Hawks extend De’Andre Hunter

The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward De’Andre Hunter to a contract extension, which begins with the 2023-24 season, the team announced Monday.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a four-year, $95 million deal.

Hunter, 24, has a lot of ability, and last season, the 6’7 forward averaged 13.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 29.8 minutes. He scored 10-or-more points in 41 of his 53 games, including 11 outings of 20-or-more. Hunter hit double digits in 14 straight games from 3/3-3/20, the second-longest such streak of his career.

He had solid moments in the playoffs, including Game 5 of the Hawks’ Eastern Conference First-Round series against Miami. In that game, Hunter poured in a career-best 35 points on 11-21 FGs, adding 11 rebounds, three steals, and two assists in 43 minutes. He became the sixth Hawk in playoff history to finish with at least 35 points and 11 rebounds in a postseason contest.

Acquired by the Hawks on July 7, 2019, from the New Orleans Pelicans, Hunter was originally selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2019 NBA Draft.

The key for Hunter is health. In 2020-21, he played in only 23 regular-season games due to a knee injury, and when he returned, he tore his lateral meniscus in the playoffs. Last season, he missed two months of action due to a wrist injury. Again, if he can stay healthy, Hunter definitely can be a key piece for the Hawks this season and beyond.

Hawks name Korver Director of Player Affairs & Development

The Atlanta Hawks have hired former All-Star Kyle Korver as the organization’s Director of Player Affairs & Development, the team announced Wednesday.

In this newly-formed position, the 41-year-old will assist in creating and overseeing a development plan for each Hawks player in partnership with the coaches, athletic performance team and front office, according to the team.

“We are excited to bring Kyle back to the Hawks,” Hawks General Manager Landry Fields said via a press release. “He is a tremendous person and someone whose presence will benefit all of our players, both on and off the court, drawing from his unique experiences over his 17-year playing career, as a late-second round pick who later became an All-Star in Atlanta and one of the league’s all-time best shooters.”

Korver, who spent the 2021-22 season as a player development assistant with the Brooklyn Nets, returns to the Hawks, where he played in 332 regular season games over four-and-a-half seasons (2012-17), including an All-Star appearance in 2015. He was also the NBA’s Sportsmanship Award recipient in 2014-15.

He appeared in 1,232 career regular season games (and 145 playoff contests) in 17 seasons with Philadelphia, Utah, Chicago, Atlanta, Cleveland and Milwaukee. He ranks fifth in NBA history in three-pointers made (2,450) and seventh in career three-point percentage (.429), including the best single-season mark in league history (.536 in 2009-10 with the Jazz). Korver is the only player to ever lead the league in three-point percentage four times.

Hawks’ Griffin: ‘I’m just ready to get to work and play with a guy, Trae(Young)’

The Atlanta Hawks selected AJ Griffin from Duke with the 16th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday night. 

Griffin, 18, appeared in 39 games (25 starts) during his freshman season at Duke, averaging 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 24.0 minutes per game. 

The 6-6 Griffin is excited to play in Atlanta with Trae Young.

“I’m just ready to get to work and play with a guy, Trae(Young), I looked up to, just watching him play throughout the years,” Griffin said Thursday night. “It’s a surreal feeling.”

Griffin’s father, Adrian Griffin, played in the NBA for 10 seasons and is currently an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors. According to Griffin, he got a lot of advice from his father, who he’s looking to go against very soon.

“Man, he gave me so much advice,” Griffin said. “Just to be here today and just to share this moment with him, he just always told me the truth, always gave me the best advice a father could. I’m just truly grateful and blessed to be able to have a father like him. I’m just excited to see — trying to get that first win against him. Yeah, it’s definitely a blessing to have him as a father.”

Hawks assistant GM Landry Fields likes Griffin’s character and skill set. 

“First of all, he’s a tremendous character guy,” Fields said. “He’s got a great body. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor, which might be a little underrated. Hopefully, he can get out there on the defensive end and impose his will with the stature that he has. That’s something that we really want to add to our mix here. He’s going to put his best foot forward. He’s going to add a great culture piece to our locker room, and on top of that, he’s got game.”

Also, Atlanta acquired the draft rights to the 51st pick, Tyrese Martin from UConn, and cash considerations from Golden State in exchange for the draft rights to Ryan Rollins, the 44th pick.

