According to most reports, the bulk of the Hawks offseason is finished. They made their splash by trading Danilo Gallinari and several first-round picks to the Spurs for Dejounte Murray. The Hawks also traded Kevin Huerter to the Kings for Justin Holiday, Mo Harkless, and a protected first-round pick. Outside of a couple of other minor tweaks, the rest of the group will remain the same from last season, as the Hawks’ primary focus moves to extending De’Andre Hunter.
Over the course of his three-year NBA career, Hunter has flashed the potential to be a premier 3-and-D wing. Look no further than his performance against the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs last season. Hunter was far and away the best player on the floor for the Hawks, averaging 21.2 points on 55.7% from the field and 46.2% from deep.
It was the type of performance that reminded everybody why he was selected 4th overall. It’s also the type of performance that will get him paid in free agency, which is why the Hawks would ideally like to lock him up while he’s up for an extension this offseason. Unfortunately, the Hunter that flashed in this year’s playoffs isn’t who he’s been throughout his first three seasons in Atlanta.
To this point, Hunter’s career has been a roller coaster ride. He’s flashed elite level of play on both sides of the court but has been far too inconsistent to warrant anything close to a max contract. To his credit, much of his three years in the league have been affected by COVID and injuries. It would be nice to see how he handles himself under normal circumstances, which could happen this upcoming season. But by the end of it, he will be a restricted free agent.
Still, the Hawks can’t give De’Andre Hunter the lucrative deal he’s looking for before he proves himself over a full season. So it’s no surprise the two sides are far apart when it comes to a contract extension. Recently, NBA insider Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report commented on the situation, saying the two sides are “roughly $20 million apart on salary terms over a four-year deal.”
Early indications are that Atlanta and Hunter have not found much progress in extension talks, where both sides stand roughly $20 million apart on salary terms over a four-year deal, sources said.
Keldon Johnson‘s $80 million extension now serves as the obvious comparison for Hunter’s representatives to use for their side of negotiations. Johnson has shown promising upside but among a rebuilding roster. When healthy, Hunter was arguably the Hawks’ second-best player behind Trae Young—only over 23 games in 2020-21, however. And then Hunter saw the floor in just 53 contests last season after missing time with a wrist injury.
I’ve always been a fan of De’Andre Hunter and believe he can still become a player that could reach an All-Star game. However, an extension feels unlikely at this point. The Hawks can wait this out and see how he does this season. If he performs well, they can match any offer next offseason. There’s no reason for them to rush into an extension they don’t feel comfortable with right now.
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