Atlanta Hawks sign Skylar Mays to two-way contract

The Atlanta Hawks have signed guard Skylar Mays to a two-way contract.

Mays, a 6’4 guard, averaged 3.8 points and 1.1 rebounds in 8.2 minutes as a rookie for the Hawks last season (.449 FG%, .350 3FG%, .880 FT%) in 33 contests. He scored in double-figures five times, including Feb. 12 vs. San Antonio, when Mays set a career-high in points (20), adding three assists in 17 minutes (7-10 FGs, 4-5 3FGs, 2-2 FTs). In Atlanta’s final regular season game (May 16 vs. Houston), he finished with 16 points, a career-best seven assists and two blocks in a career-high 27 minutes (7-11 FGs, 2-5 3FGs). Mays also played in seven postseason games, totaling eight points.

In four contests with the Hawks at the 2021 NBA Las Vegas Summer League, he compiled 18.8 points, 3.8 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 28.7 minutes (.463 FG%, .333 3FG%, 16-16 FTs).

Selected by the Hawks in the second round (50th overall) of the 2020 NBA Draft, Mays originally signed a two-way contract with the Hawks on Nov. 24, 2020. As a senior at LSU in 2019-20, he averaged 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals in 34.5 minutes, earning first-team All SEC honors. The three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American was the 2020 Academic All-American of the Year. He is a summa cum laude graduate with a degree in kinesiology.

Atlanta Hawks hire Nick Van Exel as an assistant coach

The Atlanta Hawks have hired Nick Van Exel as an assistant coach.

Van Exel isn’t new to the Hawks organization, though it’s been a while. He was previously a player development instructor for the Hawks from 2010-12.

“Since his playing career ended, Nick has been very successful in helping develop young guards for the teams he’s worked with, including several that have turned into All-Stars,” said Hawks Head Coach Nate McMillan. “We feel he’ll be a great addition helping our young core guards continue to progress.”

Van Exel returns to Atlanta from the Dallas Mavericks, where he was a scout the last two seasons. The former head coach of the Texas Legends of the NBA G League (2015-16), Van Exel also has coaching experience with the Memphis Grizzlies (2016-19), Milwaukee Bucks (2013-14) and Texas Southern University (2009-10).

The 1998 NBA All-Star played 13 years in the league (1993-2006) with the LA Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. In 880 career regular season games (670 starts), he averaged 14.4 points, 6.6 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 32.9 minutes (.405 FG%, .357 3FG%, .794 FT%). He also saw action in 76 playoff games (27 starting assignments), averaging 13.6 points, 4.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 31.4 minutes.

The native of Kenosha, WI started his collegiate career at Trinity Valley Community College (Athens, TX) before spending his final two seasons at University of Cincinnati, where he was named Associated Press Third-Team All-American as a senior. Van Exel was selected by the Lakers in the second round (37th overall) of the 1993 NBA Draft.

Atlanta Hawks sign Gorgui Dieng

The Atlanta Hawks have signed center Gorgui Dieng.

“With the signing of Gorgui, we’ve added more size and depth to our frontcourt rotation. He’s an experienced big with length who can space the floor and defend,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Travis Schlenk.

Dieng, a 6’10 center, played in 38 games (one start) last season with the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs, averaging 6.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 14.5 minutes (.521 FG%, career-bests of .429 3FG% and .866 FT%). In 553 career regular season games (205 starting assignments) with the Timberwolves, Grizzlies and Spurs, the eight-year veteran has averaged 7.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 21.5 minutes (.501 FG%, .357 3FG%, .793 FT%). He has five games of postseason experience (with Minnesota in 2017-18), averaging 3.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in 14.0 minutes.

The native of Senegal was selected in the first round (21st overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft by Utah before being traded to the Timberwolves on draft night. He won the 2013 NCAA Championship in his junior season at Louisville, when he was also named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year and All-Big East First Team.

Three-team NBA trade sends Tristan Thompson to Kings

The Atlanta Hawks today announced the team has acquired guard Delon Wright as part of a three-team transaction with the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings. Kris Dunn, Bruno Fernando and a 2023 second round pick go to Boston, while Sacramento receives Tristan Thompson.

