Report: Hawks expected to agree on long-term contract extension with De’Andre Hunter

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The Hawks are reportedly set to be one of the most active teams in trade talks and free agency this offseason. After failing to get past the first round of the playoffs following a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta is going to make significant changes to build a contender around Trae Young, who is reportedly the only immovable piece on the roster… or is he? Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says another piece of the young core has also been dubbed as untouchable.

“In ongoing trade chatter around the league, Atlanta was believed to have made all players besides Trae Young available, but sources told B/R the team is now expected to retain De’Andre Hunter and agree to terms on a long-term contract extension,” Fischer said.

In his third season with the Hawks, Hunter didn’t quite take the next step we all had hoped coming off an impressive end to the 2020-21 season. Outside of his heroic Game 5 performance, the Virginia product didn’t have much of an impact. The former No. 4 overall pick dropped 36 in the team’s closeout game against Miami and was the only reason Atlanta had a chance to push it to Game 6. He’s extension-eligible this offseason coming off three surgeries — one on his wrist and two on his meniscus.

Still, the Game 5 performance was an anomaly; it isn’t who Hunter has been for most of his career. He’s an above-average defender and a poor ballhandler. His shot from beyond the arc was decent this year, but the rest of his game was mediocre. He’s not great at any one thing.

Hunter averaged 13.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 44.2% from the field and 37.9% from beyond the arc. His performance against Miami in the playoffs was atypical — averaging 21.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game on 55.7% shooting from the field and 46.2% from three-point range. With that being said, that is the player the front office thought they were getting when they drafted him fourth overall.

Hunter’s three seasons in the NBA have been a roller coaster. His rookie season ended due to the pandemic, his second year was hampered by knee surgeries, and the most recent season was riddled with inconsistent play. Given all of these factors, it’s possible the front office still believes he can become an All-Star caliber player.

Reports indicate that he’d command somewhere between $12 and $15 million per year on the open market. If Hunter’s representatives agree to a four-year, $48 million extension, I think it’s a no-brainer for Travis Schlenk. Atlanta’s front office should be ecstatic to get a player of Hunter’s caliber at $12 million AAV; that is pennies in today’s NBA.

He’s a restricted free agent next offseason, so even if the two sides don’t agree on an extension, the Hawks should be able to retain Hunter if he proves worthy this upcoming season. However, these reports seem to indicate a new deal is looming. Schlenk hasn’t handed out a bad contract yet, so I doubt he overpays for Hunter.

Photographer: Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire

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