Atlanta Hawks take advantage of new CBA provision to sign rookie big man

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks are already making the new CBA benefit them.

Atlanta announced the signings of 2023 NBA Draft picks Kobe Bufkin (No. 15 overall) and Mouhamed Gueye (No. 39 overall) to their rookie contracts on July 3.

Notably absent was their other second-round pick, Seth Lundy (No. 46 overall). But Lundy – who looks to be destined for the Hawks’ third two-way slot – was included on the release of the official summer league roster leaving little doubt the Hawks will get something done with the sharpshooting wing and Gueye’s contract as the most intriguing aspect of the day.

“The Hawks used the second-round exception in this deal,” tweeted Lauren L. Williams of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, confirming a report of Gueye’s new four-year, $7.64 million contract by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Gueye is an intriguing 6-foot-11 prospect with a 7-foot-3 wingspan who the Hawks traded with the Boston Celtics to move up for.

The “second-round exception” is new under the NBA’s collective bargaining that went into effect on July 1 and, as Hoops Rumors explains, it gives the Hawks some wiggle room.

It makes sense that the salary-cap-conscious Hawks would use this:

“Players who are signed using the second-round pick exception won’t count against a team’s cap between July 1 and July 30 of their first season. That will allow teams to preserve all the cap room they need until July 31 without having to worry about their second-rounders cutting into it. And it will position those players to sign their first NBA contracts before taking part in Summer League games.”

The Sacramento Kings were the first to use the second-round exception, signing No. 34 overall pick Colby Jones to his contract.

Atlanta is currently at 18 players under contract, three over the limit once the season starts.

The Hawks could be facing a roster decision soon

While the Hawks have been mired in trade rumors including a persistent link to Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, and discussions about their proximity to the luxury tax – $3.6 million below – their roster size could force their hand as much as anything.

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They were able to snag a pair of former first-round picks from the Houston Rockets but that only exasperated an issue that already existed.

Reserves Bruno Fernando, Tyrese Martin, and Vit Krejci will all see their contracts guaranteed at a future date. Fernando’s salary will become guaranteed at $2.6 million on July 10, Martin’s $1.7 million salary on July 21, and Krejci’s $1.8 million on January 10, 2024. The Hawk could waive those three and veteran Rudy Gay to get in compliance.

That’s probably less exciting than the rumors that continue to swirl.

But it also seems far more likely with the Hawks already making several major changes in the last few months from roster moves to coaching changes to shakeups in the front office. At some point, surely they would like to let some of the pieces settle into place.

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Conversely, Siakam rumors loom as a constant reminder that anything can still happen even if the Hawks haven’t had the traditional offseason for a team looking to compete.