The Atlanta Hawks roster for the 2023 Summer League campaign has been announced, and in it there is an interesting mix of both new and well-established NBA players. These are exhibition games, of course, but this is a proving ground for a majority of the players who feel they may be overlooked.
There are three two-way contracts at the Hawks’ disposal this season, up from the two there had been since the introduction in 2017. This means there are only 18 spots available (15 full contracts plus three two-way contracts) on the senior squad, with a number of roster slots already filled.
As such, let’s take a look at who is most likely to catch the eye of the Hawks and earn either a full contract or a two-way contract offer — assuming one has yet to be extended.
The Extreme Longshots
- F Marcio Santos
- F/C Uroš Plavšić
- G Jarkel Joiner — Exhibit 10
- G David Singleton — Exhibit 10
Santos is an old school Brazilian big man standing in at 6-foot-9 and 253-pounds. At just 20 years old, he’s the fourth youngest player on the roster behind just Griffin, Bufkin, and Gueye so there’s plenty of time to develop. Still, there isn’t much of a history of players going from the top Brazilian league straight to the NBA this side of Nenê.
Plavšić had a four-year college career at Tennessee, but never saw regular minutes for the Volunteers. As a 7-foot-1 and 265-pound big man, he certainly brings size but, unfortunately, not much else in terms of the skills needed to succeed at the NBA level.
Joiner and Singleton were given Exhibit 10 contracts, which tend to give players a leg up on making the 20-man training camp roster. There is also an incentive to join the G League affiliate College Park Skyhawks to earn a contract bonus for them if waived. Still, neither guard projects to earn anything beyond that without a huge showing in Las Vegas.
The Interesting Longshots
- G Tyson Etienne
- F Brady Manek
- F Yves Pons
- F/C Mfiondu Kabengele
Although Etienne showed a bit of promise in the latter half of last year’s 2022 Summer League run for the Hawks, he wasn’t able to make it out of fall training camp with the Hawks. He spent the entire season with the College Park Skyhawks logging just 6.1 points and 1.1 assists per game off the bench. I don’t see him escaping that same fate this time around, either.
The name may sound familiar, as Brady Manek shared the court with Trae Young during Young’s one-and-done season at Oklahoma. After a four-year career in Norman, Oklahoma, Manek transferred to UNC for a fifth and final college season but went undrafted in the 2023 NBA Draft. He can shoot at a high clip as a stretch four, but the lack of playmaking and defense has always been a big drawback.
Yves Pons was a teammate of Uroš Plavšić at Tennessee for two seasons from 2019-2021, but the former had a much more prominent role there than the latter. Pons is an elite shot blocking forward despite a height of just 6-foot-6, and he spent last season with French team ASVEL after going undrafted in 2021. But at his size, his poor shooting has thus far derailed his NBA hopes.
Mfiondu Kabengele is the most veteran of the participants for the Hawks — at least in terms of number of NBA seasons seen. Kabengele was drafted 27th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, but in three stops with the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics, he has only seen 380 minutes of big-league play.
Kabengele has done most of his damage with various G League teams, including a 20 and 10 season with the Maine Celtics in 2022-23. He remains an intriguing shot blocker with a legitimate three-point shot who could one day feature in an NBA rotation. With the Hawks a bit shallow in the big man department after the trade of John Collins, I think Kabengele has the best chance of any of the above players of leaving with a year-long deal.
Could Go Either Way
- G/W Vít Krejčí — Unguaranteed Contract, Guarantee Date of 1/10/24
- W Tyrese Martin — Team Option, Guarantee Date of 7/21/23
Krejčí is a rare third-year NBA player making an appearance in Las Vegas. Of course, that also means he hasn’t done enough in his career to justify skipping out on the opportunity. One thing is his favor is that his salary for this upcoming season — about $1.8 million — is actually smaller than the veteran minimum for players with more than two years of service. And with his guarantee date halfway into next season, the Hawks can opt to keep him for now for the added roster flexibility later.
Almost indisputably the MVP of last year’s Hawks Summer League team, Tyrese Martin earned himself a two-year, rookie minimum deal last offseason. He has a team option worth a little over $1.7 million due later this month, so it may require another good performance this time around to sway opinion in his direction.
- W Seth Lundy
- F Miles Norris — Two-Way Contract
Ultimately, Lundy may earn himself a newly minted second-round pick exception deal as opposed to a two-way deal. Just this Monday, Mouhamed Gueye signed a rookie deal for less than the maximum allowed amount. With the Hawks aggressively targeting he and Gueye in the second round, it’s expected that Lundy is also retained and not waived — save for an unfortunate turn of events this summer.
Norris has already signed his two-way contract, but Atlanta could always waive him prior to the season without any salary cap penalty.
The Trade Additions
- F/C Usman Garuba — Rookie Contract, Reported Trade
- G TyTy Washington Jr. — Rookie Contract, Reported Trade
Neither Garuba nor Washington are in the Hawks organization yet and therefore not a part of the Summer League roster. But the reported trade means they will join the senior team in short order — and possibly even join the Summer League team when that transaction goes through. Both have seen few minutes in their respective careers, and so both may relish the chance to contribute to the team in some manner. I can’t say the same for Rudy Gay, however.
- W AJ Griffin — Rookie Contract
- G Kobe Bufkin — Rookie Contract
- F Mouhamed Gueye — Rookie Contract, Second-Round Pick Exception
I mean, barring a trade or other earth-shattering event, c’mon now. Write it in permanent ink.