• Atlanta Hawks: 2020-2021 starters: locks, fringe guys, and break ins
    by Bre'ana Singleton on December 3, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    After having arguably the most active offseason in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks will need to figure out who will take the floor as starters this season. This year’s NBA offseason has been unlike any other we’ve ever seen with so many uncertainties swirling around the start of the season. With preseason games set to Atlanta Hawks: 2020-2021 starters: locks, fringe guys, and break ins - Soaring Down South - Soaring Down South - An Atlanta Hawks blog

  • Gallinari set to bring offensive firepower, leadership to Hawks
    by Brad Rowland on December 3, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty ImagesWithin a very short period of time, the Atlanta Hawks transformed their roster, adding established veteran talent to an up-and-coming group of young players. At the high end, the Hawks added Bogdan Bogdanovic — after the waiting game of an offer sheet — and Danilo Gallinari, with both players signing lucrative, multi-year contracts. Bogdanovic’s fit with the Hawks is cleaner on paper, with a poorly kept secret that Atlanta was looking to upgrade on the wing with something of a mandate to improve in the short term. From there, Bogdanovic brings an impressive and varied skill set to the table, and the four-year investment (with a player option at the end) is more than reasonable for a player of his talent and pedigree. In the case of Gallinari, however, the addition brought nearly as many questions as answers. The 32-year-old is one of the best offensive power forwards in the NBA, shooting the ball extremely well on the perimeter, attacking mismatches with effectiveness, keeping the offense moving as a passer and providing gravity in the form of spacing. At the same time, Gallinari is widely seen as a below-average defensive player and, at this stage in his lengthy career, he is primarily a power forward. Given that John Collins currently occupies that position in Atlanta, the first reaction of many — especially on a national level — was to speculate on the future of Collins with the Hawks. In the days since then, however, Hawks president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk told a group of season-ticket holders that Gallinari was made aware of the team’s plans to deploy him in a reserve role. On Wednesday, Gallinari confirmed that understanding when asked if Schlenk’s public comments were indeed correct. “It’s correct,” Gallinari said during his first media availability since joining the franchise. “One of the things I said before that excites me is the young guys that we got are very, very good and very talented, and I do believe in the young guys we’ve got. The young guys we’ve got are very, very good. If I didn’t believe in these young guys, I wouldn’t have picked the ATL. I really believe in the group that we’ve got. My focus since I’ve been playing basketball is winning. Whatever the coach wants me to do and needs me to do win, that’s what I’m going to do.’’ Gallinari’s belief in Atlanta’s young core is certainly encouraging and, given that he accepted the premise of a reserve role before signing, his actions back up his words. It should also be noted that Gallinari is a player with a mixed track record of durability and, while he remained healthy in Oklahoma City last season, that could be a product of load management. Gallinari appeared for fewer than 30 minutes per game with the Thunder and, with Collins and others on board in Atlanta, that relatively limited deployment — including the potential to rest on some back-to-back sets — might be the plan for the talented forward as he ages with his new team. One of the pillars of Atlanta’s offseason was also an investment in older players with leadership pedigree, headlined by Gallinari and Rajon Rondo. While Gallinari told the media that he is “not a guy that screams,” he spoke of leading by example and indicated that he believes one-on-one conversations “help the most” when trying to facilitate his knowledge to younger players. While the on-court fit with Collins may be a challenge on the defensive end in particular, Gallinari spoke glowingly of the young big man, and indicated a desire to both play with him and aid in his development. “I can definitely help him a lot,” Gallinari said of Collins. “I think he’s incredibly talented, offensively and defensively. He’s an amazing athlete, too. If you can combine all of those things together, be efficient on the court, only sky’s the limit. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with him and helping him out.” Beyond just Collins, Gallinari is also embracing the chance to bring his steady hand to the proceedings. He also expressed that “being able to help these young guys develop” is something he is looking forward to, as well as something he enjoyed at previous stops. ‘’When you are a veteran and speak to a lot of these young players, teach them a lot of things, it’s amazing to me the way they are able to translate that to the court,” Gallinari said. “If they listen and do what you say, they are going to get better game by game.’’ Specific rotational decisions will be interesting to monitor, with Lloyd Pierce and his staff suddenly facing the (very) good “problem” of almost having too many quality options. Much ink will be spilled — including in this space — on the additions and how they will work together, but Gallinari, Bogdanovic, Pierce, Schlenk and others are saying all of the right things. Gallinari opens up a number of lanes for Atlanta on the court. He forms a potentially deadly pick-and-pop duo with Trae Young, provides Pierce and the staff with another potential shot creator for the second unit, and presents another offensive threat that every NBA opponent will respect when he’s on the floor. In the end, though, Gallinari is in Atlanta to bring a combination of on-court weaponry and off-court leadership. When prompted on his individual goals for the upcoming season, Gallinari said the “only goal” he has is “to win as many games as possible.” Given that the Hawks are marching forward with a plainly stated objective to reach the playoffs and potentially create havoc in the postseason, Gallinari seems to fit in and, if nothing else, he is a well-respected presence that is also quite effective when he steps onto the hardwood.

  • Atlanta Hawks: How Onyeka Okongwu can reach Bam Adebayo ceiling
    by Josh Wilson on December 3, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Atlanta Hawks rookie Onyeka Okongwu can absolutely reach a Bam Adebayo ceiling The Atlanta Hawks took a chance with Onyeka Okongwu at No. 6 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft despite an immediate foot issue (broken left toe). Initial reports indicated the injury would keep him out for a very limited amount of time, nothing Atlanta Hawks: How Onyeka Okongwu can reach Bam Adebayo ceiling - Soaring Down South - Soaring Down South - An Atlanta Hawks blog

  • Atlanta Hawks: Was Onyeka Okongwu worth the risk?
    by Bre'ana Singleton on December 2, 2020 at 8:32 pm

    With the 6th overall pick in the draft, the Atlanta Hawks took Onyeka Okongwu to the surprise of many; here’s why he was worth it at that spot. In one of the more shallow drafts in recent years, the Atlanta Hawks had a ton of issues to address this offseason. With the sixth overall pick, Atlanta Hawks: Was Onyeka Okongwu worth the risk? - Soaring Down South - Soaring Down South - An Atlanta Hawks blog

  • ESPN model projects playoff berth for Hawks
    by Brad Rowland on December 1, 2020 at 7:09 pm

    Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty ImagesAfter a (very) busy offseason of transactions, the Atlanta Hawks are widely projected for significant improvement in 2020-21. As usual, there are differing opinions on just how much better the Hawks will be during the upcoming season but, on Tuesday, a prominent statistical model weighed in with a league-wide projection. Kevin Pelton of ESPN released his RPM (real plus-minus) projections for every team in the league and, with a 36-win projection over a 72-game season, he projects the Hawks at No. 8 in the Eastern Conference with a 63 percent chance to finish in the top eight. Here come the Hawks! After loading up on talent using cap space this offseason, Atlanta is favored to finish eighth in the East on the strength of a top-tier offense. The Hawks have the league’s sixth-best projected offensive rating, offsetting the league’s worst projected defensive rating. On the more positive side, it is encouraging for Atlanta to be projected at No. 6 in the NBA on the offensive end. Trae Young is one of the NBA’s best offensive players, and his presence in the center of it all should help the Hawks to be explosive. From there, Atlanta has a returning standout in John Collins, while also fortifying the team’s offensive attack through the additions of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari. In short, most can agree the Hawks project to have a (very) good offense as long as health cooperates, but the defensive projection from ESPN’s model isn’t ideal. To put it plainly, it seems too pessimistic to suggest that Atlanta will be the worst defensive team in the NBA, if for no other reason than the Hawks project to be better on that end this season and they were not the league’s worst defensive unit in 2019-20. In fact, teams like the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers were historically poor defensively last season, and neither made significant upgrades. Furthermore, the Hawks did invest in their defense over the last ten months, even if offense was more of a focus. Clint Capela is a staggeringly large upgrade from Atlanta’s center rotation last season, Kris Dunn is a defensive ace on the perimeter, and the Hawks should benefit from additional defensive seasoning for Young, Collins, Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter. All told, the Hawks may not rank in the top half of the league defensively but, without serious injuries, it is hard to see Atlanta being dead-last. In terms of the pecking order, the Hawks trail the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers in ESPN’s projected standings. However, Atlanta is almost in its own “tier” of sorts, with a 2.9-win gap between the Hawks and both the No. 7 team (Indiana) and the No. 9 team (Washington). Projections and predictions will continue to roll in as the season approaches but, on Dec. 1, a major statistical projection pegged the Hawks for the playoffs. That is a far cry from the last three seasons. Stay tuned.