The 21-year-old Martin(6-6) saw action in 29 games (all starts) for UConn during the 2021-22 campaign, tallying 13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 32.1 minutes (.449 FG%, .430 3FG%, .689 FT%).

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Trae Young names Eastern Conference Player of the Week

 Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played March 28 through April 3, the NBA announced today.

Young led the Hawks to a perfect 4-0 record this past week, averaging 30.3 points, 10.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 steal in 32.3 minutes of action (.462 FG%, .359 3FG%, .921 FT%). His 10.8 assists per game marked the second-most in the Eastern Conference (third in the NBA), while his .921 FT% marked the second-best clip from the line in the NBA (min. 35 FTM). Young was the only player in the East this past week to average at least 30 points and 10 assists and one of only two players to do so in the NBA.

In his first game of the week, a 132-123 win over the Indiana Pacers, Young dished out a season-high 16 assists. His 16 assists marked the second-most assists in a single game this past week, as well as the eighth 16+ assist outing of Young’s career.

Against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 30th, Young recorded his 10th 40+ scoring outing of the season, finishing with a game-high 41 points, a game-high tying eight assists, two rebounds and two steals in 29 minutes of play. The fourth-year guard registered his 41-point performance through only three quarters of play, marking his fourth outing of 40-or-more points through three quarters this season, the most by a Hawk since at least the 1993-94 campaign, per Elias Sports. Young, who has dished out at least five assists in all 10 of his games with 40-or-more points, has the most 40-point, five-assist outings in the NBA this season.

The Oklahoma product followed up his 41-point outing with a 30-point, nine-assist effort the following night in a 131-107 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. With his 30th point of the game, Young netted his 2,000th point of the 2021-22 season, becoming the first Hawk since Dominique Wilkins (1992-93) to pour in at least 2,000 points in a single season.

Young finished the week tallying his NBA-leading 19th 30-point, 10-assist outing of the season, notching a team-high 36 points, a game-high 10 assists and six rebounds in 35 minutes in a 122-115 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, April 2nd. It marked his 50th career outing of 30-or-more points and 10-or-more assists, only eight such games away from tying Magic Johnson for the seventh-most 30-point, 10-assist games in NBA history.

This season, the 6’1 guard is currently ranked first in the NBA in total assists (692) and second in total points (2,036). He’s the only player in franchise history to tally at least 2,000 points and 600 assists in a single season.

Behind Young’s leadership, the Hawks have won five straight games, the longest active winning streak in the Eastern Conference. Over those five contests, Atlanta is averaging 128.4 points, 45.8 rebounds and 26.4 assists, winning by an average margin of 13.8 points per game (.503 FG%, .414 3FG%, .813 FT%). The Hawks, who started last week 10th in the Eastern Conference standings, have moved into sole possession of the eighth spot.

This is the sixth career Player of the Week honor for Young and his third of the 2021-22 season (Nov. 29, Jan. 24, April 4).

Young joins Dominique Wilkins as the only Hawks to win the NBA’s weekly award three times in the same season.

Trae Young named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Jan. 17-23, the NBA announced today.

Young led the Hawks to a perfect 4-0 record this past week, averaging 31.3 points (3rd-most in the Eastern Conference), 4.0 rebounds, 9.0 assists (tied 3rd-most in the Eastern Conference) and 1.0 steal in 36.6 minutes of action (.464 FG%, .476 3FG%, .911 FT%). Young was the only player in the Eastern Conference this past week to average 30-or-more points and nine-or-more assists per game, while his .476 3FG% and .911 FT% led the league (min. 35 and 25 attempts, respectively).

The fourth-year point guard recorded back-to-back 30-or-more point, 10-or-more assist outings in two come-from-behind victories this past week, marking his third set of back-to-back 30+ point, 10+ assist contests this season. He surpassed Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul for the 10th-most such games in NBA history with his 41st career 30-point, 10-assist game on Monday, Jan. 17 against Milwaukee (30 points, 11 assists).

In a 134-122 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, Jan. 19, Young poured in 23 of his game-high 37 points in the third quarter (7-9 FG, 5-6 3FG, 4-4 FT). His 23 third quarter points marked a career-high for points scored in a third quarter, as well as the second-most points scored in any quarter of his career, and the most third quarter points by a Hawk in the last 25 seasons. Young finished the game with 37 points, 14 assists, five rebounds and one steal in 36 minutes (.588 FG%, .600 3FG%, 1.000 FT%). He became the first player in NBA history to tally 35+ points, 14+ assists and 5+ rebounds, while shooting .500-or-better from the floor, .600-or-better from deep and a perfect 1.000 clip from the charity stripe in a single game.

