Hawks rule out Jalen Johnson, Onyeka Okongu for multiple weeks ahead of play-in

The Atlanta Hawks confirm they will be without two vital rotational pieces, Jalen Johnson and Onyeka Okongwu, ahead of their play-in meeting against the Chicago Bulls on Apr. 17.
Phoenix Suns v Atlanta Hawks
Phoenix Suns v Atlanta Hawks / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks have become the poster child for the NBA Play-In Tournament and have clinched a third consecutive appearance in the event established during the 2019-20 season. But they will be shorthanded against the Chicago Bulls on Apr. 17 in the win-or-go-home matchup, even after welcoming back All-Star point guard Trae Young from a 23-game absence on Wednesday.

Rising wing Jalen Johnson and center Onyeka Okongwu will be sidelined for multiple weeks, per an official update from the Hawks, effectively ending their season, barring Atlanta surviving the play-in and making a deep postseason run.

Hawks Jalen Johnson, Onyeka Okongwu likely done for season

Johnson suffered a right ankle sprain on Tuesday against the Miami Heat and received an MRI the same day at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex, which revealed a Grade 2 lateral ankle sprain. The team will re-evaluate him in "approximately" three weeks, assuming their season is still alive by then.

Meanwhile, Okongwu had a "non-surgical procedure" on Tuesday at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute to manage "ongoing inflammation in his left big toe." The Hawks will re-examine him in roughly four weeks.

Okongwu hurt his toe before the All-Star break and suffered a setback after returning for two games in mid-March, and is now likely done for the year. He averaged a career-high in points (10.2) and three-point percentage (33.3), adding 6.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while making 61.1 percent of his field goals.

Johnson broke out in a big way this season but has been dealing with the recurring ankle issue for much of the year, averaging career-highs across the board in an expanded role. He recorded 16.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest with .511/.355/.728 shooting splits, putting himself in consideration for the 2023-24 Most Improved Player Award despite only appearing in 52 games.

Despite having a shot at making the playoffs, it is tough to feel optimistic if you are a Hawks fan, especially after hearing the team will be without two core rotational pieces for the foreseeable future.