With the Pero Antic signing, the Hawks now have 10 men on guaranteed contracts for the 2013-14 season. Jared Cunningham’s contract can still be bought-out and DeMarre Carroll still hasn’t been signed, but for the most part, the ATL roster is taking shape.
So where does this leave Shelvin Mack?
Mack is one of three un-guaranteed contracts left on the roster, with Mike Scott and DeShawn Stevenson. Mike Scott’s performance in Summer League could push the team to pick up his option and the fact that Stevenson is still on the roster seems to indicate that the team is leaning towards keeping him.
Then you have this news on the Hawks looking to buy-out Lucas Nogueira’s contract with his Spanish team, Estudiantes. While Lucas could be better served by getting another year of playing time over in Europe, you have to consider this: Nogueira’s biggest weakness so far has been his lack of strength. He shows great instincts both offensively and defensively in the pick-and-roll, runs the floor well, and can protect the rim. Isn’t it a possibility that he’d be better served working with an NBA training staff for that year?
Anyways, if that does happen, the Hawks would have 15 players under some sort of deal: Horford, Teague, Korver, Millsap, Brand, Williams, Stevenson, Schröder, Nogueira, Jenkins, Scott, Antic, Cunningham, Mack, and Carroll.
NBA rules allow a team to have 13 active players and two inactive players on the roster. So while all of these players could fit into the roster, I find it highly unlikely that Danny Ferry makes the decision to keep everyone and carry a full roster going into the season. At which point, you have to decide: who gets cut? Stevenson seems like the first candidate, as he has the largest un-guaranteed contract. (two years, $4.5 million remaining) He was also terrible last season; as the team’s “defensive stopper” at the wing, the ATL defense was three points per 100 possessions WORSE when Stevenson was on the floor. His best attribute was that he shot around the league-average on threes, but that wasn’t much help towards the end of the season when DeShawn was battling injuries and bricking a ton of shots.
The Hawks would have Carroll, Korver, and Millsap available to play the three, so they don’t need to keep DeShawn for the sake of having a warm body to play a position. However, my concern is that the Hawks haven’t cut DeShawn yet. I figured this would be one of the team’s first moves this offseason and the longer it takes to happen, the more worried I get that he could stay on the roster. The Hawks may be waiting until training camp or the preseason to cut him, but it still looks dicey.
If DeShawn stays, you then have to look to Shelvin Mack and Jared Cunningham. Both played awfully at Summer League and are, at best, third on the depth chart at their respective positions. While Mack is probably the superior player, the fundamental difference is that Cunningham’s contract is guaranteed and Mack’s isn’t. With the way Ferry has assembled this cap-friendly roster, you have to question whether or not he is willing to buy-out Cunningham and pay him to play somewhere else this season.
With Teague and Schröder expected to take all of the minutes at point, and with Lou Williams capable of running the position for short stretches, Shelvin is really left without a place to fit in. With this being the case, I expect Mack to be absent from the Hawks’ roster by the time the season starts.