  • Hawks release injury report before 2020-21 training camp
    by Brad Rowland on November 30, 2020 at 9:12 pm

    Photo by Courtesy of Onyeka Okongwu/NBAE via Getty ImagesTraining camp begins in the (very) near future, and the Atlanta Hawks released an official injury update on Monday, Nov. 30. While one of the injuries, involving rookie center Onyeka Okongwu, was previously known, two of the three ailments came as something of a surprise. Newly acquired guard Kris Dunn had an MRI on Nov. 24 and, following that exam, it was determined that he has “cartilage disruption” in his right knee. On the positive side, the Hawks say that Dunn is participating in “modified individual workouts” but, as is the case for all three injuries, he will be re-evaluated on Dec. 11. In addition, Dunn missed extended time with an injury to the same knee last season while with the Chicago Bulls, last appearing in a game on Jan. 29. Veteran wing Tony Snell, who was acquired in a swap for Dewayne Dedmon, also had an MRI in late November, and he has been diagnosed with “inflammation of the cuboid bone in his right foot.” He recently began a “graduated return to re-loading, including form shooting and conditioning activities,” but will be re-evaluated on Dec. 11. Finally, Okongwu’s well-documented foot injury was re-evaluated with an MRI on Nov. 20, and that confirmed “inflammation of the sesamoid bone in his left foot.” He also is facing a “graduated return to re-loading, including form shooting and conditioning activities,” with a re-evaluation date of Dec. 11. Though none of these players project to start when the Hawks begin the preseason in mid-December, all project as potential rotation options. However, a grueling schedule awaits and, particularly in the case of Okongwu, Atlanta is fully incentivized to take their time and ensure that he is 100 percent before he takes the floor.

  • Hawks draw rave reviews for offseason work
    by Brad Rowland on November 30, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty ImagesDecember is nearly here and, by this point, everyone paying any attention to the Atlanta Hawks realizes that the team looks much different than it did in mid-November. Onyeka Okongwu is now a part of the team’s nucleus for the future and, from there, Travis Schlenk and the front office added Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn to the mix to bolster the rotation for 2020-21 and beyond. With that as the backdrop, David Aldridge of The Athletic put together a ranking of the league’s 30 teams based entirely on what they did in the offseason. In fact, he expressly says this isn’t a traditional power ranking, but his own explanation lays out the objective. Aldridge notes the conceit to “Rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons, looking at everything, from how they drafted to what trades they made, to significant free-agent signings and to whether they participated in free agency much at all.” In addition, he expressly considers “the impact of new owners, new coaches, new GMs, potential new revenue streams,” while saying there is “no unassailable metric” to capture these rankings. In fact, Aldridge specifically uses the Hawks as an example of what these rankings are not trying to accomplish, stating plainly that Atlanta isn’t better than the Los Angeles Lakers, even if they had a better offseason. At any rate, the Hawks come in at No. 3 overall on this list, and Aldridge shares the following about that decision. The Hawks had a desire to become a playoff team after two years of a rebuild under GM Travis Schlenk and coach Lloyd Pierce. They’re certainly closer now after a slew of moves, bringing Gallinari, Bogdanovic and Snell to a group that finished DFL in the league in 3-point percentage (.333) last season. Atlanta will be better and more diverse offensively surrounding Trae Young, but I can’t automatically say the Hawks are postseason-bound. Dunn might be as impactful a pickup as anyone; he and Rondo and Clint Capela, who didn’t play a second for Atlanta after being acquired from Houston at the trade deadline in February, all should help improve the Hawks’ atrocious D from a season ago, and also allow Kevin Huerter and De’Andre Hunter to slide into more effective roles. But Capela, John Collins and Okongwu can’t all get center minutes. Something, or someone, is going to have to give there. Even for skeptics