Things could get tricky for the Atlanta Hawks and forward Saddiq Bey.
Both Bey and Onyeka Okongwu are in the final year of their contracts and headed for restricted free agency unless they agree to extensions before the October 23 deadline.
“I’ve heard those negotiations have not been going great,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on “The Lowe Post with Zach Lowe” on October 20. “I don’t think Atlanta’s gotten to that level yet. And Saddiq Bey is one of those players – kind of like De’Andre Hunter – who looks like a good NBA player: He’s rangy, he’s big shoots it okay from three.
“And then you look and you watch him play and it’s like … what does he do? Doesn’t defend very well, doesn’t pass, doesn’t rebound, okay shooter, not a big-time scorer on a good team. … It’s like, what is he what is he actually good at?”
Lowe also noted his belief that Bey could be coming off the bench this season.
“Saddiq Bey is a guy who we talked about, guys who could see their minutes go down. I think Jalen Johnson is in line to start this year and Saddiq Bey may be in line to come off the bench after being a starter most of his career. Okongwu is coming off the bench. But it’s clearly kind of the future at center for the Hawks. These are tricky ones.”
Acquired at the trade deadline, Bey averaged 11.6 points and shot 40% from beyond the arc with 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 25 appearances with seven starts for Atlanta last season.
“If I had to pick one to extend, if you’re asking me if I’m the Hawks, [and] I can’t get either one for less than $20 million but I really want to pay one just to do it, I would pay Okongwu,” Lowe said.
Lowe said that would be “counterintuitive” to league trends but Okongwu is “good”.
Okongwu’s ability to deliver on a new contract largely hinges on Capela’s presence. If he remains in place as the starter – and a trusted outlet for Trae Young – it will be hard to justify paying Okongwu starter’s money too, barring his jump shot becoming more consistent to start the season.
Okonwu averaged 9.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 80 appearances last season with 18 starts.
Should they choose both, there could be significant implications for the rest of the roster.
Hawks facing ‘tax crunch from hell,’ insider says
“The Atlanta Hawks … extended Dejounte Murray on a great deal but have just the luxury tax crunch from hell coming next year if they resign both of these guys and don’t flip another big salary,” Lowe said.
“If you extend them, you better have a good comfort level that you’re going to move the Clint Capela contract,” Lowe’s guest, ESPN front office analyst Bobby Marks, said.
Murray re-signed on a four-year, $120 million contract this offseason.
The Hawks also have extensions for Capela and Hunter kicking in this season. Both players have been mired in trade speculation this offseason as the Hawks look to better balance their books even after the John Collins trade. Things are rather quiet around the Hawks right now but that could change quickly after all of the rumors there were involved in this offseason.
They wrapped the preseason with a 120-106 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on October 20. The next time they take the court — October 25 on the road versus the Charlotte Hornets — the games and everything that happens during them will count.