ATLANTA — De’Andre Hunter, who has been experiencing swelling and soreness in his right knee since injuring it in late January, will miss the rest of the postseason, the Hawks announced Wednesday.
Before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the 76ers, Hunter was experiencing swelling in his knee and underwent an MRI that showed a new small tear of the lateral meniscus. Per the team, the MRI was sent to Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles for a second opinion, and Wednesday he confirmed the tear and recommended surgery.
Hunter will travel to L.A. and undergo surgery Tuesday, which means he will be out for the remainder of the Hawks’ playoff run.
This is a tough break for Hunter, who had dealt with a nagging injury for months now, and the Hawks, who are badly missing Hunter’s presence on the court. In his second season in the NBA, Hunter had developed into a standout defender and shooter, also able to get to his own shot. He averaged 15 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23 games played.
In the regular season, Hunter was sidelined for much of February and March before returning to the court for two games, a loss to the Clippers on March 22 and Kings on March 24, before his knee flared up again. He missed all of April, then came back for the Hawks’ final three games of the regular season and played in their first-round series vs. the Knicks.
He averaged 10.8 points per game in that series and certainly was a big help on defense, but didn’t fully look like the player he was before that initial injury. More time to recover may benefit Hunter, as he’s returned to the court a few times but is still experiencing knee swelling.
He was a game-time decision for games 1 and 2 against the 76ers, with interim coach Nate McMillan saying the Hawks would take a cautious approach with Hunter’s injury.
“We absolutely miss him. ... We certainly are a better ballclub when he’s out on the floor with us, because he just does so many things,” McMillan said of Hunter after their Game 2 loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday. “Not only can he defend multiple positions, but he’s also an option on the offensive end of the floor.”