The hopes that Al Horford would retire a Hawk are dashed. The long term future of the franchise is not, however.

In case you hadn’t heard, the Hawks have agreed to sign Atlanta’s own Dwight Howard to a three-year, $70.5 million contract and will retain Kent Bazemore for $70 million over four years. Such was not the same fate, sadly, for the most tenured Hawk.

Remove the emotional aspect of the tumultuous past couple of days and come to realize this is by no means a disaster for the Atlanta Hawks. The team rebuilt the wing corps through the draft and were able to retain breakout star Kent Bazemore. They landed the much maligned but still effective Dwight Howard without having to commit to a fourth year.

Sure, their hopes of winning a championship are very slim this season, especially so if Durant lands on an Eastern team like Boston or Miami, but all you can hope is to be a top four seed in the conference and maybe a path towards the Finals opens up. There are 30 teams competing for one trophy and it’s unrealistic to have half of the teams contending and half rebuilding; there’s always going to be middle ground.

Besides, a Millsap-Horford core proved to be in the same non-contending boat. That duo had two true opportunities to dethrone Lebron’s reign on the Eastern Conference and failed woefully each time. Subsequently, the Boss received a nice severance package and headed to greener, shamrock-filled pastures and we went to Plan B. That’s just how the business goes sometimes.

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Feature Image: Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

There’s one thing I love about the NBA: when the action on the court finally ends, the NBA keeps going. And it comes thick and fast too. Game 7 of The Finals took place on June 19th, the NBA Draft just took place last Thursday (June 23rd) and now we’re about to head into the free agency period, beginning July 1st.

In free agency, you’re always treading in murky waters, but more so than ever this summer. Why? The salary cap is set to rise from $70 million to a whopping $94 million, with the salary floor (the figure of expenditure that teams have to reach) reportedly believed to be $84 million. Most teams are set to have at least $20 million in cap space, so teams are going to be throwing money left, right, and center.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how it all plays out, but what about for the Hawks? What’s their situation heading into free agency?

“What we have, we hold”?

The Hawks’ summer — just as it was last year — is set to be a very busy one. Franchise cornerstone Al Horford is an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, while Kent Bazemore is also hitting the market off the heels of his best season in the NBA. We’ll get to the Hawks’ other free agents later, but it’s all about Horford and Bazemore.

Let’s start with Horford, Atlanta’s cornerstone, and I have some things to say to his naysayers.

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that Al is not the greatest rebounding center out there. And I get it, Hassan Whiteside is a better rebounder, but if you think Hassan Whiteside is a better player — more so the idea that the Hawks are better off with Whiteside than they are with Horford — then you’re out of your mind.

General question I like to ask when it comes to free agency: is there a player available on the market who is better than the player you’re considering letting go? In this case, the answer is no. As an overall package, there is NO CENTER better than Al Horford on the market this summer. None. Continue Reading…

The arraignment for Hawks forward Mike Scott has been set for July 12th, according to the Banks County District Attorney’s Office.

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report, Scott was arrested on July 30th of last year for two felony counts of drug possession after a traffic stop. Officers found 35.2 grams of marijuana and 10.9 grams of MDMA. Scott accepted responsibility for the crime and took the fall for his brother, who was also arrested. Banks County formally filed a notice of accusation against Mike Scott in early June.

It will be interesting to see how Atlanta Hawks management approaches this situation. The arraignment takes place after the start of free agency and the $3.3 million team-option deadline on July 10th. His contract for 2016-2017 becomes guaranteed after that day, per Bobby Marks of The Vertical, but the Hawks may choose to move on if they don’t view him as a valuable asset in the last year of his deal.

Drafted in the 2nd round by the Hawks in 2012 NBA Draft, Mike Scott averaged 6.2 points, 2.7 boards, and one assist per game last season while shooting at a career-high 39.2% clip from three. He turns 28 on July 16th.

More updates to come when they are made available.

 

Coming into draft night the Atlanta Hawks had several questions to answer after shipping Jeff Teague to his hometown Pacers just a day earlier for the 12th pick. The move that helps Atlanta sign Horford and possibly bring back Bazemore. Atlanta struggled much of this season rebounding and taking care of the ball, with an undersized frontcourt and unsettling backcourt debate. However, just as detrimental as those deficiencies were, the lack of youth and athleticism were just as apparent.

 

Free agent Kent Bazemore was that youthful bright spot in the backcourt bringing energy, athleticism, intensity and shooting; but he will surely be sought after this summer and once again put the Hawks back in familiar predicament searching for a multidimensional asset at either the SG or SF position.

 

Despite how the draft unfolded, Hawks GM Wes Wilcox reassured importance of Kent Bazemore to this team.

