Atlanta Hawks foreign first-round draft pick Lucas Nogueira will not play in the NBA next season, instead he will remain overseas to play in Spain.
It was reported about three weeks ago that the Hawks were close to buying out Nogueria’s contract with his European basketball club, Asefa Estudiantes Madrid, which would have indicated the 16th overall draft pick would indeed be playing in Atlanta next season. However, that is not the case.
“We are very encouraged by what we’ve seen from Lucas this summer,” general manager Danny Ferry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday. “Going back to Estudiantes will allow him to continue develop while also playing meaningful minutes against very good competition. We will closely monitor his progress as he works towards his goals as a basketball player.”
The Hawks entered the offseason with a very thin frontcourt, only having 6’10” center Al Horford and 6’8” power forward Mike Scott on the roster, which is why they drafted Nogueria, who is a 7-foot center from Brazil, along with 6’11” Mike Muscala from Bucknell University in the second round.
But suddenly Atlanta turned their weakness into a strength, bolstering their frontcourt with the acquisitions of four big men — Paul Millsap, Elton Brand, Pero Antić, and Gustavo Ayon — leaving hardly any minutes available for Nogueira and Muscala.
Muscala knew early the chances of him getting any playing time with the Hawks were slim to none so he was quick to sign a contract with Blusens Monbús Obradoiro. Blusens Monbús is a professional basketball team based in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia and is part of the ACB League, the first tier level men’s professional basketball league in Spain. Muscala appeared in five games for the Hawks at the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 5.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per contest.
Nogueira on the other hand was hoping to round out Atlanta’s roster as the 15th man. The Hawks have 14 players under contract however the deals for Shelvin Mack and Mike Scott are both non-guaranteed.
Nogueira will most likely be the highest 2013 draft pick that will not play in the NBA next season — San Antonio’s 28th overall pick Livio Jean-Charles looks like he’ll be the only other first-rounder playing in Europe.
Nogueira, 20, played professionally in Spain the past three seasons. He averaged 5.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 13.3 minutes over 32 games last year for Estudiantes. He also appeared in five games for the Hawks in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 6.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest.
“The Hawks would like Nogueira to continue to develop on the court while he adds muscle to his 225-pound frame,” wrote AJC beat writer Chris Vivlamore. “He showed promise with his height and reach during summer league play but was clearly out-muscled under the basket.”
Despite not playing in the NBA this upcoming season, the Hawks will retain the draft rights to both Nogueira and Muscala.