There were high hopes when the Atlanta Hawks drafted Sharife Cooper out of Auburn with the 48th-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. The Georgia native shared many of the same traits as star point guard Trae Young. Young is of course a better passer but, perhaps, a bigger issue for Cooper was his inconsistent shot.
He shot just – in summer league play and also struggled with turnovers last season in the G-League with the College Park Skyhawks.
The Hawks waived Cooper at the end of July.
Their new-look backcourt wouldn’t have had many minutes to spare at point guard anyway with the expectation that Young and Dejounte Murray will have their minutes staggered. But the 21-year-old guard has already gotten his next chance.
Sharife Cooper sent out a strong message after signing a new deal with an Atlanta Hawks rival
Cooper signed a training camp deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers that will see him battle for a roster spot behind starter Darius Garland. The setup is similar to the Hawks except there is no potential logjam at Cooper’s position. They also have just 12 guaranteed contracts on their leger meaning has an even better shot at sticking if he shows something.
The Cavs have until the end of the preseason to determine if they want to convert his Exhibit-10 deal into a standard or even a G-League contract.
Cooper took to Twitter to share a short but strong message to the Cavs faithful.
The 6-foot-1 Cooper averaged 19.2 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 45% from the floor and 35.6% from long range across 11 games (10 starts) for the Hawks’ G-League affiliate the College Park Skyhawks.
He also averaged 3.7 turnovers which played a part – along with his shot and Nate McMillan’s aversion to rookies – in keeping him from seeing much floor time in his 13 NBA games.
Cooper’s twin brother, Omar Cooper, shared a message to his son on Instagram.
“Took every loss on ya chin and you kept ya head up and kept fightin without making excuses proud of u brotha”
The Hawks and Cavs met in the second round of the Play-In Tournament last season. Atlanta won the matchup 107-101 to advance to the playoffs. But Cleveland added Donovan Mitchell this offseason meaning there will be no shortage of storylines when these two teams meet next season.
Their first meeting will actually come in the preseason on October 12. Cooper and the Cavs will host the Hawks during the regular season on November 21 while his return to Atlanta won’t come until March 28, 2023.