The second-round pick being conveyed is Portland’s own second-round pick that Atlanta had received from the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a trade for Lou Williams on March 25, 2021.

“One of our priorities entering the offseason was to solidify the backup point guard spot. Delon is a consistent two-way guard who has been a part of several successful teams. We think he’s a great fit here.” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Travis Schlenk. “I’d also like to thank Bruno and Kris for their contributions to the Hawks, and I want to wish them well as they continue their careers.”

Wright appeared in 63 games (39 starts) last season with Detroit and Sacramento, averaging career-highs of 10.2 points, 4.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals in a career-best 27.7 minutes (.463 FG%, .372 3FG%, .802 FT%). He scored 10-or-more points 30 times and 20-or-better six times, recording double figure assists twice. Wright ranked tied for seventh in the NBA in spg.

In 334 career regular season games (62 starts) with Toronto, Memphis, Dallas, Detroit and Sacramento, the 6’5 guard has compiled 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 21.3 minutes (.453 FG%, .350 3FG%, .792 FT%). In 32 postseason contests with the Raptors and Mavericks, he’s averaged 4.4 points, 1.4 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 12.5 minutes (.467 FG%, .400 3FG%, .756 FT%).

Selected by Toronto in the first round (20th overall) of the 2015 NBA Draft, the native of Los Angeles played his final two collegiate seasons at Utah after transferring from City College of San Francisco. In 68 career games (all starts) with the Utes, he averaged 15.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.1 blocks in 34.8 minutes. He was the recipient of the 2015 Bob Cousy award, given to the nation’s top point guard. Wright earned All-Pac 12 First Team and Pac 12 All-Defensive Team honors in both of his seasons with Utah.

Wright’s brother, Dorell, played 11 seasons in the NBA with Miami, Golden State, Philadelphia and Portland.

# TrueToAtlanta #

Atlanta Hawks sign rookies Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper

The Atlanta Hawks a few days ago signed rookie draft picks Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper. Cooper’s contract is a two-way contract.

Johnson, the Hawks’ first round pick (20th overall) in the 2021 NBA Draft, appeared in 13 games last season (eight starts) during his freshman season at Duke, averaging 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 21.4 minutes (.523 FG%, .444 3FG%, .632 FT%).

In his collegiate debut on Nov. 28 vs. Coppin State, the 6’9 Johnson tallied 19 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and four blocks in 35 minutes (8-8 FGs, 1-1 3FGs, 2-2 FTs). On Jan. 19 at Pitt, he put in 24 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and two steals in 33 minutes (8-15 FGs, 1-1 3FGs, 7-10 FTs). In a Jan. 26 contest against Georgia Tech, Johnson scored 18 points on 7-11 FGs and 4-6 FTs in 24 minutes, adding six rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks.

Johnson began his high school career at Sun Prairie High School (WI), where he put in 18.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.5 blocks, leading the Cardinals to a 25-2 mark and an appearance in the state semifinals. He spent his final two seasons at Nicolet High School (WI), averaging 24.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists as a senior. He is a native of Milwaukee, WI.

The 6’1 Cooper, selected by the Hawks in the second round (48th overall) of the 2021 NBA Draft, appeared in 12 games as a freshman last season at Auburn and averaged 20.2 points, 8.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 33.1 minutes. He scored in double figures in all 12 contests, including a career-best 28 points twice (Jan. 13 at Georgia and Jan. 26 vs. Missouri). He is one of two NCAA Division I freshman in the last 30 years (joining Trae Young) to average 20 points and 8 assists per game.

Cooper played his high school ball at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, where he led the team to the first state title in school history as a junior in 2018-19 and has his jersey retired. He is a former Mr. Georgia Basketball and Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year. He was born in Newark, NJ before moving to the Atlanta area. His sister, Te’a, plays for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.

Only players with three-or-fewer years of NBA experience are permitted to sign two-way contracts. Per league rules, teams are allowed to have up to two two-way players on their roster at any given time, in addition to their 15-man regular season roster. A two-way player for the Hawks will spend time with the team’s NBA G League Affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks, but can be on the Atlanta Hawks’ active list for up to 50 games during the 2021-22 regular season.

