Atlanta Hawks mini-bubble begins

While most of the league was included in the NBA restart at Disney in Florida, eight teams that had no shot at the playoffs were not. Here’s the Atlanta Journal Constitution with an update on some Hawks team activity:

The Hawks will stay in a hotel for these next two weeks and go back and forth from their practice facility. For the next two days, players (who can opt out, if they so choose, since participation is voluntary) and staff will be quarantining in their hotel rooms and receiving coronavirus testing, and after two negative tests, can participate in group workouts (which includes one hour of 5-on-5 per day) as of Wednesday. When inside, players and staff must wear masks when not actively eating/drinking or engaging in physical activity, and there will be daily coronavirus testing and strict hygiene guidelines.

As one of eight teams excluded from the Orlando restart, the Hawks were hoping much more team activity would be allowed, but no such luck. Because their time together as a team is so limited, focusing too heavily on X’s and O’s would be fruitless, especially considering players have to ease into more strenuous scrimmaging to avoid injury.

So the Hawks will use this time to incorporate a healthy Clint Capela into the mix, enjoy some team-bonding and socializing and just simply get up and down the court together as a team for the first time since March (the NBA season originally halted March 11 due to the coronavirus).

In G League news, Tori Miller named General Manager of College Park Skyhawks

The Atlanta Hawks and their NBA G League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks, today announced multiple promotions and a hire within the Basketball Operations group, including the promotion of Tori Miller to General Manager of the Skyhawks. Miller’s promotion establishes her as the first woman to hold the title of General Manager in the history of the NBA G League. Former Skyhawks General Manager Derek Pierce will continue to oversee Atlanta’s scouting department in his role as Vice President of Player Personnel for the Hawks.

In addition to Miller’s announcement, Atlanta has promoted Dwight Lutz to Senior Director of Basketball Strategy and Analytics, Zac Walsh to Director of Team Operations and Max Horowitz to Senior Data Scientist. The Hawks also announced the hiring of Justin Howe as Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist.

Miller, who was named Assistant General Manager of the Skyhawks on July 30, 2019, began her tenure with the organization as Manager of Basketball Operations three seasons ago with the Erie BayHawks. A native of Decatur, GA, Miller is a University of Miami graduate and spent time as a Basketball Operations Intern for the Phoenix Suns prior to her time in the G League.

Lutz finished his second season as Atlanta’s Director of Basketball Strategy and Analytics in 2019-20. He joined the Hawks following an 18-month stint as a Basketball Operations Analyst for the Minnesota Timberwolves and a four-year stay with the NBA where he served as Senior Manager of Game Analytics and Strategy. Lutz played four years of basketball while earning a degree in Mathematics from Trinity University before receiving a graduate degree in statistics from the University of Florida.

Walsh has been with the Hawks since 2002, holding the successive titles of Basketball Operations Intern, Equipment Manager, and Travel and Equipment Manager prior to earning a promotion to Director of Team Operations. The Atlanta native received the David “D.H.” Nordstrom Equipment Manager of the Year award in 2014 from the National Basketball Athletic Equipment Managers Association. Walsh earned a Business Management degree from Georgia Tech.

Horowitz served as a Data Scientist for the Hawks during the two most recent seasons prior to earning a promotion to Senior Data Scientist. The New York City native attended Carnegie Mellon University where he graduated with a degree in Economics and Statistics. He joined the Hawks after working first as a Specialist and then as a Basketball Strategy Senior Analyst for the NBA from June 2016 until October 2018.

Howe joins the Hawks in a full-time capacity after working with the Hawks’ Athletic Performance and Sports Medicine team in a part-time role in 2019-20. He attended Sheridan College and earned an undergraduate degree in Athletic Therapy before receiving a graduate degree in Sports Medicine and a doctorate degree in Physical Therapy from Georgia State University.

Atlanta Hawks statement on the retirement of Vince Carter

“Over the last two years, Vince Carter has been a committed leader, respected mentor and influential example on the court, in the locker room and in the Atlanta community. Throughout his historic 22-year journey covering an unprecedented four different decades, his evolving career arc was perhaps like none other in league history – from Top 5 Draft Pick to Rookie of the Year to Slam Dunk Champion to superstar and eight-time All-Star to Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year and valuable role player. It’s an honor to the Hawks organization that he completed his Hall-of-Fame career wearing Atlanta across his chest and representing our city.” — Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks designate Juneteenth as a permanent holiday

The Atlanta Hawks will now designate Juneteenth as a permanent paid company holiday for all its employees. The decision comes as many organizations are identifying specific ways to thoughtfully recognize and honor the full experience of African Americans in the shadow of the country’s on-going racial tensions.

According to juneteenth.com, this holiday is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery on January 1, 1863.

“I am proud of the decision our organization has made to recognize Juneteenth as a company holiday this year and going forward,” said Camye Mackey, Chief People, Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena. “This is one of many steps we’ll take to support the positive change we need to see in society.”

