If we think about this, and if ***** is in the last year of a deal (do we know that for sure?) - when did you ever hear of a GM in a contract year? Good ones get extended. The fact that he wasn't extended, say, last year means Clark wasn't convinced.
So you seem to end up in this scenario where ***** is in a put up or shut up year, and its not going so well. Now, Hunt is angling for an exit that makes sense on the business side if things continue to burrow into the silt.
My guess is that Hunt hasn't quite decided to fire ***** yet, but without some signs of improvement this year he will. ***** has no leverage right now to dictate terms of an extension, Hunt is negotiating from a position of strength.
He could be trying to save money while knowing that he will likely fire ***** either way.