The Hawks have an open roster spot – and they are working to fill it.
It just might not be in a way most expect.
The Hawks’ current management has shown that it operates with an eye toward the future. That will play a significant role in how the team fills the availability, which became necessary with reserve center Tiago Splitter about to undergo season-ending surgery on his ailing right hip.
In other words, the Hawks won’t necessarily be looking for a quick fix to the issue at backup center. Team needs this year, next year and beyond will be a serious consideration. The team’s financial flexibility will also be a factor. The Hawks could add a veteran to the current roster in such a way as to not compromise the future (via the buyout market) or add a young player (via the international or D-League markets) with potential.
In the end, the Hawks may not add to their front line to replace Splitter. It’s a possibility because there is a specific need. However they are more likely to prioritize the addition of the best player available over a specific position. It’s a distinction worth noting.
The Hawks will look first to the waiver wire. There is currently a group that includes Andrea Bargnani, J.J. Hickson, Steve Novak, David Lee, JaKarr Sampson, Anderson Varejao, Tim Frazier and Jarnell Stokes. There are other players who could reportedly be waived or bought out in the near future such as Joe Johnson, Caron Butler and Kevin Martin.
According to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, waivers are a temporary status of 48 hours. During that time, a team may claim a player and assume his current contract. If no claim is made, which is normally the case, a player’s contract is terminated and he becomes a free agent and can sign with any team.
The NBA calendar has a deadline of March 1 for players to have playoff eligibility after being waived.
If a longer-term solution is not available on the waiver wire, the Hawks will next look to the international market. The organization does extensive scouting overseas and signing a foreign player could be an option.
Lastly, the Hawks would turn to the NBA Development League. This option would be more of a short-term solution starting with signing a player to a 10-day contract.
“By league rules, somebody has to be bought out by March 1st so that is one deadline,” Hawks president of basketball operations and head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “After that, we’ve all seen guys added a week or two before the season ends. We’ll probably see guys added in the next day or two. It can happen any time along that timeline. I would guess everybody, including us, would argue the sooner you can get a team together and you can get a group together is the most ideal. But when there are opportunities with good players, sometimes you just have to take them when they come.”
The Hawks worked a three-team trade at Thursday’s deadline. They sent Shelvin Mack to the Jazz and Justin Holiday to the Bulls. They returned Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls. In addition, the Bulls got a second-round draft pick in 2018 from the Jazz. The deal that sent Mack to the Jazz was agreed upon early Thursday afternoon. The Hawks then pursued bringing in a third team with the goal of opening the needed roster spot. They reached the final details about a half hour before the deadline.
The Hawks’ goal to improve the team continues with the ability to add a player. The work is not done.