Updates from Monday, June 30
Roughly 24 hours after the news was reported, the Raptors Twitter account confirmed the deal:
The Toronto Raptors have reportedly kicked off the post-NBA draft trade frenzy by sending John Salmons to the Atlanta Hawks for Lou Williams and Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the trade:
Toronto has traded John Salmons to Atlanta for Lou Williams and Bebe Nugiera, source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 30, 2014
Grantland's Zach Lowe gave his take on the Hawks' reasoning:
Nice job by TOR turning Salmons into a rotation guy and an interesting prospect (Bebe). Hawks can clear $4.5M in space by waiving Salmons— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 30, 2014
NBA.com's John Schuhmann suggests that the Hawks are highly likely to waive Salmons:
Only $1 million of Salmons' $7 million is guaranteed, but it becomes fully guaranteed if Hawks don't waive him tomorrow.— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) June 30, 2014
The 34-year-old Salmons is on the downslope of his NBA career; he averaged just 5.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per contest in 60 games with the Raptors last year. His age and diminished athleticism don't make him a great fit for the Hawks' three-point-heavy offense.
If the Hawks do end up waving Salmons, the added cap space should allow them to make a run at a top-tier free agent this offseason. They also did well to move Williams, who's due to earn $5.45 million in 2014-15, according to Spotrac.com.
The acquisition of Williams and Nogueira should alleviate some of the criticism Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri faced after his questionable choices at the NBA draft.
With the No. 20 overall pick, Ujiri selected relative unknown Bruno Caboclo of Brazil, who few could have predicted going higher than the late second round. During the draft broadcast, ESPN's Fran Fraschilla described him as being "two years away from being two years away" in terms of his readiness to contribute to an NBA team.
Williams, on the other hand, comes with no such concerns. The veteran combo guard has averaged 11.4 points and 3.1 assists per game over the course of his nine-year career. He can provide solid cover for the Raptors should point guard Kyle Lowry move on to another team as an unrestricted free agent.
Nogueira is another interesting Brazilian prospect for the Raptors to groom while they await the decision of Lowry. Ujiri clearly wants to build a team for the future with the likes of Nogueira and Caboclo in the fold, and stocking up on prospects is the best fit for a young team looking to make a run in a diluted Eastern Conference.