The Atlanta Hawks officially introduced Ray Spalding to the media Wednesday afternoon. According to the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore, it’s an Exhibit 10 contract. That gives Spalding an incentive to sign with the College Park Skyhawks if he doesn’t make the 15-man roster in Atlanta.
Spalding touched on a variety of topics, including his fit, his rookie season, and his Summer League performance. He played three games in Vegas, averaging 8.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in 16.3 minutes for Phoenix. As a rookie, Spalding appeared in 14 NBA games — one in Dallas, 13 in Phoenix.
Here are notable quotes from his media availability.
Q: What drew you to Atlanta?
Ray Spalding: Just the coaching staff and the system. This is a very talented group of players. From the coaching staff’s standpoint, they play at a really high speed, get up and down a lot, shoot the 3-ball and space the floor. Great point guards … Looking forward to it.
Q: How will you fit into the Hawks’ up-tempo system?
RS: I’m a pretty smooth guy, so when it comes to just fitting into a system, it’s pretty easy. I rebound, play hard, handle the ball, shoot the ball. I’m 6’11”, long arms, can get into passing lanes. I like to get up and down and play quick as well.
Q: Do you feel like you’ve gotten your shot yet in the NBA?
RS: I’ve gotten that question a couple times. I’m a rookie … they say you’re still technically a rookie until you play your first game of the next season, so still have to get work in. That process that happened with the Mavs — being traded to the Suns, now being here with Atlanta — everyone has a different story, so that’s part of my story, part of the process. I’ll eventually get my chance, and I’m getting an opportunity here now, so I look forward to taking advantage of it.
Q: The Hawks have a lot of appealing pieces. Does that excite you?
RS: They have a lot of great pieces. Like [the questioner] said, Trae Young is a great point guard; passes the ball really well, scores the ball really well, gets everyone involved. You’ve got John Collins, Alex Len, you’ve got some really good shooting guards. [De’Andre] Bembry is a really good player. They play tough, they play aggressive, and they play well together. I like the culture.
Spalding went on to detail his summer and his plans moving forward. He missed time due to injury in Vegas, but feels good. He plans to report in late August — earlier than the required date in September — to get a head start on training and learning the new system.
Before reporting next month, Spalding will spend time preparing for the 2019-20 campaign in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. He also plans to train in Miami for a week.
Over multiple questions, Spalding laid out his defensive potential. That will ultimately determine his role in Atlanta. The Hawks take pride in defense, starting up top with Lloyd Pierce’s background as a defensive coach. Atlanta doesn’t have a ton of experienced frontcourt depth, so there’s room for Spalding to carve out a role if the energy and impact is there.
After going all-out to land Trae Young last summer, the Hawks have invested considerable assets in boosting the defense. De’Andre Hunter was billed by some as the top perimeter defender in the 2019 NBA Draft, while Evan Turner and Cam Reddish both add versatile bodies on the wing. Bruno Fernando’s Summer League rim protection was impressive.
If Spalding does what he says he can — get into passing lanes, rebound, and blocks shots — there’s a lot to like about his fit. The Hawks will keep the floor spread and run an up-tempo system, which aligns with Spalding’s core attributes. He’s on an Exhibit 10 deal, but don’t be surprised if it blossoms into something more.