As crazy as it seems, Onyeka Okongwu is already up for an extension following the 2023-2024 season. The Hawks have made keeping the guys they draft a priority, and I don’t expect that to change with Okongwu. He hasn’t ascended to superstar status, but he’s a valuable role player and could become even more of a priority if the Hawks move on from Clint Capela or John Collins in the offseason. Regardless, with a guy that still has a lot of potential but not a ton of production, what is an extension going to look like?
Next offseason, the qualifying offer to make Okongwu a restricted free agent is projected to be $10,817,490, via Spotrac. If he does hit free agency, the Hawks would be able to match whatever offer sheet he gets, so long as the qualifying offer is tendered. This is the approach Atlanta probably will, and should, take. I would let the market dictate his value, and unless something changes in the coming weeks, I don’t see the Hawks rushing to ink him to a huge deal. It also gives Atlanta an extra year to evaluate him and his potential room for growth.
If the Hawks DO go ahead and offer an extension, what would it look like? I don’t see him getting the four years, $90 million that DeAndre Hunter got, but I don’t think it would be chump change either. It depends if the Hawks are going to make him a full time starter by making a trade, or plan on using him off the bench. Here’s how I’d evaluate either scenario:
- Starter: Four Years, $50 Million
- Bench: Three Years, $22.5 Million
Scaled as a full-time starter, I used the rookie extension given to Wendell Carter by Orlando. He was 23 when he signed, and Okongwu will be 23 next offseason. Carter had higher production going into the offseason, but remember — this is under the assumption that Okongwu will be a full-time starter this upcoming season. Carter is a better shooter, but Okongwu is a better defender. I’d offer him a little less if he doesn’t produce something close to the 15 points and 9 rebounds Carter chipped in during his contract year, but I think he can achieve those numbers easily with more playing time.
For the bench role, I used Kevon Looney‘s contract with Golden State. I think they are somewhat similar players, and this is a fair price for a quality backup big man in today’s NBA. It’s a drop in annual money, but the difference isn’t massive. Once again, I think the Hawks would rather evaluate him in 2023-2024, but if they want to get a deal done now, I think this is a fair price for a guy that I love having in the rotation.
Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire