Why the Atlanta Hawks need to move on from De'Andre Hunter

The Atlanta Hawks need to move some of their roster on at the end of the season. One of these players is De'Andre Hunter.
Feb 12, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Chicago Bulls center Andre Drummond (3) knocks the ball out of
Feb 12, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Chicago Bulls center Andre Drummond (3) knocks the ball out of / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks (24-31) are in the middle of another poor season. They are in the last qualifying position for the play-in. And if the past two seasons are anything to go by, they will be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, if they even make it that far. Despite the Hawks not making any moves at the trade deadline, there is still some hope for the franchise.

The Hawks need to move on from Clint Capela; that much is certain. He is holding the Hawks back with his limited ability to play beyond three feet on offense and his defensive struggles this season. His body is starting to let him down, and he will earn $22.2 million next season. Still, there may not be a market for an old-school center like Capela.

While there are rumors about markets being around for Dejounte Murray and Trae Young, there is another starter the team needs to move on from. That starter is De'Andre Hunter, who has another three seasons and almost $70 million left on his current deal. This appears to be a millstone around the Hawks' developmental neck.

Why the Atlanta Hawks need to move on from De'Andre Hunter

The main reason that the Hawks need to move on from Hunter is the contract mentioned earlier. When he is on the court, a case can be made for the Hawks to keep Hunter. He is shooting 42.1 percent from beyond the arc this season which is the best number of his career. However, Hunter has already missed a large number of games this season and is only back on a minutes restriction.

The problem is that Hunter is injured too often to warrant the value of such a deal. He has never played 70 games in a season. He played 67 games last season and only 63 games in his rookie year. Other than that, Hunter played 53 games in his third season and only 23 games as a sophomore.

This means that he has missed almost 150 games over his career, an average of almost 30 per season. He has only played 237 games in four and a half seasons which is not enough for a player taking home over $20 million per season.

If the Hawks can turn this into one or two serviceable players who can help replace Hunter's production then this will go a long way towards strengthening the roster. Plus, if they can give themselves some roster flexibility then this should help move them out of their current playoff purgatory.

Without Hunter's contract on the books, the Hawks will also free up some more time in the three and four spots. Jalen Johnson is developing into a future star for the Hawks, and with the development of Onyeka Okongwu on the offensive end, they might be able to play him as a four and Johnson at the three.

Hunter's salary demands that he gets court time, and it is this scribe's opinion that the Hawks have extracted everything that Hunter brings to the table for this franchise. There is a chance that on another roster, Hunter could flourish. But we are going to have to wait until the offseason to see if the Hawks can get the deal done.