Atlanta Hawks stars send strong message, team up for summer exhibition

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks will be well represented in the Drew League on Saturday, July 23. Rumors surrounding the Hawks and “disgruntled” forward John Collins might all be true. But they would seem to only apply to the organization. To this point, coaches and players have seemed exempt from the details of what has been behind talks of a Collins trade.

Save for his desire to have a more defined role in the offense, Collins has been adamant publicly that he wants to remain with the Hawks. But the rumor mill has not stopped suggesting that both sides would like to find an alternative path forward.

For whatever it is worth, Collins and Trae Young could be teaming up for what could be their last time on the court playing for the same side.

It is as likely that this is a sign of solidarity amidst an onslaught of hypothetical trades.

Is Trae Young sending a strong message about his Atlanta Hawks teammate, John Collins?

Collins and Young will be teaming up on July 23 for the Black Pearl Elite, the Drew League announced via Instagram. Young will be making his return to the league after a two-year absence following an impressive debut in 2019.

The Hawks star point guard expressed excitement on Twitter over seeing LeBron James and (he thought) Kyrie Irving suit up on July 16 and vowed to take part.

Only James showed but Young will follow through on his word. A fan suggested Young bring Collins out to Cali with him this time around.

Young will apparently oblige as Collins is set to make his Drew League debut. But the latter’s skill set and athleticism, in particular, should serve him well in the fast-paced league. Young and Collins already team up for insane lobs during the NBA season.

They might be unstoppable against lesser talent than what they would see on a nightly basis.

The underlying question, however, is what does this mean for Collins’ future? Is it their last hurrah before Collins gets traded? Or is the face of the franchise letting it be known where he stands on a topic that has been an issue for two offseasons?

Collins’ talent is undeniable.

His fit with the Hawks has sometimes come into question.

But the hope should be that putting a better-fitting sidekick next to Young in the backcourt will improve the team’s defense where Collins has struggled most. He also won’t be expected to be a playmaker with Dejounte Murray now in Atlanta.

The Hawks have what is arguably their most balanced team since Young was drafted.

Three starters now boast legitimate two-way ability while the other two are uniquely skilled on offense. Young led the NBA in total points and total assists. Collins was one of seven players to average 16.0 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 36.0% or better this past season.

Whether there has been a trade market or not for Collins, the Hawks have been clear that they wouldn’t just give him away.

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If Young’s choice for a partner in his return to the Drew League is any indication, Hawks brass may want to scrap the idea entirely or risk creating another rift.