Quin Snyder provides ominous injury update on Hawks big man

Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder was the bearer of bad news in the team's first practice after the All-Star break.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The All-Star break provided players and coaches a bit of a reprieve from the grind of the season. But the Atlanta Hawks (24-31) emerge from the break still dealing with some significant injury concerns.

They went into the break without either starting center. Clint Capela was dealing with a groin injury while Onyeka Okongwu suffered a toe injury.

In their first practice back, Head Coach Quin Snyder updated both players.

“I don't want to speak out of turn as far as a timeline goes,” Snyder said about Okongwu via Jameelah Johnson on February 22. “But he's not going to be available for the foreseeable future.”

The fourth-year big man, Okongwu, is averaging career-highs with 10.2 points and 1.3 assists per game, also extending his range to knock down open corner threes.

He is shooting 33.8% on 1.2 attempts per game.

“O was tough because … even before Clint went out, he's someone that you can just see his progress,” Snyder said. “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."

Okongwu is averaging 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.0 assists, and shooting 50% from downtown over his last nine appearances. He missed the Hawks' last game before the break.

The head coach went on to cite the efforts of Bruno Fernando, who started in Capela and Okongwu both sidelined for the Hawks’ 122-99 loss to the Charlotte Hornets before the break.

Fernando finished with 12 rebounds, adding six points, one assist, one block, and one steal.

“We'll get Clint back,” Snyder said. “But he'll be in a situation where … it's been a few weeks since he's played. And I’m sure he'll be on some sort of minutes restriction with respect to that so those are just things we need to continue to work through.”

Capela is averaging 11.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists this season. He averaged 13.1 points and 11.7 rebounds in his last seven appearances before going down with the injury.

The Hawks are 2-4 since he went down and 3-5 without him this season.

Quin Snyder calls out Hawks’ defense

“We've been inconsistent in some areas,” Snyder said. “We've lost some key guys at various times, so it's kind of trying to look through that and beyond that and see the things that we need to do better. And you land on our defense.”

“No real epiphanies there. Just a lot of things we need to continue to be better at. Various things that we try to do throughout the course of the season, doubling down on some of the habits that we know are important. And then, to the extent there's some things that you can tweak to try to give yourself a better chance to be good, you do that.”

They have the 11th-best offensive rating. But their defensive rating ranks 29th.

The Hawks get back to business at home – where they are 13-15 this season – against the Toronto Raptors on February 23. Toronto comes in with an 8-20 record on the road.