The Atlanta Hawks will once again be without several players in their second preseason game, this one against the Memphis Grizzlies. They were without De’Andre Hunter and Bogdan Bogdanovic in the preseason opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Against Memphis, they are again without Hunter, Saddiq Bey, and Onyeka Okongwu.
But it is still Hunter’s absence that warrants the most attention. According to head coach Quin Snyder, the fifth-year wing is dealing with a “bone bruise”.
“Snyder, responding to a follow-up by me, said the ‘mild bone bruise’ is in his knee but said ‘it’s not an issue,’” posted Brad Rowland of the “Locked On Hawks” podcast on October 12. “Basically said there is no reason to push anything in the preseason.”
This comes after head coach Quin Snyder said Hunter would be “ready to go” versus Memphis.
It continues an eventful lead-up to the regular season for Hunter.
Hunter, 25, averaged 15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists last season. He also took the toughest wing assignment on a nightly basis, a task that is often overshadowed by fans wanting him to be the third option behind Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. Hunter is starting a four-year, $90 million contract this season.
His name came up often this offseason in trade rumors as the Hawks looked to simultaneously gain control of their finances and build a contender, at least judging from the rumors.
Rowland also notes Hunter dealt with a similar issue in his other knee at the end of the 2022-23 season. But Hunter has an even more ominous injury in his past that could make the situation one to watch despite Snyder’s insistence.
Surgery on his right knee.
“FYI — Hunter had surgery on a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee during the 2021 playoffs,” Rowland said in a separate post. “He also missed 40+ games during that season after an MRI revealed “articular wear and tear in his right knee” and he later had “a lateral meniscus arthroscopic debridement procedure.”
For now, there is no reason to believe the issue is more serious than Snyder says. And Hunter made a career-high 67 appearances last season, shaking off earlier injuries woes in his career.
Consistency is next step for Hawks’ De’Andre Hunter
If the Hawks are going to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals – or even advance beyond the first round – as currently constructed, Hunter will have to play a key role. He has flashed all of the things a team could hope for in a tertiary scorer.
He can create his own shot, has shown some passing ability, and doesn’t need the ball to be effective. But he has to be healthy for it to matter, and if that means missing a, or perhaps even the entire preseason, then so be it. Again, there is no reason not to take Snyder at his word with regard to the severity of Hunter’s ailment.
It is something to keep an eye on as the regular season draws near, though, as the Hawks look to improve upon their 41-41 record from last season.