Nagging injuries and season-ending hip surgery prevented Tiago Splitter from having a major impact for the Atlanta Hawks in 2016. When DeMarre Carroll elected to leave in free agency and sign with the Toronto Raptors, the shifted gears and acquired Splitter in a salary dump trade with the San Antonio Spurs.
Splitter appeared in 36 games with the Hawks and averaged 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in 16.1 minutes per night. The minutes were the big thing as nagging injuries prevented him from fully acclimating himself into the Hawks system. The only time Splitter has played fewer minutes was during his rookie season in 2011. While the Hawks and Spurs run similar systems, there are differences and not being on the court consistently appeared to hurt Splitter's performance.
When Splitter did play, the team was really good with him on the floor. He posted a team best 94.2 defensive rating and had a net rating of 9.3 which was also the best on the team for everyone who appeared in at least 35 games. Those numbers show that the Hawks were a better team at both ends when he was on the floor but that was the problem with his 2016 season overall. He never was fully healthy for an extended period.
Many expected Splitter's addition to rectify Atlanta's rebounding woes. While if healthy, he certainly would have helped but that had never really been his strength. His rebounding percentage has dropped the last two seasons and he averaged a career-best 6.4 boards came in 2013. Still the Hawks could have used his size and his experience during the second half of the season especially in the second round against the Cavaliers.
Splitter is scheduled to make $8.5 million in what will be the final year of his current deal. He is reportedly ahead of schedule in his recovery from hip surgery and should be ready when the team opens training camp.
The Hawks are in a bit of an uncertain period with their roster. Al Horford and Kent Bazemore are both free agents. The Hawks have maintained that re-signing Horford is a priority and there is reported mutual interest between Bazemore and the team. However, bringing both back would severely limit the resources the team has to add upgrades. Splitter like Jeff Teague has a large enough contract that his name could pop up in some trade scenarios either for a rotational player or for salary relief.
Splitter's injury situation may hamper his value on the trade market, but with salaries set to explode, his contract will look much more like a bargain next season.
At this point, my guess is that Splitter is back with the Hawks next season and plays a big part in the frontcourt rotation. His ability to play alongside Horford and Paul Millsap gives the Hawks flexibility at both ends of the floor. They just have to get him healthy.