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De'Andre Hunter played out of his mind in the Atlanta Hawks first round playoff series against the Miami Heat. The 6'8" wing led the team with 21.2 points per game with a 55.7 FG% and 46.2% 3PT%. Despite the Hawks losing the lopsided series, the timing could not have been better for the 24-year-old who is eligible for a contract extension this summer.

While Hunter's postseason performances were exhilarating, it doesn't change the fact that he's been inconsistent and battled injuries since entering the league in 2019. Couple that with the Hawks having little to gain by tying more money up in a long-term deal, and it makes no sense for the team to make a concerted effort at extending his rookie contract before he hits restricted free agency next summer.

Apr 24, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) reacts after being called for a foul against the Miami Heat in the second quarter during game four of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs at State Farm Arena.

De'Andre Hunter carried the Atlanta Hawks in their playoff series against the Miami Heat.

Former NBA executive and columnist for The Athletic, John Hollinger, said as much in a recent article. Hollinger wrote the following in regards to Hunter's contract situation:

"I don’t see a resolution on an extension. There is no reason for Hunter to lock in a low number and no reason for the Hawks to commit to a higher one, even setting aside the knee issues. Because of restricted free agency, the Hawks should be in a good position to retain him next summer if he proves he’s worth paying. Additionally, not paying him makes it easier to put him in a trade..." - John Hollinger of The Athletic

Hunter has had a roller-coaster three years in the NBA. His rookie season was prematurely ended due to the pandemic, his sophomore year was blunted by two knee surgeries, and this most recent season was plagued with inconsistent play.

As Hollinger pointed out, neither side has much to gain by locking in a deal. Hunter gets one last opportunity to prove himself the way John Collins did during the 2020-21 season. While the Hawks remain flexible, should the right trade opportunity come along.

This saga will continue to play out all the way until the end of the 2022-23 NBA training camp. So keep it locked into for breaking news, highlights, and analysis.

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