 

Wilcox and Coach Mike Budenholzer elected to address those needs in this draft by selecting Taurean Prince (6’6) and DeAndre Bembry(6’8), Two hard working individuals that possess not only athleticism, but the ability to score in a variety of ways that fit the hawks system, qualities that were glaringly missing as LeBron and company swept their season away once again. As they’ve shown in the past, the possibility of losing their most versatile player (like demarre last summer) prompted their decision to draft these two in hopes they too embrace and flourish within Budenholzers developmental system like Bazemore.

Wilcox talks about the focus of this draft

 

Prince averaged 15 points (leading scorer) and 6 rebounds per game leading Baylor to the NCAA tournament, where they were upset in the first round by 12th seed Yale. His versatility fits right into the scheme coach Bud employs, he prefers players like Demarre Carroll and Thabo Sefolosha, who are interchangeable between either the 2 or 3 spot. Prince compares mostly to Demarre because of his 6”11 wingspan and lateral quickness that assist in his effectiveness as defender. Offensively, Prince may be limited somewhat as a ballhandler, but the ability to knock down the three point shot, mainly catch n shoot, was apparent in the loss versus Yale as he went 4-7 from beyond. Prince can contribute right away by being that high motor disrupter defensively and floor spreader offensively that we saw at Baylor. Despite his troubles creating opportunities for himself off the dribble right now; Budenholzer’s system doesn’t require that skillset from his wings, it highlights everything Prince is made of.

 

The A-10 Player of the Year, Deandre Bembry, provides the hawks with more playmaking, more versatility defensively along with a team-oriented mindset that coincides with Atlanta’s concept. Because of his ballhandling skills and quickness, he has a knack of finding the seams in defenses comfortably, thus creating opportunities for himself and others. In his final year as a St. Joseph Hawk, Bembry was only one of three players in the nation to average at least 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4 assist, Ben Simmons and Denzel Valentine were the others two.

 

“He’s a good Hawks fit. He can handle, he can pass, and he’s unselfish. He is an exceptionally great passer, said Wilcox.

 

Deandre talks about his versatility

 

Shooting currently is his biggest obstacle, consisting of his mechanics (slow release and shoots on the way down) shot selection and three point woes(just 26% last season). Luckily for him, Hawks shooting coach Ben Sullivan has done a remarkable job with Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha; but even more notably he played a large part in Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard’s development as shooters during his time in San Antonio. He will surely have his work cut out for him with Bembry as a shooter, but his all around game fits just right.

 Lets be honest, neither one of these guys were what many Hawks fans expected. But they are definitely what were needed.

 

“We are confident in the work we’ve done and the time we put in to this”, said a smiling Wes Wilcox post-draft.

Photo cred: Randy Belice/NBAE/Getty Images

It’s been a wild couple of days.

The Hawks managed to secure themselves the 12th overall pick to add to their own 21st pick. But it came at a cost: Jeff Teague is gone, headed to Indiana in the same deal will send George Hill to Utah and (from Utah) the 12th overall pick to Atlanta. Now, the trade hasn’t been made official yet (and probably won’t until July), so the Hawks can’t actually confirm Prince as their draft pick, but you can take it on good faith that the Jazz selected for the Hawks last night.

12th overall pick

With the 12th pick the Hawks drafted Taurean Prince out of Baylor. I was ecstatic with the Hawks selecting Prince, I think he’s an excellent fit for the Hawks, possessing a lot of tools that the Hawks like in their wing players.

From Part 2 of our Hawks Draft Preview:

Prince, meanwhile, possesses very good height for a small forward, standing 6’8 tall (with a 6’11.5 wingspan to boot). He looks great physically, with a strong frame to accompany his other strong physical attributes. Prince’s size and his long arms would also help the Hawks improve a facet of their game that could always do with improvement — rebounding.

He’s exactly the kind of wing the Hawks need — defense, three-point shooting, defensive length (6’11.5 ft), legitimate size (6’8) — and I can envision him playing a significant role for the team next season. I’m a firm believer that he’s going to be a (possibly very) good defender, but it’s worth noting that Baylor did play a zone defense so we don’t have the full picture when it comes to Prince’s defense, but I have no reason to doubt it.

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In sports, it’s always about the next man up. Eventually the status quo is going to chang, and you are going to need guys that are ready to step up and move the team into the future.

In 2011, that next man up happened to be Hawks point guard Jeff Teague. Around the trade deadline that season, the Hawks traded their starting point guard, sending Mike Bibby to Washington in favor of Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich was recovering from some injuries at the time, so a young Teague got a chance to start for a few games before Hinrich was ready to take over the reins.

Those starts between then and the end of the season showed one thing for Teague: he definitely had some promise, but he had a lot of work to do before solidifying himself as a starting caliber guard in the NBA.

