Atlanta Hawks: The impact of Kris Dunn exercising his player option

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks offseason just got a little more difficult with the news that Kris Dunn has exercised his player option worth $5.0 million for next season. It was a reasonable assumption that Dunn was going to make this move as he barely played last season so would either not get a contract or it would be a minimum value deal elsewhere.

Dunn had ankle surgery just prior to the season starting, which meant that he missed the first 61 games of the season. He would then play three straight games in the midst of the worst injury crisis of the Hawks season but was underwhelming, to say the least.

He would sit for two games and then play his final regular-season game, receiving junk time in the huge win against the Phoenix Suns. Dunn would then miss the final five games of the regular season. In the playoffs, Dunn only played five games, receiving less than three minutes in two of these.

The Atlanta Hawks would have preferred Kris Dunn not exercise his option

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The Hawks proved last season that they could win without Dunn in the lineup. The whole NBA knows that Dunn is one of the best defenders at the point guard position in the entire league. He is able to lock down most players when he is on the court. However, his lack of offense can also cancel out his defensive impact.

With the Hawks having some major free agency decisions to make, it is imperative that they move Dunn’s contract off the books. If they can do this then they may be able to make some of these moves without mortgaging their immediate and long-term future.

If they have another $5 million of available cap space, then they will be able to find a short-term replacement for Onyeka Okongwu who will be out for the next six months. His role is so crucial to the success of the team that they need to have an adequate replacement for the time that he is on the sidelines.

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On top of that, the Hawks need to decide what they are going to do with John Collins. Having an extra few million may make a difference in what they are able to offer him. Obviously, they need to work out what he is worth to keep, but if they want to run it back, Collins is a key piece to re-sign. Dunn may stand in the way of that.