Young registered a game-high 28 points and a team-high seven assists in a 110-108 win over the Miami Heat on Friday, Jan. 21. He followed that performance with a game-high 30 points against the Charlotte Hornets in the team’s final game of the week on Sunday, Jan. 23. Young connected on a career-high eight three-pointers on Sunday for the second time this season and seventh time in his career.

The Oklahoma product led the Hawks past four teams this week with .500-or-better records at the time of competition: Milwaukee (27-18), Minnesota (22-22), Miami (29-16) and Charlotte (26-20). On Sunday, Atlanta held Charlotte to an opponent franchise-low .111 3FG% (min. 20 attempts) and the ninth-lowest three-point percentage in NBA history (min. 30 attempts).

This season, Young is the only player to be ranked in the top-5 in points per game (28.0, 5th) and assists per game (9.3, 3rd). He owns an NBA-leading 11 30+ point, 10+ assist games this season, while his 21 points/assists double-doubles are tied for second-most.

This is the fifth career Player of the Week honor for Young and his second of the 2021-22 season.

Hawks deal Cam Reddish to Knicks

The Atlanta Hawks have acquired forward Kevin Knox II and a conditional future first-round pick (Charlotte’s protected first-round pick) from the New York Knicks in exchange for forwards Cam Reddish and Solomon Hill and a 2025 second-round pick and cash considerations, the teams announced Thursday.

Because of what Atlanta has in terms of wing players(Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter), Reddish became expendable. Atlanta(17-23), who advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season, brought the whole team back this season, but they are struggling, and they needed to make a change, and there could be more moves on the way.

Also, it should be interesting to see if Knox, who was buried on the Knicks bench, will benefit from a change of scenery.

Regarding the Knicks(21-21), they, too, are off to a slow start, and getting a talent like Reddish, who reunites with his former college teammate at Duke, R.J. Barrett, can help, but we’ll see how he fits with New York going forward as they are also crowded at the wing spots.

This season, the 22-year-old Reddish, who was the 10th overall pick by the Hawks in 2019, is averaging 119. points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per contest.  

Knox, 22, is averaging 3.9 points and 1.8 rebounds in 9.2 minutes per game. The former Kentucky star was the ninth overall pick by the Knicks in 2018.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Hawks: ‘We let our guard down and it came back to bite us’

The Cavaliers started a three-game homestand Friday night against the Hawks. Cleveland got the start they wanted and had a 15-point halftime lead.

However, the Hawks picked it up in the second half and took the lead for good in the third. Cleveland had one last chance to tie the game late, but Kevin Pangos missed a three at the buzzer, and Atlanta defeated the Cavaliers 121-118.

Cleveland(20-16) has now lost three straight and four out of the last five, and Atlanta(16-19) snapped their three-game losing streak.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Hawks:

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Love is in the air!! Kevin Love had a season and team-high 35 points, including a game-high seven threes, 11 rebounds, and four assists in 30 minutes of action. According to Elias Sports, he’s the only Cavaliers’ player to tally 35-plus points and 10-plus rebounds off the bench since 1975. Love has been a great weapon off the bench, and this is his fourth straight game of 20-plus points or more. 

-Jarrett Allen is back after missing four games due to health and safety protocols. Allen picked up where he left off and scored 21 points(9/11 FG) and grabbed eight rebounds.

-Evan Mobley just gets it done. The rookie stuffed the stat sheet Friday night. He scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out five assists, and blocked three shots. This season, Mobley has tallied 14 multi-block games and leads all NBA rookies in blocked shots (51 blocks).

-Brandon Goodwin signed with the Cavaliers Friday and made his debut the same day. He had 13 points, six assists, four rebounds in 25 minutes of action off the bench. 

First Half: Cleveland shot 70% from the field(28/40 FG), including 5/11 from downtown in the first half. The Cavs shared the ball as they had 19 assists on 28 field goals. Cleveland had 42 points in the paint and took a 66-51 lead at halftime.

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

Third Quarter: Things got bad for the Cavs in the third. Atlanta went on an 11-0 run to take a three-point late and outscored the Cavs 40-22 in the quarter. The Hawks shot 62% from the floor, and Trae Young scored 12 of his 35 points in the third as Atlanta took a 91-88 lead into the fourth.

