The Atlanta Hawks dropped Edy Tavares on Monday, opting to sign training camp invitee Ryan Kelly to take his roster spot. The move came shortly after the team announced that Mike Scott will be out for at least four weeks.
The rationale behind this move is simple: Atlanta needs another NBA-ready big man as a third option behind Mike Muscala and Kris Humphries off the bench. This change is not an indication that the Hawks saw no potential in Tavares, but is instead a pragmatic response to multiple injuries in the frontcourt.
Atlanta drafted Walter (Edy) Tavares during the 2014 NBA draft, taking him in the second round with the 43rd overall pick. Tavares has been with the team since that point, although he has spent extended time in the D-League.
Tavares’ strengths as a basketball player are immediate and impressive. At seven feet, three inches, he is an absolute monster and has the potential to develop as a quality defender. He is still very much a work in progress, though, and is a clear liability on the offensive end of the court. He also lacks speed and agility, and further limiting his short-term potential.
Edy has played well in Summer League games and in the preseason, but has yet to prove that he’s fully ready for the NBA. At his current age (24) there’s still time for him to develop, but (as with any prospect) that successful development is far from guaranteed. Most likely, he would have spent more time in the D-League this season, probably again with the Austin Spurs. His time with the Hawks would probably have been limited to garbage-time minutes, just like the two rookies so far.
That Atlanta kept Tavares around this long speaks to the organization’s high opinion of him. Likewise, their recent roster move isn’t an indication that they suddenly lost faith. Unfortunately, with Tiago Splitter and Mike Scott both injured, the Hawks no longer have enough roster spots to devote to players who aren’t ready for immediate NBA action.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Tavares. Another team could easily choose to pick him up, especially one looking to develop younger players with open roster spots. If that doesn’t pan out, he may be headed for Europe.
Even though his long-term future with the team was uncertain, it’s depressing to see a draft pick not pan out. Atlanta has built up a strong reputation for their player development, but no team can find a place in the NBA for every prospect. Sometimes, through no fault of either the player or the team, it just doesn’t work out.
Regardless, both Edy Tavares and the Hawks have moved on. Most of the rotation should look the same on a nightly basis (Kelly probably won’t play much unless someone gets hurt), but the roster is different nonetheless. I wish Tavares nothing but the best in the future.