Atlanta Hawks sign Trae Young to contract extension

The Atlanta Hawks yesterday announced the team has signed guard Trae Young to a contract extension, which begins with the 2022-23 season.

“This is a great day for the Hawks franchise and the city of Atlanta. Trae is a special player and person who from Day One, embraced being a leader on the court and in our community. We are excited to have him as the cornerstone of our program long-term as we work toward our goal of bringing a championship to Atlanta,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Travis Schlenk.

Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “according to people familiar with the situation, Young’s is a max deal for five years and as much as $207 million, if he makes an All-NBA team next season.”

“I’m grateful to the Hawks, the Ressler family, my teammates and the entire Atlanta community for embracing me from the very beginning,” Young said. “I’m honored and excited to keep building with this great organization.”

Most recently, Young helped lead the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in Atlanta franchise history, averaging 28.8 ppg and 9.5 apg during the team’s run, becoming the first player in NBA history to post at least 20 points and seven-or-more assists in each of his first 13 career playoff games. In Game 1 of the Hawks’ Eastern Conference Finals win (6/23 at MIL), Young finished with a postseason-career-high 48 points, adding 11 assists and seven rebounds in 41 minutes, becoming the first player in league history with at least 45 points and 10 assists in a Conference Finals game.

During the 2020-21 regular season, Young put in 25.3 points (14th in the NBA), 9.4 assists (2nd) and 3.9 rebounds in 33.7 minutes (.438 FG%, .343 3FG%, .886 FT%), leading the NBA in free throws made (484). He was the only qualifying player to average at least 25 ppg and 9 apg.

The Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the final week of the regular season, Young became the fastest Hawk (167 career games) to score 4,000 points on 2/17 at Boston. On 1/29 at Washington, Young became the fastest player in league history (159 games) to reach 400 career three-pointers.

In the 2020-21 season opener on 12/23 at Chicago, Young poured in a game-high 37 points on 10-12 FGs, 5-6 3FGs and 12-14 FTs in 26 minutes, setting an NBA record for most points scored by a player who took 12-or-fewer field goal attempts.

Since the start of his rookie season, Young ranks second in the NBA in total assists (1807) and fourth in three-pointers made (1308). He has compiled 63 games of 20-or-more points and 10-or-more assists, second-most in the league (James Harden, 65). His 31 30-point/10-assist contests is also second-most during that span (Harden, 33). Young has 63 career games of 30-or-more points, the most in Hawks franchise history over their first three seasons (Bob Pettit, 58). He has gone for 40-or-more points 16 times in his career, tying LeBron James for the third-most by a player in his first three seasons since 1976-77 (Michael Jordan 44, Shaquille O’Neal 19).

An All-Star starter for the Eastern Conference in 2020, Young appeared in 60 games in 2019-20, averaging 29.6 points (4th in the NBA), 9.3 assists (2nd in the league), 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 35.3 minutes (.437 FG%, .361 3FG%, .860 FT%).

As a rookie in 2018-19, Young was a unanimous selection to the NBA All-Rookie First Team after averaging 19.1 points, 8.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 30.9 minutes (.418 FG%, .324 3FG%, .829 FT%) in 81 contests (all starts). Among qualifying rookies, Young ranked 1st in apg, 2nd in ppg and FT%, 3rd in mpg, 6th in spg and 10th in rpg.

Atlanta Hawks re-sign John Collins

The Atlanta Hawks yesterday announced the team has re-signed forward John Collins to a long-term contract.

“We have a great appreciation for John and all he provides for our team; he is an incredible team player who brings the type of positive energy and passion that is contagious and impacts winning. John is beloved by his teammates, our coaches and our fans and we are happy that he will continue to grow along with our young core,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Travis Schlenk.

Per AJC.com, it’s a five-year, $125 million deal.”

“It’s a blessing to stay where I started my career and continue to give my all for the fans and for the city of Atlanta. Last season was just a start for us and I know even better things are ahead,” Collins said. “I want to thank the Hawks for their belief in me and I can’t wait to get started again.”

