The Atlanta Hawks made a pair of procedural moves on Tuesday morning. Per reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim Bontemps, the club picked up options on center Onyeka Okongwu and forward Jalen Johnson. Both moves were essentially a given, as the team has no reason to be motivated to move on from either player. The Hawks later announced the moves via press release.
The Hawks are also picking up Jalen Johnson’s third-year option, sources told ESPN. Johnson was the 20th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft out of Duke, and should have a larger role in Atlanta’s rotation this season. https://t.co/ITTdjPKSJJ— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) October 11, 2022
Okongwu’s fourth-year option was picked up, to no surprise, which locks him for the 2023-24 season ahead of his potential restricted free agency. Johnson had his third year option picked up, which was also that of a formality. The second-year forward figures to make a bigger impact on the team this year after spending much of his rookie year in the G League and on the bench.
Okongwu figures to be a huge part of the second unit, potentially closing some games with the starters in place of Clint Capela for Atlanta like he has at times in the past. The Hawks have secured their young bigs for another year, respectively, as they continue building their core forward.
The Hawks will play their third and fourth preseason games this week on the road before getting ready for their Oct. 19 opener at home vs. the Houston Rockets. Atlanta has plenty to be excited for heading into a new season with the addition of Dejounte Murray, but some improvement from incumbent players like Johnson and Okongwu is also something to look towards. The Hawks aren’t getting a ton of love in comparison to the upper echelon of Eastern Conference teams, so they might have something to prove for 2022-23.