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Hawks: De’Andre Hunter to miss rest of playoffs with knee injury

Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 30: RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks plays defense on De’Andre Hunter #12 of the Atlanta Hawks during Round 1, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 30, 2021 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter was one of the NBA’s most improved players.

When healthy.

The the second-year Hawks forward missed 49 games amid knee issues this season. He returned to play all five games of Atlanta’s first-round victory over the Knicks. But he has missed the first two games against the 76ers – and won’t return to the playoffs.

Hawks release:

Prior to Game 1 against Philadelphia, forward De’Andre Hunter began experiencing some mild swelling in his right knee. Head Team Physician Dr. Kenneth Mautner and Head Orthopaedist Dr. Kyle Hammond examined Hunter and suggested an MRI. The initial review revealed a new small tear of the lateral meniscus. Films from the MRI were sent to Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles for a second opinion, who earlier today confirmed the tear and recommended surgery. Hunter is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles this weekend and undergo surgery to the lateral meniscus on Tuesday with Dr. ElAttrache. He will miss the remainder of the postseason and future updates will be provided as appropriate.

This definitely weakens the Hawks, who were already underdogs against Philadelphia.

But at least they have some depth to compensate. Solomon Hill has been starting for Hunter, and Kevin Huerter and Tony Snell have played more off the bench.

The Hawks can also look forward to more than just this season. They’re the youngest team to win a playoff series this year. The future is bright around Trae Young.

Hunter, 23, is a key supporting piece. Hopefully, he get healthier long-term.