of Atlanta’s moves, the consensus certainly dictates that the Hawks are going to be vastly improved from the 2019-20 season. It will be quite interesting to see what Lloyd Pierce does with an exceptionally crowded rotation, but the Hawks now have five players — Young, Collins, Gallinari, Bogdanovic and Capela — that would rank in a consensus top-100 across the league. Oh, and that doesn’t even account for the other youthful talent with Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter and Okongwu, all of whom have the upside to become fully cemented starters in the coming years. The Hawks are among the teams that used the most resources specifically to improve for the upcoming season. In short, that paves the way for this kind of placement on a list ranking the most impactful offseason performances and, well, the expectation is that the Hawks should be in the playoff mix as a result. Stay tuned.

  • Legendary streetwear designer Don C. gifts Okongwu with exclusive apparel
    by Rashad Milligan on November 30, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Photo by John McCoy/Getty ImagesThe Hawks rookie collaborates with Kanye West’s best man on t-shirt design. Life comes at you fast when you become a lottery pick in the NBA Draft. In the midst of non-stop media, returning phone calls and text messages and traveling from California to Atlanta, streetwear designer Don C gifted Onyeka Okongwu with exclusive apparel ahead of draft night. The apparel Okongwu received was a part of Foot Locker’s “12 Days of Greatness,” which has been described as a unique basketball-inspired holiday collection celebrating universal love of the game. “In looking to use the draft as a moment to celebrate the return of the NBA and commemorate the next generation of stars,” a representative affiliated with the campaign told Peachtree Hoops. “Onyeka’s explosive game made him the perfect recipient for the exclusive merch.” The t-shirt Okongwu received reads “Focus” at the top in red-crayon like animated font, with the image of a ball swishing a net in the center, below the ball are the animated words “on the game,” in the bottom right corner is the No. 21 and the “Just Don” signature in the bottom left corner of the shirt’s graphic. “Just Don” is Don C’s streetwear and sports apparel brand. The No. 21 is Okongwu’s tribute to his late brother, Nnamdi, who wore the No. 21 at Chino Hills High School. The crayon-like animation represents Okongwu’s childhood ambition. “It’s me looking at it, dreaming about it as a kid,” Okongwu said. “Writing it as a kid in crayon, ‘Focus.’ It’s tough, for sure.” For clarification, “tough” is slang for “cool,” a modern form of “tight,” if you will. Don C is an avid sports fan whose fashion pieces often reflect that. In one of his latest efforts with Okongwu, his passion took no exception. “I thought back on the moments that basketball was the vessel to learn life principles and values – such as hard work, endurance and friendship – and tried to interpret those moments on some T-shirts,” Don C’s statement to Peachtree Hoops read. Don C has collaborated with many brands in the past including Louis Vuitton and the Jordan Brand. He was Kanye West’s former manager. He was West’s best man at the hip-hop artist’s 2014 wedding. Okongwu has repeatedly said he hopes his NBA career mirrors Bam Adebayo’s as an athletic, modern big with an explosive game around the rim on both sides of the floor. The Hawks rookie has caught many lobs in his young career, especially in high school from former teammates New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball and Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball. LaMelo and Okongwu have been particularly close, as the only two freshmen starting on Chino Hills 2016-17 team that went 35-0. Through the legs, off the backboard?Oh my.. Chino Hills LaMelo Ball to Onyeka Okongwu last night! @MELOD1P @BigO21_ pic.twitter.com/Jps2ARoGjk— Inland Empire Dreamers (@iedreamers) December 1, 2016 “I had every class with this dude, too,” LaMelo said in an interview with Fox Sports South’s Ashley ShahAhmadi. “Every day, we would go to the school, see the classes and go to the counseling office and just say, ‘Put us both in the same classes.’ “It’s amazing to see (Okongwu get drafted) now too, obviously. Seeing how hard he worked and everything, and seeing his goals and dreams come true.”

