The NBA Free Agency begins at midnight July 1st, but the Hawks are already getting the frenzy started. On Sunday night, the Hawks sent Lou Williams and 2013 draft choice Lucas Nogueira to the Toronto Raptors for John Salmons. The news was shared via Twitter by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Toronto has traded John Salmons to Atlanta for Lou Williams and Bebe Nugiera, source tells Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 30, 2014
The move was both expected and a surprise as it was reported just before the eve of NBA Free Agency, as Lou Williams’ expiring contract at the conclusion of next season was considered a strong candidate to be moved to allow for extra flexibility this offseason. The surprise came with the inclusion of Brazilian native Lucas Nogueira in the deal. The young seven footer was selected 16th overall in the 2013 draft, before being traded to the Hawks from Boston via Dallas.
Lucas, known more commonly as Bebe, became a fan favorite last season during the Las Vegas Summer League after the quick chemistry emerged between he and fellow 2013 first-round pick Dennis Schröder. Bebe spent this season in Spain with Estudiantes of Liga Endesa, but his season was seen as a bit of a disappointment with injuries nagging him through the past year.
The acquisition of the aging John Salmons seemed like a small return for two valuable players for the Hawks until the important detail emerges about Salmons’ contract. Salmons is owed $7 million for the 2014-15 season, however his contract includes a team option that only guarantees 1 million of it.
The Hawks are expected to waive Salmons before the deadline June 30th and open up just under 5 million dollars of cap space to spend on free agents in comparison to if they kept Lou and Lucas.
The Hawks still have to deal with the restricted free agencies of Shelvin Mack and Mike Scott, as well as consider bringing back Elton Brand, but the team could find an appropriate option to add to the roster in the ballpark of 10-13 million dollars a season, depending on how Mack and Scott’s free agencies pan out.
The top free agents such as Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James will remain unlikely options however, intriguing prospects such as Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons may become option for Atlanta if they can outbid their current teams, who both have the option to match any offer signed. Luol Deng has also been mentioned as a possible target and some have connected Pau Gasol as a good fit for the team as well.
The list of free agents includes many good options for the Hawks going forward, and only time will tell what the endgame will be for the front office.