Syracuse, N.Y. — Tyler Cavanaugh played 29 minutes for the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night. He was 5-for-10 from the field, 2-for-4 from the 3-point line, grabbed six rebounds, had two assists and a steal.
Atlanta (5-19) lost to the Orlando Magic in overtime. But Cavanaugh, with each passing game, seems to be cementing a spot in the Hawks’ rotation.
“Tyler’s just getting better and better,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said in a Peachtree Hoops story. “He’s taking advantage of his minutes, taking advantage of his opportunities.”
Atlanta has had a spate of injuries along its front line, the most recent a shoulder sprain to former Wake Forest star John Collins, who is expected to miss at least two weeks with the injury.
Cavanaugh started the season with the Erie BayHawks, Atlanta’s G League affiliate. He played one game there before signing a two-way contract with the Hawks. Two-way deals enable players to play up to 45 days with the parent club and be paid NBA scale on those days.
Two-way contracts are new to the NBA this season. Cavanaugh’s agent, Keith Glass, said he expects Cavanaugh to use his NBA allotment of time spent with Atlanta around Dec. 20. (Glass said NBA days include travel days and game days.)
“On that date, they’re going to have to make a move on Tyler,” Glass said. “They’ll have to convert him to a regular NBA deal or I guess they’ll have to waive him.”
Just one player so far has had his two-way deal converted. Mike James signed a standard contract with the Phoenix Suns.
It’s difficult to imagine the Hawks waiving Cavanaugh, who has appeared in 15 games and is shooting 49 percent overall and 37 percent from the 3-point line. In Atlanta’s last three games, he’s playing an average of 25 minutes. At 6-foot-9, he has also been asked at times to defend the center spot.
If the Hawks do sign him to a regular NBA contract, they would have to waive another player on their roster.
“Tyler has made it very difficult for anybody to doubt what he can do,” Glass said. “I give Atlanta credit, they have given him a chance. So much of the NBA is about getting a chance.”
The Hawks play the Magic at home on Saturday, then travel to New York to face the Knicks on Sunday. Expect to see Cavanaugh, the former Jamesville-DeWitt and George Washington star, in an Atlanta uniform. Knicks-Hawks will be shown on the MSG network here in Syracuse at 7:30.
“It’s a fantastic story,” Glass said. “And it couldn’t happen to a better kid. Tyler works his ass off and he’s getting what he deserves.”