  • How the Hawks project to improve their three-point shooting
    by Wes Morton on November 29, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty ImagesHow can the recent additions improve upon Atlanta’s last place finish from long range? Entropy is a term used to describe the natural order of systems and processes to tend towards disorder and randomness. This leads to the study of energy dispersal, using entropy to describe and define natural laws like those of fluid dynamics and thermodynamics. Think about when a balloon pops. All of the high pressure air contained within escapes rapidly, and then gradually more slowly, into its more moderately pressurized surroundings. This is a similar behavior to people in confined spaces. People naturally want to escape shoulder to shoulder situations. When contained within a small space, such as an elevator, once the doors open there’s a random dispersion to fill the larger room. As it relates to basketball on a court, this effect is shown in constantly spacing the floor despite operating within a motion offense. When one player — especially the ball handler — leaves a space around the arc, the next player instinctively knows to fill it, like in the observations from the physical world described above. The Atlanta Hawks finished dead-last in the NBA in three point shooting in 2019-20, making just 33.3 percent of their attempts. Only three Hawks topped the league average three point mark of 35.8 percent — John Collins, Trae Young, and Kevin Huerter. With such a dearth of threats from deep, teams could key in on this trio and force them into tougher shots. Although Young, to an elite degree, and Huerter, to a lesser degree, create space for themselves and others to shoot, it has been easy for the opposition to game plan to stifle those two over the past two seasons. Young has been known to light the internet ablaze with his audacious confidence to pull up from anywhere inside the half court line. But his parking lot range serves a greater purpose than just social media interactions. This gravity to pull defenders out well beyond the arc can then exploit and break down a defense with a dribble drive and kick or high screen action. Still, no one man can truly lift the sea level enough to float an offense, as evidenced by Atlanta’s No. 26 ranking in points per 100 possessions in 2019-20. When Young has the ball in his hands, he is this offense’s sun with all the other moving parts orbiting around him. His top-five league usage is a heliocentric model of a solar system, one in which gravity maintains that all the planets move with the proper distance from each other to avoid orbital disturbances. Last season, Young made 144 unassisted three pointers per Basketball-Reference. The rest of his teammates combined made 63 unassisted one out of 600 total, or in other words, 90 percent of their made threes were assisted — most frequently set up by their do-it-all point guard. The overtime collapse in Miami last season was one of many unfortunate losses for Atlanta without the services of Collins. Here is how the final regular season play went, with the Hawks relying on either young, unproven shooters or declining veterans who weren’t suited for catch-and-shooting roles in crunch time. Head coach Lloyd Pierce calls for an off ball screen for De’Andre Hunter to use and curl towards the weak side corner, and then a side pick-and-pop for Huerter and a pick-and-roll for Jabari Parker. The Heat respond by hedging the screen by Parker and double teaming the most dangerous threat, Young. To his credit, Young recognizes the trap and sends the ball to the corner with the clock running down. The Heat are able to cover both the rolling Parker with Jimmy Butler’s awareness to help behind the double team, as well as lock up both adjacent options to the ball handler. Unfortunately for the Hawks, their crunch time lineup this night included the then 42-year-old Vince Carter who would shoot 30.2 percent from three last year, and a rookie in Hunter taking a key shot under heavy game situation pressure. There are two ways to handle this reality and improve upon their league-worst three point success rate: either acquire players who can make a high enough percentage of unassisted three pointers or lean into the solar system model and acquire better standstill shot makers. The Hawks may have just accomplished both. The Hawks signed two of the best available shooters in free agency in Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanović. This will allow Atlanta to field plus shooters at four positions, without even considering the possibility that Cam Reddish joins that party with an uptick from his 33.2 percent rate of a year ago. With the signing of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta has now acquired two players who finished in the top 15 of made catch & shoot threes last season in Bogdanovic and Gallinari. Trae has shooters.