In 63 starts last season, Collins averaged 17.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 blocks in 29.3 minutes (.556 FG%, .399 3FG%, .833 FT%). He finished 18th in the NBA in FG%, tied for 23rd in rpg and 26th in bpg. He scored 10-19 points 35 times, 20-29 points 14 times and 30-39 seven times, and pulled down double-digit rebounds on 16 occasions. He led the Hawks in scoring 11 times, rebounding nine times, steals seven times and blocks 21 times. During the Hawks’ recent run to the Eastern Conference Finals, Collins put in 13.9 points and 8.7 rebounds in 32.0 minutes (.549 FG%, .357 3FG%, .833 FT%), starting all 18 contests.

His 44 career 20-point/10-rebound games since being drafted are the most by any player in the 2017 NBA Draft class. Collins is Atlanta’s career leader in FG% (minimum 1000 FGM) at .567 FG%.

Collins played in 41 games during the 2019-20 season (all starts) and averaged career-highs of 21.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 33.2 minutes (.583 FG%, .401 3FG%, .800 FT%), ranking eighth in the NBA in FG%. He scored in double figures 38 times, including 24 games with 20-or-more points and seven of 30-or-more, recording 22 double-doubles. In February, 2020, Collins became the first player in NBA history to average at least 25.0 ppg and 10.0 rpg while making .600 FG%, .500 3FG% and .800 FT% (minimum two games).

In 2018-19, Collins led the Hawks in ppg and rpg, averaging 19.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 30.0 minutes (.560 FG%, .348 3FG%, .763 FT%) in 61 games (59 starts). He ranked 15th in the league in ppg, t14th in rpg, 16th in FG%, and was one of only seven players to play at least 60 games and post at least 19.5 ppg and 9.8 rpg. At All-Star Weekend, Collins participated in the Rising Stars game and Slam Dunk competition.

As a rookie in 2017-18, Collins was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team after averaging 10.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 blocks in 24.1 minutes (.576 FG%, .340 3FG%, .715 FT%) in 74 contests (26 starts), ranking seventh in the NBA in FG%, t25th in bpg and 33rd in rpg. He led all rookies in offensive rebounds (176), ranked second in FG% and bpg, third in rpg, fifth in double-doubles (11) and 11th in ppg. During All-Star Weekend, he participated in the Rising Stars game.

Atlanta Hawks re-sign Lou Williams

The Atlanta Hawks have re-signed scoring guard Lou Williams.

“Lou proved invaluable to our team after we acquired him last season, providing scoring, ballhandling and leadership off our bench,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Travis Schlenk. “He’s a respected veteran who our guys really look up to and enjoy playing with, and we’re certainly pleased that he’s continuing his career in an Atlanta uniform.”

In 66 games last season (24 with the Hawks and 42 with the Clippers), the 6’1 guard averaged 11.3 points, 3.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 21.6 minutes (.410 FG%, .399 3FG%, .867 FT%).

In 1,067 career games (122 starts) with Philadelphia, Atlanta, Toronto, the LA Lakers, Houston and the LA Clippers, the 17th-year veteran has career averages of 14.3 points, 3.5 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 24.7 minutes (.420 FG%, .351 3FG%, .841 FT%). He has played in 89 career postseason games (two starts), averaging 11.4 points, 2.8 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 23.3 minutes (.400 FG%, .820 FT%).

Originally selected in the second round (45th overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft by the 76ers, Williams is a three-time winner of the NBA’s Sixth Man Award (2015, 2018, 2019, tied with Jamal Crawford for the most in league history) and the NBA’s all-time leading bench scorer (13,042 points as a bench player). Among all active players, he ranks seventh in points (15,239), third in games played (1,067), 12th in three-pointers made (1,420) and assists (3,684), fifth in free throws made (3,975) and 15th in free-throw percentage (.841). Williams is the only player since 1970-71 (when starters were first tracked) to have at least 15,000 career points with less than 400 games as a starter.

Williams starred at South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, where he was named Georgia’s Mr. Basketball in 2005, in addition to First-Team Parade All-American and Naismith Prep Player of the Year honors.

Atlanta Hawks hire Joe Prunty and Jamelle McMillan as assistant coaches

The Atlanta Hawks today announced multiple hirings and promotions within the Basketball Operations group, including the additions of Joe Prunty and Jamelle McMillan to Head Coach Nate McMillan’s coaching staff.

Prunty and Jamelle McMillan join Chris Jent, Matt Hill and Marlon Garnett to finalize the coaching staff.

Prunty brings 23 years of experience as an NBA assistant coach, having served as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns (2018-19), Milwaukee Bucks (2014-18, including serving as interim head coach over the final 37 games of the 2017-18 campaign and 17 games in 2015-16), Brooklyn Nets (2013-14), Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-13), Portland Trail Blazers (2008-2010), Dallas Mavericks (2005-2008) and San Antonio Spurs (2000-2005) after starting his career as an assistant video coordinator in San Antonio. In addition to his NBA experience, Prunty has extensive coaching experience both overseas and with USA Basketball, spending five summers as head coach of Great Britain’s national team from 2013-2017, qualifying for EuroBasket in 2013 and 2017, before serving as an assistant for the November 2020 USA AmeriCup Qualifying Team and acting as head coach of the USA AmeriCup Qualifying Team for two games (2-0) in the third window – February 2021.

Jamelle McMillan started his career with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013 in player development as part of now Phoenix Suns Head Coach Monty Williams’ staff. In 2016, McMillan was elevated to assistant coach under Alvin Gentry and in 2017, he served as head coach of the Pelicans’ summer league team. After spending the ’18-19 season in Phoenix, he rejoined the Pelicans as an assistant for two seasons. McMillan played collegiately at Arizona State University (2007 – 2011) where he was teammates with Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden.

To support the coaching staff, the Hawks have promoted Dipesh Mistry from video coordinator to coaching assistant and Paul Jesperson from assistant video coordinator to player development coach.

The Hawks have also hired Tim Dather (DAY-ther) as head video coordinator/player development. Dather served as head manager (2011-13) and graduate manager (2013-15) at Indiana University before breaking into the NBA with the LA Clippers in 2015-16 as a video intern. He returned to Indiana with the Pacers as head video coordinator (2016-2019) and then as Head Video/Assistant Coach for the 2019-20 season. Most recently, he worked for the University of Georgia as director of basketball strategy.

Marty Lauzon joins the Hawks as the team’s director of athletic performance and sports medicine, following an 11-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons where he started as head athletic trainer/physical therapist (2010-13) before being promoted to director of sports medicine and performance (2013-21). Lauzon started his 24-year career at UCLA (1997-99), serving as director of rehabilitation before moving to Cleveland to work for the Cleveland Browns as assistant athletic trainer/physical trainer (1999-2005) and then head athletic trainer/physical therapist (2005-2009). Lauzon had served as a consultant for the Hawks since April.

Takahiro Uchida was hired to the Athletic Performance Team as assistant athletic trainer following his work as a seasonal athletic trainer during the 2020-21 season. Prior to joining the Hawks, Uchida spent two seasons as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (2018-20) and one season as a graduate assistant at Stanford University. He graduated from Lindenwood University in 2017, completing summer internships with the Los Angeles Rams (2016) and Stanford (2015) during his undergraduate career.

In the front office, Dotun Akinwale Jr. was promoted to senior director of player personnel. Now in his seventh season with the Hawks, Akinwale previously held the titles of director of scouting and manager of scouting after starting his career with the Orlando Magic as an intern in 2013 before transitioning into a basketball operations coordinator role.

Kira Tillinghast has been hired full-time as the player engagement coordinator after working in the front office as a seasonal assistant from 2019 to 2021. She attended Temple University, serving as team manager in 2015-16 before working at Arete Sports Agency from 2016 to 2019.

Hawks’ Onyeka Okongwu undergoes major shoulder surgery

Atlanta Hawks forward/center Onyeka Okongwu underwent surgery yesterday in Los Angeles to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic performed the surgery.

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

As a rookie last season, Okongwu averaged 4.6 points in 12.0 minutes per game.

Per ESPN.com, “Okongwu’s role grew as the season wore on for the Hawks, but a lingering injury beginning in May resulted in the need for the procedure.”