The Atlanta Hawks have officially inked a contract extension with their center, Onyeka Okongwu, according to the official announcement from the team. This new deal spans four years and amounts to $62 million in total.
Okongwu, aged 22, was the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft and, during his initial three professional seasons, mostly played as a substitute, commencing in only 28 out of 178 games for the Atlanta team.
However, Okongwu’s role has progressively expanded each year, marked by remarkable achievements in the 2022/23 season.
He achieved personal bests in points (9.9), rebounds (7.2), and playing time (23.1 minutes) per game over 80 appearances.
Notably, his offensive rebounding statistics improved significantly following the arrival of Quin Snyder as part of the coaching staff.
With the departure of John Collins from the Hawks’ roster, Okongwu is expected to take on a more significant role in the frontcourt for the upcoming season.
While a yearly salary of $15.5 million is quite substantial for a player typically coming off the bench, it may prove to be a wise investment if Okongwu continues to enhance his skills and eventually takes over as Atlanta’s starting center, potentially replacing Clint Capela.
Capela’s name was floated in trade discussions during the offseason, and it won’t be surprising if these rumors resurface now that the team has committed to Okongwu on a long-term basis.
Okongwu’s long-term contract with the Hawks ensures that he joins a record-breaking group of players who have secured rookie scale extensions in 2023.
He is the 14th player to agree to such an extension this year, surpassing the prior record of 11, set in 2021 and matched in 2022.
Notably, Hawks forward Saddiq Bey was also eligible for a rookie scale extension but failed to reach an agreement with the team before the 5:00 pm CT deadline on Monday.