— AKelly (@andlankell) November 25, 2020 Gallinari in particular is such an accomplished offensive threat as a 6’10” forward with elite shooting and high post moves that his on court-off court net rating difference was the highest of all players in 2019-20 who averaged at least 15 minutes with 25 appearances or more. Gallinari’s ability to recognize when his star point guard draws the attention of the defense and relocate will be a boon for the Hawks’ offensive production. Below, once Chris Paul turns the corner, Gallinari follows into the area Paul vacated for the opening to shoot. But what happens when space can’t be created? When the shot clock is winding down is a revealing situations which demonstrates which players simply have the ability to get a good shot up while closely contested and which do not. In this play from early last season, Bogdanović has enough wiggle in a tight space to pull up in front of Alex Caruso. Make no mistake though, these live dribble threes are not the norm. Of Bodganović’s 2.7 threes per game over 61 contests, about 85 percent of them were assisted. The same is the case for Gallinari, who had 86 percent of his threes come from assists on about the same volume. These figures are right in line with the Hawks’s best secondary creators from a season ago, Reddish and Huerter, both checking in at around 5/6ths of their shots being assisted. Certainly, both will be reliant on their ability to shoot off the catch more than not, but the offseason additions give the Hawks four credible wing threats to create separation with their dribble and force the defense to close out from deep. One final note is, with the addition of Rajon Rondo, the Hawks have another veteran point guard to penetrate and set up shooters. Despite being a relative non-shooter himself, Rondo has recorded more than eight assists per 36 minutes and an assist rate north of 30 percent every season since 2008-09. His vision and passing skill has remained at an elite level, despite other facets of his game declining with age. Spacing tends to beget spacing in the NBA. If a team lacks options, opponents can clamp down on the few threats present specifically. By simply rostering and sending out lineups more flush with shooting, the openings reveal themselves, like putting weight on a bike to find the location of a leak in the tire. Squeezing your players into a confined space, whether it be two bigs in the lane or three wings on one half of the court, runs counter to the laws of nature. Dynamic systems seek an equilibrium, a balance between competing forces. By not allowing defenses to compress their pressure on one or two targets, spreading the floor obviates the ever-present gaps between defenders. It’s up to the Hawks to fill these gaps with intuitive movement and confident shooting.

  • Hawks preseason schedule released for 2020-21 season
    by Brad Rowland on November 27, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe Atlanta Hawks have been a hot topic in NBA circles, after the team made substantial investments to improve for the 2020-21 season. While the free agent frenzy is slowing across the league, the upcoming campaign is now rapidly approaching and, on Friday afternoon, the NBA announced the full preseason schedule for each of the league’s 30 teams. The first game for the Hawks will arrive on Friday, Dec. 11 against the Orlando Magic, with a scheduled tip-off time of 7:00 pm ET at State Farm Arena. Just two days later, the Hawks will host the Magic again, this time with a scheduled tip-off of 5:00 pm ET on Sunday, Dec. 13. Atlanta’s first road game of the preseason will be on Thursday, Dec. 17 against Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson and the Memphis Grizzlies, with a tip-off time of 8:00 pm ET. Finally, the Hawks will again face the Grizzlies on Saturday, Dec. 19, with the two teams taking the floor at 8:00 pm ET. Here is the full schedule: Dec. 11 — Hawks vs. Magic — 7:00 pm ET Dec. 13 — Hawks vs. Magic — 5:00 pm ET Dec. 17 — Hawks at Grizzlies — 8:00 pm ET Dec. 19 — Hawks at Grizzlies — 8:00 pm ET Further details will arrive in the coming days, but the schedule is beginning to come together. Stay tuned.

