Former Maryland star Bruno Fernando, who was acquired by the Atlanta Hawks after being picked No. 34 by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2019 NBA draft, will sign a three-year guaranteed contract, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Neither Fernando nor his agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, were available for comment Sunday.
“Bruno is a talented, young big man who has improved during his time at Maryland,” Atlanta general manager Travis Schlenk said in a statement Sunday. “He has a nice combination of size, length, and athleticism, and a strong work ethic, so we’re excited to add him to our roster.”
The deal is worth a reported $4.7 million, according to The Athletic. As a second-round pick, Fernando is not affected by the rookie wage scale, which impacts how first-round choices can negotiate their contracts. With Atlanta still having an estimated $12 million in cap space, according to Spotrac, the Hawks had room to sign Fernando above the minimum or room exception.
The Hawks were not able to comment on Fernando until the trades that secured him — including one that eventually was part of the deal that sent Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Los Angeles Lakers — were finalized. That happened around 1:40 a.m. Sunday. (Fernando was officially acquired for the draft rights to guard Jordan Bone — the 57th overall pick — and two second-round draft picks.)
Fernando and former Virginia star De’Andre Hunter, the No. 4 overall pick whom the Hawks also acquired by trading two first-round choices, will be introduced at a news conference Sunday night at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Fernando started Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, finishing with five points (2-for-5 shooting), seven rebounds, four blocks and two assists in 26 minutes in a 90-66 loss.
“Tough one but it was nice to see De’Andre out there, Bruno out there, get up and down and get a feel for what NBA basketball is all about,” Hawks assistant and Summer League coach Greg Foster told reporters after the game. “Obviously, they are going to get better. … They haven’t had a chance to practice at all. Getting them incorporated into what we are trying to do was tough.”
Fernando is expected to back up another former Terp, Alex Len, who took over as the team’s starting center late in the 2018-19 season. The Hawks subsequently opted not to re-sign journeyman big man Dewayne Dedmon and last week traded Miles Plumlee to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Along with Len, Fernando will join former Maryland teammate Kevin Huerter in Atlanta. Huerter, who like Fernando left College Park after his sophomore year, was the No. 19 player taken in the 2018 draft and wound up starting 59 games for the Hawks last season. Huerter was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie second team.
Former Mount Saint Joseph star Jaylen Adams, who played 34 games with the Hawks last season after going undrafted in 2018 out of St. Bonaventure, is also competing with Atlanta’s Summer League team. He scored 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting in 31 minutes Sunday.
That Atlanta gave Fernando a three-year guaranteed deal as a second-round pick — typically reserved only for first-round choices — shows how much he fits into the team’s plans. Two other recent Maryland players drafted in the second round, Jake Layman and Diamond Stone, received two- and one-year guarantees, respectively.
Layman had his third NBA season guaranteed after helping the Portland Trail Blazers to last year’s NBA Summer League championship and turned a productive performance last season into a reported three-year, $11.5 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Stone received only one year guaranteed by the Los Angeles Clippers and after barely playing as a rookie was part of a trade to the Hawks. Stone, who left Maryland after his freshman year, has spent most of his career in the G League.
Fernando, who many predicted to be a first-round pick after being a first-team All-Big Ten and an all-defense selection last season for Maryland, slipped into the second round while only three legitimate centers were chosen ahead of him.
He is the first player from Angola to be drafted into the NBA.