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How coronavirus changed Hawks' draft preparation, offseason schedule

Sarah K. Spencer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Basketball

ATLANTA -- Because of the coronavirus, this Hawks offseason will look drastically different than it has in past years.

Really, the changes will stretch further than that, as the Hawks won't get to play another official game until December (the season would normally start in October). They are one of eight teams excluded from the season restart in Orlando, Fla., and the 2020-21 season may be condensed.

In this time of social distancing, with in-person activities limited, the Hawks' routine for scouting and draft preparation has shifted accordingly, as well.

"It's certainly different," Hawks general manager and director of basketball operations Travis Schlenk said. "I think time will tell whether or not it's better or worse."

The Hawks (20-47) had the fourth-worst record at the time of the season's suspension March 11. They will have one lottery pick, which cannot fall out of the top 8, and one second-round pick as well.

Because of the season's hiatus, the NBA calendar gets downright hectic in the fall. Beginning July 30, the 22 teams that get to resume their season will play eight seeding games, and once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA playoffs are scheduled to proceed as normal, with the finals ending no later than Oct. 13. The draft lottery will take place Aug. 25, and the draft will be held Oct. 16, with free agency projected to begin Oct. 18 (the early-entry deadline will be Aug. 17 and the early-entry withdrawal deadline will be Oct. 6) and training camps will start Nov. 10.

 

Also, the eight teams not headed to Orlando might be able to participate in a second "bubble" scenario in September in Chicago, though that proposal is still in the works and would be optional for players.

Normally, there would be a draft combine in mid-May for teams to evaluate prospects, but as of now, teams don't know if that will happen or what that would look like. Because of increasing coronavirus cases, a virtual draft combine seems likely.

According to Schlenk, the Hawks' scouting department continues to hold several Zoom calls a week with prospects, preparing as if they won't be able to bring players to Atlanta for workouts.

"It's unclear at this time whether or not we'll have a combine, where we'll all go to one place or if those will be virtual," Schlenk said. "It's unclear if we'll be able to bring players into market and work them out as we would in the past. We're, I guess, preparing as if that's not going to happen this year and trying to do the best we can. That would be, quote unquote, worst-case scenario, and if things change, and we are able to bring guys in or if there is a combine, that will just kind of be icing on top of the cake for us."

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