Celtics

30 teams in 30 days: Too many departures will keep Hawks grounded

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30 teams in 30 days: Too many departures will keep Hawks grounded

When Al Horford decided in the summer of 2016 to leave Atlanta after nine seasons to play for the Celtics, his departure was the first significant sign that changes were on the horizon.
 
Unfortunately for the Hawks, those changes have not been for the better.
 
Not even close.
 
It’s hard to imagine that it was just three years ago that Atlanta had the best record in the East (61-21). Now, the Hawks will be among the NBA's worst.
 
That team produced four All-Stars that season, all of whom are now playing elsewhere.
 
It has been the kind of upheaval that speaks to how this franchise has fallen quickly upon hard times that, by all accounts, won’t get better anytime soon.
 
Paul Millsap’s departure to Denver was the final core piece to leave, with the Hawks now fielding a roster that’s centered around Dennis Schroder. The 6-foot-2 guard is coming off his best season, averaging 17.9 points, 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game last season.
 
Still, as much promise as the fifth-year guard has shown, the Hawks are painfully weak across the board.
 
In addition to Milsap, the Hawks also saw hometown favorite Dwight Howard traded to Charlotte. And then there was Tim Hardaway Jr., who averaged a career-best 14.5 points per game last season and showed legitimate signs of being a breakout scorer in this league.
 
He opted to sign with the team that drafted him in 2013, the New York Knicks, who lured him back to the Big Apple with a four-year, $70.95 million contract.
 
Atlanta returns Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince, who have each shown themselves to be solid pros with promising futures, but neither would be considered on the star-on-the-rise trajectory the Hawks desperately need.
 
The Hawks will also look to rookie John Collins to contribute as well. The 6-foot-10 forward out of Wake Forest had a strong summer league showing. It earned him a spot on the Las Vegas summer league first team. He averaged 15.4 points and 9.2 rebounds in five games.
 
Lots of role players, for sure. But the franchise’s string of 10 consecutive playoff appearances will likely end this year.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions:  Dewayne Dedmon (San Antonio); Luke Babbitt (Miami); Miles Plumlee (Charlotte); Marco Belinelli (Charlotte); Nicolas Brussino (Dallas).
 
Key losses: Paul Millsap (Denver); Dwight Howard (Charlotte). 
 
Rookies of note: John Collins. 
 
Expectations: 26-56 (Fifth in the Southeast Division, 14th in the East)

Agent says Gordon Hayward is unlikely to return this season

Agent says Gordon Hayward is unlikely to return this season

Gordon Hayward had surgery on his left ankle Wednesday night.

While there was hope he could return, Hayward's agent told Adrian Wojnarowski that the Celtics forward is unlikely to play for the remainder of the season.

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Hayward suffered a dislocated ankle and fractured tibia in the first quarter of Boston’s 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-8 All-Star landed awkwardly on his ankle after a lob pass by Kyrie Irving was deflected by LeBron James.

“We’re expecting this to be a full recovery,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday, “No timeline on it but a full recovery.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Kyrie Irving’s struggles, not having Gordon Hayward, and the Celtics losing for the 2nd time in as many nights.

6:31 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the message delivered by Hayward to the fans before the game, what was going on with Kyrie’s shot, and why they failed in stopping The Greek Freak.

10:33 - Albert Breer joins BST to preview the Falcons/Patriots Sunday night game and if Atlanta is in the middle of a Super Bowl hangover.

15:40 - In a new game called On The Clock, each person gets 40 seconds to rant on their selected subject including if Red Sox fans can root for the Yankees if the playoffs and how painful the Bruins season will be. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE