Atlanta Hawks $125M star on Western Conference team’s radar: report

The Atlanta Hawks need a facelift, per ownership and management. Their decision to stand pat at the trade deadline came back to haunt them. But it came after an offseason in which they paid several players of their own which is typically every organization’s goal. That is not how things played out for the Hawks.

Atlanta spent $440 million in new money for Clint Capela (four years, $43M), John Collins (five years, $125M), Kevin Huerter (four years, $65M), and Trae Young (five years, $207M).

They finished with two more wins than last season. But they were expeditiously dispatched in five games by a Miami Heat team playing stifling defense. Now they head into a critical offseason searching for answers.

This search, which began during the regular season, has drawn outside interest.

Atlanta Hawks star drawing “frequently” linked to a Western Conference team

This new report comes from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor who updated several pieces of offseason chatter. While much of the article revolves around the Utah Jazz stepping down – which has Donovan Mitchell questioning things – the Portland Trail Blazers searching for a star is also heavily discussed.

Their scope has been a little broader in that regard than one might expect.

One other player frequently mentioned to be on Portland’s radar is Atlanta’s John Collins, who is a lob threat that could provide more defensive versatility than Jusuf Nurkic.

Collins was in the midst of his most well-rounded season before finger and foot injuries took their toll. He still finished as one of just 10 players to average 16.0 points, 7.0 boards, 1.5 assists, and 1.0 blocks during the regular season.

The Blazers have a surprising amount of ways to pursue big names aside from dealing their lottery pick. They have a $20.8 million trade exception, Eric Bledsoe’s lightly guaranteed contract ($3.9 million), a rising talent in Josh Hart, and future picks.

Hart, the picks (which includes the seventh overall pick in the June 23 draft), and the trade exception could all be of value to the Hawks.

They could also try to play hardball to satisfy their desire for a second playmaker.

There’s also a potential sign-and-trade with Nurkic, or more drastically, flipping Anfernee Simons, a 22-year-old coming off a career-best season and entering restricted free agency.

Hawks Get
Josh Hart
Anfernee Simons
Future 1st Rd Pick
Trail Blazers Get
John Collins

Collins has been bandied about in trade rumors for some time being included in proposed deals for players like Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield. So it was only a matter of time before reports of other teams’ interest would re-surface.

That interest was not there during his foray into free agency last summer. But things appear to have changed.

Whatever happens, it is looking more likely by the day that the Hawks will look fairly different next season. If all of the rumors are any indication, Collins is the familiar face least likely to return among the Hawks’ core.