Hawks announce updated timeline for injured former top pick

The Atlanta Hawks have updated the projected timeline for one of their former top picks who is dealing with an injury.

Atlanta Hawks center Onyeka Okongwu
Atlanta Hawks center Onyeka Okongwu / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks have been without Onyeka Okongwu for two games, both losses.

Head Coach Quin Snyder shied away from pinning down a true timeline, saying Okongwu would be out for the “foreseeable future” upon returning from the All-Star break. 

Two days later, the Hawks have provided an updated timeline for the big man.

“Onyeka Okongwu (left big toe sprain/sesamoiditis) has been placed in a walking boot,” the announcement from the team’s handle on X, formerly Twitter, read on February 23. “He will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks and his status will be updated as appropriate.”

Okongwu, 23, is averaging 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.1 blocks this season. He’s also shown an expanded range, connecting on 33.8% of his 64 triples on the year.

Images of Okongwu in the boot circulated on social media on February 23.

So what exactly is sesamoiditis? The Cleveland Clinic offers an extensive explanation of what is a common injury among athletes:

"“Sesamoiditis is a specific kind of tendonitis — inflammation of the tendons — that occurs in the ball of the foot. Because the tendons in the ball of the foot have small sesamoid bones embedded in them, these bones can become inflamed along with the tendons. The two pea-sized sesamoid bones sit under the big toe joint, where they provide leverage when the tendons load weight onto the ball of the foot. Activities that frequently transfer weight to the ball of the foot — including running, dancing and walking in high heels — can overstress these tendons and bones, causing inflammation and pain.”"

The Hawks are now 1-2 without the former No. 6 overall pick in the lineup this season.

Hawks' Quin Snyder laments Onyeka Okongwu's injury

O was tough because … even before Clint [Capela] went out, he's someone that you can just see his progress,” Snyder told reporters on February 22. “He's getting better in a lot of areas, and some of the things he does – and does well – give us another dimension on both ends of the floor.”

As Snyder anticipated, Capela made his return from a six-game absence before the break against the Toronto Raptors on February 23, albeit on limited minutes.

Capela had five points, seven rebounds, one block, and one steal in the loss to Toronto.

Snyder noted postgame that the Hawks need Capela and backup big man Bruno Fernando to continue contributing as they did versus Toronto going forward. Fernando had 12 points and four rebounds.

The Hawks have now dropped three straight games, failing to take advantage of a loss by the Chicago Bulls the night before. Chicago is 2.0 games up on the Hawks for ninth place in the East.

The Hawks continue this three-game homestand on February 25 against the Orlando Magic.