. 10/10

Kyle Korver: Good news and bad news. Good news, Korver was able to let it loose from long range and find shots that he wanted to take. Bad news, while Korver let it fly from deep with eight attempts, he only managed to make three of them. He did however play some decent defense and pull down 9 rebounds. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll on offense was not pretty. Was almost a non factor. On defense he shined. It would be easy to look at Paul George’s stat line and blame Carroll for that but he contested a lot of shots. Also got to give Carroll some iron man props. He played 40 minutes, more than any other player besides Paul George. Still, it’s very difficult to look past how ineffective Carroll was on offense. 6/10

Pero Antic: I’m not sure if the Pacers are starting to figure Antic out but he had a dreadful game. Defense was alright but other than he contributed nothing. 1/10 Continue Reading…

Yahoo! NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Pacers shooting guards Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner got into a fist fight on Friday at a practice on the eve of the playoffs.

On the eve of this Eastern Conference series, the wobbling No. 1 seed punctuated its final playoff preparations in a most self-destructive way: Two Indiana Pacers dragged a cursing, cut Evan Turner out of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court, untangling him from a practice-floor fistfight with teammate Lance Stephenson.

HawksHoop explored the Pacers’ fractured chemistry in March. And although the Pacers won convincingly tonight to even the first round series 1-1, the television broadcast showed Stephenson standing behind the bench fuming in the first half after being taken out of the game. Stephenson started and played 25 minutes, scoring seven points with five assists, three rebounds and three turnovers. Turner played only 11 minutes and scored three points with two rebounds and two assists.

According to the Atlanta Hawks’ official Twitter account, Jeff Teague has been named Eastern Conference Player of the Week after leading the team to a 3-1 record, including wins over the playoff-bound Heat and Nets, and a conference-best 7th consecutive postseason appearance. Teague averaged 20 points, 6 assists and nearly two steals per game over that stretch, including 51% shooting from the floor and 92% from the free throw line, and has never missed the playoffs since entering the NBA.

For the week, according to the official Hawks press release, Teague “led all Eastern Conference point guards in +/- ratio (+37) and made field goals (tied with 27), while ranking second in total steals (seven) and tied for second in made free throws (22).” It is the first Player of the Week honor of Teague’s career.

In February I blasted Teague, writing that he, “looks like one of those guys who doesn’t have that much love for the game. It gets him paid so he shows up, but that’s about as far as it goes.” After watching Teague will his team into the postseason, that statement appears disproved. Teague is playing the best basketball of his career and I doubt either George Hill or Mario Chalmers is looking forward to facing him in the first round.

FINAL

BKN.gif(43-36) 88 – 93 (36-43)ATL

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 27 pts, 10 reb
J. Teague (ATL): 22 pts
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Atlanta’s magic number is now 1 after an impressive, albeit surprising victory over the Nets. Surprising in the context of this game, not in general (the Nets were without Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston and Andray Blatche,) as the Hawks went 1-18 from three point range and had three sub-twenty point quarters yet somehow pulled away by five. A narrow margin in favor of the Nets dissipated in the second quarter thanks to strong minutes by the bench squad, and Atlanta soon pulled ahead to go up by double-digits. The Hawks scored a whopping 39 points in that second quarter thanks to some crisp defense, a whole lot of Jeff Teague and transition basketball. After a third quarter where Atlanta cooled off and just barely clung on to their lead, the fourth quarter turned into a back-and-forth affair that favored the Hawks in the final minutes. Down three with 47 ticks to go, the Nets looked to Joe Johnson, who was suffocated by DeMarre Carroll, forcing the miss. Teague took it down the other end and dropped in a floater off a high screen and roll. Ball game.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: A perfect game from Paul Millsap tonight, coming up huge in a must-win. Having to guard smaller opponents all night, Millsap stood up to the task without fault, holding Paul Pierce to 5-14 shooting and still helping on the interior. On the offensive end, Millsap came up with some big buckets in the fourth and finished with a big 27-point night on 10-19 shooting from the field. He also collected 10 rebounds. 10/10

Elton Brand: Coach Bud elected to not overplay Elton Brand a whole lot tonight, but in his 22 minutes of action he was his usual effective self on both ends. Most impressively, he totaled four blocks and two steals over that stretch. He also put home a couple of baby jumpers in the early going. 9/10

