Hawks trade Williams, sign Neal to 10-day contract (updated)

The Hawks traded Mo Williams to the Nuggets for the draft rights to Cenk Akyol on Wednesday. The move opened a roster spot, which the Hawks used to sign guard Gary Neal to a 10-day contract.

The Hawks also received a $2.2 million traded player exception as part of the deal.

Neal, 32, most recently played in the NBA Development League with the Texas Legends. He worked out for the Hawks last week. The 6-foot-4 guard played for the Spurs, where Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was an assistant, from 2010-13 after playing abroad.

He has also played for the Bucks, Hornets, Timberwolves and Wizards. In 350 career NBA games, Neal averaged 9.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

Neal has played three games for the Legends this season and averaged 15.3 points, 2.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds.

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“That plays a role in it,” Budenholzer said of his familiarity with Neal. “I have a great comfort level and confidence in Gary. His ability to shoot and make shots and be a weapon coming off the bench in big games. He is a competitive guy, a smart guy.”

Budenholzer said he sees Neal as a combo guard, but the team need is for a third point guard.

“He has historically been more of a combo but he knows we are going to push him toward that point guard spot as a third point guard,” Budenholzer said. “The way we play, lots of guys can handle (the ball) and initiate offense. When the ball is moving and everybody is moving there is not quite as much pressure to be that traditional point guard. I think he will fit in well with the way we play.”

Neal was not available before Wednesday’s game against the Pistons.

In addition to creating a roster spot to sign Neal, the deal created the $2.2 million traded player exception as the Hawks also sent $650,000 to the Nuggets. The Hawks will carry the exception for one year. Traded player exceptions are tools teams use in trades to not send out matching salaries to complete transactions. The Hawks used a traded player exception when they acquired Kyle Korver from the Bulls in 2012.

Williams was obtained along with Mike Dunleavy from the Cavaliers as part of the trade earlier that sent Korver to Cleveland earlier this month. Williams has been out all season, and Budenholzer said following the deal that he would not be a part of the organization going forward and that the Hawks were exploring options. Williams has not played this season after undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs from the joint of the tibia and fibula in his left leg in October.

The 13-year veteran has appeared in 818 games with the Jazz, Bucks, Cavaliers, Clippers, Trail Blazers, Timberwolves and Hornets. He averaged 13.9 points and 4.9 assists. The Hawks received cash in the trade to offset the approximate $1.2 million remaining on Williams’ salary.

The Nuggets are under the salary-cap floor and can use Williams’ $2.2 million salary to close the gap and lessen their end-of-season penalty.

Akyol plays professionally in Turkey. He was a second-round draft pick (No. 59) of the Hawks in 2005. His rights were traded to the Clippers for Antawn Jamison in 2014. His rights later were traded to the 76ers and most recently the Nuggets.

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