The Atlanta Hawks and first-round draft pick Lucas Nogueira have filed paperwork to remove his cap hold from their books for this 2013-14 season, reports Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com. This means Nogueira will play the entirety of the season across the pond, as he cannot be signed until July 2014.
First-round rookies have guaranteed four-year contracts, and with this news that timetable will not start this year. Should Noguiera return from overseas next season, which would require a buyout of the final year on his contract with Asefa Estudiantes of the Spanish Liga ACB, his contract will run until he hits restricted free agency in 2018, assuming he has not received an extension.
The Hawks clearly knew there was a possibility that Nogueira could stay overseas when trading up to draft him in June. But that could be a blessing in disguise, as they may receive production from him that’s closer to his physical peak. Bebe (Nogueira’s nickname) is still just 21, despite being on the European radar for multiple years. His game is undoubtedly too raw to rely on at this level, but his measurables and potential are unmistakable. This is a good move for the Hawks, who want him to expand his game a little more at a talent level that is currently below the National Basketball Association standard.
Essentially, the cap hold acted as not only money on the books, but also filled a space on the 15-man roster. With that cleared up, the Hawks would have presumably more room to accept higher salary players in a trade. Now, the team is afforded another season of contractual control over Nogueira, while he is still able to improve his game in a professional setting.
This of course leaves the Hawks with 14 spots on the roster, including Shelvin Mack and Mike Scott who have un-guaranteed contracts. General Manager Danny Ferry has stated that he likes leaving that last roster spot unfilled to give the team flexibility to extend 10-day contracts in the event of mounting player injuries.
Depending on the severity of Lou Williams’s injury, that last spot will probably be for a wing player such as former Hawk Damien Wilkens or James Johnson, who are the most likely candidates and are both currently on Atlanta’s preseason roster.