  • Hawks Salary Cap: Recapping the 2020 ‘Off-Season’
    by hawksfanatic on November 27, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe Atlanta Hawks 2020 Off-Season has come and gone in about a week’s worth of time. Since our last cap update, Atlanta traded Dewayne Dedmon for Tony Snell and Khyri Thomas (waived), drafted Onyeka Okongwu and Skylar Mays, signed Bogdan Bogdanovic to an offer sheet, signed Rajon Rondo, signed-and-traded for Danilo Gallinari, signed Skylar Mays and Nathan Knight to a two-way contracts, had Sacramento decline to match the offer sheet for Bogdan Bogdanovic, signed Solomon Hill, and will reportedly sign Kris Dunn this Friday. Let’s recap these recent transactions and discuss the biggest issue looming over the team — a potential John Collins extension. Current Cap Sheet At the moment, all but the Dunn transaction is official and technically Atlanta is over the cap by only $788,055. Since they started the off-season under the cap and have moved over the cap, they gained use of the Room MLE ($4,767,000) but aside from that can only sign players to minimum salaried contracts. We’re slotting Dunn into the Room MLE since that is the only available mechanism they have to sign him to the reported two-year, $10 million contract (which rounds up to $10 million). If Atlanta wants to make any roster moves, everyone is tradable except for the rookies (Okongwu, Mays, and Knight) until December 3rd, the new free agent signings (Gallinari, Bogdanovic, Rondo, Dunn, and Hill) until February 6th, and Tony Snell cannot be aggregated with other salaries (still OK to match salaries with him alone) until December 9th. That doesn’t leave much in salaries to trade away because the remainder are on their rookie scale contracts or minimums even if they are talented. Atlanta will have to wait a little bit of time before they can make any major shake-ups. Transactions and Implications Before our last group of transactions, we were still in the 2019-20 NBA Season from a Salary Cap Perspective. Atlanta was over the cap then, but we had projected they would have $43,625,811 in cap space for the 2020-21 Season. From there, Atlanta made the Dedmon transaction to close out the 2019-20 Season and were set up with $44,035,889 in cap space going into the 2020-21 Season. I’ll go through the implications for each transaction here: 2020-11-20: Dewayne Dedmon traded for Tony Snell and Khyri Thomas — this move had to be made using the traded player exception which allows Atlanta to take back salary up to $5 million of Dedmon’s outgoing $13,333,333. Because the trade wasn’t completed using cap space, Tony Snell is subject to the 2 month waiting period for having his salary be aggregated with other players. With a shortened season, the 2 month waiting period is condensed and he can be aggregated with others on December 9th. Khyri had a partially guaranteed contract that was slated to guarantee on November 23rd if he was not waived before then. 2020-11-22: Bogdan Bogdanovic signs an offer sheet for four seasons at $18,000,000 each and includes a 15% Trade Bonus — This move had to be used with cap space and implies that prior to this move, Atlanta renounced all of their rights to current free agents. Sacramento had two full calendar days to match, which they would decline to do and Bogdan officially joined Atlanta on the 25th. Bogdan cannot be traded until February 6th. 2020-11-23: Rajon Rondo signs to a contract for two seasons at $7,500,000 each Season and includes bonuses currently listed as Unlikely — Rondo was signed with cap space and cannot be traded until February 6th. 2020-11-24: Danilo Gallinari signs a three season contract for $61,425,000 with the Oklahoma City Thunder and is immediately traded to Atlanta, with cash, for a conditional second round draft pick — While Atlanta could have signed Gallinari with their cap space, and ultimately used their cap space to absorb the contract, Oklahoma City offered cash to Atlanta in order for Oklahoma City to create a Traded Player Exception for $19.5 million. This move hard capped Atlanta and they cannot spend more than $138,928,000 in 2020-21, which Atlanta is in no danger of passing. Gallinari’s contract is only guaranteed for $5 million in