Jeff Teague: Jeff Teague had a field day tonight, especially in the time where he was matched up with his younger brother, Marquis. Oh, poor Marquis. Jeff went to town with a slew of crossovers and takes to the rim, finishing with 22 points on 7-15 shooting from the field. 9/10

Kyle Korver: Um… Ouch. Korver didn’t put up a three until the third quarter, when he launched two ill-advised misses. He went on to go 1-8 from the field and 0-5 from deep on the night, never finding any sort of a rhythm. However, he came up with a big rebound and strip in the closing couple of minutes. 3/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll played a phenomenal game, absolutely shutting down the red hot Joe Johnson, holding him at 9 points on 4-15 shooting. Carroll was also major on the boards where the Hawks were a bit out-matched, grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with his 12 points for the double-double. Huge performance. 10/10

Continue Reading…

FINAL

BOS(23-55) 97 – 105 (35-43)ATL

Key Performers:
R. Rondo (BOS): 19 pts, 12 ast, 3 stl
J. Teague (ATL): 19 pts, 8 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Say it with me guys. Playoffs, baby! Play-offs! Well, not yet, not for sure, but this win definitely got the Hawks one step closer. And what a win it was. Atlanta opened up an early double-digit lead thanks to a ridiculous shooting stretch – making 19 of their first 25 shot attempts. A late second-quarter comeback by Boston cut the Hawks lead to single-digits, only to take control of the game in the quarter following. Around the midway point of the fourth, Boston led by nine points, and things seemed bleak for the Hawks. That is, until they went on a 19-3 run. Nineteen to three. A couple of Korver treys and big plays by every other starter helped the Hawks pulled off an impressive victory when the game looked all but over. Oh, and the Hawks were without Pero Antic who was inactive with a sore ankle.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Jeff Teague: Teague’s jumper was cooking tonight, the tip of the iceberg that was his terrific outing. Teague connected on three of his six tries from deep, including one huge long bomb to spark the Hawks’ insane comeback. Every other facet of Teague’s game was on point tonight, and he finished with 19 points, 8 assists and 2 steals on 6-12 shooting from the field. 9/10

DeMarre Carroll: DeMarre fell victim to some outrageous Jeff Green shots in this one, yet still held him to just 5-15 shooting from the field! Strong all-around game from Carroll, which has become old news at this point. 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists on 6-13 shooting. 9/10

Kyle Korver: SAUZ! Korver was all over the place tonight, connecting on colossally important threes, making superb passes and hit the boards well to top it off. Somehow the Celtics left Korver WIDE OPEN on two possessions, coming off of made buckets. One of them were during Atlanta’s 19-3 run, so thanks for that Boston. Korver was 4-6 from deep, scoring 17, grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing out 4 dimes with a team-high +17. 10/10

Elton Brand:

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33 minutes, 13 points and 13 rebounds, 300% shooting from the field. Okay, I made up the last stat. But he was terrific on all fronts. 10/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap had far from the greatest of games, but came up big on the glass and in the final minutes with a score inside and game-sealing block on Avery Bradley. 5.5/10 Continue Reading…

FINAL

CLE(31-46) 98 – 117 (33-42) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 20 pts, 2 reb, 12 ast
D. Waiters (CLE): 23 pts, 2 reb, 3 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

This one was over halfway through the 1st quarter. The Hawks went up big, they went up early, and they dominated all night long. The Cavs never even got close to a comeback in a horrible showing. The Hawks did a great job of running their offense perfectly and playing some even better defense. Everybody on the Hawks shot well and it was a big win for the Hawks playoff hopes with New York losing.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Pero Antic: Antic didn’t do too much tonight. He only shot 5 shots, made 2 of them, and was just kind of out there. He didn’t hurt the team with his play though so no complaints.  6/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was the driving force behind this blowout. He ran the offense perfectly, showed the perfect aggression and created tons of open looks. 20 points and 12 assists for Teague, Kyrie Irving stood no chance. 10/10

Paul Millsap: Not to be outdone, Millsap had one hell of a game himself. Dominating the Cavaliers front line of Spencer Hawes and Tristan Thompson. 16 points, 11 rebounds, and he even tacked on a nice passing display with 6 assists. 10/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll was fantastic on defense and he even shot the ball well to go with it. 10/10

Kyle Korver: I’m starting to wonder if Korver is still a little hurt, he just hasn’t looked consistent ever since returning from injury. Not a good night for him with only 8 points and three makes, two from long range. 7/10 Continue Reading…