5:46pm: The deal is official, the Hawks have confirmed in a press release.
4:47pm: The Hawks have reached an extension agreement with center Onyeka Okongwu, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link), who hears from agent Sam Goldfeder that the two sides are completing a four-year, $62MM deal.
Okongwu, who will turn 23 in December, was the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft. He has primarily come off the bench in his first three professional seasons, starting just 28 of 178 games for Atlanta.
However, Okongwu has gradually taken on a more significant role each year, setting new career highs in points (9.9), rebounds (7.2), and minutes (23.1) per game in 80 appearances in 2022/23 and posting impressive offensive rebounding numbers following the arrival of Quin Snyder, per Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). He projects to take on more responsibilities in the Hawks’ frontcourt this season with big man John Collins no longer on the roster.
While $15.5MM per year is a substantial price to pay for a reserve, it could turn out to be a bargain if Okongwu continues to improve and eventually replaces Clint Capela as Atlanta’s starting center. Capela’s name popped up in trade rumors this offseason and it wouldn’t be a surprise if that happens again in the coming months now that the team has made a long-term commitment to Okongwu.
His long-term contract agreement with the Hawks ensures that Okongwu becomes part of a record-setting class of rookie scale extension recipients in 2023. He’s the 14th players to agree to a rookie scale extension this year, blowing away the previous record of 11, which was set in 2021 and matched in 2022.
Hawks forward Saddiq Bey was also among the players eligible to sign a rookie scale extension by Monday’s 5:00 pm CT deadline, but he didn’t reach a deal with the team, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).