Then came the playoffs that year and everything changed. Once again, Hinrich found himself out of action, straining a hamstring in the deciding Game 6 against the Orlando Magic in the first round. The veteran point guard was listed as doubtful for the entire second round, putting the Hawks in dire straits as they went up against the East’s No. 1 seed: the Chicago Bulls and league MVP Derrick Rose. Continue Reading…

Feature image: Source: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America

In Part 1 of this Atlanta Hawks draft preview, we identified that given the nature of Kent Bazemore’s free agency (with the unprecedented spike in salary cap) and his Early Bird Rights, and given the Hawks’ lack of wing depth, the wing positions are in the most need of improvement in this draft. Now that we’ve identified what position the Hawks should look to draft in (here’s Part 1, in case you missed it), let’s go through some actual draft candidates.

But first, some house cleaning…

It’s worth mentioning before we start, today’s topic revolves around who the Hawks may select with the 21st overall selection, and not their two second round picks. Why are we only discussing their first round pick? It would just drag on forever if we go through second round prospects too…

When considering players, I’m making a conscious effort to find players that would “somewhat” fit in the Hawks system. So, players like Malachi Richardson — who’s probably not falling to 21 anyways — who love to shoot, play isolation, shoot, to not pass, shoot, kills the play, and shoot, I’m not including. There’s not many players like this (it’s mainly just Richardson, actually), but I thought it was worth mentioning. This may or may not have been an excuse to exclude Malachi Richardson…

I’m not including players who will clearly not be available at 21. When I say “clearly”, I mean the top prospects like Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown — who are clearly being selected by lottery teams — not the Wade Baldwin’s and Deyonta Davis’ of the world, who may or may not be selected in the lottery. That should go without saying, but there’s always one person out there…

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Motion. Passing. Selflessness.

These are just a few tenets by which Hawks management have instilled into the team since a changing of guards in the summer of 2012.

Over the past few seasons, as the coverage of the NBA has permeated different international markets and national TV deals have accelerated both the salary cap (projected to be $94 million or greater in 2016-17, a 30% jump from this year) and league revenues, the business has become even more scrutinized.

Teams are valuing floor spacing and shooting from all five positions on the floor. Copycat franchises snatch up coaches and executives from successful regimes in an attempt to emulate the former organization’s glory. Even the short Mike Budenholzer reign has been a raided a bit by teams looking to turn Hawks assistants into a culture change for their own club, like the Jazz and the Nets.

We all saw in 2014-15 that when mastered, the whirling offense can cause headaches for opponents. Atlanta had the sixth best offense by ORtg (108.9) while shooting a blistering 38.0% from beyond the arc, second in the association.

This past year, the story was very different. The calendar flipping from 2015 to 2016 saw the Hawks play elite defense, lowering their season mark to an impressive 101.4 DRtg, second in the league per the NBA’s stats, from a 60 win team that posted a 103.1 DRtg. Unfortunately, the team stumbled badly on the other side of the floor.

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(Feature image: Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

Ah, draft night… One of my favorite dates on the NBA calendar. I don’t know what it is about this day that I look forward to so much. I suppose the fascination of which player ends up where, and what he can contribute to his new team is what which really grips me the most. What said player will be able to blossom into over the next few years, what said player’s arrival means for an existing player on the team already, and so on…

Personally, I find it hard to explain why I love draft day so much — it’s just a great day for all involved. Unless you’re the Brooklyn Nets this year, in which case, there’s always next year. Or 2019, whichever.

It’s not just a very interesting day for the fans — who spend weeks speculating and discussing/arguing who their team should select — but it’s also an interesting day for executives all around the league, as the future of their franchise potentially hangs in the balance by a thread of one draft pick. Some executives, however, are going to be busier than others, with the Nuggets, the Celtics, the Suns, and the Sixers all owning at least three first round picks. Each.

It’s going to be a pretty busy day for Atlanta Hawks too, who have the 21st overall selection as well as two second round selections (44 and 54).

Naturally, the question all Hawks fans are asking is “Who should we draft?”. But to thoroughly answer that question, we must do our research, and identify all the different forces at play here. There’s all sorts of different avenues the Hawks could explore when approaching this year’s draft, and today we’re going to address them — and by doing so, identifying the area (the area that I at least believe) the Hawks should draft in. Then we’ll be able to ask, and answer, the original question.

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Jeff+Teague+Cleveland+Cavaliers+v+Atlanta+Ub0xV6AZn1Ol

(Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America) 

It was normal day here in Ireland yesterday and I’m just scrolling through Twitter on a beautiful Irish evening — on a day where I should’ve been absorbing all The Finals media buzz — when suddenly I see the Hawks Twitter-sphere explode after Sham Charania of Yahoo Sports’ The Vertical tweeted this.

Quite the Tweet, wouldn’t you say? Out of the blue too. Even neutral fans were taken aback with this development.

Let’s give some brief context as to why this has arose:

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