Hawks trade Lou Williams, Lucas Nogueira to Raptors for John Salmons
Williams, 27, averaged 10.4 points and 3.5 assists for the Hawks last season, his first year back after undergoing right knee surgery. The scoring guard has been used mostly as a super sub during his nine-year career. Williams is entering the final season of a three-year contract that is set to pay him $5.5 million next season.
Nogueira, 21, was a 2013 first-round pick. The 7-foot Brazilian center, dubbed "Bebe," is best known for his insane wingspan and large afro. He is currently playing professionally in Spain and was sidelined for more than two months earlier this year with tendonitis in his knees.
Salmons, 34, averaged 5.2 points and 2.1 rebounds for the Kings and Raptors last season. He was traded by Sacramento to Toronto as part of a package deal for Rudy Gay. He was on the books for $7 million for the 2014-15 season, but the Hawks will only owe him $1 million if they waive him by Monday.
The deal will create roughly $4.5 million of cap space for the Hawks, who will look to build around their core of Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver this summer. It's not yet clear whether Atlanta is clearing the room to make a run at a particular free agent or if they simply decided that Williams is no longer worth his mid-level salary following his injury.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri could have simply bought out Salmons' contract himself, and pocketed the savings for his ownership group. Instead, he opted to take on a player who could provide immediate help while snaring another who could be a factor years down the road.
The addition of Williams gives Toronto another veteran option in the backcourt as the franchise looks to build on the momentum generated by its first postseason appearance since 2008. Ujiri will work to re-sign starting point guard Kyle Lowry in free agency, meaning Williams would ideally be used as a lead guard for the second unit. Williams' arrival could mean that back-up point guard Greivis Vasquez is better off finding a new home once the free agency period opens.
Whether or not Williams is able to return to his pre-injury Sixth Man of the Year candidate form, Ujiri will gladly welcome Nogueira, who is generally regarded a a long-term project. Ujiri surprised the NBA world by drafting Bruno Caboclo, another Brazilian project, in last Thursday's NBA draft.