Hawks’ Trent Forrest sees the work pay off with his two-way contract converted

Forrest has spent this season between the Hawks and the Skyhawks
Atlanta Hawks' Trent Forrest (2) goes up for a shot against Orlando Magic's Mo Bamba, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Hawks' Trent Forrest (2) goes up for a shot against Orlando Magic's Mo Bamba, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

NEW YORK — Hawks guard Trent Forrest has had a whirlwind of a 24 hours.

On Wednesday, he started for the College Park Skyhawks, the G League affiliate of the Hawks. By 10 a.m. Thursday, Forrest arrived in Brooklyn with the parent team for the first of two games against the the Nets. Unlike his past six games with the Hawks, though, Forrest suited up because the team converted his two-way contract to a standard deal.

Though the Hawks had Forrest on their roster, the team had to rule him inactive because they made him active for the maximum 50 games allowed for players on two-way deals. Once two-way players have reached 50 games, NBA teams have to convert the contract to a standard deal, waive the player or transfer the player to the G League.

So, Forrest made his Skyhawks season debut Wednesday night. He scored 16 points, had four rebounds and seven assists on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor, one of which came from 3. It helped lift the Skyhawks to a win over the Cleveland Charge, the G League affiliate of the Cavaliers.

Then around 9 to 9:15 p.m. Wednesday after the game, Hawks assistant general manager Kyle Korver told him the team converted his two-way contract to a standard deal.

“But I think everybody knew except for me,” Forrest told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “After the game he just told me he needed to talk to me, but then one of the trainers, I can’t remember what was said but he did smile or something that kind of gave it away a little bit. And then Kyle told me after that. But all the coaches, the G league coaches, they said they all knew before the game.”

So, he went home to pack up his things to prepare to board an 8:30 a.m. flight to meet the Hawks in Brooklyn for their matchup against the Nets later that night.

The moment felt like a culmination of the work he’s done over the course of the season with Jeff Watkinson, a Hawks assistant coach for integrated basketball development. The two have worked on a little bit of everything, including shooting, ball-screen work and more.

“I wouldn’t say one thing specifically, but I mean, I feel like he’s good with what he does,” Forrest said. “And I mean, he knows the days where I need to like get after it, and then some days we’ll kind of slow it down and just be a little more fundamental. And he does a good job.”

For Hawks coach Quin Snyder, the conversion of Forrest’s contract comes a couple of years late. Snyder coached Forrest on a two-way deal when they were with the Jazz. He revealed that the Jazz had plans to convert Forrest’s contract ahead of its playoff run during the 2021-22 season.

But Forrest, who went undrafted in the 2020 NBA draft, entered the league’s concussion protocol, and the Jazz had to turn to another option.

“And this year, he’s just he’s been a guy that’s, it’s hard to have durability and in this league, and Trent’s a guy that’s continuing to work to put himself in a position where he is where he is right now,” Snyder said ahead of Thursday’s game. “And I say that with full confidence that he’s going to continue to work. And that’s one of the things that we really appreciate about him. Happy for him. I think he’s earned everything everybody’s given him in this profession.”

Forrest’s stats may not jump off of the page. He averages 1.9 points, 1.2 rebounds and two assists per game, with a 31.3% field-goal percentage and 28.6% 3-point shooting percentage. But for Snyder and the Hawks, he offers something that doesn’t show up on the box score.

“I mean, I think if you talked to Trent he wouldn’t tell you shooting is the best thing about his game,” Snyder said. “You know? I think there’s a lot of players in this league that can impact the game offensively in a variety of ways, and that’s what he does. He’s able to play make. He’s got a float game. He gets to the rim. He’s efficient offensively.

“But really as much as anything I think, what he can do in certain situations is defend. He can defend a lot of different matchups. He’s got excellent length, and he just knows how to play. You know, you hear that when coaches and people say that about a player. It’s a compliment. He does know how to play, and he’s easy to play with.”

Forrest did not check into Thursday’s 124-97 loss to the Nets until the final five minutes. With rookie Kobe Bufkin showing progress in his development, it will be a little more challenging for Forrest to carve out meaningful minutes in the rotation.

But Forrest won’t stop working, and he’ll continue to trust in the work that he and Watkinson have put in over the course of the season.

“Just continuing to do what I do best,” Forrest said. “I feel like that and then also just everything that Wats been working with me on, I feel like going out and doing that, and I feel like the game (Wednesday) night in the G was good for me just see the things that I can do. I feel like it’d be a good steppingstone for me.”