Atlanta Hawks statement on NBA return to play plan

STATEMENT FROM THE ATLANTA HAWKS

Yesterday the NBA announced a format to restart the 2019-20 season with 22 teams participating. This certainly wasn’t how we hoped our season would come to an end, and it’s fair to say that we are disappointed that our young team will not be allowed to gain more valuable time playing together by being included in the restart of the season. With that said, we understand and respect the countless difficult factors that entered into this decision for the league, and we realize that there are much more important things taking place in our community right now that deserve our attention.

We would like to recognize and thank our players for their dedication, connectedness and patience during this unprecedented time. We saw promising growth during the season and significant improvement individually and collectively from the start of the campaign through March 11. Since that time, our players, with the support of our coaching and athletic training staffs, have been diligent and professional in staying prepared, in the hopes of having the opportunity to restart their season and finish strong.

We remain engaged in finding ways for our team to compete and continue the important growth and development that was a core focus for our team this season.

Waiting game continues for eventual Clint Capela Hawks debut

The Hawks are about the future. And they took a big step in that direction with the addition of center Clint Capela. On paper, at least. On the court, Capela hasn’t started his Hawks career yet. He’s had a good seat at games. But remains out, injured, not ready to make a difference for Atlanta yet. This as the season is around six weeks away from ending.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution:

The 25-year-old center has been battling a nagging right heel injury since late December, and it has relegated him to the sideline since the Hawks acquired him in a four-team trade deadline deal Feb. 5.

“I’m not here to sit on the bench and clap my hands,” Capela, officially diagnosed with a right calcaneus contusion and plantar fasciitis, said at practice Thursday. “My job is to go out there and play and be dominant, as dominant as I can (be). So when I don’t do that, it’s hard.”

The Hawks (19-44) are obviously hoping for the same thing — a starting-caliber, rim-running center who can rebound the ball and bolster the team’s poor defense. But as Capela rehabs, it’s looking more and more like that will come to fruition next season instead of this one (which might not be the worst thing, since the Hawks, looking to become a competitive, playoff-bound team, sit 14th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference standings).

At this point, there’s no reason for Capela to rush back, other than to get a jump on building chemistry for next season.

Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon out with elbow injury

Atlanta Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon underwent a non-surgical procedure to address right elbow pain today.

He will miss the next three games (tomorrow vs. Brooklyn, Saturday vs. Portland, Monday vs. Memphis), will be re-evaluated on Monday.

In six games played for the Hawks this season, Dedmon is averaging 7.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game. Earlier this season, he played 34 games for the Kings, for whom he averaged 5.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game.

The Hawks are 17-43 this season.

Hawks TV ratings update

Here’s the Atlanta Journal-Constitution with an update on Atlanta Hawks TV ratings for the 2019-20 NBA season:

Ratings have increased 49% in the Atlanta TV market for Hawks telecasts on Fox Sports Southeast, compared to the same point last season — the third largest percentage increase in the NBA, according to a Sports Business Journal analysis of Nielsen data.Nevertheless, the Hawks’ average rating of 0.89 in their home market is the seventh lowest among the 27 teams included in the study. The Hawks’ rating means 0.89 of every 100 TV households in the Atlanta market, or slightly more than 20,000 homes, watch the team’s telecasts on average.

While star guard Trae Young has gotten the Hawks extra attention this season, the recent addition of center Clint Capela, who forms an interesting frontcourt alongside power forward John Collins, should create additional interest in the squad.

The NBA regular season resumes Thursday.

Hawks forward Jabari Parker out with shoulder injury

Atlanta Hawks forward Jabari Parker underwent a non-surgical procedure on his right shoulder earlier today at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex.

He will enter a period of rehabilitation and treatment. The Hawks will re-examine him in two weeks.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Parker has struggled with a right shoulder impingement and has missed five of the Hawks’ past six games, though he played a quiet 15 minutes in the Hawks’ loss in Boston on Jan. 3. He has also battled illness and a throat infection.”

The Hawks are 8-29 this season, which through Monday’s games is the worst record in the NBA. Parker is their third leading scorer, averaging 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, on impressive 50.5% shooting from the field. He has started 23 of 32 games played this season.

Hawks sign forward Paul Watson to 10-day contract

The Atlanta Hawks signed Paul Watson to a 10-day contract today.

The 6’6” forward has started all 13 games this season for the Raptors 905 of the NBA G League, averaging 18.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 34.3 minutes (.533 FG%, .467 3FG%, .706 FT%). He spent the previous two seasons in the G League with the Westchester Knicks, who selected him in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2017 G League Draft.

Watson played four years at Fresno State, where as a senior in 2016-17, he compiled 11.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 32.3 minutes (.414 FG%, .341 3FG%, .679 FT%).

The native of Phoenix, AZ led Paradise Valley High School to the state championship his senior year. He will wear jersey No. 2.