Hawks receive potentially devastating news in updates on key duo

The Atlanta Hawks had a difficult situation turn worse with their latest updates on a pair of key contributors.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder / Paras Griffin/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks (36-40) could have used some good news amid their four-game skid in the waning days of the 2023-24 regular season. They still have the Play-In Tournament to look forward to. 

But they surely would like to build momentum before they get there. 

Unfortunately, they will be without two critical pieces of the puzzle for their Play-In experience and possibly longer.

“Jalen Johnson left Tuesday’s game vs. Miami with a right ankle sprain,” the team announced in a post on X on April 11. “An MRI taken yesterday at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex revealed a Grade 2 lateral ankle sprain. He will be re-evaluated in approximately three weeks.”

Johnson re-aggravated an ankle injury in the loss to the Miami Heat on April 9. 

The injury had previously sidelined him for nine of 13 games in March. Johnson also missed 14 games with a wrist injury that Trae Young blames on Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma.

A legitimate candidate for Most Improved Player this season, Johnson lost eligibility for the award in his last extended stay on the shelf. This next one could prove even more costly, lingering into the postseason.

The Hawks are 9-15 when the do-it-all Johnson is out this season. Losing him would be bad enough, especially for an injury that has lingered.

That he isn’t the only one to receive such a dire update doesn’t help matters.

Hawks lose versatility with injuries to Jalen Johnson, Onyeka Okongwu

“Onyeka Okongwu (left big toe sprain) underwent a non-surgical procedure on Tuesday at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute to address ongoing inflammation in his left big toe,” the Hawks announced. “He will be re-evaluated in approximately four weeks.”

Okongwu was enjoying a veritable breakout of his own, incorporating the three-ball into his repertoire and moonlighting at the 4 spot alongside Clint Capela.

The Hawks are 13-12 without Okongwu.

Bruno Fernando has stepped up in his absence, and the likes of Vit Krejci and Garrison Mathews have stepped up on the wings. The Hawks can also look forward to getting Dejounte Murray and De’Andre Hunter back after both sat out the loss to the Hornets.

Young’s return remains the biggest storyline, especially after the team played well in his absence which was the longest of his career.

But losing Johnson and Okongwu – who have missed 49 games combined this season – is big.

The Hawks also have a tough closing slate, facing two teams still fighting for playoff positioning in the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Indiana Pacers. Both contests are on the road – as their Play-In matchup against the Bulls is slated to be as things currently project.

The Hawks are 15-24 on the road this season compared to 21-20 at home in the friendly confines of State Farm Arena.