Hawks Rumors: NBA Execs Would Give De'Andre Hunter a Contract at $12-15M Per Year

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 3, 2022

Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) is shown against the Washington Wizards during the first half of an NBA basketball gameWednesday, April 6, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
AP Photo/John Bazemore

NBA executives reportedly believe the Atlanta Hawks should proceed with caution when discussing a potential contract extension for De'Andre Hunter during the offseason.

Hunter, a 2019 first-round pick, is eligible for an extension to his rookie contract this summer, but Chris Kirschner of The Athletic reported league execs don't think the 24-year-old forward is worth anywhere near the five-year, $186 million max offer:

"I think it would be a mistake for the Hawks to agree to a lucrative extension with Hunter this offseason. While these are just opinions, I asked a few executives around the NBA for a number they would feel comfortable re-signing Hunter to if they worked for the Hawks, and each gave a number around $12 million to $15 million per year. It would be surprising if the Hawks could sign him at a number that low because of how team-friendly it would be. I'd imagine the two sides won't agree to a new deal and will instead push talks to next season, or they could look to move him this offseason."

Hunter has shown some promising signs across his first three NBA seasons, but he's yet to put everything together to reach the lofty expectations that come with being the No. 4 overall pick.

The University of Virginia product established new career-high averages in scoring (15.0), rebounds (4.8), assists (1.9) and shooting percentage (48.4) in 2020-21. All of those numbers dipped in 2021-22, but he found his shooting stroke from three-point range (37.9 percent).

It's a similar story at the defensive end. He posted a strong plus-3.9 rating in FiveThirtyEight's defensive Raptor metric last season, but dropped to minus-0.2 this season.

So the elements are there. If Hunter pairs much of his play from 2020-21 with his outside shooting from 2021-22, he could become a key foundational piece for the Hawks.

That hasn't happened yet, however, so letting him play out the final guaranteed year of his rookie deal may be the safest play. If he enjoys a breakout campaign, Atlanta can extend a qualifying offer while trying to work out a long-term deal.

Another factor is health, as Hunter mentioned during exit interviews he battled various ailments throughout the campaign.

"My back was actually hurting me for a while," he told reporters. "I was playing through it, but my knee and my wrist, it's fine. It was tough, but I was just trying to play."

So perhaps an offseason to rest and recover will work wonders and he'll return next season ready to produce the type of high-end season he's capable of if all the elements of his game come together.

Any type of high-dollar, multiyear extension would come with definite risk if the Hawks decide to make that type of proposal this offseason, though.