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Report: Hawks, De’Andre Hunter $20M apart on contract extension

Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 26: De’Andre Hunter #12 of the Atlanta Hawks looks on against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round at FTX Arena on April 26, 2022 in Miami, Florida. 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. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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The Hawks were expected to sign De’Andre Hunter to a contract extension this offseason.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:

Early indications are that Atlanta and Hunter have not found much progress in extension talks, where both sides stand roughly $20 million apart on salary terms over a four-year deal, sources said.

A $20 million gap is large – but not insurmountable. It can be bridged through incentives, options, partial guarantees, trade bonuses and good old fashioned compromise. The extension deadline is months away. Neither side should necessarily cave much this soon.

The Spurs just signed Keldon Johnson to a four-year contract extension that’ll be worth $74 million-$80 million. That’ll draw comparisons. However, Hunter has not been as good as Johnson. Hunter should argue that just because Johnson signed a team-friendly deal doesn’t mean Hunter should. But the comparison will get made.

Hunter has missed 78 games due to injury the last two seasons. He looked better in 2021 than last season. Those are troubling trends.

Maybe the 24-year-old will stay healthy, show his value as a 6-foot-8 long, mobile and physical defender and continue to hit 3-pointers. Hunter could be an ideal-fitting forward between Trae Young, Dejounte Murray and whichever of Clint Capela/Onyeka Okongwu is Atlanta’s center.

The Hawks might make Hunter prove he can handle all that before paying him top dollar. Even if they don’t extend him this offseason, they’d hold matching rights on him in 2023 restricted free agency. That’s significant leverage.

Atlanta just refused to meet John Collins’ price on an extension then re-signed him (for more money) as a restricted free agent. The player can win this situation – if he’s willing to risk it.

If he wants to secure a life-changing payday now, Hunter has more reason than the Hawks to bend in negotiations. Atlanta can more easily wait until restricted free agency.