his final season which can allow Atlanta to move on from him with either a $5 million cap hit in 2022-23 or elect to stretch the salary at $1,666,667 over the following three seasons. Gallinari cannot be traded until February 6th. 2020-11-24: Nathan Knight and Skylar Mays agree to Two-Way Contracts — These do not count against the Salary Cap although both will be paid $449,155 and Atlanta can make them Restricted Free Agents at the end of their contracts. Neither can be traded until December 3rd although their salaries are not used for matching purposes in a trade as they do not count against the cap. 2020-11-24: Onyeka Okungwu signs his Rookie Scale Contract — This contract can be worth up to $26,422,143 over four seasons, although the last two seasons are Team Options. He cannot be traded until December 3rd. 2020-11-25: Solomon Hill signs a one-year contract — No terms have been reported but since Atlanta does not have cap space and are slated to give Dunn their Room Mid Level Exception, this must be a minimum salary contract. Atlanta will pay Solomon $1,620,564 although he will earn $2,320,044 (the difference paid by the NBA). There has been no reported guarantee date for Solomon’s contract, although the league-wide guarantee date is February 24th so if he is not waived by then it will fully guarantee. He cannot be traded until February 6th. TBD: Kris Dunn signs for the Room Mid Level Exception of $4,767,000 with a Player Option of $5,005,350 in 2021-22. He cannot be traded until February 6th. Looking towards 2021-22 As we look at the 2021-22 season’s cap space, we now see the expectation that Atlanta will no longer have cap space with the current projection of a 3% increase in the Salary Cap. That is a situation which assumes all of the rookie scale options are picked up and John Collins has not signed an extension but Atlanta still holds his Bird Rights (and $12 million cap hold). Under this scenario, Atlanta would have access to the Non-Taxpayer Mid Level Exception (estimated $9.5 million) and the Bi-Annual Exception (estimated $3.7 million) to make additional moves. If Atlanta decides to move on from Collins, then they would only be able to clear up to $11.4 million in cap space. This is a point in time where it starts to make sense to engage in meaningful conversations with Collins about an extension. The reason is straight-forward, Collins’ cap hold no longer has a large benefit to the team, because Atlanta cannot clear meaningful cap space by keeping his small cap hold on the books. Atlanta will be over the cap with Collins’ cap hold at the start of the 2021 Off-Season and it would take moving some combination of Gallinari/Bogdanovic/Capela in order to make Collins’ small cap hold meaningful again. All of this is not to say that I believe it is likely that there will be an extension between Collins and the Hawks prior to his December 21st deadline. Atlanta still has some incentive to let Collins set his market by asking him to enter Restricted Free Agency and find a deal, which would be capped at four seasons with 5% raises and can start no higher than 25% of the Salary Cap. Atlanta can actually offer Collins a contract for five seasons with 8% raises with a starting salary at 25% of the Salary Cap, but if Collins is not a highly valued player across the league then it does not make sense to overpay him and hinder your cap sheet in future years. On the flip side, any offer that Atlanta makes in an extension to Collins is likely to take the above into consideration and will have a significant discount to it. Is it likely that Collins, who has made known he believes a maximum contract should be in play for him, would accept a discount? Or might he be inclined to bet on himself and seek a maximum contract through Restricted Free Agency? With Atlanta blowing through their 2021 cap space, it is no longer a certainty that Collins won’t reach an extension. I am on the record that if Atlanta projected to have 2021 cap space then a Collins extension simply wouldn’t make financial sense, but now that the 2021 cap space is gone it opens the door for an extension to be reached. I would lean towards an extension happening less than 50% of the time, but I would no longer be shocked to see it.