Three-point shooting: In the past three games, including Friday’s night loss to the Hawks. Cleveland has shot the three ball well in the first quarter, but it falls apart after that.

On Friday night, the Cavaliers shot 4/6 from deep in the first quarter. After that, they were 4/19 from three-point range against Atlanta.

In the last three games, they’ve shot (17/27)63% from three in the first quarter. However, in quarters two through four, they’ve shot 13/67(19%) the rest of the way.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland needs point guard help badly, and it continues to be a struggle without Garland and Ricky Rubio. Fortunately, Garland will be back at some point. It’s a difficult time for the Cavaliers, just like every NBA team, because of health and safety protocols.

We’ve seen what the Cavs look like when they’re whole, and that will happen soon enough, minus Rubio. In addition, they will get Rajon Rondo, so maybe that will help.

However, give Young credit. He’s a star, and stars make things happen, and that’s what he did Friday night for the Hawks.

“We were complacent because we had a lead, but you have to understand they’ve got winners over there who just went to the Eastern Conference finals,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We let our guard down and it came back to bite us.”

What’s Next:

The Cavaliers return to action Sunday when they host the Indiana Pacers.

Best of the Rest:

-Atlanta had six players in double figures. Young led the Hawks with 35 points and 11 assists. Clint Capela added 18 points and 23 rebounds, and Skylar Mays chipped in with 19 points.

-Isaac Okoro added 10 points(4/4 FG) for the Cavs. Cleveland was without Garland (Health and Safety Protocols) and Cedi Osman (Health and Safety Protocols).

-Atlanta had 12 players out due to health and safety protocols: Bodgan Bogdanovic, John Collins,  Sharife Cooper, Gorgui Dieng,  Malik Ellison, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Malcolm Hill, Jalen Johnson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Onyeka Okongwu, Delon Wright.

 

Hawks GM Schlenk on Huerter: ‘He’s developed into a versatile, two-way player’

The Atlanta Hawks have signed guard Kevin Huerter to a contract extension, which begins with the 2022-23 season, the team announced on Monday.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a four-year rookie contract extension worth $65 million.

“It was important to our group to secure Kevin as a part of our team moving forward,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Travis Schlenk in a press release to announce the deal. “He’s developed into a versatile, two-way player who can fit any lineup and can play minutes all over the perimeter. We are excited his future is in Atlanta.”

In 69 games (49 starts) last season, the 6’7 guard averaged 11.9 points, 3.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds and a team-best 1.2 steals (tied for 31st in the NBA) in 30.8 minutes (.432 FG%, .363 3FG%, .781 FT%). 

In 18 playoff contests in 2021 (10 starts), he put in 11.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 31.0 minutes (.428 FG%, .347 3FG%, .706 FT%). In helping vault the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in Atlanta franchise history, Huerter finished with a career playoff-high 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal in 40 minutes (10-18 FGs, 2-4 3FGs and 5-7 FTs) in a 103-96 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Philadelphia.

Atlanta selected Huerter in the first round (19th overall) of the 2018 NBA Draft.

Hawks extend C Clint Capela

The Atlanta Hawks signed center Clint Capela to a contract extension, which begins with the 2023-24 season, the team announced on Wednesday.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a two-year, $46 million extension. Capela, who had two years left on his deal, will be under contract through the 2024-2025 season.

Last season, Capela, 27, averaged 15.2 points, 14.3 rebounds(Led NBA), and 2.1 blocks. He recorded 48 double-doubles in 2020-21.

“Clint is one of the premier defensive and rebounding big men in the league. His presence in the paint and voice on defense had a tremendous impact on our success last season,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Travis Schlenk via a press release. “He is a great teammate who leads by example, and we are excited to have him as a part of our team long-term.”

Entering his eighth NBA season, Capela has appeared in 397 career regular-season games with the Hawks and Houston Rockets, averaging 12.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in 26.6 minutes.

Hawks’ Okongwu expected to miss six months after surgery to repair torn labrum

Atlanta Hawks C Onyeka Okongwu underwent surgery on Wednesday in Los Angeles to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, the team announced.

According to the Hawks, Okongwu will now enter a period of rest and rehabilitation and is expected to make a full recovery in approximately six months.

Okongwu, 20, was the sixth overall pick out of USC in the 2020 NBA Draft. In 50 regular-season games, he averaged 4.6 points and 3,3 rebounds per contest this season.