With success, comes expectations. After a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, fans aren’t just expecting playoffs anymore; they’re thinking about championships, and the decisions made over the next month will likely decide if that’s possible. This is a pivotal offseason for Travis Schlenk and company, and while a lot of the focus will be on John Collins, who is scheduled to hit restricted free agency, I have my eye on another situation brewing — a Kevin Huerter extension.
Trae Young and Kevin Huerter are both set to begin their fourth seasons, making them eligible for extensions. Young will undoubtedly sign a max contract, but the Hawks have quite the decision to make regarding Huerter, who showed his worth in the postseason. He’s a perfect fit for the modern-day NBA, flashing signs of becoming an elite defender along with his tremendous three-point shooting, but Huerter provided even more than that during the Hawks playoff run. He found a silky smooth mid-range game and also proved to be an underrated playmaker. There’s so much to like about his game, and he’ll only be 23 next season.
With that being said, Huerter still hasn’t put it all together for an entire season. His career stats aren’t exactly eye-popping, but if this most recent postseason run was a sign of things to come, it would behoove the Hawks to get out ahead of this and attempt to extend him this offseason. Right now, Huerter could probably demand anywhere from a $60-80 million contract over four years. However, if he proves his playoff success was no fluke next season, that number could bloat closer to $100 million.
Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into this from Travis Schlenk’s perspective. Because he’s drafted so well since taking over as general manager of the Hawks, he’s eventually going to have to let some of his own guys walk. There’s just no way the Hawks can pay Young, Collins, Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Cam Reddish, and more. Tough decisions will have to be made, which could also lead to trades.
If the Hawks feel like the odds of extending Huerter are slim, they could look to cash in on his recent playoff run this offseason. His trade value has never been higher, and Travis Schlenk might look to trade in some of his young assets for a more proven All-Star. The Hawks clearly lacked a true second-scoring option alongside Young, and there always seem to be at least a couple of stars on the move each offseason.
The situation surrounding Huerter is something worth monitoring very close this offseason. Personally, I would like to see the Hawks extend him. They could likely sign him at a reasonable price this summer that will end up becoming a bargain down the road. Huerter is oozing with potential on both sides of the ball, and I love his fit next to Trae Young. We may look at this decision a few years from now as much more crucial to the franchise’s success than the John Collins extension.
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