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Important contract deadline looms for Tyler Cavanaugh

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The 24-year-old big man likely has a date circled on his calendar.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

While the main event in the NBA on May 15 is the 2018 Draft Lottery, a member of the Atlanta Hawks roster will have that date circled for a different reason. Tyler Cavanaugh, who hit the ground running early in the season before cooling off down the stretch, will be heavily focused on that particular date because the young big man’s salary reportedly guarantees for $450,000 if he remains on the roster.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders brings word of the guarantee date and the rest of Cavanaugh’s $1,378,242 salary would guarantee on July 7. While $450,000 may not sound overwhelming in NBA terms, that is a significant sum for a player with his pedigree and, given the way Cavanaugh struggled down the stretch (both in Atlanta and Erie), it no longer feels as if he is a lock for the roster as the summer approaches.

It should be noted, though, that Cavanaugh expressed the fact that health may have contributed to his late-season swoon. “My ankle never really fully recovered,” Cavanaugh said at the team’s exit interviews. “Because you don’t have time during the season to really rest it. It’s been a grind the past couple of weeks but it’ll be good to take some time and I’m excited to get back to work too.”

Because of his propensity as a shooter (one that he emphasized during the same interview), Cavanaugh has potential staying power at the NBA level but the Hawks are also expected to add an influx of talent with 4 of the top 33 draft picks in June and the potential, of course, for free agent acquisitions.

“For me personally, it was a dream come true,” Cavanaugh said of his time in Atlanta and the way things transpired this season. “I got waived in training camp and then took advantage of an opportunity when guys went down and I ended up being here for the majority of the season. It was a great year. I learned a lot, just got to keep improving and get better. I was blessed to be in a great organization in my rookie season with great teammates who helped me along the way.”

Most people will (rightly) be focused on the NBA Draft Lottery between now and May 15 but, for Tyler Cavanaugh, that date holds a different significance and it could be a close call for the Hawks as to whether to retain him.